Hooray for USAA

Yesterday I got my insurance settlement for the burglary. Well, I got most of it. USAA holds back what they call the “recoverable depreciation amount” which is basically the difference between what it would cost for me to replace something I’ve lost with a used item, and the total cost to replace it with a new product. I can get the recoverable appreciation amount, but I have to submit receipts proving I actually purchased the replacement item. For example: the computer that I’m typing on right now is a brand new MacBook, which replaces the four-year-old G4 iBook I lost in the burglary (there’s really no comparison between the two laptops — the new one is three times as fast, has an Intel chip and the hard drive is a dozen times larger). The MacBook costs $1499. USAA gave me an initial settlement of $899, and to get the other $600, I had to turn in a receipt. Granted, this is a hassle. But it’s a hassle that enables me to replace the things I lost with all new stuff.

And if I don’t want to go out and replace the stuff, I still get cash that is more or less equivalent to the used value of the items lost.

I have no idea if other insurers have this “recoverable depreciation” program, but if they don’t, I’d be very suspicious about how their claims process works. I comprehend the cold hard facts of the bottom line enough to get why insurance companies need to “adjust” (read: minimize) their claim payouts. But this means that the claims process has a built-in adversarial quality to it: claimants, who if they’re honest persons are only making the claim because they’ve been traumatized in some form or fashion, are naturally looking for as generous a payout as possible, to make up not only for the material loss but for all the emotional cost that went along with it. Meanwhile, the insurance company needs to keep the payout as small as possible, just to protect their bottom line (after all, nobody wins if the insurance company goes bust from overly generous payouts). It’s not a fun dynamic, especially for the claimant, who goes into the process feeling vulnerable and already victimized.

So even despite the send-in-the-receipts hassle factor, the recoverable depreciation approach strikes me as a fair and reasonable compromise. The insurer pays a minimal fair amount, but throws in enough extra cash to cover total replacement value, once the claimant goes about actually replacing the lost items.

So I’ve got this spiffy new laptop, and Fran has a wonderful Nikon D60 which replaces her stolen D40X. And since we lost another computer, another camera, an iPod and a sounddock, a camcorder, a minidisc recorder, and various smaller things, we’ll be keeping the golden arrow glowing pretty much all summer long (if you don’t know about the golden arrow, follow the link and watch the video. It’s quite an eye opener).

The takeaway, my friends: if you or your parents are military, that makes you eligible for USAA. If so, then it’s a no-brainer: buy your insurance through them. :-)

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  1. I’ve had (unfortunately) my third claim with USAA now. (One going on at the moment) My first time to have to go through the claims process was after Hurricane Francis destroyed our rental home. My husband was away at school (He’s in the army). It was unreal to come home after being evacuated for 5 days and see everything we owned from clothes to toys to furniture, soaked, molded and under peices of the ceiling. The whole place looked like a spider web all over the walls because the mold was so bad. 5 days with no air conditioning in fl does not mix well with wet drywall.
    From the very first second I called USAA I experienced not only professionalism and fast service in every way, but also friendly conversation, and most of all compassion.
    Everyone around me was fit to be tied and angry at their insurance companies. I felt completely the opposite, as everytime I spoke to someone working on my claim, it was as if I’d made a new friend. Crazy as it sounds, it’s true. USAA employees, at least the ones I’ve had the pleasure speaking to, seem to actually ENJOY their jobs and helping members who need their assistance.
    When I explained after the storm, that I was calling to start the claim, but didn’t have any pictures yet, and wasn’t sure where I would be staying that first night, I was in total shock at how this company seemed to swoop in and save me from one more bit of stress.
    I was asked questions, given information, and then told that I would see a direct deposit into my bank account probably by the next morning, to help with the hotel costs for me and my children. Because of this company, I was able to lessen the worry on my kids, who’d just walked into what looked to them as a nightmare, get them right back in school as soon as it opened, and pretend that we were on a little adventure. Hotel hopping lol. They will never forget the experience of course, but they didn’t suffer much because my worry and stress was reduced so much thanks to my insurance company. How often do you hear people say THAT?? My older son who was 9 at the time, suffers from panic attacks and anxiety. It was a blessing that I was able to do what needed to be done, without worrying where we would stay, what we’d be able to replace, etc. In turn, he was able to move on and not worry himself as well.
    Because of the way we were treated by USAA, I also was able to remember that all of these things were material items, and not as important as PEOPLE and the lessons we take away from something like that.

    My next claim came about 3 years later, when my truck was broken into in a parking lot at a resturaunt. My purse, ipod & FM transmitter, and a few other things were taken.
    I hated to even make the call to USAA, still feeling that we’d never be able to repay this company for all they’d done for us. (yes I know that’s what we carry insurance for, but still…..) So, once again, all things taken care of immediately, adjuster very polite and friendly, whole thing wrapped up in a week.

    Unlucky me, again I have had to file another claim, now only a year later, my truck broken into ONCE AGAIN, in a parking lot right across the street from the place I was a year ago!! This time I (of course) didn’t leave my PURSE in my car as I learned that lesson. I did leave my ONLY A YEAR OLD Ipod in there though, but hidden. Not good enough I guess because they got it again. And as before, Ive been treated with complete kindness from USAA.

    You are so right about IF someone CAN use USAA, it’s a no brainer. The service is second to none, ALL of their services. Banking, financial advising, anything they offer. If my husband wasn’t military I’d probably join myself just to be able to have them lol.

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