The vast majority of customers report positive experiences with USAA car insurance, but there's a catch -- it's open only to active military personnel, veterans and their families. Policyholders say they're happy with customer service and the claims process, and the company notches strong ratings for its financial strength. Customers who would prefer local agents should note that USAA does most business online or over the phone.
Good reviews for fair appraisals and settlements. USAA scores well in customer surveys of satisfaction with claims, getting particularly high marks for appraisals and settlements. It receives more average ratings for interaction with representatives during claims, the repair process and rental-car services. Though USAA maintains a list of approved repair shops for which they guarantee a high standard of work, customers may also select their own.
USAA does not require the use of parts made by the vehicle's original manufacturer. Rental-car reimbursement coverage is available, and the company will pay for tow trucks for customers who have physical damage coverage or towing and labor coverage.
No sudden rate hikes. Most USAA customers say they're satisfied with their premiums, and few report the sudden rate hikes that seem to plague many other companies. There are a variety of discounts, including lower rates for safe drivers, good students, customer loyalty, multiple policies and newer vehicles.
The company is rated highly for speedy service, purchase experience and a wide range of flexible plans, but some customers wish agents were available in person -- USAA conducts business online and over the phone. Call-center representatives are highly rated, however. Policyholders may report claims 24 hours a day.
ConsumerReports.org editors rate 25 national and regional auto insurers. The ratings are reliable and unbiased, and are based on customer surveys that focus on satisfaction with speed of service, the claims process, estimates and premiums. Unlike other products, there are no in-depth reviews of the insurers with editorial comments.
Review: Car Insurance Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
2. J.D. Power & Associates
USAA is one of three companies that receive 5 circles out of 5 for overall customer satisfaction. It also receives 5 circles for first notice of loss, appraisal and settlement. The company receives 3 circles, or an average ranking, for service interaction, the repair process and the rental-car experience.
Review: 2012 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Oct. 29, 2012
3. J.D. Power & Associates
USAA gets top marks in regional rankings, receiving 5 circles for overall satisfaction in California, the central U.S., the Northeast, the West, and the north-central, Southeast and mid-Atlantic U.S. Ratings include policy offerings, pricing, billing and payment, and contacting the insurer. USAA receives perfect scores in all categories in all regions.
Review: 2012 U.S. Auto Insurance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, June 25, 2012
4. J.D. Power & Associates
USAA receives 5 circles out of 5 for overall purchase experience in J.D. Power and Associates' auto insurance shopping study. The company receives 5 circles for policy offerings, price, call-center representatives and its website, as well.
Review: 2013 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, April 29, 2013
USAA earns a People's Choice award for top customer-service rankings, receiving 5 out of 5 stars overall, and in claims processing and customer service. It receives 4.5 stars for value. Eighty-eight percent of customers would recommend USAA to a friend, while 98 percent say they will renew their policies.
Review: Best Insurance Companies: Customer Satisfaction Ratings for 2013, Editors of Insure.com, Not dated
USAA earns 88 out of 100 points in almost 400 reviews, taking the top spot among auto insurance companies. They receive a 4 out of 5 for customer service and available plans; ratings also include home and life insurance. Most praise customer service; some say they had poor experiences with communication and claims.
Review: USAA Insurance Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of May 2013
USAA earns 4 out of 5 stars in more than 200 reviews on Epinions.com. Many reviewers praise customer service, citing helpful representatives and prompt responses. They also like the range of services and say rates are good. However, they dislike that you have to be connected to the military to get coverage. Some customers say they've had poor experiences with getting claims paid and wish agents were available in person.
Review: USAA Group - Auto, Contributors to Epinions.com, As of May 2013
USAA is fifth in this ranking of 10 major car insurance companies, earning 9.05 out of 10 points. It fares best in scores for customer service, claims timeliness, benefits and discounts; lower for response and repair and policy flexibility.
Review: 2013 Best Car Insurance Reviews and Comparisons, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not dated