USAA's Service Roots
While attaining the high-status as a Fortune 500 company, United Service Automobile Association (or USAA as it is known) by serving those who serve in the military forces. The Texas-based company was founded in 1922 by a number of United States Army officers to insure each other because they could not receive insurance elsewhere due to the perception that military personnel acted too dangerously. Well, almost 100 years later, they have done okay for themselves.
With over 10 million members, USAA generates tens of billions of dollars of revenue every year and are worth approximately $25 billion. Interestingly, because USAA has members (i.e. the insured) and not shareholders, all USAA members truly have a share in the company's growth. At the end of every year, all unaccounted profits are returned to each member, which is very rare in the insurance industry.
USAA offers a set of products and services similar to other insurance carriers that mostly caters to individuals and families. It includes policies for automobiles, homes, personal property, casualty, and life insurance, among other items. Further, USAA’s life insurance is distinct in the industry because it does not exempt paying compensation for war fatalities (often called a war-exclusion clause, which is common in other plans). For the same reasons that USAA discovered the need for insurance among its niche, military market, it offers banking services. The company established a bank for members in the 1980s with access in person, online, and via smartphone.
Finally, USAA is involved in numerous unrelated business ventures including financial planning, marketing, and investing services. In all of these endeavors, the company has created a finely crafted direct sales approach, by calling and emailing customers through employees rather than through agents. Below, our attorneys have posted a review sample of USAA cases in the decade between 2005 and 2015.
Litigation against USAA
Compared to other insurers, USAA litigates in court or in settlement negotiations less frequently (almost 2% of the time, much lower than against other insurers). The company has been sued about two or three times less than most major insurance carriers and very rarely ever in federal court, possibly because of its legal (membership) structure. When USAA has been sued, however, most cases have involved insurance, property, and employment.
Across all categories of litigation since 2005, 18% of plaintiffs who filed a claim or lawsuit recovered nothing, where 44% recovered compensation up to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), 32% recovered recompense up to one million dollars ($1,000,000.00), and 6% recovered more than one million dollars ($1,000,000.00). While the high-end and low-end earners are a bit lower than normal on average, and the two median groups are a bit higher than normal, these numbers roughly correspond to average returns involving other nationwide insurers.
Separating out insurance cases from the total caseload against USAA reveals a bright side for plaintiffs. Only 17% of claimants completely lost their case to the insurer and received no jury award or settlement amount. A lower number of plaintiffs received something between zero and one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), which is 35% instead of 44%. Plus, higher percentages made up the remaining two groups: 37% of plaintiffs recovered up to one million dollars ($1,000,000.00), and 11% garnered more than one million dollars ($1,000,000.00). The story was not the same for plaintiffs involved in automobile accidents.
While their numbers ballooned in the middle two groups, many plaintiffs recovered nothing at all (24%) and only 3% recovered more than one million dollars ($1,000,000.00). Thus, it seems as though plaintiffs in insurance cases generally fared better than their counterparts in other categories, which was not the case for those involved in automobile incidents.
After an Illinois Auto Accident With a USAA Insured, What to do Next?
In the haze and panic following an accident, it is common to forget what to do first and lose sight of the long-term picture. However, it is essential to remember that every minute after the crash is important to how your case can be structured to receive financial compensation. Soon after the incident, it is important to record as many facts as possible, by gathering evidence, obtaining personal information from other drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses. Take as many pictures as possible. Photographic images of the scene will backup your memory when speaking to USAA or presenting your case at trial. Second, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Having a good lawyer at your side throughout the monetary claims process will relieve you of fighting with the other party or USAA when they inevitably try to lower their offer of compensation, which will happen. The insurance carrier has experts in insurance law who will try to use proven tactics against you at every step of the process to lower what they pay for your damages. You deserve a zealous advocate to preserve your financial recovery. Finally, if the other party involved in the accident is insured through USAA, you should a file claim as soon as you can. To reach them for claims, you can call them at 1-210-531-USAA (or 1-210-531-8722) or 1-800-531-USAA (or 1-800-531-8722), fill out a claim on their website at https://www.usaa.com/inet/ent_logon/Logon or mail them at the below address:
USAA (Claims Service)
P.O. Box 33490
San Antonio, TX 78265