USAA Pays Excluded Claim Because You've Been A Customer For 11 Years

“A few months ago, the pipe under my front lawn which leads to the water main, as well as two of my neighbors’ pipes, burst as a result of city firefighters cleaning the hydrants and shutting the water off too quickly. There was a nice little stream going down the street until the city came and shut off our water the next day, routing our service through a different (unaffected) neighbor’s pipes. The Water Services Department informed us that we were financially responsible for hiring a plumber to make the repairs, and that if we failed to do so within 30 days, we would be disconnected from our neighbor’s service. All of the estimates we got from plumbers came in around $1,500.”

Of course, we tried to fight the city on this, but to make a long story short, we lost. To make matters worse, the city reversed its decision at one point, leading us to believe that they would pay for the repairs, then waited a month and decided again that they weren’t responsible. All this time, we were drawing water from my neighbor’s service, so his water pressure was terrible (as was all of ours) and there was nothing he could do about it. Thanks to the city’s flip-flopping, we were finally able to get the repairs done just three weeks ago, after dealing with poor water pressure for over two months.

In speaking with other neighbors who had seen the same thing happen before, I was told that, in their experience, insurance companies typically don’t cover this kind of damage. Nevertheless, I thought it was at least worth making a claim and seeing what happened, so I called USAA (of which we’re members because my wife’s grandfather was an airline pilot), and to my great surprise was immediately told that it was covered (minus our $500 deductible). We relievedly faxed in the plumber’s invoice and waited for the check to come.

A week later (last Wednesday), we got a phone call at 9am from an agent named Lisa, who apologized profusely and said that USAA wouldn’t be able to pay the claim, because (as I had initially expected) that kind of plumbing damage wasn’t covered. Normally, I might have demanded to know why this differed from what she had initially told me, but she seemed genuinely distressed that she wasn’t able to help us, so I just thanked her for letting us know and left it at that.

An hour later, Lisa called again. She told me that she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about our case for the past hour, couldn’t stand the fact that we were going to have to pay so much money for something that wasn’t our fault and seemed like it should be covered, and was now determined to get USAA to pay our claim. I was a little stunned, but told her I really appreciated her extra attention to our case.

We didn’t hear back from Lisa for hours after that, and I was starting to figure she had just given up and moved on. At 3:30pm, though, she called back, sounding practically ecstatic: USAA had agreed to pay our claim, and we’d be getting a $1,000 check in the mail in 3-5 business days. I asked her if she’d been working on our case all day, and she admitted that she had. She said that what made the difference in the end was telling her manager that we had been customers for 11 years and had never previously made a claim. In a world where most customer service reps are loathe to spend five minutes of their time on the phone with you, to have someone spend their entire workday on your account was pretty incredible.

We got the check in the mail yesterday, and now I’m wondering how to thank an employee of a company who went so far above and beyond the call of duty because she felt personally responsible to set things right. It certainly wouldn’t have changed things for her one bit if she had simply followed standard procedure and denied our claim – in fact, that was surely the politically safe option. I’d like to at least send her a card, but what would really make me happy would be if her great service were to give USAA some good publicity in the form of a Consumerist post about this story. :-)

Matt

Other companies—we’re looking at you, telecoms—proffer the “valued customer” spiel when conceding defeat for something that was clearly their fault. Not USAA. USAA loves their customers. They spend all year thinking of what to get them for Valentine’s Day. They carry pictures of them in their wallet. An honest, genuine concern for their customers is one of the many, many reasons that USAA may just be the best company in America.

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    Wait a minute — why did someone else’s incompetence cost you money? You need to be filing suit against the employer of the person who damaged your pipes, as they are responsible for the damage and the time and effort you spent in making it right. Hopefully you documented everything. You cannot just go damaging peoples’ property and not have to pay. I think $1500 fits well within the jurisdiction of small claims court in most places.

  2. Falconfire says:

    how in gods name did the city get away with that is my question… If i had been in a situation like that I would have taken it immediately to the county prosecutors office. You would amazed how fast citys reverse decisions when the county starts snooping around on practices.

  3. MikeB says:

    One good way to thank an employee is to send a complimentary letter to the company concerning your dealings with Lisa. Many people are quick to send in a complaint but rarely send in a letter of thanks.

    One day we were unfortunate in having to call 911 as my Wife’s grandmother had fallen and we were unable to get her up and comfortable. So we called 911, the fire department was at my Mother-in-laws house within 5 min and were very compassionate and helpful. I made sure to send in a letter of thanks and received back a response from a Chief letting me know that it is rare they get a letter of thanks.

  4. kingoftheroad40 says:

    Good to see a positive post good for usaa.

  5. oneswellfoop says:

    I had to get a lawyer and almost sue USAA to cover my legitimate medical expenses from an accident involving me and one of their insured. The settlement they offered and would not go above for eight months was not enough to cover my bills. It took an ultimatum from a lawyer who was going to file suit the next day in order to get them to give me enough to pay my bills.
    F’ USAA in the A’

  6. homerjay says:

    @mbouchard: Years ago, before Home Depot became infamous, I was in there almost weekly ordering and picking up and such. I had just bought a new house.
    Anyhow, I had received nothing but the best service every time I was in there and one time I went in to pick up an order and overheard some asshole tearing apart everyone there because they let him order the wrong part.
    It disturbed me so much that I wrote in to tell management how awful this guy treated his employees and how well they handled it and how good they’ve been to me.

    The next time I was in to pick something up I saw the letter posted behind the service desk and everyone that handled my paperwork that day asked if I was the guy that sent the letter and thanked me for it, including the managers.

    It was nice.

  7. DallasDMD says:

    Too bad regular people can’t do business with USAA.

  8. Hawk07 says:

    @oneswellfoop:

    You’re not the only one with bad USAA experience.

    There was a bad hail storm in my childhood home in San Antonio (their HQ for those that don’t know), and it significantly damaged the roofs of all the homes in the area. Consequently nearly all the houses needed a new roof. We were the only military family on the street so subsequently, we were the only ones with USAA.

    USAA flat out refused to pay for a new roof despite the fact that it was definitely covered in our policy. Additionally, no other homeowner on the street had to put up any kind of fight with their homeowner insurance company (it was a fairly close knit neighborhood so we asked around).

    After much fighting and pressure, USAA eventually backed down and agreed to pay the claim.

    Also, I would recommends for USAA members to shop around for auto policies. I know A LOT of newly commissioned officers that are conned into thinking USAA has the lowest auto rates around. That may be the case for some car owners, but in our case, after continually getting our auto insurance raised despite no tickets and no claims, we decided to call around. Geico did in fact save us 15% or more on our car insurance, other companies saved us even more. We ended up switching after 25+ years with USAA and now get more coverage for a lower price. Funny how that works.

  9. Hawk07 says:

    @Hawk07:

    After rereading the letter, I want to make another point.

    When our home was damaged, my parents had been USAA members for about 16 years. Additionally, we had never made a claim via auto or home up until that point.

    Since that claim, about was about 15 years ago, we again have had zero claims until we found providers elsewhere for cheaper.

    I admit, it would be nice if USAA was willing to match or beat their competitors prices, but there was nothing they could do in our case. When we did cancel our auto policy, I think the girl even tried to sell us on the good customer care, but frankly, that’s not worth the extra $900 per year with less coverage than our new insurer.

  10. asherchang2 says:

    They already lost against the city, as the government always seems impervious to liability in these kinda situations.

  11. MickeyMoo says:

    PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) were doing extensive replacement of gas lines in my neighborhood, the side effect of which was extreme vibration throughout the area (which is built on sand). My water supply lines were installed when the house was built (1926) and made from galvanized steel. I noticed a drop in pressure and a rushing water noise – but had no idea where it was coming from until an 8ft tall fountain started to erupt from a gap in the concrete a few days later. Much as I’ve always dreamed of a water feature in my front yard, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Initially PG&E refused to help saying the age of the pipes was a contributory cause (beach sand+steel=rust+vibration=Dancing Fountains) A few weeks of hemming, hawing, threatening and showering at friends’ finally resulted in a compromise where they used their equipment to run a new copper line to the service closet alongside the gas line they’d just put in and I re-routed it inside to connect with the existing plumbing. I think with sufficient documentation and persistence, you should be able to convince your city attorney’s office to reimburse you for your deductible.

  12. Buran says:

    @asherchang2: Nothing was said about a lawsuit. If someone says “no, it’s not our fault” that doesn’t mean you have to accept that excuse. You can and should still file suit.

  13. barfoo says:

    @Buran: Or your insurance company can do it (though for $1000 in this case it’s probably not worth their lawyer’s fees).

  14. mobbo says:

    USAA is AWESOME! I have been a member for 2 years now (current military member), but my dad has been a member for close to 40 years. I have never waited one second when calling after I enter my USAA number. An agent picks up immediately. I had auto insurance then received a call about a month ago from just a random USAA service rep asking how I was doing. He didn’t try to sell me anything… just wanted to know how my school and military career was going.

    I later signed up for their banking services. Their debit card has a cash-back rewards program and you can make deposits of checks by scanning the check and sending it in.

    I love USAA and recommend them to anyone who is eligable to sign up.

  15. Falconfire says:

    @asherchang2: Just because a city wins internally, doesnt mean they can win in a county, state, or even federal court if you decide to take it that far.

    Nor does it mean they can civily win if you go the route Buran suggests.

    Citys tend to win when its city judges involved, but the minute it makes it out of the small crucible that is city politics, statistically the public has a much better chance.

  16. zarex42 says:

    This should have gone to court; it shouldn’t be covered by your insurance company (and thus the other insurance customers)

  17. balthisar says:

    Don’t governments have immunity to this type of stuff? I.e., you can’t sue them unless they agree to be sued?

  18. MikeB says:

    I don’t think there is an immunity, but I believe there is a limit. I remember hearing about an accident a while back in NC where someone got hit by a City owned dump truck and there was only a 100K limit on the amount they could sue for.

  19. sleze69 says:

    To become a member of usaa, you either need to be in the military, be a relative of someone in the military or be a relative of a usaa member.

    Posts like this are a tease.

  20. BOSMike says:

    I had a similar incident with USAA a few years ago. In the middle of January we had water leaking through our ceiling into our kitchen. It was being caused by an ice dam on our roof. I first called USAA to ask what we should do. The customer service rep. said the first step is to immediately find a roofing company who can come out and remove the ice dam to prevent further damage. I was told this would be covered 100% and we would not have to pay our normal $500 deductable. Repair of the drywall WOULD be part of the normal claim process and subject to a deductable so I planned on just making the small repair on my own to avoid the $500.

    The roofers did the job of removing the ice for about $800 and when we submitted the bill to USAA it was initially approved for only $300 ($500 deductable WAS required to be paid by us first). After another call to customer service we were told that yes, the deductable must still be paid by us and the initial CS rep was incorrect. But, she proceeded to ask me additional questions about the damage and put me on hold for a few minutes. She came back and said she increased the claim to $1300 since surely I would need to spend money on materials to repair the interior ceiling on my own. That resulted in an $800 check being sent to me! Woo hoo.

    They always seem to go out of their way to keep you as a member of the USAA family.

  21. FlyRyan says:

    USAA is AMAZING. I do everything I can through them. I have a banking account with them, car insurance, property insurance, and even have my car loan through them.

    They are ALWAYS the nicest people when you call them and are super easy to deal with. I really think the people there LOVE their jobs.

    They are the model for how a company should be run.

  22. jaredharley says:

    I’m proud to be a life-long (25 years and counting) USAA member. I’ve never had an issue with them, and I love calling customer service – that’s right, love.

  23. torqueU says:

    I’m a USAA member, never had any problems with auto claims (accident 9 yrs ago). Haven’t had any household claims and I hope I never have to! They are consistantly rated 1 or 2 in customer service and I’ll stick with them till they treat me badly. I love the auto insurance – every year that the company does well you get a refund/rebate check. 100 to 200 bucks every year. Though last year they cheaped out a bit and just applied it to my home insurance. Love the online banking and instant deposits – just scan a check and it appears in your savings account. Pretty awesome. Get USAA if you can! A friend who was eligable for USAA ended up going with geico and it saved him a whole 10 dollars on his premium. You generally get what you pay for.

  24. bmacdaddy says:

    Actually USAA recently updated their eligability requirements. It is true active duty military can join. Ex-dependants are eligable only if one of their parents was or is active duty and actually have or had USAA insurance at one time. The the parents never actually had a USAA policy, the ex-depentdents are out of luck. Federal agents also can get USAA insurance. I have been a member of USAA for a very long time. I agree it is a great company. I would rather pay a few extra bucks and know that the company is going to pay my claim and NOT go out of business. Most people know, If you can get USAA insurance, jump right on it. I could go on all day about all the good things about USAA…..

  25. Copper says:

    I’ve been a member of USAA for about eight months and unfortunately, have had to file a few claims. First, my fiancee had a wreck two days after we started their insurance. Then a few months later, the same car broke down and I needed to get towed, then a few months after that, my other car broke down and I needed a tow. Then a few weeks ago, the first car got broken into and $1200 worth of personal property and radio/sound system was stolen. They still haven’t raised my premiums on auto/renter’s insurance, even though it’s been renewed after three claims. I’m also a member of the bank and have a checking/savings/credit card with them. I’ve never had a bad customer experience and love USAA.

    There’s always a few bad experiences, but when the majority of customers love the company, they’re doing pretty well. After being with Farmers and having expensive and ridiculous auto insurance, I was so glad to switch to USAA and have my premium cut in half.

    Definitely send a letter, Lisa would be thrilled. She’ll get points with her boss.

  26. oldtaku says:

    Yeah, I love me some USAA. And whenever I get those bozos from other insurance companies harassing me saying they can save me money I just tell them I’m with USAA and they shut up and go away.

  27. RumorsDaily says:

    Eh, let’s talk about organization I might actually be allowed to use.

  28. HalOfBorg says:

    I would not be surprised to hear that USAA is suing your city/fire dept for the money they paid you.

    They broke your line, they should repair or pay for it. Simple. Find a lawyer that will talk with you for free. Maybe a not so nice letter will get your money.

    Of course then the lawyer will want some.

  29. HalOfBorg says:

    I had a car hit me, he was uninsured so I put it on my uninsured motorist. Paid deductable.

    Years later insurance company sent me a check for the deductable. They sued him for the money. theirs and mine.

  30. darious says:

    Add me to the “send a letter to the company” chorus. I’ve received a couple myself and it’s never hurt me when it’s annual raise time. :)

    I’d go ahead and toss in a mention to the consumerist site as well. Word of mouth experiences like this and the comments below count for a lot.
    For example – If I was eligible join I would have just signed up with them for some insurance needs that I’ve been looking for.

  31. SaveMeJeebus says:

    USAA is a prime example of why the best banking institutions CAN ONLY be private and non-profit. A bank can’t serve shareholders and customers simultaneously without screwing one over–usually the customer. Kudos USAA (12 year member).

  32. jeffbone says:

    As a 24 year USAA member, I find it interesting that they’re crying the blues about losing money on Florida property policies, yet feel it’s OK to pay claims not covered in the policy (article doesn’t give the location, but I’m not sure it matters anyway).

    I’ve had several poor customer service situations with USAA recently. It’s gotten to the point where I’m actively looking for an alternate insurer because apparently my business isn’t important enough to them to get minor details like address changes correct.

  33. EvilSquirrel says:

    I’m not surprised the city denied your claim. Even if it is their fault, it is common for utility companies to claim that such damage is not covered or an act of god. Basically they know that you will not bother to dispute this because of the time and costs associated with taking them to court. Sure you might win, but you will end up having legal fees that were more than your claim.

  34. kdrosas says:

    Every rep I have ever talked to at USAA has always been friendly. When I had a minor car accident my rep was very helpful and was positive she could help me. Even though what happened wasn’t what I wanted, it was in no way due to the company. I am very glad I married someone eligible for them, especially coming from BOA.

  35. ihateauditions says:

    I’m a 15 year USAA member, and I couldn’t be happier with them.

    I’ve used their auto insurance on and off, as the cheapness of this has varied as has my age and driving record.

    I’ve always used their renters and homeowner’s insurance, their credit cards and auto loans.

    Loves me some USAA.

  36. Rabbigrrl says:

    Yay! USAA!
    I had only been a customer for a few years through my partner, when living in an apartment, the garage was broken into. My car was slightly damaged (they slit the window seal, which was annoying because it was actually slightly open already), and my bicycle (my main form of transportation at the time) was stolen, its lock chain cut. Even though the bike was not even close to new, USAA covered the cost to replace the bike with the same model – that is to say. I bought the next to newest model of the bicycle – much nicer than the old, I must say- and USAA was happy to pay for it. Yay, rah!

  37. Hawk07 says:

    @dave511:

    They underwent major employee reorganization earlier this year and they’re constantly renovating the building. Not to mention they just got done building a terrorist keep out fence around the SA home complex. That’s probably why your return was lower.

  38. Hawk07 says:

    @jeffbone:

    It’s actually interesting looking at USAA’s legal history. Despite their size, several state AG’s have successfully gone after them and gotten them to pay claims they were refusing to pay (essentially for made up reasons as any other insurer would). So, I agree. It is a little surprising they decide to pay claims not covered.

  39. Buran says:

    @barfoo: I’m sure they have lawyers on retainer.

  40. Buran says:

    @HalOfBorg: Hence you also demand attorney’s fees. I sure would.

  41. Hawk07 says:

    @Buran:

    They have a whole office of corporate lawyers. I think 15-20 off the top of my head, though I don’t know lawyer jargon and what job titles qualify as a lawyer, versus admin assistant and aide. But, they have a solid General Counsel which is expected in a company with 20,000+ employees.

  42. Asterchild says:

    I want to heap the love on USAA also!

    My parents had a washer hose bust and flood the house. They had to pay their deductible (of course) and then USAA covered the rest at replacement value. We had an emergency flood crew come in the very night it happened.

    Every time I call customer service the phone is answered within seconds, minutes at worst.

    I have their home owners and car insurance as well as a credit card. I’ll probably switch to their banking at some point here.

    Go USAA!

  43. jfsinmsp says:

    I’ve had USAA for 15 years. The first claim I had was after my car stereo had been stolen. I verbally told them which window had been broken and what model stereo I had owned, and with no further documentation they offered me a dollar figure and transfered the cash into my checking account. I was never asked for so much as as a written repair estimate, proof of purchase of the stereo, or even a police report.

    The second claim was for damage to a car door for my wife’s vehicle. The car had been on my insurance policy for about 3 days when the damage occurred. USAA paid it without any questions.

  44. use2b2t2 says:

    Hey, let me tell you USAA is GR8!
    I bought renter insurance at my house in Lithis Springs, Ga cause we had a trampoline and afraid neighborhood kids might get hurt, and we wanted it covered. Never, in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that I would be eventually filing for total destruction of the rental house we lived in.
    Flash to Hurricaine Ivan. Due to a strike of luck (and my brother for hooking me on the accursed game, Zuma). I was up when my husband left for work. (we had high winds about 50 and storms I think the fire department said. all the water they pumped to house was not going into the house due to winds. Well, it was hot and as soon as power went off my kids woke up freking (I suppose, use to fans blowing (we had fans and 1 room AC) Anyway, my kids woke up, and I decided to drive to my moms house which was fairly close) Man, what a blessing as was (the fire dept said later if we was asleep, the house went up so fast we could not escape). Anyway, while I was gone, the house was struck by lightning and burned pretty much to the ground. After arriving back to my house and burned (neighbors crying cause they thought we was in it) I called up USAA. Man, let me tell you! The agent never asked details, he asked if everything okay, did anyone get hurt. The 2nd thing he offered was to send me check via fedex same day to get items needed for my family (he wanted to make sure we were taken care of at the moment. I declined as I stayed at brother, but what a blessing). I was scared calling em up because I figure there be red tape. The agent only cared about our immediate well being. I knew then I had the right company. We had USAA for car insurance in the UK, and been a member I guess about 4 years before this happened. I will never have another insurance company. I know I pay more, but, you know, that impressed me. In my time of need and distraught they came thru for me, and was with me every step thru the fire investagation, and the claim. I LOVE USAA AND I WILL NEVER CHANGE!!!

  45. Buran says:

    @EvilSquirrel: The insurance agencies that will sue the guilty party for the amount of the repair plus your deductible tend to have lawyers on retainer. It would have been cheaper for them to just suck it up and pay. Now they will have to pay for the damage, for their own legal fees, AND for the legal fees of the insurance agency that came after them when they had to pay to cover damaged caused by the guilty party’s negligence.

  46. coren says:

    @balthisar: If that’s true, that’s utterly ridiculous. Why would you even bother to agree to be sued? Just deny them the right and go on your merry way with no worry about losing a court case.

  47. ExecutorElassus says:

    Loves me some USAA, too. All I have is the credit card, but the rate is always low, they boost my limit every year, and NEVER hassle me about anything. They wouldn’t ever ping me for late payments, and every other month had nothing due, anyway. Too bad I don’t run a balance anymore; I’m almost willing to pay them finance charges, with how nice they usually are.

  48. privatejoker75 says:

    something similar happened to me about 7 years ago. Long story short, the city broke the pipe ringing water to our house. They fixed the pipe after a month of fighting with them. The kicker was that the pipe was broken for about 2 weeks before anyone noticed. So we had to fight the $800 water bill also.

  49. mdkiff says:

    @mobbo: I completely agree. Our car insurance rate for 2 people is only slightly more than the old rate for me alone. I have never been put on hold to wait for a customer service rep., and I often e-mail them with questions, ALWAYS getting a response within the promised 24 hours. On top of that, their rates are great (about 5% on savings acct, they reimburse me for all ATM fees charged by other banks, great no-fee mutual funds, and reasonble charges for buying individual stocks). Obviously, some people will have problems – but USAA is clearly heads and shoulders above other insurance companies.

  50. punktlich says:

    USAA is, or traditionally was, a member-owned (co-operative-type) reinsurance exchange. Because its universe of members was commissioned and warrant officers (and Military Academy students) of the military services, the Coast Guard, the US Public Health Services and the State Department & USIA (and their unmarried surviving spouses), its loss ratio attributable to fraud by insureds was dramatically lower than that of commercial insurers. When, after the military drawdown following the end of the Vietnam War it sought growth by expanding into other financial areas (many of which were not and are not restricted to members) and creating a form of “associate membership” (children and grandchildren of members; more recently enlisted military personnel) — coupled with computerization and now Internet-ization of many customer transactions — the original relationship with members has been lost, or largely so. It has always been true that some forms of insurance have been cheaper in some commercial markets. But it remains true that by and large USAA treats its insureds with respect and an assumption of truthfulness and probity. Still, a search on Westlaw or LEXIS-NEXIS will reveal lawsuits albeit mostly with third-party claimants. But remember this: USAA was No. 189 of the Fortune 500, and still growing. No firm that large can hope to please everybody. Still, it offers cover that nobody else does: those who insure with its EU subsidiary (USAA Ltd.) get free motor cover while driving in the USA as well as the worldwide cover they have paid for. As a member-owned exchange, full members get “dividends” or rebates. USAA is not what it once was and many of its offerings (“new-for-old”) are available elsewhere too, but it is still a unique “family”. And (for example) for active-duty military, who else offers life insurance without a war risk premium? (Presumably subsidized by other policyholders, but still…)

  51. ryan_marsh says:

    USAA has the best customer service of any company I have ever used, hands down. I know I pay a bit more for my auto insurance but I love their customer service for banking and insurance.

    When was the last time you talked a cust. svc. rep who just kept you on hold forever why she “researched” a particular errant charge? With USAA, I just tell them to figure it out and call me back… and guess what? They do. Always a pleasure to do business with, I actually LIKE calling my bank. Who can say that?

  52. econobiker says:

    USAA may charge a little more than other companies but they actually handle insurance in “high risk” states that other companies won’t. Me: 5 years car insurance with other company in AL with no claims then move to NJ, other company says “have a nice day but we don’t service that state”. Call parents and get on their USAA as former dependent and bingo car insurance much cheaper than any other companies I had called around for in NJ.

  53. polarc says:

    USAA also has free CFP financial advisors for its members. FREE, as in no sales pitch, straight forward honest advice. I’ve been a member since 1991. I’ve got the full meal deal with them; I even booked my honeymoon cruise through their travel service. If you have a chance to become a USAA member, take advantage of the opportunity.

  54. cecilsaxon says:

    I have had USAA for almost 20 years now. Great service- every time. Never once had a problem, never once did they giggle, or condescend when we have done something stupid-

    Rear ended a Sheriff-
    Totaled a car after spilling coffee-

    etc…

    They even send rebate checks when they collect excess premiums and had fewer claims than expected.

  55. I got my homeowner’s insurance through USAA, and a little while later switched my checking account over. Neither transaction was terribly neat (on my end), but they were always available and super helpful. When I got an overdraft on my account due to miscalculating a deposit by a few days, they removed it as soon as I asked, with no hassle at all. LOVE those guys.

    If you don’t think you qualify, by the way, call and check. Sometimes they know something you don’t.

  56. Spaniard says:

    Glad to hear more positive comments about the company I work for. I have been working at USAA in the Information Security field and am truly surprised at how well USAA treats their customers and how privileged one should feel being one of USAA’s customers.

    Matt…Kudos!

  57. jmuskratt says:

    USAA did their best to screw us for 6 months over our Katrina flood claim. They went from total loss to 25% overnight. I had to fight and threaten to sue to get back up to 50% before I gave up before it killed me. The reps were really nice as they gave me their clearly erroneous interpretations of the contract, though.

    Sad thing is, I still have all my policies with them as no one else writes in New Orleans except the state insurer of last resort.

  58. Pinget says:

    I’ve been a USAA customer for about 19 years now. No complaints, always great service. Through no fault of my own, in that time I’ve had 2 totaled cars. They’ve always been great to me.

  59. Nighthawke says:

    The press and Consumer Advocates would have had a field day with those clowns. The city balked on their premise that they are not responsible for damages on the building side of the meter incurred by their employees is vague and unfounded. Hand this off to the press and they will make so much hay of this, that the public would be clamoring for their heads at the polls.

  60. realjen01 says:

    i love love love usaa! they’re always super nice on the phone and super helpful!

  61. BrianH says:

    Just like with Zappos, USAA rules. Some companies love their customers, and they’re rewarded with tons of business and loyalty. Other companies (Sprint, Comcast, Best Buy, I’m looking at you) despise their customers, and look at them as a necessary evil.

  62. Sam2k says:

    Send the CSR some flowers. That way, everyone in the office will know that she did a good job and be similarly inspired.

  63. siskamariesophie says:

    I love USAA. When my 3-year old Apple laptop gave out on me (the hard drive was done for) they immediately wired $1000 to my account and I was the owner of a brand new MacBook a few hours later. I could serenade them all day.

  64. burgundyyears says:

    @siskamariesophie: How was USAA covering your Macbook? I’m confused.

  65. lmoriconi says:

    Interestingly we had a similar incident several years ago when we suffered a massive sewage back up in our basement. Concurrent with this mess, my wife spotted a county tank type truck working in a parking lot behind our lot. After confirming that they were flushing the sewer lines, we contacted the county District Attorney in order to have the county pay for our basement clean-up. He agreed. However, several days later, we got an apologetic county letter in the mail disavowing any responsibility for the incident. After contacting said county attorney, he asked us to disregard the letter, admitting these types of letters are sent as a matter of course, stonewalling most taxpayers at this stage. in short, the county paid all clean up costs. Lesson: be persistent!

  66. lowlight69 says:

    been with USAA for 8 years now, i LOVE THEM!!!! they rock!!!! had an accident, they were great to deal with. i do my banking, insurance, investing, all with them. i can call them 24/7/365, speak to someone in a matter of seconds who is always happy and ready to help. they may be a bit more, but the service i get for that extra is well worth it. I honestly love working with USAA, they are great.

  67. Frank Grimes says:

    I guess I’m just bitter when I read these stories and then Matt mentions this, “…we’re members because my wife’s grandfather was an airline pilot”. Apparently USAA thinks its fine that you have can have a rather backhanded, twice removed relationship that allows you to be a member, yet I actually SERVED in the military but becuase I was enlisted and missed my window to sign up a few years ago I can not, nor will ever be allowed to sign up.

  68. mstevens says:

    I doubt anyone is a member because of airline service. I suspect there’s a pretty good chance that airline pilot was a former Air Force pilot, which would qualify…

    I’ve had nothing but good experiences with USAA (insurance and banking) over the past 30 years. I crashed a motorcycle last January and the agent volunteered that my protective gear (jacket, gloves, etc.) that were damaged should be covered by my policy. I hadn’t even considered that, but they were covered. They also kept asking if I were sure I didn’t want to claim pain and suffering – I didn’t, but my feeling was that they were trying to maximize, rather than minimize, my benefit.

  69. moosetoga says:

    Thanks for posting my story, Consumerist. Can’t wait to send an email to Lisa and let her know.

  70. moosetoga says:

    @mstevens: As far as I know, he wasn’t in the military. Could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he was a pilot for Eastern Airlines his entire career, and retired when they went bankrupt.

  71. sibertater says:

    We have USAA and I love them. They’re inexpensive and they are the most helpful, polite people on the planet. It’s like they’re run by sweet, little old ladies.

  72. Rufdawg says:

    USAA is incredible. Four years with USAA, great service and rates.

    As for dealing with government torts, you should always consult an attorney. Most people just aren’t aware of all the deadlines, notices, and procedural hoops through which a plaintiff must go to win a settlement, must less a money judgment against a sovereign. Yes, you could try to do it yourself, but you’ll probably screw it up. And, unlike when a lawyer messes up, there’s no one’s malpractice insurance to go after.

    As for your local small claims court, it’s most likely that it lacks plain ol’ subject matter jurisdiction.

  73. Spaniard says:

    @Frank Grimes:

    Same thing happened to my father. The only way I was able to become a member at USAA was to give in to their extradorinary benefits/rewards as an employer. Sigh.

  74. AndrewJC says:

    @mbouchard: I agree with this a hundred percent. Write a letter to Lisa’s managers all the way up to the CEO of the company and make them absolutely certain that her behavior was exemplary and illustrated the kind of can-do spirit that any corporation should be stumbling over themselves to keep employed.

    I would go so far as to say that she deserves a raise/promotion/bonus/whatever because of her amazing service.

    You’ll absolutely make Lisa’s day and will hopefully reinforce this kind of customer service in the future.

  75. moosetoga says:

    @AndrewJC: I’d like to do this; unfortunately their website doesn’t appear to have any organizational chart or anything like that where I’d be able to find the names of her managers. Any thoughts on how to identify the right people to send letters to?

  76. AtOurGates says:

    I’ve had nothing but positive experiences from USAA. I received a $150 gift card to the Apple store for no apparent reason from them, and their CS representatives are just about the most helpful I’ve ever interacted with.

  77. AndrewJC says:

    @moosetoga: Probably the easiest thing would be to call Lisa and ask her who her managers are and how you would get in touch with them. Ask her to give you as much information up the line as she can and stress that you only want it to pass up positive remarks about her. (It doesn’t have to be a surprise to her that you’re writing good things.)

  78. yosarian says:

    Great story! To send thanks, send a letter or email clearly labeled as “Letter of Compliment” so it doesn’t get swept away with the rest of the complaints. Send it to everyone in the company you can find, and make sure you talk about how much money you’ll be giving the company in the future through your continued, enthusiastic patronage, as well as referrals. The CEO and the head of homeowner’s insurance are probably good people to read this.

  79. kalikidtx says:

    USAA has always been there for me and my family, how would I ever live without it, and they send you money in december, if there is a better company to do business with i havnt found it, lol

  80. Lady Di says:

    I Love USAA and have always loved them. I love them even more when I get a refund check for just being a member and having renters and car insurance and them not paying out much in claims. They are always nice, and even when I do have a problem they fix it and apologize quickly!

  81. usaaretired says:

    Long time USAA employee, now retired, and I think this was covered to start with. USAA is a good company.

  82. punktlich says:

    It is true that unlike for-profit insurance companies USAA does not try to cheat its policyholders, and mstevens’ experience (claims assistant pointed out that personal property lost in the accident was covered). When I had a blowout on a French motorway years ago, the adjuster pointed out that I had property cover and invited me to list all the lost and damaged goods, and they paid new-for-old anything I replaced. Some time after they paid for the totaled car, they rang somewhat perplexed because they were having trouble junking the car because it was tax-free due to my official status. Even after I explained that, they said not to worry, they would not reclaim from me any of the money they’d paid even though (of course) a tax-free car’s bluebook value is lower than a tax-paid one’s.

    When, a few years later I had a “warning letter” from them because of 4 purported “claims” in two years, I wrote the CEO, said I’d been a member for 30 years, and by the way those weren’t claims but calls to inquire about extent of cover and, in two cases, to warn them about lost luggage — but that the luggage having eventually been found by the airline, there was no claim at all. USAA called to apologize (and to explain how to avoid such confusion in the future), and then I got a formal letter of apology from the CEO.

    I am puzzled that people so often select their insurance on the basis of price. Few seem to realize that insurers can and do go bankrupt.

    (In addition to the scope of membership earlier discussed in this thread, USAA employees themselves are also eligible for membership. Perhaps that makes them more appreciative of its value.)

  83. Snowcone says:

    USAA used to have portions of its services open to the public, like the Bank. Late last year they closed things off to new members for banking unless you met the aforementioned criteria. Since that time, they have slowly been rolling out new features available exclusively to their “members” of which common public members are not included. Features like Deposit@Home and many of their other services are for members eligible for insurance products only.

    On one hand I see why they are doing this, but on the other hand they are intentionally provide sub-par service to a large subset of members in an effort to see that subset go away.

    I’ve been a member of USAA for 10 years now, but only as part of the bank. They have the best online banking system I’ve ever used, but aside from that I have yet to experience any wonderful customer service stories.

  84. chachica57 says:

    I just want to say that I work for USAA and I can tell you that this company is the best company in the entire world. The reason everyone gets great serivce is because they actualy have happy employee’s. USAA is not only about serving the military but about serving the people who work for them. I can tell you that everyone I work with loves working thier and loves all of the members. The way we are trained is to always go above and beyond for the members. I work in claims and claims can be black and white…covered or not covered. If we feel there is any room for a gray area we will always side with the member. If your claim was not covered then thier is a good reason for that. Do you know of any other company that gives a percentage back to all who have paid an insurance premium? This year if you are a member USAA is giving you back 4% of what you have paid them in your monthly premium. On top of that the company gives all employees an extra pay check in December and in February we get a percentage of our salery that could range from 0-21%. I have never worked for a place that is so great.

  85. usaasatx says:

    MOOSTOGA:
    I searched on google for USAA news and I came across this article. I read some of the comments posted, and as a long time member and now current employee, I thought I would clear some things up. First, call Lisa back and ask to speak with her manager. You could even actually call any line of business and give them your member #, and they can find Lisa by seeing who accessed your account and you could have that person shoot an email or call her manager and transfer you over. Member service advisors get rewarded and praised when a member goes out of their way to let the manager know how good their service was. Also, airline pilots were elible in the past but no longer are. Active duty military, their spouses and children, and employees are all eligible for membership. And to lock in your eligibility for you and your dependent, you must purchase some sort of insurance product before the end of the year following your or your sponsor’s separation from the military. Once you purchase that insurance product (which can be as little as $5/month for a renter’s policy) you are a member for life. We love to know that we are doing a good job of serving our members and every employee there feels that it is the least we can do to go out of our way for the member since the majority are serving our country.

  86. usaapleasefixourhouse says:

    Lisa, If you can read this PLEASE HELP US! Our house at 216 Sweetbriar Road, Greenville Sc burned on 03/15/06 and we still don’t have our home back. We have delt with Olan Manning and all of his crew only to find ourselves in the stale spot. They payed out on a low ball bid and the builder was dishonest. We have faught the contractor and his license is gone but usaa still wont come back to help. They accepted a bid of 262.000.00 to fix our home and knew they were getting off cheap or simply did’nt know how to adjust fire damage. The real cost to repair the house is 585.000.00 with out unexpected extras. The contractor did do some work and got away with 160.000.00 but our home is nowhere near completion. To add salt to our wounds USAA canceled our insurance because the house is in disrepair. Well, Go figure that one. They wont pay out so we cant fix it. We are still waiting for them to finish paying out on our contents. So, Sweet Lisa, The Reid family is exausted and needs help. We have now moved to a much smaller home about 50 miles away and hold onto hope that our beautifull home that we love in Greenville will be returned to us. Afterall, WE thought we had the best insurance in the world. Sadley to say, we have left USAA and are paying more for Amica. We now know that YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! Paying for a burned out house really hurts. USAA should treat us better than this!!!!
    I am glad things worked out for you. Perhaps the new CEO is cleaning house.