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. Those 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 the repair process, above average scores for its settlements and rental car coverage; its lowest ratings come in the area of interaction with representatives during claims. 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, and some claim that replacement parts might not be of the same quality. 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. USAA is membership-based, and members will get rebates during years when claim volume is low.
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 only. Policyholders may report claims 24 hours a day.
Twenty-five national and regional auto insurers are rated and ranked by the editors of ConsumerReports.org. Ratings are based on consumer surveys that focus on satisfaction with speed of service, the claims process, estimates and premiums.
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 the repair process. The company receives 4 circles for the rental car experience and settlement, and 3 circles, or an average ranking, for service interaction.
Review: 2014 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Not Dated
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: 2014 U.S. Auto Insurance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Not Dated
4. J.D. Power & Associates
USAA receives an overall score of 876 out of a possible 1,000, and a perfect 5-circle rating for overall purchase experience in J.D. Power and Associates' auto insurance shopping study. However, while it is the highest-rated company, since it is available only to military families it is not officially included in the ratings.
Review: 2014 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, April 24, 2014
USAA earns a People's Choice award for top customer-service rankings, receiving 5 out of 5 stars overall, and in claims processing and value. It receives 4.5 stars for customer service. Eighty-three percent of customers would recommend USAA to a friend, while 95 percent say they will renew their policies.
Review: Best Insurance Companies: Customer Satisfaction Ratings for 2014, Editors of Insure.com, Not Dated
USAA earns 88 out of 100 points in about 540 reviews, taking the top spot among auto insurance companies. They receive an 8.8 out of 10 for customer service and 8.9 out of 10 for available plans. Ratings also include home and life insurance.
Review: USAA Insurance Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of February 2015