Monday, June 1, 2009


A little free advertising for a bank and insurance company that doesn't do stupid stuff...

Like most people with a connection to the military, I have long done business with the United Services Automobile Association, also known as USAA. They've had my car insurance since I got my first drivers license, because my father was eligible to join from his service in Vietnam. He always said good things about USAA, so I stuck with them when I started paying my own bills. (USAA is a member association, kind of like a credit union, not a commercial bank or insurance company. To be eligible you generally need some connection to the military - as a servicemember or dependant.)

I established mutual fund accounts when I graduated from college, and started a brokerage account when USAA created their brokerage. (Luckily I dodged the bullet with those shysters from USPA&IRA.)

Today I have a couple of all-inclusive "asset management accounts" with them, as well as a couple of old IRAs, all the insurance I'm able to get (they won't write coverage on the Adios Airways HQ in Florida), and one of my two mortgages with them.

Just a little while ago they sent out an email to remind their members that not only have they never taken a cent of bailout money, they are solidly in the black for 2008 and 2009, and are paying record dividends.

I knew all that already (I got a check from them the other day), but it's a pretty important point. USAA does very well because they aren't insanely stupid, like apparently the entire commercial banking industry. They only make loans that make common sense, they don't deliberately screw their members over nickle-and-dime fees (in fact they charge no fees for anything ever, as far as I know), and they don't write insurance that is obviously a bad risk. They especially don't do derivatives and they don't sell their mortgages.

Where would we be, as a country and a civilization, if the commercial banks did business like USAA? Well people wouldn't be living in houses and driving cars they couldn't afford, and we'd probably be richer and stronger than ever, instead of standing over the same precipice that engulfed the Soviet Union.


Random Michelle K said...

I love USAA.

I got an account through my Dad, and we've got our mortgage and car loan through them, as well as a checking and savings account.

And of course automobile insurance.

Not only are they a good company, but they're good at what they do. When my brother has been in car accidents, they've taken care of everything for him, including making sure the other company provided a rental.

When we got our mortgage they helped us with everything, and the whole process was both smooth and painless.

Fantastic company.

Janiece Murphy said...

We're a Credit Union family, for the reasons you outline.

Note to self: Try to deal with non-profits or member-owned businesses...

Tom said...

CW, I'm a very satisfied USAA customer, too.

I used them for 2 of the 3 mortgages I've had. The first one was before I knew about them. They helped with the buying and selling end, and gave me few thousand as a bonus when I closed.

They are also my bank, and insurance company. When I was hit by a taxicab and subsequently sued, they provided and paid for the lawyer, who guided me through the statements, after which the suit was dropped, mainly on their reputation of following through with lawsuits.

When I lived in San Antonio, I was one freeway exit away from their headquarters. Every time I went there for whatever reason, I was treated with respect, and all problems taken care of. They also treat their employees with respect, and are known in San Antonio as a very desirable employer.

People ask me why my bank is in Texas when I live in Massachusetts. Those people obviously aren't USAA members. :)