Exceptional protections for military members and their families
If you’ve served this country as a member of the armed forces, you deserve a peaceful life once you return home.
Part of that respite involves knowing that your home will be protected from threats — be that a natural disaster, a major storm, or even your absent-minded nephew who accidentally backed his car into the side of your garage.
That’s where USAA comes in. They are one of the largest providers of homeowners insurance in the country, but their services are only offered to those who serve in the military and their families.
If this is you, you might consider giving them a closer look. I’ve spent a substantial amount of time looking over their policies, reading online reviews, compiling the data, and crunching the numbers to see if USAA is worthy of serving our active service military, our veterans, and their families. What I found might surprise you.
Before we start unpacking USAA’s coverages, costs, and customer service reputation, though, let’s take a quick look at their pros and cons.
Not so bad from where I’m sitting. Before we go too far, though, we need to make it clear who is and who isn’t eligible for homeowners insurance through USAA.
USAA homeowners insurance is available in all 50 states as well as Washington D.C. That said, according to their site, USAA only “offer[s] benefits, products and discounts for U.S. military members and their spouses, as well as children of USAA members.”
This means if you are active duty, guard, reserve, or a veteran, you’re eligible for a USAA membership, as would be your spouse or your children. For everyone else, you’re going to have to go with a civilian service. My review of Farmers home insurance might be a good place to start.
FYI: USAA members enjoy benefits beyond insurance. They also offer financial planning and investment planning services for military members and their families.
If you’re eligible and want to know more, let’s take this a step further and examine what exactly USAA will cover if something bad happens to your home.
As a major homeowners insurance provider, USAA offers your standard protections. You might think that just means you’re covered if your kitchen catches on fire or some other catastrophic damage occurs. And yes, that’s true, but standard homeowners insurance actually goes a lot further than that. USAA’s coverage includes:
Dwelling: The meat-and-potatoes of any homeowners insurance policy, this coverage will pay to repair or rebuild the structure of your home in the event it is severely damaged.
Personal Property: This covers the costs of repairing or replacing the things you keep inside your home.
Other Structures: Fence got smashed by a falling tree in last night’s storm? The repair cost is going to be covered under this portion of your policy.
Pro Tip: In most standard policies, your “other structures” coverage will be 10 percent of the total coverage for your dwelling.1 That means if your house is insured for $300,000, your detached garage will be covered for $30,000. You can always purchase additional coverage if that seems a little light.
Liability: Let’s say that absent-minded nephew who crashed into your garage decides he has “whiplash” and wants to sue, your liability coverage will take care of a significant portion of those legal costs.
Medical Payments: And let’s say that same nephew decides he needs to go to the hospital for that alleged whiplash. You won’t need to pay for his ambulance ride, his stay, or his treatment out of pocket.
Living Expenses: If your home is so badly damaged that you need to stay somewhere else while it’s being repaired, this coverage will pick up the hotel bill.
For anyone who’s done their homeowners insurance homework, none of these coverages should be surprising. What is surprising are the add-ons USAA includes as part of their standard coverage — protections that would cost a lot more from another provider.
When it comes to homeowners insurance, what’s covered is usually pretty standard. Not so at USAA, though. Take a look at the additional coverages below that are included in most of their standard packages.
Identity theft coverage: If you’re the victim of identity theft, USAA will pay out up to $5,000 to help you recover losses and restore your identity. Not bad considering identity theft affects military members at a disproportionate rate compared to the rest of the population.2
Replacement cost coverage: Rather than cut you a check for the depreciated cost of damaged or stolen items, USAA will reimburse you the cost to replace your possessions brand new.
Home-sharing coverage: Need to rent out your place while you go on active duty? Your included home-sharing coverage will keep you protected while the renter is in charge.
Uniform coverage: If your uniform is damaged or stolen during a covered event, USAA will pay for its replacement without consideration of your deductible.
Keep in mind that these are coverages that other providers offer, but they wouldn’t be included in a standard package — meaning you’d have to pay extra for them. Also note that while these coverages are broadly available, they’re not available to all customers at all times. For instance, identity theft coverage is not available through USAA in North Carolina. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you know what your premium is paying for!
So now that you have a good idea of what your coverage can be through USAA, let’s take a look at another important deciding factor — their rates.
I get into more detail in my guide to USAA’s pricing and protections, but the big takeaway is that they’re relatively affordable. Averaging out quotes from a number of sources, I found the average premium covers a middle-of-the-road home through USAA for about $1,520 per year or about $126.60 per month. While it’s not as cheap as Geico or Allstate, it’s also not as expensive as some of the other providers we’ve seen. Here’s a breakdown of average pricing and rates by competitor:
|Provider||Estimated Monthly Rate|
When you consider that you’re going to be getting additional coverages not included in the standard protections of other providers, USAA starts to look a lot more attractive.
FYI: It’s hard to nail down an “average” price for any homeowners insurance provider since there really is no “average” home. Where your property is located, how much it’s worth, how old it is, and what amenities are included all factor into how much your premium will be.
But exactly how attractive are they when you compare them to the competition beyond their rates alone? Short answer: still pretty good.
|Available in 50 states||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|AM Best Rating||A++||A++||A||A+||A++|
|Home Security System Discount||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|BBB Rating||Not Accredited||A+||A+||Not Accredited||Not Accredited|
FYI: If you’re Googling around, you might see that USAA has an F BBB ranking — this is not true of their insurance arm. That rating had to do with how their banking arm in Texas mishandled some personal checks.
To sweeten the deal even further, USAA offers a few ways to lower that insurance premium. This might be especially attractive for military personnel just returning from active duty.
While USAA doesn’t offer as many ways to save as some of its competitors, there are still wallet-friendly ways to stretch your premium dollar further. USAA deals and discounts include:
Home security upgrades: If you have a home security system, you might be entitled to a lower premium.
Claim-free discount: If you don’t make a claim for five years, you’ll see a 10 percent reduction of your premium.
Bundling: You’ll save another 10 percent off your total bill if you bundle homeowners and auto insurance through USAA.
Generally speaking, bundling insurance policies is one of the best ways to save with any provider. With that in mind, what other types of insurance does USAA offer? See below for the full roundup.
USAA offers quite a few other types of insurance that you can bundle with your homeowners policy to save on your total insurance bill. These include:
As always, it’s extremely important to talk to an agent when purchasing any insurance policy, but particularly when bundling policies together. You want to make sure you’re realizing the most potential savings and avoiding any gaps in coverage. Remember, everyone’s situation is unique, and the more details you can provide, the better protected you’ll be.
FYI: Most insurance providers offer some sort of discount when you bundle your policies. Make sure to ask your current insurance providers if they offer homeowners insurance policies when you’re shopping around.
So with all of this in mind — the coverage, the rates, the bundling — you might think you have a pretty clear picture of what USAA offers and what it’s going to cost. You might be right, but there are still a few important considerations to be made before you can determine if USAA is right for you. One of the most overlooked factors is a provider’s customer service record. Where does USAA stand in that regard?
You can get a decent idea of a provider’s caliber of customer service by reading online review sites and message boards, but those reviews can only paint a skewed picture at best. Most of the time it’s people wanting to blow off steam after a bad experience, rather than sing a company’s praises after a good one.
That said, there are plenty of 5-star reviews for USAA’s homeowners insurance. Here’s one from someone named F. in Pikesville, Maryland:
“USAA has been first-rate. Recently, we had our hot water heater blow up and pretty much mess up our entire basement. Once we called USAA, they got right on the case. They started within 24 hours; assessed the damages and provided a first-rate recovery company. They were very easy to deal with. We loved everything about them.”
That said, not everyone has been happy with their service. Here’s a bad experience from C. in Brighton, Colorado:
“I have home and auto with USAA. They used to be a good company. But wow, have they changed! I filed a homeowners claim for water damage. It’s been four days and still no call, email, nothing. No acknowledgement whatsoever of my claim. The basement is flooded, more damage is happening daily, and I can’t even talk to a real person.”
Like I said, take these with a grain of salt. They’re anecdotal evidence at best, and can only give you a limited view into what you can expect your customer service experience to be.
A far more objective understanding of USAA’s customer service is their NAIC Complaint Index Rating. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners keeps a log of all complaints filed at the state level against particular insurers. A rating of 1 is a baseline number of complaints. Anything over that is considered to be a high number of complaints, and below that is a lower number than would be expected. USAA has a ranking of 0.14, indicating very few official grievances have been filed.
Other peoples’ experiences can give you an idea of what to expect, but what happens when you need to test this customer service out for yourself? How do you make a claim with USAA?
Like most major insurance providers, filing a claim with USAA is a relatively simple process. You can call 800-531-USAA to speak with an adjuster directly, or you can file a claim online or use their mobile app.
FYI: When filing a claim, the more details you have the better. Make sure you document the extent of the damage, what caused it, and take pictures if it’s safe to do so. If a crime was committed, make sure you have a copy of the police report.
So that should give you a pretty comprehensive look at everything USAA has to offer. We’ve looked at their coverages, their rates, how they compare to the competition, and what you can expect from their customer service. This all begs the ultimate question, though — is USAA worth it? Let’s get a quick sense of where they hit the mark, where they miss, and their overall value.
USAA offers great coverage at reasonable prices. That alone makes them worth a second look. I really like the fact that their customer service appears top-notch, and that they offer some pretty advanced protections as standard in their homeowners insurance package.
The primary drawback to USAA is that they aren’t available to everyone. I also don’t like the lack of deals for members, and the fact that some of the aforementioned add-ons aren’t available everywhere.
Are these fireable offenses, though? Not at all. Read on for my final thoughts.
For service members and their family members, USAA should be the starting point in the search for homeowners insurance. They offer great coverage at reasonable rates, and it’s really tough to beat those add-on coverages that come standard.
Will they be the first and last stop on your journey? It’s tough to say. I always recommend getting at least five quotes. A good place to start is our guide to the ten best homeowners insurance providers of 2022, but if you’re eligible, you should absolutely include USAA in your short list.
USAA insurance is available to members of the U.S. military, their spouses, and their children.
Yes, in our research, we found USAA to be moderately priced.
Yes, USAA’s homeowners insurance policies offer the standard protections as well as several bonus features you’d pay more for from other providers.
You can call 800-531-USAA to speak with a representative directly, file a claim online or you can use their app.
The best way to save with USAA is to bundle your homeowners insurance with another policy.
Insurance Information Institute. (2022). What is covered by standard homeowners insurance?
Federal Trade Commission. (2020, May 21). Active Duty Servicemembers are More likely to Report Identity Theft than Other Adults, New FTC Data Shows.
As Managing Editor for SafeHome.org, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles in home security. His expertise is in smart home automation and home protection with thousands of hours of testing and research under his belt. Formerly a reporter and producer for the USAToday network, Rob has been a writer and editor for over 10 years. He holds a Master’s of Science with an emphasis on writing from the University of Montana, and he currently lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.