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Truthdigger of the Week: Matt Fisher

Posted on Aug 18, 2012
Screenshot from 'Premium Fisher.'

There is great virtue in getting pissed at a company that attempted to avoid its financial obligations in the death of your sister and telling the world about it.

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Sometimes there’s even a reward. Matt Fisher won’t get his sister back. But he succeeded in rallying the Internet against insurer Progressive after exposing how the company defended his sister’s killer in court to avoid paying the balance on her policy.

Katie Fisher was killed in June 2010 when a driver ran a red light and collided with her car as she was crossing an intersection. The driver was underinsured with Nationwide, which paid the Fishers a $25,000 settlement. But Katie had a policy with Progressive that insured her up to $100,000 in the event of being hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Her family sought the $75,000 balance—in part to pay off her outstanding student loans—from Progressive, but the company refused to pay.

Instead, Progressive’s lawyers helped defend the driver in court when the Fishers sued after being forbidden by Maryland law from filing suit against the company.

In a post on his Tumblr site that went viral and focused the Internet’s attention on the Fishers’ case, Matt wrote:

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Don’t buy insurance from Progressive. Not only will you be paying the salaries of people who put my family through the wringer (really a smaller wringer that Progressive attached to the main wringer of my sister’s death), but also when the chips are down, your money will have bought you nothing but a kick in the face.

In response to the media attention created from Matt’s post, in mid-August Progressive agreed to a cash settlement with the Fisher family. The payment was for the company’s “failure to exercise good faith towards their insured,” the Fishers’ lawyer told CNN. The company tried to wriggle out of accepting full blame though, claiming that it did not pay to protect the other driver in court and that a trial was necessary to determine blame for the accident.

In a post dated Aug. 17, Matt wrote that he and his family would work to change the relationship between insurance companies and their policyholders:

As we move forward, we hope to focus on celebrating the joy that Katie brought us and working to change the balance of power between policy holders and the insurance companies they pay to protect them.

For playing a loud, angry David against Progressive’s mercenary Goliath in a struggle that did honor to the memory of his slain sister, and for rallying the public to the cause, we recognize Matt Fisher as our Truthdigger of the Week.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly. Follow him on Twitter: @areedkelly.

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