USAA (which stands for United Services Automobile Association) Insurance was founded in 1922 by 25 U.S. Army officers. They met in San Antonio, Texas, and offered to insure each other’s cars when no one else would. Since then, USAA has grown to the point where they now boast 8 million members and a net worth at the end of 2010 of $18.7 billion. According to their own website, their founding values are service, loyalty, honesty and integrity, but when it comes to paying out USAA Insurance Oregon claims, has the company remained true to those founding values right up to the present day?
USAA Car Insurance is Not Available to Everyone
USAA Insurance was founded by military personnel, for military personnel, and while those criteria have been expanded somewhat, it’s true to say that not everyone can get USAA coverage. Only the following qualify:
- Active, retired and honorably separated officer and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military
- Office candidates in commissioning programs like ROTC, OCS/OTS and Academy
- Adult children of those USAA members who have or had a USAA auto insurance policy
- Widows, widowers and former spouses of USAA members who had a policy
While some USAA products are available to the general public, car insurance is not.
“Among the Best” According to Survey
USAA were included in a recent J.D. Power & Associates review of insurance companies, insofar as they were given ratings and an overall score. They were not included in the “league table” of the 25 companies around which the survey was based, because of the fact they exclude members of the general public from membership. However, their score of 889 out of a possible 1,000 points (the industry average is 846), and a Circle Rating of 4.7 out of 5 means that J.D. Power ranks USAA as “Among the Best” when it comes to providing insurance cover. When asked how satisfied customers are with the overall performance of USAA, a credible 73% expressed at least some level of satisfaction. However, slightly more than one of every five people surveyed said they were “extremely unsatisfied.”
Tactics for Insurance Claims: Delays and Low Settlement Offers
It appears that USAA, like many other insurance companies, have an unpleasant set of policies when it comes to paying out USAA Insurance Oregon claims. Many customers have made complaints to Consumer Affairs, alleging ongoing delays in settling claims, as well as the denial of perfectly valid claims. However, once a client gets the services of an attorney, the level of USAA service suddenly and miraculously improves.
On December 2, 2011, a disgruntled accident victim complained to Consumer Affairs that they had been hit from behind by a USAA client, who also happened to be drunk at the time. It was more than a week before USAA would acknowledge the claim and another week before they would send the car to one of their approved shops. After two vehicle inspections, the man says USAA will not return his calls, and he’s been told that both the agent and the supervisor are on vacation.
A large number of complaints have also been made about USAA refusing to deal with a claim until it’s reported by their client. In one case, USAA continually denied that their customer (who admitted fault in an accident) had contacted them, until the victim phoned the army base where the USAA-covered driver was stationed and learned that the young solider had indeed contacted USAA as well as providing follow-up details requested by the insurance company.
Like all insurance companies, USAA have been accused of paying out as little as possible—and far less than is justifiable—when settling a claim. On May 7, 2011, a man named Jamey from Bend, OR, wrote that he had received an estimate of $2,799 to repair a travel trailer that had been damaged by a USAA member, who admitted full liability. He was offered $1,000, which is not enough to either repair or replace the trailer. Jamey has made at least 25 phone calls to question USAA’s valuation, but not one call has been returned.
Sara, of Eugene, OR, had a similar story. Her daughter’s SUV was totaled in a crash, and USAA sent out a claims adjuster who made an unrealistically low offer. Sara said, “. I found out that they use a clipping service to establish prices for that model. I asked them to send me copies of the clippings of cars for sale. I then called each and every one of them – only to find: wrong model, not the same features, mileage that was different. I called USAA back, and they finally offered me $1,000 more.”
Sometimes Hiring a Lawyer Helps Your Claim
Accident victims filing USAA Insurance Oregon claims have reported that the delays in settlement and denials of legitimate claims have driven them to the point of contacting an attorney. Almost without exception, and often within 24 hours, USAA find that their clients actually had contacted them, or they find it in their hearts to make an improved settlement offer or pay a medical bill they had been contesting. The lesson to be learned here is that, if you’re an Oregon driver making a claim against USAA insurance, then perhaps you shouldn’t leave it until the delays and denials have you at breaking point. Contact a reputable Portland auto accident lawyer from the very start, and allow them to deal with the insurance companies. This is the easiest and best way to ensure you receive a fair and reasonable settlement in the shortest time possible.