A Georgia couple is suing their insurance company, Progressive, saying that the company spied on them by having their investigators, undercover, join their private church confessional group. The investigators joined the group in the hopes of getting information to use against the couple in an auto accident claim according to a news article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
An attorney for the couple, Bill and Leandra Pitts, told the newspaper that Progressive tried these tactics to avoid paying the couple’s claim. What’s more, Progressive’s CEO, who had previously admitted on the company’s Web site that their spying was “appalling”, has now issued a statement that those actions were in fact “reasonable.”
According to one of Progressive’s spokespersons quoted in the newspaper article: “While we believe what occurred was wrong, we don’t believe it provides the basis for a legal claim seeking a monetary judgment.” At least Progressive is consistent. It is like saying, “While your insurance policy covers you for the injuries you sustained, we don’t believe it is our best interest to pay your claim.”
There is no doubt that Progressive’s tactics crossed the line of privacy and decency. Apparently, the Georgia Insurance Commissioner also thinks so because his office has reportedly launched an investigation into these allegations. According to the couple’s lawsuit, they turned to their insurer, Progressive, and its contractual obligation to make up the shortfall in covering their damages, after the negligent driver in their 2004 car accident did not have enough insurance coverage to pay their damages.
The couple alleges in the lawsuit that Progressive investigators posed as prospective church members and made their way into a private confessional meeting in the private residence of a church member! This is not only appalling, it is ridiculous, unethical, unprofessional, and a horrible violation of our rights as free citizens of this country.
Progressive is rated among the top 10 list of “bad faith insurers” by a group called Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies.
I’d like to hear from you. Do you think it is ethical for your insurance company’s investigators to join your church and your private church group to collect personal information about you? Do you believe what Progressive did was a “reasonable” way to investigate this case? I’d love to find out what you think.