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Old 07-22-2011, 12:02 AM   #21
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Well another congratulations from me to you Nords.

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I'd make fun of you going to Texas in the summer, except for I'm going to Vegas in July, which is possibly even hotter than Texas. Sounds like interesting trip.
If life doesn't smack me upside my head again, I'm planning on going to Vegas in August. Ahhhhhh....Las Vegas in August.

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Old 07-22-2011, 01:42 AM   #22
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Here's a question I'd ask iffin I were there -

At first it was kind of cool to see USAA advertising during the Army-Navy game last year. Then their ads started to appear more frequently on the telly. And it's almost like we're letting too many people in on our secret...

Is the USAA membership base eroding so quickly that national television adverts are the way to increase members? Or is this a hint at a shift away from the association's traditional marketing? Or should we just ignore the changes that continue to take place along Fredericksburg Road? I've even heard other members saying their rates have been bested by other insurance companies. This 42+ year member is kinda concerned, but I just can't put my finger on "Why?" I'm uncomfortable with things at USAA.
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Old 07-22-2011, 09:47 AM   #23
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Here's a question I'd ask iffin I were there -

At first it was kind of cool to see USAA advertising during the Army-Navy game last year. Then their ads started to appear more frequently on the telly. And it's almost like we're letting too many people in on our secret...

Is the USAA membership base eroding so quickly that national television adverts are the way to increase members? Or is this a hint at a shift away from the association's traditional marketing? Or should we just ignore the changes that continue to take place along Fredericksburg Road? I've even heard other members saying their rates have been bested by other insurance companies. This 42+ year member is kinda concerned, but I just can't put my finger on "Why?" I'm uncomfortable with things at USAA.
I think I can answer your question. You're right in that USAA used to advertise only in military magazines. That was the time the membership was available ONLY to officers.

What's happened with the "public" advertisements is USAA is trying to get the word out that "all who have served honorably" are eligible for USAA membership. Membership is no longer limited to the officer ranks. USAA received mail for decades from enlisted and former officers asking why they were not eligible for membership (officers had to be active duty to be eligible for membership - not just separated; enlisted were simply SOL).

USAA did not need the revenue - they are doing just fine. What changed was deciding the right thing to do was to open membership to everyone who honorably served in the military - not just active duty officers. The newest message - the one that's been on TV lately - is the legacy of the membership. You can pass it down to your children and to their children.

While the membership is opened to anyone who (honorably) served in the military, the underwriting requirements for P&C insurance have NOT been relaxed.

The company is being very cautious about "growth for growth's sake". All changes must benefit the membership as a whole.

I'm proud to be a 35 year member and will continue to use USAA goods and services. That company is rock solid on core values and doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:14 AM   #24
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What's happened with the "public" advertisements is USAA is trying to get the word out that "all who have served honorably" are eligible for USAA membership. Membership is no longer limited to the officer ranks.
+1. This is precisely why they began a major ad campaign.

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USAA did not need the revenue -
I don't think this is entirely accurate.

Although I couldn't locate a quick and dirty reference, I'm fairly certain the number of officers in the US military has steadily declined over the years. This resulted in a potential declining membership base for USAA, which was the driving force behind them opening up to first NCO's, then to virtually all veterans. I understand they were projecting poor growth opportunity if they did not make some changes.

I wish them nothing but the best - I've been a USAA member for more than 40 years and got my first "senior bonus" payment from my Subscriber Savings Acct earlier this year. It was enough to pay the annual premium for my homeowners policy - and you know how expensive homeowners insurance is in Texas...
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:18 AM   #25
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Nords, there must be a way for you to accidentally e-mail to your father's LTC company a draft of some public comments you may or may not choose to make in San Antonio regarding how frustrating and expensive it can be for retirees to deal with an LTC company....
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:21 AM   #26
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You've hit the big ones. The insurance company is untouchable--can we get the same cost/service package in their investment and banking products? That's probably a lot to ask.
I've always wondered about that. Perhaps the vehicle-insurance guys feel as if they're "carrying" the rest of the company?

I have to admit that this is a blogger's fantasy-- unlimited material to mine for incredible publicity.

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I'd make fun of you going to Texas in the summer, except for I'm going to Vegas in July, which is possibly even hotter than Texas. Sounds like interesting trip.
Next week's challenge is finding cute, small cheap aloha omiyage for the book-signing table. I'm actually considering going down to the USS ARIZONA Memorial book store to watch the professionals ply their craft.

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Is the USAA membership base eroding so quickly that national television adverts are the way to increase members?
Maybe the "eroding" word is just a euphemism for the phrase "dying of old age"? NFCU went through this after the post-Cold-War drawdown.

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Or is this a hint at a shift away from the association's traditional marketing? Or should we just ignore the changes that continue to take place along Fredericksburg Road? I've even heard other members saying their rates have been bested by other insurance companies. This 42+ year member is kinda concerned, but I just can't put my finger on "Why?" I'm uncomfortable with things at USAA.
You might be able to get a better rate at GEICO or even Progressive (their quotes have been very close on our bare-bones policy) but I think USAA still has the edge on service & negotiations.

I've always found cheaper home/liability insurance with Armed Forces Insurance, although admittedly they're a much smaller & weaker company financially. But good enough. USAA wouldn't even quote home insurance in Hawaii to current owners for years, and I don't know if they've re-entered the market.

I've always found cheaper mortgages at NFCU & PenFed, and I've always wondered why USAA bothers with mutual funds.

I've added these questions to the list, and I'm sending them in now rather than waiting for the conference. Keep 'em coming!

By the way, I remember that this board has several authors and a bunch of reading fans who've attended book-signing events. I don't know yet whether I'll be able to set up a table at the actual USAA conference, but I'm also trying to squeeze in a few hours of bookselling at the nearby military exchanges. I'm comfortable with public speaking but I'm a total newbie at sales & marketing, let alone book signings. If you have a technique that's worked well for you, or if you've been impressed by others, or if something didn't work well at all... I can use all the advice I can get.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:38 AM   #27
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The company is being very cautious about "growth for growth's sake". All changes must benefit the membership as a whole.

I'm proud to be a 35 year member and will continue to use USAA goods and services. That company is rock solid on core values and doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason.
I think USAA is a great company, but I'm concerned about the changes. There are hundreds of insurance companies, most run by very talented people. I don't think it's a coincidence that the very best one just happens to have a history of only insuring US military officers. That's a very select demographic, one that has certain traits based on self-selection, the selection performed by the services, and by subsequent training and life experiences. I'm fairly sure the attributes of this group have contributed significantly to USAA's success. The attributes cannot be expected to be the same among the great-great-grandchildren of these same people.
It's hard to quantify, but when I call USAA I get the feeling that the reps believe what I tell them. And, I think I'm getting better car insurance and home insurance rates and service because they have a pre-selected pool of insureds with favorable characteristics based on the factors above.

USAA thrived with a smaller pool of members in the past, they can do it again. Yes, they'd lose some economies of scale, and rates might go up compared to where they are today, but they'd still be lower than other companies based on the pre-selection factors. I would rather USAA get smaller and stay the company that it is than have it get bigger and become just another insurance/financial services company. We've got enough of those. But I think the execs will make more money if it gets bigger. I'm not convinced my interests are aligned with theirs at this point.
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:31 PM   #28
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Although I couldn't locate a quick and dirty reference, I'm fairly certain the number of officers in the US military has steadily declined over the years. This resulted in a potential declining membership base for USAA, which was the driving force behind them opening up to first NCO's, then to virtually all veterans. I understand they were projecting poor growth opportunity if they did not make some changes.
You're absolutely right - the decline of the officer pool was a significant influence on the decisions to enlarge the membership.

Quote:
I wish them nothing but the best - I've been a USAA member for more than 40 years and got my first "senior bonus" payment from my Subscriber Savings Acct earlier this year. It was enough to pay the annual premium for my homeowners policy - and you know how expensive homeowners insurance is in Texas...
I have "senior bonus" envy. One of these days I'll get mine.

A side note on USAA's trying to do the right thing. Many years ago USAA offered a special bumper decal for members with 40+ years. It was a great idea. Until the claims started coming in. It seems the shysters were setting up cars with the decals to be in "accidents" because USAA had a reputation of taking care of their members by settling claims quickly.

A car in the lane next to, and slightly ahead of, the USAA car quickly changed lanes and slammed on the brakes. The USAA car slammed into it. Rear end collision. Normally the fault of the rear-ender. A pattern quickly emerged, the miscreants were caught and prosecuted when possible, and the bumper decal went the way of old tape decks.
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:50 PM   #29
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Actually, they sent me one of those 40 year decals a few years ago, so it's back. I think I have even seen a 50 year decal on a car in my area.

I got my first senior bonus this year, too, and I couldn't believe the size of it. One of my favorite companies!
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:34 PM   #30
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Sam, that's an interesting question (and added to my list). It's only been a few years since they're thrown open the membership, and I wonder if they have enough data to draw any conclusions... let alone an inclination to share their findings.

2.7 years ago when our daughter passed her license exam (at the age of 16 years and six days), I used the DMV's pay phone to call USAA with the news that we now had three licensed drivers in our household. I expected our premiums to triple.

Instead they decided that since we had three drivers but only two cars, they'd classify her as an "occasional driver" and keep our premiums the same.

I bet you all can guess who was really our household's "occasional driver" for the next two years... and I'm pretty sure USAA knew that too, but they were fine with that decision. It must've cost them a couple thousand bucks in premium income.

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I have "senior bonus" envy. One of these days I'll get mine.
Only if there are enough new members to pay their money in to support the projected withdrawals of the current senior members.

Although the system is working fine for now, projected withdrawals will soon exceed receipts. By 2037 you may only receive 75% of your senior bonus.

Oh, wait, that's a different thread...
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Old 07-23-2011, 02:08 AM   #31
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I am impressed to see the love for this company that I've read on this thread.

They must be doing something right. I understand SamClem's concern there are often real problems when companies expand from a well defined niche.
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Old 07-23-2011, 08:43 AM   #32
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Congratulations! Sounds like an interesting trip. I would echo what you expressed about competitiveness with NFCU, PenFed, etc. For whatever reason, over the past 40+ years, I've just always thought of NFCU as the "go to" guys for mortgages, CD's and other general banking services. (PenFed has come on my radar screen more recently, primarily for CD's and no-foreign-transaction fee credit cards.) In the investment area, I'm a Vanguard guy. Obviously USAA is who I first think of for insurance. But a good question might be, "What does USAA have to do to get a long-time insurance customer to think of them more readily for the other products?"

Have a great trip.

BTW, on the Russia trip from which I just returned, I got a nice photo of an old Tango class in the Volga River. It's now part of a museum.
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Old 07-23-2011, 08:57 AM   #33
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Only if there are enough new members to pay their money in to support the projected withdrawals of the current senior members.

Although the system is working fine for now, projected withdrawals will soon exceed receipts. By 2037 you may only receive 75% of your senior bonus.

Oh, wait, that's a different thread...
The easy cure is to increase the Senior Bonus eligibility criteria from the current 40 years to 50 years with the company...and offer an 8% bump each year beyond 50 members delay taking it.
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:31 PM   #34
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Here's what I have so far:
  • "If I'm invited back to the next one, could we do it in March? Or November?"
  • "Where should I set up my book-signing table? Can I get a forklift through that doorway?"
  • "Will the rates for the Flexible Retirement Savings Annuity and the Single Premium Immediate Annuity go up in 2012?"
  • "How do you plan to keep your CD & mortgage rates competitive with NFCU and PenFed? In other words, your insurance rates are untouchable-- how can we get the same cost/service package in USAA's investment and banking products?"
  • "Are you insuring Hawaii homeowners again? What's your plan for this hurricane season?"
  • "Advertising seems to be on the rise. Is new customer growth paying for it, or is the cost being passed on to us current customers?"
  • "As your customer base widens, it would seem that the quality could also drop. I'm not trying to incite a debate over the insurability of officer vs enlisted veterans, but I'm curious how USAA maintains their financial standards. More customers would equal more money for the execs, so it's possible that exec's interests could diverge from the customer's interests."
  • "What does USAA have to do to get a long-time insurance customer to think of them more readily for their other products instead of NFCU, PenFed, Vanguard, & Fidelity?"

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Do you think you will get to Houston on this trip?
Sorry, missed this one first time through.

We're still trying to figure out the logistics, although I'm sure my daughter would vote to let me buy dinner at a nice restaurant for her and her friends "Yes". If I scamper home on the 10th then there won't be a side trip, and I get to spend some more time with another ER visiting Hawaii that weekend. If I stay for a book signing at the exchanges that weekend then I'd make the Houston trek on Mon or Tue before flying home. I sure hope San Antonion & Houston don't have any traffic, or I'll have to put my "Drive Aloha" bumper sticker on the rental car.

We'll also be back in Houston 20-23 Oct for Rice's Families Weekend.

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BTW, on the Russia trip from which I just returned, I got a nice photo of an old Tango class in the Volga River. It's now part of a museum.
Welcome back! Glad you checked in. If the U.S. consulate staff in Moscow happen to phone you up to see how you're doing, tell them I said "Eh, never mind..."

Man, when I think of the months of man-hours I spent studying recognition silhouettes and acoustic/electronic characteristics of those old submarines-- I feel like such a dinosaur.

I guess we couldn't've "won" the Cold War without that effort.
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Old 07-23-2011, 04:36 PM   #35
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That is wonderful, Nords. Congratulations! I hope that you have a great trip and that your book sales and blog really takes off for you.

I really need to check into USAA insurance. I never received a traffic ticket or had an accident that was my fault until 06/06 and 03/07. It was a very stressful time in our household, since my future son-in-law (now my sil), left WV in 06/06 to enter the navy and my teen daughter, a senior in hs, had to stay in WV. Maybe I am trying to divert the blame and it was my fault, but I was half nuts doing that time. Does anyone know how long a ticket or accident stays on your record. I keep thinking that maybe I should wait until 04/12 (5 yrs after the accident), to check about ins through another company. We have been with State Farm since the mid 80's.
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Old 07-23-2011, 07:45 PM   #36
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That is wonderful, Nords. Congratulations! I hope that you have a great trip and that your book sales and blog really takes off for you.

I really need to check into USAA insurance. I never received a traffic ticket or had an accident that was my fault until 06/06 and 03/07. It was a very stressful time in our household, since my future son-in-law (now my sil), left WV in 06/06 to enter the navy and my teen daughter, a senior in hs, had to stay in WV. Maybe I am trying to divert the blame and it was my fault, but I was half nuts doing that time. Does anyone know how long a ticket or accident stays on your record. I keep thinking that maybe I should wait until 04/12 (5 yrs after the accident), to check about ins through another company. We have been with State Farm since the mid 80's.
Depending on your state, tickets usually affect your premiums for three to four years. One ticket - probably no impact. DWI/DUI don't even bother thinking about changing insurance companies for five to seven years after the incident. There are a few other "biggie" tickets that would cause doors to slam such as 80mph in a school zone.

The one big thing that will impact you being able to change insurance companies is claim history.

If you're eligible for USAA insurance, it doesn't hurt to call and get a quote.
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:51 AM   #37
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I sure hope San Antonion & Houston don't have any traffic...
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Old 07-24-2011, 06:42 PM   #38
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My ticket in 06/06 was going through a red light. I was leaving a shopping center and was unsure if I needed to go right or left for the interstate. The light was green when I started through, but I was going so slow trying to see which way I needed to go, that the light had turned red.

In 03/07, I had just dropped my DD off at school and had driven a couple of blocks and came to a complete stop at the stop sign. I was at a bend in the road and there was a lot of morning traffic on the main street that I was trying to get on to, and I saw my break and went for it. I had wrongly assumed that the car was staying on the main road, but it was going into the little alley right in front of me. I looked back to make sure no other cars were coming and accelerated right into her. Definitely my fault. Luckily, no one was hurt.
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:15 PM   #39
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Hey what is the UOD for this event? Do you have to buy a new suit?

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Old 07-25-2011, 12:36 AM   #40
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Hey what is the UOD for this event? Do you have to buy a new suit?
Man, just a couple weeks into the transition and you're already fully in the ER mode! First question I thought of.

Here's what I e-mailed in my RSVP:
Quote:
Finally, this is going to seem like a dumb question, but I've always been happy that I've asked it: what's the dress code? Hawaii attire is much less formal than most Mainland areas, and I typically wear slacks & aloha shirt. Please let us know if USAA's remembrance ceremony or other events will require a coat & tie.
But I suspect that I already know the "correct" answer, and it just depends what I can get away with. I figure I'm making a huge concession to San Antonio culture merely by deigning to wear socks & loafers instead of my usual slippers. But what better way to model the ER lifestyle (and market the book) than with one of my finest Goodwill $6.99 aloha shirts? You know da kine, brah.

I have a blue blazer, a couple blue shirts, a red tie, and a blue tie. The last time I wore them was in early 2002 (when I was on retirement leave) for my grandfather's funeral. I'm pretty sure the blazer won't button over my surfing muscles, and now that I think about it I guess I'm going to have to see if the shirts will even fit anymore...
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