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Progressive Insurance – My Worthless Coverage Award

Michigan auto insurance attorney explains how Progressive’s uninsured motorist coverage becomes useless when you’re seriously injured in a car accident

I always tell my clients and loved ones that before purchasing any auto insurance, you must ask yourself, “What is buried in the fine print?” Well, the fine print in Progressive’s uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is particularly nasty. This is why Progressive is fifth on my list of the worst insurance companies for 2011.

In my case, Carducci v. Macomber, Detroit Edison, Progressive et. al, my client, Amie Carducci, was only 28 when she was struck nearly head-on by a negligent driver. She had 13 surgeries, spent nearly a month in the hospital, and has no memory of the crash due to her traumatic brain injury.

The driver who hit Amie did not have auto insurance. Amie, however, had purchased uninsured motorist coverage (UM) from Progressive. UM coverage is supposed to protect someone if she is injured in a car accident at the hands of an uninsured driver. Amie, like tens of thousands of Michigan residents, thought it would protect her. Remember, in some cities, such as Detroit and Pontiac, up to 50 percent of drivers are driving without insurance, so UM is important coverage.

But the UM coverage Amie purchased from Progressive was worthless. What Amie didn’t know was that Progressive had a policy allowing it to “set off” (subtract) the medical expenses and wage loss Amie’s workers compensation carrier had paid Amie before paying her uninsured motorist coverage. In other words, Progressive could subtract medical bills and wage loss being paid by another insurance company to avoid paying out on uninsured motorist coverage.

End result: Amie got nothing – $0 – for all of her injuries, pain and suffering, and surgeries from being hit by an uninsured driver. This all happened despite paying money to Progressive for coverage that was specifically meant to protect her if something exactly like this were ever to happen!

How Progressive’s uninsured motorist coverage policy affects you

This makes the Progressive policy that Amie Carducci purchased completely worthless. It means Progressive and other Michigan auto insurance companies can pocket the extra premiums they charged for these policies. And the “uninsured driver” protection its own customers are paying Progressive is also worthless. In fact, the more seriously hurt these Progressive customers are, the less likely Progressive is to pay anything.

If someone isn’t hurt badly, the insurance company can file a motion for summary disposition and have its defense lawyers try to have the case dismissed under Michigan’s harsh auto accident injury threshold law. But if someone is badly injured, Progressive can subtract the wage loss and medical bills from the coverage and again, pay nothing!

Sound too horrible to be true? It’s not. Amie received nothing from Progressive Insurance Company because of the fine print.

This means every person that buys UM and UIM from Progressive and some other insurance companies in Michigan may get nothing if they’re badly hurt and have other insurance, because auto insurance companies get to deduct insurance benefits paid for serious injuries from its UM and UIM coverage. Worthless.

How you can protect yourself in the event of a car accident with an uninsured driver

In Michigan, uninsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage, meaning it is not mandatory and people who want it can pay a higher premium to protect themselves. Our insurance attorneys strongly recommend this coverage to all of our clients and friends. The cost is that of a movie and popcorn and it’s so well worth it.

Make sure to purchase a high policy amount. Let’s hope you don’t have 13 surgeries and huge medical bills like Amie did – that Progressive can “offset” to avoid paying.

If you are purchasing or currently have UM, review the section on uninsured drivers in your contract, and check for set off provisions. Most auto insurance companies do not have them, because it’s such a dishonest, unfair practice. If you’re unsure of the language in your policy, feel free to call one of our auto insurance attorneys with questions at (800) 777-0028. There is absolutely no fee or obligation.

Tell us your Progressive Insurance horror story by sharing a comment below or on our Facebook page.

- Steven Gursten is head of Michigan Auto Law. He is recognized as one of the nation’s top auto insurance attorneys handling serious car and truck accident lawsuits No-Fault litigation. Michigan Auto Law has received the highest jury verdict for a car accident or truck accident in seven of the last 10 years, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Additional resources to protect yourself:

Tips for choosing the best auto insurance company

Top 4 Best Auto Insurance Companies

Let’s put an end to insurance company abuse in Michigan

Michigan No-Fault insurance law

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident and No-Fault insurance lawsuits throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with an auto insurance attorney.

Posted in: Car Insurance, Driver Safety, No Fault Reform and tagged , , , , .

3 comments on “Progressive Insurance – My Worthless Coverage Award

  1. A Progressive Customer on said:

    Progressive Auto Ins. Is A Complete Fraud!! They Cheat You Out Of Money That your Suppose To Be “SAVING” But Never Make the Changes to Your Policy That You Request!! PROGRESSIVE Auto Ins. Are Just FRAUDGLENT CROOKS!!!

  2. informed on said:

    I have read at least 10 different auto policies. All of them had offset provisions for worker’s compensation claims inconjunction with uninsured motorist claims. Are you sure you know what you are talking about?

    Lesson learned. Read the policyand understand the policy before you purchase it. If you are not sure ask questions. Or just keep signing legal contracts/documents completely uninformced and hope the government will help you out.

    • Steven Gursten on said:

      You’re right (except for the part that I might not know what I’m talking about, that is).

      The number of insurance companies that are now including this provision has jumped in the past 2-3 years in Michigan. Ten years ago, it was just a small fraction that decided to include this type of anti-consumer language in their policies. Twenty years ago, no one had this set-off language in their insurance policies. Now it is quickly changing. And you are right about the reason. Most people don’t read their policies, and the insurance agents who have a fiduciary duty to the insured (you) are not pointing this dangerous set-off language out to people who are looking for insurance. The result is that no one knows or understands what is happening until it is too late. As here with Progressive.

      I don’t think the lesson is so much for people to read and understand their insurance contracts. It sounds good, but you have to appreciate that even most contract lawyers don’t understand these policies. They are written deliberately by other lawyers to be difficult to read and to easily understand. These are not normal policies, but more akin to contracts of adhesion. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in Wilke v. Auto Owners that normal ordinary people in this state have no right to be treated fairly, or any reasonable expectation of fairness or that they will get the benefit of what they think they’ve contracted for. The doctrine of reasonable expectations that had existed in Michigan and that still exists in every other state in the nation today is now abolished.

      Therefore, as long as it is in the insurance contract, an insurance company can put in the most nasty, anti-consumer language they want, and the Michigan Supreme Court has said that is OK.

      Hire an independent insurance agent who can quote many different insurance companies. Ask the agent to find a company that does not have this set-off language, as I did.

      Avoid captive agents who only work for one insurance company, because they will never point this out to you since they would lose all their business.

      And vote off the activist Republican jurists who decided that one-sided contracts of adhesion are okay for the people of this state.

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