Banking, investing and insurance is three important functions in a person’s financial orbit. People are always on the lookout for companies that provide all the three. The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a Fortune 200 financial company which provides all three to people and families that serve or served the military of the United States and some other selected federal agencies. At present it is ranked 176 on the 2008 Fortune 500 list.
USAA does not sell or provides service for its insurance through agents. It believes in direct marketing and is one of the pioneers in the field. Most of its business is done over the telephone or the Internet. A toll-free number was launched in 1978 followed by Internet support from 1999. Their Internet portal is USAA.COM
USAA was founded in 1922 by a group of US Army officers to self-insure each other. Other companies found them a high-risk group. Now USAA has expanded and includes officers, NCOs enlisted and their families offering them property and casualty insurance, banking, life insurance, investment and financial products and services.
The Headquarters is at San Antonio, Texas in one of the largest single occupancy buildings in the US, rivaling the Sears Towers and the Pentagon with 286 acres of area, which was a former farmhouse.
The original name of Unites States Army Automobile association was changed to Unites States Automobile Association in 1924 when members of other military services became eligible for their services and membership. The company opened offices in London, England, and Frankfurt, Germany soon after.
Homeowners’ and life insurance started in 1960s and brokerage and banking in the 1980s.
Besides personal property and casualty insurance it also sells automobile insurance, homeowner insurance, renters insurance and valuable personal property insurance, whole life insurance, term life insurance and annuities. USAA differs from other insurance companies, as it does not include the war-exclusion clause, which most others do.
The USAA Federal Savings Bank provides Banking services and credit cards. It was established in the early 1980s and is reported to have $ 20 billion deposits with more than 2.5 million accounts though it has only one physical location in San Antonio in Texas. Others access it through mail, phone or the Internet. People can deposit checks from home and are eligible for free online bill pay, bank by mail services, ATM fee rebates and also check the life of the account and other things. USAA was one of the first major banks to offer American Express cards in 2006 in addition to the MasterCard.
The USAA also provides brokerage service and mutual funds. Mutual funds established by other companies can be purchased and held in USAA investing accounts It also offers free Financial planning advice and other services like a mail-order catalog service which is known for diamonds and jewelry. Discounts on car rentals, flower delivery services, cruises and FedEx services are also offered.
As there are no shareholders, profits are retained or returned to the members through Subscriber’s Savings Accounts.