When Duston Hamilton sees a USAA Insurance coverage business on tv, the previous marine says he will get disgusted. He’s a common contractor who helps hailstorm victims restore their houses.
“The TV adverts are very deceptive,” he says of the San Antonio-based insurance coverage large that caters to retired and energetic members of the army.
“They’re utilizing this business to say it’s an honor and a privilege that we are able to offer you an insurance coverage firm,” he says. “However they’re not paying folks what they’re owed. It angers me that somebody would make the most of our heroes and their households.”
Mike Martin, who labored for Allcat Claims Service of Boerne as an unbiased insurance coverage adjuster doing contract work for USAA, says the identical: “The adverts are very contradictory.”
“Everyone’s received smiles on their faces. That’s clearly not consultant of what goes on.”
What goes on? The Watchdog receives ideas from USAA shoppers who complain that the corporate generally declines to pay claims for repairs that a number of years in the past, insurance coverage adjusters say, would have been paid with out a hitch.
I despatched USAA’s communications director Rebekah Nelson an in depth letter itemizing all of the folks I talked to, what they stated, and particular courtroom instances I’d be referring to on this two-part Watchdog collection on USAA. I requested for touch upon every.
She wrote again, “USAA won’t converse to particular points resulting from member privateness or pending litigation. Nevertheless, USAA handles thousands and thousands of claims yearly with a excessive satisfaction charge and stays dedicated to serving its membership.” There was no additional remark.
‘Stress and despair’
Jermal Dubose is a retired Military first sergeant who lives in Deridder, La. At first, his hurricane injury declare gave the impression to be on observe. However then his declare went to Allcat adjusters, who together with USAA workers, put him off for months.
“USAA has no concept the quantity of undue stress and despair,” he says. “I’ve misplaced greater than I ever will be capable to get again.”
Allcat executives didn’t return The Watchdog’s interview requests.
Tamara Henk, a retired colonel with the Texas Air Nationwide Guard, and her husband David, a retired Navy commander, say they’ve been USAA members for nearly 40 years. The Grapevine couple stated making an attempt to get a roof changed is their “worst to this point expertise.”
USAA despatched out three completely different roof inspectors, and every of the stories they wrote gave a distinct purpose for denial, the couple say. When one inspector disputed her declare that her roof was hail broken, she went to her freezer and pulled out a hailstone she had saved from the storm.
Lastly, after a second storm hit, they had been in a position to get their declare dealt with and a brand new roof.
MaryAnne Cowdrey and her husband Joel, a retired Navy lieutenant who served throughout the Vietnam Conflict, say they had been USAA clients for 58 years. The Oak Cliff couple say they received bored with combating with USAA, took out a mortgage and paid $70,000 to complete the repairs.
“It’s ugly making an attempt to succeed in them on the cellphone,” she says.
Updates on earlier USAA instances I’ve reported on:
John Wayne Walding, a Inexperienced Beret who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and misplaced a leg, sued USAA. The Little Elm resident claimed that USAA gave him approval to restore his truck’s engine. Then after the $9,500 restore was performed, the corporate modified its thoughts and declined to pay.
“Preventing bullets and combating funds are two various things, however they’re each terrifying,” he stated.
Earlier than trial, Walding’s lawsuit was settled and its phrases are confidential.
John and Sharon Kelley of Georgetown, USAA clients for greater than 50 years, sued over cost of $19,000 for a brand new roof. The retired Navy surgeon and his spouse sat via a 5-day trial. A jury awarded them $143,000 in damages and authorized charges.
Earlier than USAA may enchantment, the couple’s lawyer say they reached a confidential settlement with the corporate, and the phrases can’t be disclosed.
Larry and Shirley Reyes of Deer Park couldn’t get all of their hailstorm claims paid. However in a fortunate break, the Allcat adjuster, Jennifer Posas, turned whistleblower and testified beneath oath that her supervisor made her drop the beneficial roof payout to a measly $2,900.
A lawyer for the couple who sued USAA advised me the case was settled, and the phrases are confidential.
One other lawsuit in opposition to USAA I’ve discovered: A California lawyer, Harvey Rosenfield, sued in that state, claiming that present and former army officers are handled higher and pay higher insurance coverage charges than present and former enlisted army members.
The case awaits trial, however its final result will solely have an effect on Californians who use USAA.
‘We’re not paying’
Don’t underestimate the psychological have an effect on this may have on USAA’s shoppers.
Mike Martin, who labored for adjuster Allcat, stated it damage him emotionally to look at shoppers get stiffed.
“You need to flip your self robotic,” he stated. “I wish to be on the aspect of the house owner.”
He’d go on a roof, declare it wanted to get replaced after which be overruled by somebody sitting at a desk who didn’t go up there with him.
“They’d say, ‘We’re not paying for that roof,’ and I’d say, ‘You’ve received to be kidding.’”
He’s watched USAA shoppers “crying and the whole lot.”
He calls whistleblowers like him “patriot fighters for the householders.”
“With regards to veterans, they arrive first,” he stated.
Though not all the time.
Word: In my subsequent column, the second on this collection, I’ll present you the way somebody sitting at a desk overrules estimators on USAA claims.
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