You’ve heard of uninsured drivers — this is a story of an under-insured driver.
In June 2010, Kaitlynn Fisher was killed in a car crash when the other driver, Ronald K. Hope, ran a red light. There was no doubt as to culpability: a jury and even Hope’s insurer (Nationwide) agreed that Hope was at fault.
The story gets interesting because Fisher’s insurer, Progressive, did not want to pay out a claim. You see, Fisher carried coverage for under-insured drivers. Hope had maxed out his $25,000 in coverage, and Fisher’s policy provided up to $100,000 coverage for accidents involving uninsured and under-insured drivers. Obviously hoping to avoid paying out a $75,000 claim, Progressive interjected itself into the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Hope.
The ploy backfired. The story has gone viral on on the internet, creating a lot of bad publicity for Progressive. But there is a much larger problem here — one that goes way beyond the actions of an unscrupulous insurer.
The real problem is that Maryland, like most states, only requires drivers have $25,000 in insurance coverage. That is peanuts compared to the damage a driver can inflict. Wrongful death settlements are easily be in the millions of dollars. And a driver who is maimed can still be facing huge medical bills, especially where there is a permanent disability.
Imagine if drivers had to carry insurance coverage proportional to the damage they could inflict. That would drastically change their transportation choices.