Open Letter to USAA Insurance

Dear USAA:

Your members need to know you do not have their best interests in mind. You do not attempt to keep your rates low. On the contrary, you do everything you can to make sure you pay more than is necessary to settle a claim, thereby driving up the rates you charge for your clients. How? Read on for one personal experience.

A client of USAA broadsided my wife in June 2016. My wife was driving down a road in Austin, and the USAA client exited the parking lot of a CVS pharmacy while distracted. She admits to talking on her cell phone, not checking for cross traffic, and slamming into the side of my car with my wife driving and my daughter in the passenger front seat.

I immediately called USAA to file a claim and spoke with claims adjuster Elizabeth Schoen. Yes, I’m naming names for reasons that will become evident. I explained to Ms. Schoen that I had no desire to get an attorney involved because doing so drives up costs for everyone. I told her I simply wanted my car to be repaired and USAA to cover minor medical issues related to whiplash my wife experienced. Nothing major, mind you. I was actually the one advocating for keeping costs down on behalf of USAA policy holders. Ms. Schoen was very gracious and appreciative of my gesture to not get an attorney involved.

But it was not to be.

For two months we made multiple calls to Ms. Schoen requesting a status update on our claim. She never once returned a call from voice mail messages we left requesting a callback.

Finally after two months, we received notification that USAA had accepted full financial responsibility. The delay was attributed to USAA not being able to connect with their insured party to get her statement of the accident. Two months??

Then the fun began. We again made multiple calls to Ms. Schoen requesting an authorization number to get an estimate from a body shop for repairs. Again, no returned calls from USAA.

After frustration that seemed unending, we had no choice but to get an attorney involved. I tried to avoid it. USAA left me no choice.

And then USAA began playing more games. Since we now had an attorney representing us, USAA said they could no longer contact us directly, but could only communicate with us through the attorney. Our attorney wrote a letter to USAA giving them permission to speak directly with us. But the gaming continued. No call, no emails. Silence from USAA.

I spent the last several years of my career in middle management of a Fortune 500 corporation. In my estimation, Ms. Schoen ought to be relieve of duties for failure to perform. If she was out of the office and not capable of responding, processes should have been in place at USAA for another adjuster to pick up her work load. Barring either scenario, perhaps it’s corporate policy at USAA to delay claims processing to hold on to the funds as long as possible.

Last Friday, October 28, 2016, almost five months since the accident, we finally received authorization from USAA to get an estimate for repairs. USAA gave the body shop an authorization, gave Enterprise Rental Car an authorization for a rental car while repairs were being made. Today I dropped off the car for repairs, obtained the rental car from Enterprise. The agent at Enterprise told me that USAA only authorized the car through Thursday this week, even though the body shop told me the repairs would likely take through Friday. So I called USAA to get the rental contract extended. The agent proceeded to tell me I had no right to the rental car yet, I was ordered to return the rental car and pick up my car from the body shop, because nothing had YET been authorized!!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

So why would Enterprise have an authorization number, and instructions to cover the car through Thursday, if such authorization had not yet been given?

USAA is completely incompetent. They have no desire to keep costs down. I tried and offered to do so. It didn’t work. The left hand in the company apparently does not know what the right hand is doing. In other words, the internal processes are disconnected, inefficient, and further drive up costs for USAA clients.

I recommend others shop for insurance elsewhere.

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