While attaining the high-status of becoming a Fortune 500 company, United Service Automobile Association (or USAA as it is known) has also done so with a purpose: serving those who serve. This Texas-based company was founded in 1922 by a number of United States Army officers to insure each other because they could 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, they generate 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 share in this growth and at the end of every year unaccounted for profits are actually returned to them! This is very rare in the insurance industry.
USAA offers a set of products and services similar to other insurance carriers. Their main line caters to individuals and families. It includes policies for automobiles, homes, personal property, casualty, and even life insurance, amongst other items. Further, USAA’s life insurance is distinct in the industry because it does not exempt collection for war fatalities (often called a war-exclusion clause, common in other plans). For the same reasons that USAA discovered the need for insurance among its niche, military market, it also decided that banking services for them were necessary. It established a bank for them in the 1980s and is not as modern and available as any other, accessible in person, online, and via smartphone.
Finally, USAA also has a number unrelated business ventures including financial planning, marketing, and investing services. In all of these endeavors, it has created and finely crafted a direct sales approach, calling and emailing customers through employees rather than agents. In some of these pursuits and others, it has rubbed some the wrong way and that has often turned to litigation. What follows next is a review of its cases over the last ten years (since 2005).Litigation against USAA
Compared to other insurers, USAA has found itself in court or in settlement negotiations on a much less frequent basis (almost 2% of the time, much lower than against other insurers). It 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 it has been sued, however, most cases have involved insurance but other common topics include property and employment.
Across all categories of litigation since 2005, 18% recovered nothing, 44% recovered something up to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), 32% recovered 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, and the two groups in the middle are a bit higher than normal, these numbers roughly correspond to average returns against other insurers.
Separating out insurance cases from the total caseload against USAA, we do see some daylight for plaintiffs. Only 17% completely lost 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)-35% instead of 44%. Plus, higher percentages made up the remaining two groups: 37% 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 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 subject matters, this 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 any accident, it is not uncommon to forget what to do or lose sight of the long-term picture. However, you must always remember that every minute is important and any fact can be crucial in determining future recovery. Soon after the incident, you should record as many facts as you can and take as many pictures as possible. These will backup your memory when speaking to USAA or other people in the future. Second, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Having a good lawyer at your side all throughout the process will relieve you of the need of having to fight the other party or USAA when they inevitably try to lower your recovery. This will happen. They have experts in insurance law and will try to use this against you at every step of the process. You deserve a zealous advocate to preserve your relief. 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)Ready to Speak to a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Who Has Your Back in the USAA Claims Process?
P.O. Box 33490
San Antonio, TX 78265