Dollar for dollar, USAA auto insurer is the best insurer I have dealt with.
You can get all the basic coverage. I have Liability, Uninsured Motorist, Collision ($250 deductible), and Comprehensive ($0 deductible). Thatís right, zero deductible, and I have used it. I learned long ago that enough happens to your car over time that the extra paid for a zero comprehensive deductible is made back over time. It doesnít hurt that USAA is cheap enough to make this cost effective.
For cost comparison, I insured my $24000 car (brand new) for under $100 a month. Note that this doesnít even include a multi-car discount, which can be very extensive.
Hit and run coverage
The uninsured motorist coverage has a neat feature whereby hit and run accidents are covered. With other insurers, this is covered under collision, and you have to pay a deductible. The catch, though, is that you have to get a portion of the license plate. Yeah, like thatís going to happen a lot. I guess itís better than nothing.
I have always declined medical coverage - I have a low deductible health insurance, so the $5000 just doesnít help much.
For very little a month (like $3, I think - less than AAA), I have towing and roadside emergency service. I have used this on my behalf and on behalf of friends at least 5 times in the last 4 years - this has more than paid for it, and I recommend it for anyone.
Also inexpensive is rental coverage, which will pay for a rental car while your car is being repaired. If you need your car, this coverage is a must.
The claims process is easy and quick. Because USAA is national, they donít have local reps and claim adjusters that you go to. You simply call a toll free number (24 hours a day) and make your claim. I have never had to hold for more than a minute. After that you, take your car to one of many local auto body shops for an estimate (and repair if you wish).
I think that you can get an estimate at one of these places and then get a check to takes somewhere else, at least in California (I think the law here says you cannot be forced to pick the insurerís auto body shop). However, if you do choose to go somewhere else, you may wind up paying more than a USAA affiliate shop.
I have never actually made a claim where I didnít get the work done at the shop, so I have no idea how long it takes to get paid. Someone else with USAA that I know had no complaints.
If you need a windshield replaced, USAA will refer you to a company that will come to your car and replace the windshield at very, very discounted costs. It is not like Allstate, which will actually waive the deductible if you use their company, but it is still pretty cheap.
USAA customer service is very helpful and quick. I have always been able to consult them to get coverage on new cars even while at the dealership (or at least to find out about the cost) and when my wife and I separated, they were very helpful in facilitating my wifeís new account and transfer of an auto to the new account.
With low cost comes choosy insurance
One real downside to USAA is that they are very choosy about who can be insured. I had an accident and a ticket within a three year period, and USAA refused to insure me until the accident dropped off. This is great if you have a clean record - you donít have to worry. It is terrible if you have a not so clean driving record - you donít get the benefit of cheaper rates.
Hereís the rub - you have to be affiliated with the military somehow, or be related to someone who is a member of USAA. My grandfather is a veteran and a member of USAA. Good enough for me.
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