Here’s a story from Reuters I missed in August, a tale about Progressive Insurance’s questionable methods for collecting information on their customers:
The head of one of the leading insurers in non-standard, high-risk personal auto insurance apologized on Thursday for some substandard behavior – spying in church on people who had the sued the company.
Progressive Corp Chief Executive Glenn Renwick apologized for the use of private detectives, who went undercover to join an Atlanta church group in order to discredit a couple suing the insurer.
“What the investigators and Progressive people did was wrong – period,” Renwick, head of the third-largest U.S. auto insurer, said in a statement. “I personally want to apologize to anyone who was affected by this.”
The statement was issued a day after the story appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The newspaper reported that a pair of detectives hired by Progressive became members of the Southside Christian Fellowship Church in August 2005 in order to get damaging information on two church members involved in a 2004 traffic accident.
The detectives talked their way into a private support group where members discussed abortions, sexual orientation and drug addiction, and taped the sessions, the newspaper said.
Note the dates: the accident happened in 2004, the private detectives were hired in 2005. The story appeared in the Atlanta paper in 2007 – and it was only then that the CEO of Progressive apologized.
I have over a decade in this business, including as an adjuster and handling “questionable” or fraudulent SIU claims. I have sat in parking lots and watched people who were limping suddenly stop limping. I have watched people fake injuries. I have watched people turn in receipts for stolen property dated AFTER they claimed the item was stolen. However, not once have I ever joined a church to investigate someone. Not once have I recorded private sessions with people.
This is absolutely disgusting. There should be immediate and strong condemnation of this action from the insurance industry. Oh, and Glenn Renwick and the people in charge of the claims operations at Progressive should resign immediately.
What can you do? Cancel your Progressive policy. Want more of an incentive? I am going to donate $1 to my wife’s breast cancer walk for every person who emails me or leaves a comment here cancelling their Progressive policy.
Well, I was going to switch anyway…but don’t hold your breath on Renwick resigning. He’s just walking in the shoes of a former CEO of Progressive…