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USAA offers a unique suite of benefits designed to meet the needs of those who serve in the military. In fact, of the 91 insurance companies we reviewed, it won top billing for best life insurance company for the military. In addition to military-specific perks, policies are backed by USAA’s A++ rating for financial stability and the company has received very few complaints. Notably, you don’t need to be in or affiliated with the military to qualify for USAA life insurance.
- Pros & Cons
- Company Overview
A++ financial stability rating
Very few customer complaints
Guaranteed insurability available at no additional cost
Any time conversion rider available
No-medical-exam policies are lacking
Few policy types available
In 1922 USAA was founded when 25 Army officers wanted to insure each other’s vehicles. Since that modest start, this organization has grown to provide insurance to millions of members of the military community. The name USAA stands for United Services Automobile Association, and since 2009 USAA has been working with military affiliated groups to connect with veterans, military members, and their families about their financial products and services.
USAA Life Insurance policies provide some valuable military-specific benefits at no additional cost to their members such as coverage during wartime, severe injury benefits, and the option to add coverage at a later date, without proving insurability (meaning, you don’t have to take a medical exam or answer questions about your health). Life insurance policyholders may also be eligible to receive dividends.
- A++ financial stability rating: AM Best gives USAA an A++ rating, which is its highest rating, and means the company has a superior ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations (in other words, it's likely to be able to pay insurance claims). Of the 91 insurance companies we reviewed, less than 10% received AM Best’s top-tier rating.
- Very few customer complaints: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) monitors insurance complaints and calculates a “complaint index” to reflect how many complaints a company receives relative to its market share. USAA’s NAIC complaint index averaged over three years is 0.177, which indicates that it received far fewer complaints than expected.
- Guaranteed insurability available at no additional cost: If you purchase a Level Term V policy or a Simplified Whole Life policy from USAA, you can apply for additional coverage without having to prove insurability upon certain life events, including marriage, buying a home, or having a child. Most insurance companies charge an extra fee for a guaranteed insurability rider, but USAA offers its Life Event Option rider for both types of policies at no additional cost.
- Injury benefits: For no additional cost, active service members can enjoy valuable perks such as coverage during wartime and severe injury benefits that give the policyholder $25,000 if they sustain select injuries in the line of duty.
- Any time conversion rider available: You will have the ability to convert a term policy to a permanent policy at any time up to the end of the level term period. This is a particularly valuable perk if you can’t currently afford a permanent policy, but would like to “lock in” your good health now to qualify for one later.
- No-medical-exam options are lacking: One of USAA’s term products, Essential Term, requires no medical exam for life insurance coverage. This might be a nice feature except that the premium increases every year, policies expire at age 39, and coverage is limited to $100,000. Other carriers offer no-med-exam term life insurance for up to 40 years with available coverage amounts over $1 million.
- Few policy types available: USAA offers term insurance and whole life insurance. It does make a universal life insurance policy available through John Hancock, but it doesn’t directly offer universal life insurance, variable universal life, or indexed universal life policies.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks the complaints that insurance companies receive and uses the information to develop a complaint index. The NAIC complaint index is a measure of how many complaints a company has received relative to how many complaints it’s expected to receive based on its size.
If a company has a complaint ratio over 1.0, that indicates that the insurance company receives more complaints than expected for a company of its size. If the company receives a ratio below 1.0, then it received fewer complaints than expected.
USAA has a complaint index of 0.22 for 2021 which means it received far fewer complaints than expected. For comparison’s sake, Nationwide (0.263), New York Life (0.279), and State Farm (0.295) are all major insurance companies that also received fewer customer complaints than expected.
USAA shines when it comes to being reliable financially (which is a key trait to look for when purchasing a life insurance policy that can last decades). It received an AM Best score of A++.
Only nine of the 91 insurance companies we reviewed receive this score: USAA is in good company with New York Life, MassMutual, and State Farm.
To understand how USAA stacks up to competitors of similar size, we compared it with two rivals based on six commonly searched policy features.
|USAA||Allianz||American Fidelity Life Insurance|
|Types of Coverage||Whole life, term life, universal life||Index universal life||Term life, final expense, whole life|
|Dividends for 2020||$42 million||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Online Application||Available||Not Available||Available|
|AM Best Rating||A++||A+||A-|
|Price for Term Policies||Excellent||N/A||Very Good|
|NAIC Complaint Index||0.22||0.31||.002|
Term Life Insurance
Term Life Insurance is a type of temporary coverage that lasts a limited number of years, such as 30, and is more affordable than permanent life insurance. USAA offers both Level Term V and Essential Term (not available in Arizona, Florida, or New York) policies:
- Level Term V: This policy offers coverage from $100,000 to $1 million for terms of 10 to 30 years with a level premium—that means one that stays the same for the duration of the coverage term you select. It’s available if you’re between 18 and 70, and requires a medical exam.
- Essential Term: You must be between 21 to 35 to qualify for this policy. The death benefit is set at $100,000, and coverage ends on your 39th birthday if you choose to renew it annually. Unlike with the level-term policy, your rate increases every year. This policy does not require a medical exam.
If you are willing to undergo a more lengthy application process to save money on a USAA term policy, Level Term V is the way to go. Though you get to skip the exam with Essential Term, it’s only suitable for very short-term coverage since the cost increases every year and you can’t renew it once you turn 39.
Whole Life Insurance
Unlike a term life insurance policy, whole life insurance lasts your whole life as long as you continue to pay the scheduled premiums. Your death benefit is guaranteed throughout the life of the policy and the policy builds a tax-deferred cash value.
- Simplified Whole Life: Instead of paying premiums for your entire life, USAA also gives you the option to pay off the policy over the course of 20 years or when you turn 65.
USAA also makes Mutual of Omaha’s Guaranteed Whole Life policy available to members, but does not underwrite this coverage itself.
Universal Life Insurance
USAA doesn’t offer universal life insurance itself but makes John Hancock’s universal life policies available to its members. A universal life insurance policy offers flexible but permanent coverage with a cash value that can last a lifetime if you pay sufficient premiums. Unlike whole life insurance, you can adjust or skip premium payments if needed without immediately causing the policy to lapse.
Guaranteed Insurability Riders
Guaranteed insurability riders let you increase the death benefit without having to re-qualify for coverage—meaning you don’t have to answer health questions or take a medical exam. USAA offers two at no additional cost:
- Term Life Event Option Rider: This guaranteed insurability rider is available on Level Term V insurance policies. It gives you a one-time option to increase your death benefit upon the occurrence of a life event, such as getting married, starting a family, or buying a home. You must be 35 or younger to have this option added to your policy, and it expires after 10 years or when you turn 45—whichever comes first.
- Life Event Option Rider: Similar to the rider above, this one is available at no extra cost with USAA’s Simplified Whole Life policy. However, you can increase the death benefit up to six times for a maximum total coverage increase of $1 million. The rider expires once you turn 45.
You can attach USAA’s Term Life Insurance for Children Rider to your own policy and get up to $25,000 of coverage per child for all your children for $7.99/month. Once your child becomes an adult, they can convert the rider to permanent coverage that can last their entire life.
Waiver of Premium
For an additional cost, USAA offers a waiver of premium rider that lets you skip premium payments if you become disabled.
ADB: Terminal Illness Rider
USAA offers an accelerated death benefit rider for terminal illness at no additional cost. With a terminal illness rider, you can access a portion of your death benefit when diagnosed with a terminal illness to use for whatever you want while you’re still alive.
You can connect with USAA over the phone or via mail. Their main phone hours are Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m to 8:00 p.m CT.
- 210-531-USAA (8722)
- 800-531-USAA (8722)
- 9800 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, TX 78288
To gain insight into life insurance pricing, we gathered quotes across a range of insurers for healthy males and females aged 25, 40, and 55 years old for 30-year $250,000 term policies. Based on this analysis, USAA’s term policies cost slightly more than average. However, that cost may be well worth it if USAA’s value-added features like guaranteed insurability and injury benefits are important to you.
Is USAA Life Insurance Right for Me?
If you’re in the military, a USAA life insurance policy may serve your needs well. Active servicemembers might especially appreciate the no-cost military benefits, such as accelerated issues for servicemembers preparing to deploy, coverage during wartime, and severe injury benefits for injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Even if you’re not in the military, USAA may still appeal. That the company offers guaranteed insurability riders at no additional cost is uncommon and valuable. Most life insurance companies charge extra to allow you to increase the death benefit later, but not USAA.
But if you’re looking for long-term or high coverage no-medical-exam life insurance, you’ll need to look elsewhere. USAA also doesn’t directly offer common coverage types like universal life insurance, variable universal life, and indexed universal life.
We designed a comprehensive rating methodology based on consumer priorities and life insurance company fundamentals to rank more than 90 insurers across five general categories: financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, the overall buying experience, and cost.
To do this, we collected over 5,000 data points and scored each company based on 55 metrics. We grouped metrics by category to see how insurers performed in each; we then weighted category scores to determine how companies performed overall.
To learn more, read our full Life Insurance Methodology.
NAIC. "Complaint Index 2021."