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Intro
USAA is the fifth-largest auto insurance company in the United States by market share, having underwritten $13.2 billion in premiums in 2017. It serves active and retired U.S. Military servicepeople and their immediate relatives, offering vehicle insurance plus a range of add-ons and services including a car-buying serving – which helps buyers save thousands off the list price when purchasing a vehicle. USAA was founded by a group of 25 U.S. Army officers as the United Services Automobile Association in San Antonio, Texas, in 1922. It has stayed true to its roots for almost a century, serving military personnel and their families from all 50 states.
Pros and Cons
As one of the big five auto insurance companies in the United States, USAA enjoys a position of financial strength that gives its customers assurance about its ability to pay out on claims. Perhaps surprisingly for a large insurer, it’s also well-known for its customer service, so much so that it ranked near the top of the Temkin Group’s survey of consumers. Temkin surveyed 10,000 American consumers about 295 companies across 20 industries. USAA’s insurance division received a 77% customer satisfaction rating, tied for second place with USAA’s credit card business and Mercedes-Benz and behind only USAA’s banking division. USAA’s auto insurance division has consistently ranked near the top for customer service and online experience for the past five years.
The obvious downside to USAA’s service is that it’s only for military servicepeople and their immediate relatives. If you don’t fit in that category, you can’t purchase car insurance from USAA. To get insurance from USAA, you must become a member of USAA, and to become a member, you must meet the qualifying requirements, which include being an active or former service in the military or being a relative of an active or former member of the military.
Types of Auto Insurance
Each state makes its own laws about which types of auto insurance are compulsory and which are voluntary. Fortunately, USAA has policies to suit motorists of all 50 states. It offers all the standard forms of car insurance:
Liability. Covers expenses related to bodily injury and property damage when you’re at fault in an accident.
Collision. For repair or replacement of your vehicle if it’s damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object.
Comprehensive. For repair or replacement of your vehicle if it’s damaged in a non-collision incident such as fire, flood, vandalism, or theft.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist. Protects you when an uninsured or underinsured motorist causes an accident.
Personal Injury Protection. Also sold as “Medical Payments” to motorists in some states, this covers medical costs, rehabilitation costs, and related expenses such as lost income.
Additional Features
USAA also offers these add-ons, although availability varies by state:
Extended Benefits Coverage. In the event of death in a car accident, this provides wage-earner and disability benefits, plus a death benefit. Applicable only when the policy holder has medical payments coverage. The exact coverage varies by the motorist’s location.
Roadside Assistance. Covers towing or repair of your vehicle if you’re stuck out on the road. Also includes locksmith, gas delivery, or tire change when needed.
Rental Reimbursement. Pays the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop under a covered insurance claim.
Rideshare Coverage. For as little as $6 per month, drivers who work for ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft can add this to their coverage and stay insured while on duty.
Car Buying Service. USAA works with certified dealers around the country to offer its members discounts on new and used vehicle purchases. According to USAA, members save an average of $3,554 off the listed price on new vehicles.
Car Loans. Through its banking arm, USAA offers car loans for as low as 3.09% APR for new cars and 3.79% APR for used cars. Policyholders can save 0.50% on their loan when purchasing a vehicle through the USAA Car Buying Service.
Accident Forgiveness. If you manage to drive accident-free for five years from the date of joining USAA, your premium won’t go up after your next at-fault accident.
Discounts and Rewards. USAA offers 12 ways to secure discounts on your premium, including: safe driving record; bundling multiple types of insurance into one purchase; and family discounts.
How to Apply
To apply for insurance from USAA, you must use an existing USAA membership or sign up as a new member. This requires your date of birth, contact information, social security number, and details about you or your family member’s military service. Following that, you’ll be asked to create a username and password to use for all future online applications for insurance and other financial products and services. After you’ve signed up, the process is similar to applying for car insurance from any other insurer. You can apply online or over the phone. To get a quote, just provide basic personal details, information about your driving history and the driving history of any other policyholders, and information about your vehicle or vehicles.
Filing a Claim
All auto claims are handled online. To begin, log into your account and enter details of your claim, along with supporting documentation. A USAA claims representative will contact you to complete the process. Unfortunately, USAA’s website doesn’t provide a great deal of information about the claims process, so we can’t comment on how quickly claims are usually resolved.
Contact Details
USAA provides the following contact details:
  • Phone: 210-531-USAA (210-531-8722) or 800-531-USAA (800-531-8722)
  • Mail: USAA, 9800 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78288
Summary
USAA is dedicated to providing car insurance to active and retired servicepeople and their families. Thanks to its unique position across the insurance and banking sectors, it’s able to offer a range of additional features and add-ons that other large car insurers can’t offer – such as a car-buying service and car loans. With USAA, you can go through the whole process of purchasing a vehicle – from selecting the car, to purchasing it, to getting it financed, to getting insured – with a single provider.