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USAA, short for United Services Automobile Association, has a good reputation as a provider of insurance and other financial services. USAA, which considers its customers “members,” has strict qualifications for its insurance policies and other products. To qualify for membership with USAA, you must be a member of the United States military, a retired veteran or honorably separated former service member, a member’s spouse, or the son or daughter (including stepchildren) of a member. USAA is based in San Antonio, and as of 2016, had 11.9 million members and a net worth of $29 billion.
Joining USAA requires an affiliation with the military. The company offers its products and services to current members of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard and Reserves, as well as retired veterans and former military members with an honorable discharge. Widows and widowers may retain USAA membership, and so may former spouses who have not remarried and have had a USAA insurance policy during the marriage to a service member. Children and stepchildren of USAA members also qualify. Furthermore, USAA also extends membership to cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies, individuals in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship, and officer candidates within 24 months of commissioning.
The military connection is a key aspect of the USAA organization. According to the company website, “With roots grounded in the military, we bring its methods to your finances, and its values to our service through an exclusive suite of financial products, tools and advice.” USAA’s representatives understand the military life and its challenges, so customers get the right product for their circumstances.
USAA was founded in 1922 in San Antonio, Texas. A group of 25 Army officers created an organization to insure each other’s vehicles. William Garrison became the company’s first president, and Harold Dunston became the first employee. A year later, USAA expanded to offer membership to the Navy and Marines as well as the Army. By 1931, the company’s membership hit the 30,000 mark. In 1941, USAA started automatically renewing insurance policies for members who were deployed, and in 1948, membership opened up to members of the newly created Air Force. In 1961, USAA changed the policy requiring customers to leave the company upon separating from the military. In 1968, USAA welcomed its millionth member. Banking services started rolling out in 1983. In 2008 and 2009, USAA membership expanded again to include all active duty, former military members with honorable discharges, and their families.
In addition to auto insurance, USAA also provides homeowners, renters, life, health and long-term, Medicare, business, and disaster recovery insurance.
Unlike most insurance companies, USAA also provides select banking services, such as checking and savings accounts, vehicle loans, home loans, personal loans, and credit cards. Additional financial services include financial planning, investing, retirement planning, and retirement accounts. The company also has planning guides and advice to help customers manage various aspects of military life.
USAA Is the Best Car Insurance Company
How We Created This USAA Car Insurance Review
This car insurance review is based on a U.S. News & World Report survey of 2,799 consumers who filed a car insurance claim in the last five years. Respondents provided this data based on their experience with their car insurance company.
U.S. News also worked with Quadrant Information Services to provide a report of average insurance rates in all 50 states from the 10 largest national car insurance companies. The rates are based on profiles for both male and female drivers aged 17, 25, 35, and 60. Vehicles used include the 2018 Honda Civic, 2018 Toyota RAV4, 2018 Ford-F-150, 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford-F-150, with annual mileage of 6,000 and 12,000. Three car insurance coverage levels were used, as were credit tiers of good, fair, and poor. Clean driving records and records with one accident, one speeding violation, and one DUI were also used in the calculations. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only. Individual rates will differ.
USAA Rating and Review
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The study shows that USAA’s claims of customer friendliness are based in fact. USAA ranked in the top spot of the 10 major auto insurance companies evaluated in the study, ahead of Travelers, State Farm, Geico, Farmers, Nationwide, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and American Family.
In this survey, respondents answered questions about their experiences with USAA, using a 5-point scale. Respondents were also given the opportunity to add comments to clarify their responses or provide additional information.
More than 76 percent of USAA customers were completely satisfied with the ease of filing a claim, while 74 percent report being completely satisfied with USAA’s customer service during the claim process. More than 70 percent were completely satisfied with the status updates USAA gave them about their claim, and just less than 77 percent were completely satisfied with how their claim was resolved. Sixty seven percent were completely satisfied with the value they got from USAA auto insurance. USAA did better on every measure in the survey than any other company. One satisfied respondent said, “USAA simply gives the best service and satisfaction of claims. We've been using them since 1970 and find them incredible.”
What’s most telling is how likely USAA customers are to recommend USAA and renew their policy. Roughly three quarters of respondents said they are very likely to recommend USAA, and 80 percent said they are likely to renew their policy with USAA. The customer feedback we collected echoes this trend, “Excellent service. I had only a minor accident /claim, but it was handled perfectly. The recommended body shop was outstanding. Car looks brand new,” said one respondent.
“Excellent service,” said another respondent. “Always friendly and professional with timely updates.”
“The best company,” another member added.
The only real downside to using USAA for car insurance is that there are strict requirements in place to qualify. The criticisms provided by survey respondents are both typical of the insurance industry and less common for USAA than they were for any other company in the study. Anyone who qualifies to join USAA based on the company’s main qualification of current or past military service should consider taking advantage of USAA’s auto insurance offerings.
USAA Car Insurance Costs
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USAA’s national average rate is $2,537, which is the least expensive of the companies in the survey by far. USAA is followed by Geico at $3,215, State Farm at $3,260, American Family at $3,443, Nationwide at $3,450, Progressive at $4,036, Farmers at $4,194, Travelers at $4,435, and Allstate at $4,888.
Liberty Mutual car insurance rates are not currently available.
The data reveals that single 17-year-olds pay the highest USAA premiums, which is typical for auto insurance. A male in this age range pays $5,386, which was the highest average premium rate for USAA, and a female can expect to pay about $4,808. Upon reaching age 25, costs are cut by more than half, with a single 25-year-old female paying an average of $1,989 and a single 25-year-old male paying an average of $2,126. Note that for these two younger age groups, males pay more than females, but the gender gap narrows with older demographics. Married 35-year-old females can expect to pay an average of $1,551, slightly higher than married males of that age, who pay about $1,540. Married 60-year-olds pay USAA’s lowest average rates, $1,450 for females and $1,449 for males.
|Single 17-year old female||$4,807.54|
|Single 17-year old male||$5,385.61|
|Single 25-year old female||$1,988.52|
|Single 25-year old male||$2,126.14|
|Married 35-year old female||$1,551.43|
|Married 35-year old male||$1,540.32|
|Married 60-year old female||$1,449.85|
|Married 60-year old male||$1,448.98|
We also looked at rates for customers who drove 6,000 miles per year and customers who drove twice that amount. With USAA, customers in the 6,000-mile group paid an average of $2,483, and customers in the 12,000-mile group paid an average of $2,592.
Next up is coverage type, broken down into low, medium, and high coverage. The difference between coverage types with USAA is smaller than many other major auto insurance companies. USAA customers with low coverage can expect to pay about $2,404.11. Medium coverage averages about $2,539.87, and high coverage costs around $2,667.92 on average.
|Coverage Type||Average Rate|
Auto insurance customers with good credit can generally expect to get the lowest rates, and USAA is no exception here. Customers with a good credit history can expect average premiums of about $1,821. Fair credit history causes that average to go up to about $2,220. USAA customers with poor credit history pay insurance premiums of about $3,691 on average.
|Credit History||Average Rate|
It should come as no surprise that drivers with a clean record pay the lowest rates. USAA is no different than every other auto insurance company in that regard, with average premiums of $1,934 for the most responsible drivers. Drivers with one speeding violation pay an average rate of $2,193. One accident causes rates to jump to an average of $2,516, and drivers with one DUI pay the highest premiums, at about $3,506 on average.
|Driving Record||Average Rate|
|With 1 speeding violation||$2,193.25|
|With 1 accident||$2,516.24|
|With 1 DUI||$3,506.03|
Who Should Get USAA Car Insurance?
USAA is a clear leader in the auto insurance industry in just about every way, unless you’re a consumer who does not qualify to join USAA due to lack of military affiliation. If you do qualify for a USAA membership, you should at least consider it by talking to USAA. Ask the representative how much you could potentially save over what you’re currently paying for insurance, and consider the other benefits USAA offers to military families. USAA has some of the lowest rates and best reviews of any major auto insurance company, so making the switch is worth consideration.
USAA Auto Insurance vs. Geico Auto Insurance
Geico earns the fourth spot in our ranking of major auto insurance companies. Geico also comes in behind Travelers and Stare Farm, but it beats out Farmers, Nationwide, Progressive, Allstate, and American Family.
USAA’s scores are higher than Geico for every question in the study, although the scores for some questions are closer than others. USAA narrowly beat Geico when it comes to the ease of filing a claim, and USAA’s customers are much more likely to renew their policies than Geico’s, though Geico’s performance on that measure is better than most other insurance companies.
Rates are another area where USAA has a significant advantage over Geico. USAA’s average annual rate is $2,537, and Geico’s is $3,215. USAA also beats Geico in every age and marital status breakdown, though in the single 25-year-old male breakdown, Geico’s rate of $2,263 comes very close to USAA’s rate of $2,126.
The story is much the same when you look at the breakdowns for annual mileage, coverage type, credit history, and driving record. In every case, USAA’s rates are less expensive than Geico’s, sometimes by as little as a couple hundred dollars – for example, comparing rates for customers with a clean driving record – and sometimes by more than a thousand dollars, like when comparing customers with one DUI.
USAA vs. State Farm Auto Insurance
State Farm is the next company up against USAA in our closer look at key rivals in the auto insurance industry. State Farm is the third-ranked company in our survey.
USAA scored higher than State Farm on every question in the study. The narrowest gap between the two companies’ scores was on how happy consumers were with customer service. However, USAA customers are much more likely to recommend USAA than State Farm customers are to recommend State Farm.
We’ve already established that USAA’s average rate of $2,537 is the lowest in the study. State Farm’s average rate of $3,260 comes in third, just behind Geico. USAA also beats State Farm in every breakdown of age, sex, and marital status. In this case, the smallest gap between the two companies is single 25-year-old females, who can expect to pay $1,989 with USAA and $2,336 with State Farm. The biggest disparity is with single 17-year-old males, who can expect to pay nearly $2,000 less with USAA.
In terms of the other factors in the study, USAA’s pricing beats State Farm’s every time, whether you’re looking at annual mileage, coverage type, coverage amount, credit history, and driving record. There aren’t even any cases in which State Farm really comes close. Comparing what drivers with good credit history can expect to pay with these two companies, the difference is about $250.
USAA vs. Allstate Auto Insurance
Allstate Auto Insurance ranks eighth among the 10 major auto insurance companies we evaluate. In our customer satisfaction survey, there was a considerable gap between these two companies on every question, with the biggest difference being how likely consumers are to renew their policy. Customers with USAA are much more likely to renew than customers with Allstate.
Breaking down average insurance costs by demographic may be an eye-opener for some consumers. In almost every case but one, Allstate’s average costs are nearly twice that of USAA and more. The exceptions are single 25-year-olds females and males, who can expect to pay Allstate premiums of $3,425 and $3,571, respectively. USAA would charge those customers an average of $1,989 and $2,126.
In fact, Allstate customers can expect to pay much more than USAA customers in a vast majority of cases. When we look at the average costs of every insurance company in the study, Allstate is among the most expensive companies each time, regardless of annual mileage driven, coverage level, credit history, or driving record. In this study, there are no scenarios in which Allstate’s pricing even comes close to the prices offered by USAA.
Types of Coverage From USAA Car Insurance
USAA’s auto insurance offerings are, for the most part, basic and straightforward. When you’re shopping for a USAA policy, you’ll first need to consider your requirements for full coverage car insurance, which usually includes comprehensive and collision coverage. Then, consider your state’s requirements for liability coverage, which is comprised of bodily injury and property damage coverage. USAA can help you find liability coverage to meet your state’s minimum requirements, if applicable, and can help you decide if you’d like to increase your liability coverage for better protection.
USAA also offers car insurance coverage for personal injury protection, extended benefits coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, and uninsured and underinsured motorist property damage coverage. Different states have different requirements for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and USAA can help you figure out how to meet the minimums where you live and decide which level of risk is right for you.
Additional products from USAA include roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, and accident forgiveness. Furthermore, USAA offers coverage to rideshare drivers in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.
USAA Car Insurance Complaints
Complaints about USAA fell into a few general categories. First, there were some customers who believed that USAA’s insurance is too expensive. In one case, it was after comparison shopping.
“May not be worth the cost any longer.”
“Very expensive and I have years of longevity so it should actually be way cheaper than the others I estimated.”
Several other customers were not happy about their experiences dealing with USAA during the claims process or the actual resolution of the claim in question. A selection of those responses is below.
“Claim not settled. Too many rep transfers. Said car was deemed totaled due to a long scratch on side. Immediately became a salvage car. And no collision ins[urance] allowed. Still not settled.”
“Someone needs to explain to me how a $868 tiniest ten cent dent turns into a $4,868 repair on an old rusted vehicle the person sold for $2500 a month later? I was totally deceived by USAA.”
Some customers expressed dissatisfaction not with USAA specifically, but with the insurance industry as a whole, to explain why they would be reluctant to recommend USAA to another person.
“I would never recommend any insurance company. None of them will miss an opportunity to avoid paying what customers expect. There is no upside in recommending any company to anyone. You'll just tick someone off.”
USAA Car Insurance Discounts
USAA is known for having pretty low rates on car insurance, but it doesn’t hurt to see if you can lower your premiums through common car insurance discounts. If you are a USAA customer or potential customer, the best way to learn about discounts is to talk to a representative. USAA is proactive about finding ways to save money for members, so it doesn’t hurt to ask about discounts to see if you qualify for any. Many of USAA’s available discounts are common in the auto insurance industry, though some of their discount policies are a result of the company’s mission to help military families.
USAA offers discounts for safe drivers, those who take a defensive driving course or driver training, and good students. There are also discounts for having a new vehicle, low annual mileage, multiple vehicles, a vehicle in storage, loyalty to the company, and multiple policies with the same insurer. There are even family and military installation discounts. Some of these discounts are self-explanatory, while others require a little more clarification.
For example, the new vehicle discount is really for late-model vehicles that have certain equipment or features that make the vehicle safer or more likely to be recovered if it is stolen. Examples include anti-lock brakes, passive restraints, VIN etching, or telematics systems. USAA customers should talk to their representative to find out what specific features qualify a vehicle to receive such a discount.
Even though married, middle-age drivers are typically offered the best insurance rates, there are usually ways to lower the costs for drivers who fall outside of those demographics. Discounts are available to younger drivers, in the form of the good student discount or driver training course discount, and older drivers who have a clean driving record. USAA's discount for safe drivers is known as the premier driver discount. However, this discount is not available in the state of Hawaii.
Some of USAA’s discounts are designed specifically to make life easier for military families and help them save a little money while dealing with the circumstances of their jobs. These include discounts for a vehicle that is stored during a deployment or a vehicle that isn’t driven very often (due to the demands of the job or the customer’s lifestyle).
USAA, along with many other insurers, offers savings if you have more than one policy or a long-running loyalty to the insurer. You can save up to 10 percent on an existing USAA homeowners or renters insurance policy by adding an auto insurance policy. And, if your parents are members of USAA, you’ll get a discount of up to 10 percent.
Other Types of Policies From USAA
USAA got its start providing car insurance, though the company has since expanded to provide other insurance products, financial services, and forms of assistance to military members and their families. USAA offers homeowners, renters, life, health, long-term, Medicare, business, and disaster recovery insurance to its members. USAA’s banking services include checking and savings accounts, vehicle loans, home loans, personal loans, and credit cards. For additional financial security, check out USAA’s planning, investing, and retirement planning and account services.
USAA Financial Fitness
USAA is in pretty good financial shape as compared to the rest of the insurance industry. As of 2017, USAA had a net worth of $30.6 billion. The company’s operating expense ratio is 22 percent, compared to the industry average of 39 percent. In this case, a lower percentage is a good thing, because this ratio measures how effectively the company operates. In other words, USAA’s efficiency is considerably better than the industry average. In 2017, USAA distributed $1.6 billion to its members, though this figure includes dividends, bank rebates, and rewards in addition to distributions.
Other Insurance Brands Related to USAA
USAA has a number of subsidiaries in the insurance, investment, and banking industries.
United Services Automobile Association and USAA General Indemnity Company operate in all 50 states and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. USAA Casualty Insurance Company operates in the 50 states, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company operates in every state except Massachusetts. USAA County Mutual Insurance Company and USAA Texas Lloyd’s Company operate in Texas. USAA Limited is for European customers.
USAA Life Insurance Company, USAA Life Insurance Company of New York, and USAA Life General Agency, Inc. are subsidiaries in the life insurance and annuities industries.
For investment products, advice, and services from USAA, your options are USAA Investment Management Company, USAA Asset Management Company, USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency, Inc. (which is known as USAA Financial Insurance Agency in California), and USAA Financial Advisors, Inc., a registered broker dealer.
Banking services are available through USAA Federal Savings Bank Member FDIC, USAA Savings Bank (USAA Credit Cards) Member FDIC, USAA Residential Real Estate Services, Inc., USAA Acceptance, LLC, USAA Acceptance III, LLC, and USAA Mortgage Solutions.
USAA provides shopping and discount information through USAA Alliance Services.
There are a bunch of ways to contact USAA. The main phone numbers are 210-531-USAA and 800-531-USAA. The mailing address is 9800 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78288. The website, at www.usaa.com, offers messaging and numerous forms. Twitter users can contact customer support at @USAA_Help.