USAA Life Insurance Review

Coverage for servicemembers, veterans, and their families

Family Veteran
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USAA is a member-owned company that provides both term and permanent life insurance along with annuities and other financial services to servicemembers, reservists, veterans, and their families. In this review, we explore the types of life insurance USAA offers as well as the company’s membership ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and more. Read on to see if USAA is the right life insurance provider for your military family.

What We Like

  • Member-owned company

  • Both term and permanent coverage available

  • Guaranteed return on cash value

What We Don't Like

  • No public quoting tool available

  • Must be a USAA member to apply

  • Only one policy of each type available

  • Only three riders available to customize coverage

  • Many customer complaints

Company Overview: A Unique Member-Owned Company 

USAA Life Insurance, headquartered in San Antonio, was started in 1922 by a group of servicemembers wanting to provide each other with insurance. Since then, the company has grown into a national financial services company that provides insurance and other financial products to current and former members of U.S. armed forces and their families. USAA remains member-owned; you have to be a member in order to apply for coverage.

Available Plans: Term & Permanent Coverage Available

USAA offers three different types of life insurance with policies ranging from $100,000 up to $10 million. Members have the choice of term coverage, which provides a set death benefit for a defined period of time, as well as two different types of permanent coverage: whole and universal life. Both whole and universal policies from USAA have cash values that grow over time.

These are the policies USAA offers to members:

Level Term V

USAA offers term life insurance policies ranging from $100,000 to $10 million with terms of 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years. With term life, coverage remains constant for the duration of the policy. Premiums also stay the same during the Initial Benefit Period—a period outlined in policy documents that typically lasts 10 to 30 years—and then increase each year. The death benefit stays the same regardless of premium increases.

Whole Life

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage that lasts as long as you pay your premiums. Unlike term, whole life policies have a cash value component that grows over time, although not as fast as other types of permanent insurance like universal life. Whole life insurance policies pay death benefits when the insured dies and also have a cash value that builds over time and can be accessed while you’re still alive. 

USAA’s whole life policies range from $50,000 to $10 million and provide customers with flexible payment options. Customers can elect to pay premiums for 20 years, until they turn 65, or for the life of the policy.

Universal Life

Universal life insurance is also a type of permanent coverage that stays in force as long as premiums are paid with cash value that typically grows faster than whole life policies. 

USAA offers universal life insurance policies ranging from $100,000 to $10 million. Like whole life, universal policies last as long as premiums are paid. They also offer flexible premium payments and build cash value over time, with higher cash value policies earning higher interest rates. For example, at the time of publication, policies less than $100,000 earn 3.25% on cash value, while policies over $100,000 earn 4.25%. However, all policies are guaranteed to earn at least 2.00% per year.

Available Riders: Custom Features Designed for Servicemembers

Riders are optional features that can be added to some life insurance policies for an additional fee. USAA offers policyholders several riders particularly well-suited for those serving in the U.S. armed forces. Not all riders are available for all types of policies.

USAA offers the following riders:

Term Life Event Option Rider

Term life event option riders are included with all of USAA’s term life policies and allow all policyholders to increase their coverage by $100,000 without an additional medical screening. However, the rider expires after 10 years or when the insured turns 45, whichever comes first. The rider is also subject to issue age limitations and other conditions, and may not be available in some states.

Military Severe Injury Benefit Rider

A severe injury benefit rider pays $25,000 to help with expenses in the event of certain injuries while performing military duties. The injuries that are eligible for a military severe injury benefit include dismemberment and loss of limb function, paralysis, loss of vision, and severe burns.

Military Future Insurability Rider

Future insurability riders provide policyholders the option to increase coverage when they leave the military. The rider is only available under certain terms and conditions and depends on the policyholders' type of military separation. Policyholders will also have to pay additional premiums if they choose to increase their coverage.

Child, Family, and Spouse Riders

Child, family, and spouse riders give policyholders the option to add term coverage for certain family members to their existing policy so they can avoid buying separate plans.

You can insure all of your children for less than one $7 per month payment on top of your premium. When your kids get older, they may have the option to convert it into their own lifetime policy, regardless of their health.

Simplified Whole Life Rider 

Simplified whole life riders provide additional death benefits of up to six times a policy’s size after certain qualifying events.

Waiver of Premium Rider 

A waiver of premium rider allows policyholders to forgo premium payments if they become disabled and are unable to work. This rider is better for veterans or non-military members of USAA who don’t qualify for the military severe injury benefit rider.

Accelerated Death Benefit Rider 

Accelerated death benefit riders allow policyholders to access their death benefits early if they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Accidental Death Benefit Rider 

Accidental death benefit riders pay extra death benefits if the insured dies as the result of an accident.

Customer Service: No Instant Options

USAA Life has no direct customer service line. Policyholders who need assistance can call USAA at 210-531-8722 or toll-free at 800-531-8722. Customer service is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m to 10 p.m and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time. USAA Life also has no listed email or live chat. However, the website does feature an automated agent to help answer frequently asked questions.

Customer Satisfaction: Stay Away!

USAA Life Insurance is not rated by the BBB and the company has over 1,300 registered customer complaints. Complaints include customers being billed for policies they didn’t agree to purchase, customers’ rates being higher than expected after a medical exam, and applications not being approved in a timely fashion.

Financial Strength: Very Sound

USAA receives outstanding ratings for financial strength from multiple rating agencies. The company is rated A++ by AM Best, Aa1 by Moody’s, and AA+ by S&P. These ratings are among the best available from each agency giving USAA customers confidence that their policies are backed up by a company with an extremely strong balance sheet.

Cancellation Policy: Nothing Special

USAA term life policies can be canceled at any time—customers can simply stop paying premiums. However, surrender charges may apply for whole and universal life. Details about these surrender fees are not publicly available but vary by policy as outlined in contract documents. Surrender charges are credited against the cash value when policies are cashed out.

Price: Hard to Find & Subject to Change

You have to be a member of USAA in order to get an individualized quote for life insurance. Preliminary quotes are available online but final costs are subject to medical exams and may change, as alleged in several customer complaints.

Below are typical premiums for $150,000 of term life coverage on a 20-year term for customers in standard health.

Competition: USAA Life vs. Mutual of Omaha

Life insurance from USAA is only an option if you qualify for membership. If you aren’t an active servicemember, reservist, veteran, or family member, Mutual of Omaha is another life insurer available to the public. While USAA makes it difficult to get a cost of what you’ll pay for insurance, Mutual of Omaha is much more transparent about pricing. It also has the same number of policies available. If you aren’t a USAA member or aren’t eligible for membership, definitely consider getting insurance from Mutual of Omaha.

Final Verdict: Go Elsewhere If You Aren’t a Member

If you’re a member of USAA or a servicemember, reservist, veteran, or qualifying family member, you may qualify for life insurance through USAA. The company offers three main types of coverage as well as several riders designed specifically to help members of US armed forces. USAA understands the unique needs of servicemembers and veterans to protect against service-related injuries. However, servicemembers may also be able to find better pricing or policies elsewhere, and prospective policyholders are urged to carefully review the fine print and perhaps consider other providers due to numerous complaints from dissatisfied customers.

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Article Sources

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