SECRETS of USAA Car Accident Claims EXPOSED!By Stewart J. Guss on January 15th, 2020
USAA is a major player in the car insurance game in the United States and focuses on insuring members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. USAA insures nearly 13 million people nationwide, many who proudly claim on commercials that they’re “members for life!” We salute and appreciate the service of these brave men and women and their families for our country. Unfortunately, their insurance company is only out to serve itself. Chances are if you’re hit by a driver who is a military member or spouse, you will end up dealing with a USAA claims adjuster—and you’ll soon find this out yourself.
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SECRET #1—USAA Is NOT a Non-Profit
USAA always emphasizes its military connections, making it almost seem like a charity of sorts or a non-profit agency to help the military. But it’s definitely NOT a charity and it’s definitely NOT going to give out free money to anyone! USAA is, in fact, focused on profits and draws in billions of dollars in revenue each year. Its shares trade on NASDAQ and have consistently grown in value. The company holds $1.7 billion in assets, according to a recent filing. Their executives enjoy annual paychecks worth millions—USAA’s CEO just got a $1.3 million raise!—and they would like to keep it that way.
USAA, like all insurance companies, makes money by raking in premiums from its customers—in USAA’s case, the brave men and women of our military—and paying out as little as possible on claims, leaving our soldiers unprotected.
It doesn’t matter that their wrongful denial or “lowball” offers on car accident claims leaves their insureds (many of whom are in the military) facing unnecessary lawsuits. This is how USAA makes money on its insureds—they take in as much as possible in premiums, and pay out as little as possible in claims. Remain skeptical when it comes to settlement offers and negotiations with USAA—and hire an experienced attorney to represent you and maximize your settlement. If you are dealing with USAA Insurance, call us right now for a free consultation at 800-898-4877 or contact us by clicking HERE to discuss your case for free.
SECRET #2—USAA Adjusters have Many Tricks to Limit Your Payout
When you file an insurance claim, USAA will assign your claim to a specific adjuster. These adjusters know their job is not to take care of the claimants but to minimize payments in any way possible. However, the adjusters don’t want YOU to know this. In fact, they have many tactics to make you believe that they are on YOUR side, not the side of USAA.
Adjusters go about gaining the false trust of claimants in many ways. First, they will simply tell you that you don’t need to call a lawyer because they are here to help you. They’ll make you believe that the claims process is not an adversarial one, so why would you need an attorney? This is because it’s easier to get unrepresented claimants to accept lowball offers.
Then, adjusters will try to get you to make a recorded statement. While it is okay to give adjusters your basic identifying and contact information, it’s always risky to discuss your accident or injuries with them without the assistance of an attorney. They aren’t really just wanting to hear your side of the story – instead, they are listening for anything you say that might help them lower or deny your claim!
Consider the following scenario:
- You agree to make a recorded statement, and you tell them what you remember about the crash.
- The adjuster casually asks when you realized a crash was about to happen.
- You say, “I looked down at my GPS for a second and the car just came out of nowhere.”
- The adjuster then alleges in the USAA system that you were distracted and, therefore, partly to blame. They claim their insured was only partially liable, so you should only receive a percentage of compensation for your losses.
Finding reasons to challenge the policyholder’s liability is a very common way to reduce a settlement offer.
Adjusters may also find ways to question the severity of your injuries, such as:
- You agree to a phone recording, and the adjuster asks about your injuries.
- You tell them your back injury keeps you from doing your job, requires ongoing physical therapy, and causes you immense pain.
- The adjuster later asks what you have planned for the day under the guise of making small talk, and you reply that you just need to do laundry and get some groceries.
- The adjuster then notes that your injuries don’t keep you from completing your everyday tasks, so your pain must not be as serious as you claim. Further, was it really necessary to miss work if you can drive and carry groceries?
In this way, a seemingly harmless offhand comment can lead to a significant reduction in your settlement offer.
Always understand that when an adjuster tells you they are on your side or that they just need a recorded statement to speed up your claim process, these are TRICKS to help them reduce your payment. This is part of their job, so you should never trust that they will have your best interests in mind. Don’t give that recorded statement! Better yet, let our team of experienced attorneys do the talking for you. If you are dealing with USAA Insurance, call us right now for a free consultation at 800-898-4877 or contact us by clicking HERE to discuss your case for free.
SECRET #3—Delays are Part of USAA’s Game
While you watch your medical bills pile up, your stress level will rise, as well. If you’re missing work, losing that income can throw your entire budget off and you might be struggling to cover your basic household expenses. It’s only natural to want a check in your hand as soon as possible! USAA knows the stresses that car crash victims face and the urgency of their financial situations. The company then uses this to their advantage.
In many situations, a USAA adjuster will request documents from you, then request more documents or even the SAME documents AGAIN. This not only causes inconveniences for you but also delays the claim process. At first, you may hear from the adjuster each day or even several times a day. Then, the calls may abruptly stop and you might not be able to ever get the adjuster on the phone. This leaves you not knowing what is happening or how long the process may take. It’s not surprising that claimants become impatient and want to do anything they can to get their payment.
By causing these delays, USAA knows that you’ll get anxious and might be more willing to accept any offer they put on the table. This is yet another trick they use to convince you to accept much less than you deserve. While getting a check as fast as possible may seem like the best decision in your situation, it can be a devastating move to take the first offer. If the offer’s too low, it can leave you with much bigger financial problems in the long run.
In some cases, an adjuster will address the issue of delays right from the start. They’ll tell you that the process can often take some time, but they can speed it up JUST FOR YOU if you agree to accept the first settlement offer. Trust us, this is NOT a promise reserved “just for you,” as it’s a common tactic to get people to agree to accept an offer, not realizing that offer will be MUCH lower than they expected. That brings us to…
SECRET #4—WATCH OUT for Unfair Settlement Offers
Like many insurance companies, USAA adjusters use a computer program to evaluate claims and make settlement offers. Yes—you read that right. Instead of a person deciding your fate, they leave it up to a computer! They say this makes for a fair and efficient claims handling process, but the truth is those computers are programmed against those making claims. They are specifically designed to offer extremely low settlement offers on legitimate car accident claims.
When you file a claim, adjusters will put your medical bills and records into the program, which will then give an estimate for compensation for your losses, and those estimates are ALWAYS low. These programs almost always underestimate the amount you are owed for those damages for which there is no set value (unlike a medical bill.) Some of these damage elements include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Past and Future Disability
- Past and Future Disfigurement
The program cannot speak to you on the phone or ask you personalized questions to truly understand what you’re going through. Instead, it bases its decisions on a pre-programmed algorithm—one that is intended to undervalue claims and maximize USAA’s profits! Our lawyers understand that people are not robots, and they should NOT have their claims decided by a computer.
Some people may receive a settlement offer from USAA and assume that it’s the most they’ll get. This is NOT at all the case—and by accepting a first offer, you will give up your rights to any more money in the future once you realize you’ve been cheated and your accident-related expenses continue to mount up. In this situation, the company wins by paying out as little as possible!
Before you even speak to a USAA adjuster, you should IMMEDIATELY contact an auto insurance attorney who knows how this company works before you EVER sign anything! Don’t take chances – we’re open 24/7, so call us right now for a free consultation at 800-898-4877 or contact us by clicking HERE to discuss your case for free.
SECRET #5—USAA Lowballs Its Own Insureds on Uninsured Motorists and PIP Claims as Well
If you are a USAA policyholder and need to file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, or turn in a PIP claim for your medical bills, you may think that USAA will make the process easier for you because you pay premiums and may even be a member of the military or a family member.
THINK AGAIN. USAA—like other insurance companies—will often fight against these claims as well. Their patriotism ends with their profit margins.
If you were in a hit and run accident or an uninsured driver hit you, you will still need to fight an uphill battle even though you are filing a claim with your own insurer. In some cases, you may even need to file a lawsuit against USAA if it refuses to offer the full amount of your uninsured motorist claim.
Likewise, USAA has a company they use to “nitpick” all medical bills they are asked to pay under their Personal Injury Protection or “PIP” coverage. Anyone in this situation should seek assistance from an attorney who has experience dealing with USAA claims.
SECRET #6—You can Fight for a Higher Offer
When USAA puts a settlement offer on the table that doesn’t even begin to cover your losses, your heart may sink and it might feel hopeless. Know that it is NEVER hopeless. The first settlement offer is not the final offer, and you have the opportunity to negotiate for more money.
If the insurance company is challenging liability for the crash, you can present evidence that the policyholder was at fault and that you weren’t negligent as well. If the adjuster questions the severity or cause of your injuries, you can provide documents from your medical providers and other experts who can attest to your accident-related injuries.
Fighting for a higher offer is no simple task, however. USAA might raise your offer a little, but will likely try to continue to lowball you. This is because these companies all think they can take advantage of unrepresented clients, which they often do successfully! Often, trying to fight on your own simply delays the claim even more and STILL results in a lowball offer. This is only one of many reasons why you should have a skilled auto insurance claims attorney on your side.
SECRET #7—USAA Doesn’t Like Lawsuits!
An insurance claim is only the first step in a car accident case, as injured victims have the right to take action in court, as well. If USAA is not willing to make any sort of reasonable offer, you may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The decision to file a lawsuit should be one that you carefully discuss with an attorney who has experience litigating car accident claims. While this lawsuit is against the driver, you can bet that USAA is covering the judgment up to the policy limits. For this reason, USAA will still very much stay involved in your lawsuit.
Unlike many insurance companies, USAA often does not have in-house lawyers ready to defend against lawsuits. Instead, they hire local attorneys wherever the lawsuit is filed. This means they might have to pay higher fees for legal defense than insurance companies with attorneys on salary. For this reason, filing a lawsuit can quickly get USAA’s attention and often serves as a strong negotiation tactic.
After you file a lawsuit against USAA, the company often significantly increases its settlement offers. If this offer still won’t adequately cover your losses, USAA will often drag you through the entire litigation process. Generally, USAA will try to avoid the costs of a trial and will increase its offer again right before the trial date. This seems to be a common pattern with this insurance company—and our attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, know how to handle it. When necessary, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf and fight for your full recovery, so call us right now for a free consultation at 800-898-4877 or contact us by clicking HERE to discuss your case for free.
SECRET #8—The RIGHT Lawyer Can Help
There is no reason why you have to struggle with USAA and its adjuster on your own. This is because there are attorneys who can handle your claim for you, such as the legal team of lawyer Stewart Guss. The following are only some of the ways the right lawyer can help with your USAA claims process.
Showing you mean business from the start – USAA knows it can take advantage of unrepresented accident victims, and it often does so successfully. When you have an attorney handling your claim, it sends a message right away that you know your rights and you know the insurance company may try to save money at your expense.
In addition, having an attorney from the office of Stewart Guss can put you in an even better position. We’ve handled many claims with USAA and they KNOW we don’t back down. We won’t hesitate to take the case to court if USAA won’t make a fair offer, so this representation can even work to achieve a favorable outcome faster. Our attorneys know how to file a persuasive claim with all the necessary paperwork off the bat, hopefully eliminating the need for back-and-forth communications and negotiations.
Recognizing when an offer is inadequate – Many people accept USAA offers that are too low simply because they don’t realize the full value of their claim. Calculating damages can be more challenging than most people believe, and claimants often grossly underestimate the amount they deserve, so they are more willing to accept inadequate offers.
Our attorneys will carefully calculate ALL of your damages and make sure that a settlement offer is enough to prevent out-of-pocket costs for you. We’ll advise you whether or not we believe an offer is sufficient or whether we need to keep fighting.
Negotiating a higher offer – Questions about liability and injury-related losses can be more complicated than you think. We can review the reasons for a low offer and determine what types of evidence we can use to prove you deserve a higher offer. All of our lawyers are skilled negotiators who know how to deal with difficult USAA adjusters to convince them you deserve more compensation for your injuries and losses.
Using the threat of litigation as leverage – As we discussed above, USAA doesn’t like the idea of lawsuits, as the company is not as prepared as other insurers to defend against claims in court. For this reason, the threat of a possible lawsuit can often encourage adjusters to offer more to resolve the matter out of court. However, if you don’t have the right litigator representing you, USAA may not take the threat of litigation very seriously.
On the other hand, if USAA knows you are working with a highly skilled and experienced litigator, they are more likely to believe that you very well could file a lawsuit if you don’t like their settlement offers. This can help convince them to increase their offer to avoid going head-to-head with our aggressive litigators in the courtroom.
Litigating your personal injury claim – If your case does require filing a lawsuit, you DEFINITELY want a lawyer with experience taking car accident cases to court. We handle every aspect of the litigation process with skill and determination, working for a favorable settlement agreement at every turn. We provide representation in court that you can TRUST!
You may hesitate to call a lawyer because you believe it’ll cost you a lot of money. In fact, ANYONE can afford to hire our attorneys because you pay us NOTHING unless we successfully win compensation for you. Our legal team works on a contingency fee basis, which means you never pay a PENNY out of pocket and then, you only pay us once you receive your settlement. Having our team represent you can often increase your settlement so you end up with MORE money at the end than if you tried to handle your claim on your own. Each case is different, so please don’t wait to call to learn how we can help with your USAA claim right now, at 800-898-4877 or contact us by clicking HERE to discuss your case for free.
SECRET #9—USAA is NOT Going Away
USAA can be a surprisingly difficult insurance company to deal with after a car crash. However, this company continues to have a respected reputation and a growing number of policyholders. Consider the following facts:
- There are currently about 12.8 million USAA members
- USAA has a 97 percent member retention, which shows the loyalty of its policyholders
- 19,000 people work for USAA in San Antonio, 4,700 people work in Phoenix, 3,600 people in Tampa, and 1,200 in Dallas
- Many employees are also veterans or spouses of military members
- USAA was one of the “Best Companies to Work For” and one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” in 2019
While others may believe that USAA is a highly ethical company, the many injured car accident claimants we’ve represented will disagree. Claimants regularly have frustrating experiences with USAA, but the company still continues to grow in its success.
If you get hit by a driver who is a military member, veteran, or military family members, chances are you will be dealing with USAA for the foreseeable future. This is much easier with the right attorney fighting for your rights.
Consult with a Lawyer That Knows How to Fight USAA Injury Claim Adjusters
When you think about an auto insurance claim, you may not immediately recognize the need for legal representation. However, insurance companies can drive hard bargains and will rarely present an initial settlement offer that you deserve. Companies like USAA often count on the fact that unrepresented accident victims will accept inadequate offers—only to increase the company’s bottom line.
The attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law are nationally recognized car accident lawyers who have protected the rights of injured car accident victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in a car wreck and are dealing with a USAA claims adjuster, call our office right now to schedule a free consultation! Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. To schedule your case evaluation, call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by clicking HERE.