this might run a little long but I thought I'd share a recent experience with the hope that it will spare someone from the frustration and disappointment that i'm feeling at the moment.
First, the obligatory number of years with USAA. In my case it's been 32 years. 32 years of auto and homeowners insurance premiums (I have no doubt USAA has made a mint off of me in spite of the occasional claim) along with 32 years as a credit card customer. For the most part it's been a decent relationship along with a few interactions where I thought "is this really USAA that i'm dealing with?"
Like many of you, I have been with USAA long enough to witness a real decline in customer service. When I first came aboard there was never an argument over a claim. Payment was prompt and fair AND they usually simply took your word for it. As USAA has expanded its membership rolls customer service has changed to the point they really are just another insurance company.
A few weeks ago I had an unfortunate experience. I dropped a very expensive camera and lens (it's amazing how much damage a 3 foot drop can inflict on such gear). It was, as I told USAA, 100% my fault. While I was upset with myself I was confident that the financial damage would be limited to my homeowners deductible. Right now some of you might be saying.. "um no, that's not covered under your homeowners policy" and you would be right. If your cameras, lenses, guns, jewelry, etc. are broken or lost BY YOU your homeowners policy doesn't cover it. For those instances you need a USAA Valuable Property Protection (VPP) policy. As you have probably guessed, USAA denied the claim stating that it didn't conform to one of the "covered perils" of my homeowners policy (if they had been stolen, or damaged in an accident, etc it would have been covered). Essentially, even if you drop a $5,000 camera in your own home you are NOT covered by your homeowners policy. You must have VPP.
Obviously i was upset and I appealed the decision by writing directly to USAA CEO Stuart Parker and the President of the Property and Casualty Group, Mr. Wayne Peacock. I was under no illusion that the letter would actually be seen by either one of them, and I wasn't disappointed. I received a call from a person that identified herself as being with CEO Affairs (or something similar.. I can't remember. Basically they are gatekeepers, another layer of insulation between the CEO and the rest of us).
My basis for appeal was simple. i'd been with USAA for 32 years. I had a proven track record of being adequately, sometimes over-insured. I have had countless interactions with USAA representatives, and have disclosed the contents of my home/valuables, in an effort to ensure proper coverage. In all that time not one single agent ever mentioned the word VPP or indicated that homeowners insurance had this huge gap in coverage. Not one email. Not one mailing. Not one mention on the USAA website or app... nothing. In fact, if you don't know to ask you may have never heard of it. Here's an additional little tidbit... During my odyssey through this nightmare I asked the CEO representative if USAA issued ANY homeowners policies that covered accidental damage such as what I experienced. The answer was a definitive NO. So why, I asked, does the VPP page on your website state that such damage "may not be fully covered by homeowneres insurance"? It either is, or isn't. Why the wishy-washy language on the webpage? No answer. Perhaps inentional ambiguity? After all, if you're not covered they don't have to pay, right?
So, I filed my appeal and the gatekeeper called me. She offered all kinds of excuses as to why no one ever brought it up, mostly stating that not all agents are "licensed" to make such offers or to try and sell such products. However, she did offer to try and make a case with the claims department. Bottom line... turned down again.
So, rather then rant any longer here's my lessons learned.
1. Your homeowners policy will NOT cover accidental damage or you misplacing/losing such things as cameras, guns, jewelry. You must have VPP
2. USAA will NOT offer this "gap insurance/VPP" to you. You have to know to ask (it's frigging cheap. 25k of coverage for about $16/month)
3. Be very careful taking advice from a USAA rep. Apparently they use agents who may not be licensed to sell what you are looking for. As such, they can't offer products they aren't licensed to sell (how's that for B.S.?)
4. USAA IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!! USAA is a business focused on profit. Period.
5. USAA marketing is slick and refined. They play on the mystique of exclusiveness, military camaraderie, and even a sense that you're joining a "family" to draw you in and keep you as a customer. Remember, you are just a commodity and the former high ranking officers at the top of the USAA food chain have sold their souls for the almighty dollar.
6. YOU are NOT a MEMBER! You are a customer. Nothing more, nothing less. Company's that use terms such as "member" or "guest" are devaluing the business/customer relationship.
7. 5 years, 10 years, 25 years, or my 32 years of "membership" mean nothing. USAA espouses loyalty in their advertising campaigns but it's a one way street.. us to them.
Bottom line... only you can ensure you are properly covered. Ask questions, do your research online. Keep solid records of all contacts. And, if you can find cheaper coverage at another reputable insurance company give serious consideration to moving your business elsewhere. It's hard to leave right? I get it (remember, they're good at minupulating us) But at the end of the day your just another premium. It's your money and loyalty means nothing to them.
I agree. I've been with them for nearly as long and they've changed a lot over the years, not for the good. They are so far from their original charter it's unbelievable. I'm sure the officer's that started the company are turning in their graves. When I see an ad on the TV about USAA, it almost makes it sound like if you know someone, anyone in the military, give us a call! Their primary mission now is to sign up more "members" and thereby make more money. Providing outstanding insurance value and service to military personnel is secondary to everything else. Thanks for the ambiguous recent letter, Mr. Parker, which said nothing about anything really. I'd rather you bumped my SSA check another $5 instead of spending millions of dollars on that nicely done letter that informed me about nothing.
It's time to start looking is right. I've had NUMEROUS friends that called to discuss premiums with them and made apples to apples comparisons with other reputable insurance companies. When they said they'd like to stay with USAA but the rates were better at XXX Company, they got what amounted to a "Okay, see ya later." No attempt to convince them to stay. Really didn't care whether they stayed or left. Unbelievable....
I have been with USAA for over 50 years and as most others have steadily watched the decline in service with USAA. I to get an answer with USAA Banking to a simple question and the phone "helper - Name of Charles" was either too busy to help me or was just not interested. Long story short, Charles offered to close out my account for me. I just hung up. I do hope someone from USAA reads this and maybe reaches outs, but I fear those who may care are gone.