What You Can Expect from USAA as a Client or a Claimant
July 30, 2009
USAA has what appears to be a split reputation.
On the surface, it seems that their clients love them and their claimants hate them. And their claimants don't hate them a little, they hate them a lot. This is because USAA's Claims Department is either not aware of USAA's policy of "[living] by the values of service, loyalty, honesty, integrity and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do," or does not believe it applies to USAA's Insurance Division.
Their clients like them because for two reasons:
- USAA's cheap - really cheap
- USAA gives their clients a kick-back annually to keep clients happy
In exchange for cheap rates and and a kick-back, USAA provides their insurance clients with a card that will prevent arrest and fines in most states in most situations. This card is only helpful because too few claimants know that they should complain to their state auditor or state insurance commissioner when they have problems with USAA.
The problems with USAA's handling of claims are rampant and consistent, but without a sufficient volume of complaints, insurance commissioners can't proceed against the criminal organization. The insurance lobby is just too strong and has made sure that there are laws in place prohibiting a claimant from taking an insurance company to court and prohibiting the state from taking action without a nearly unobtainable volume of complaints. In some cases, the volume of complaints that would be necessary appears to exceed the number of possible claims, and only one complaint can be filed per claim.
USAA's Claims Department's practice and process with handling claims has nothing to do with "values of service, loyalty, honesty, integrity and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do," but instead are tied to "what's the absolute minimum we can get away with to prevent our client from being taken to court." This practice and process extends to fabricating evidence, intimidating claimants, ignoring any and all evidence, ignoring communication, either by phone or in writing, and fabricating statements from State officials, among other things.
But even USAA's treatment of clients often contradicts "values of service, loyalty, honesty, integrity and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do." Including insulting clients when they try to make policy changes, and often refusing to make - or at least failing to make - requested changes.
Because of the low cost of USAA membership and coverage, clients are often unwilling to change carriers even when they realize that working with USAA is a "you get what you pay for" scenario, and they finally figure out how close they, as USAA clients, often are to ending up in court, possibly with charges of uninsured motorist tied on to whatever damages they are defending against. When purchasing insurance from USAA, you are not getting a good deal, you're getting ripped off. You're buying the $12 product which meets 1/10th of your needs when the $20 product would meet all of your needs and hold up four times as well.
USAA's reputation for poor service extends beyond claimants. Insurance commissioner's offices across the nation (at least MT) are aware of how hard USAA is to deal with, and how poorly they treat claimants, but their hands are tied and they are unable to do anything because they have too few complaints.
This reputation also extends to Better Business Bureaus. At most times, USAA is on report with one or more in the US for poor service. This is a rate that nearly matches pyramid scams and spam operations. Does this support USAA's "values of service, loyalty, honesty, integrity and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do?"
But there is a group which seems to hate USAA more than USAA claimants, and that is former USAA clients. As noted above, even when USAA clients realize how bad their organization is, and the risk that membership puts all members at, members are still reluctant to leave. That low price and annual kick-back are strong incentives to most people.