Understanding USAA’s Subscriber Savings Account

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USAA is my favorite bank and the company with which my wife and I insure our home and autos. You can’t beat their customer service, and their insurance premiums are always some of the lowest you will ever find! I have been a happy USAA customer for about 7 or 8 years now, and I…

USAA is my favorite bank and the company with which my wife and I insure our home and autos. You can’t beat their customer service, and their insurance premiums are always some of the lowest you will ever find! I have been a happy USAA customer for about 7 or 8 years now, and I don’t think I will ever leave them.

That said, I’ve had discussions with some of their other members on other occasions and one thing there is always some misconception about the Subscriber Savings Account (SSA) that belongs to each USAA member with a property and casualty policy.

USAA recently sent out SSA notices to their account holders, so I decided to take this opportunity to explain what they are.

Subscriber Savings Accounts

Subscriber Savings Accounts (SSAs) are a byproduct of the legal structure of USAA. One of the interesting features about USAA is that it is not a publicly owned company, USAA is actually member owned. This is important because it gives USAA different options for raising capital.

Publicly owned companies sell stock to raise capital; USAA holds it capital in member owned SSAs. These funds are held in reserve for USAA to satisfy legal requirements and pay for catastrophic losses and other catastrophes.

It’s your money, but it is held by USAA. An SSA is your money, but it isn’t a bank account. The money held in in an SSA under each member’s name, and remains there in the event USAA needs to use the money to pay insurance settlements or claims. Members are not able to make withdrawals or deposits to or from their SSA.

SSA Balance. Money is allocated to your SSA depending on several factors, including a percentage of the particular member’s property and casualty premiums, USAA’s investment portfolio and performance, the member’s SSA balance (sometimes distributions are made on a percentage basis), longevity as a USAA member, and other factors.

SSA Distributions. USAA board members have the option to make financial distributions to its members based on how well USAA’s investments performed, how much money each person has in their SSA, and a multitude of other factors.

How to get your SSA money back. There is actually no way to get your SSA funds back unless you close all of your property and casualty policies. Your SSA will be paid out approximately 6 months later. When my wife and I consolidated our policies after we got married, I received the balance of my SSA after closing my account – about $160. The good news is that receiving your SSA funds is not generally taxable because it is considered a return on premiums. Be sure to check with a tax adviser for more details.

Distributions are not guaranteed. USAA has a track record of giving their members distributions, but it is important to note that these are not guaranteed. Still, it is nice to know that you can receive a return on your premiums if you ever leave the company. Most insurance companies end up keeping those funds!

USAA Membership: USAA membership is a privilege earned by those in uniform — and it’s a privilege that can be handed down to their children. Those eligible to join the association include:

  • Active duty officers and enlisted military personnel.
  • Former spouses and adult children of USAA members.
  • National Guard and Selected Reserve officers and enlisted personnel.
  • Officer candidates in commissioning programs (Academy, ROTC, OCS/OTS).

If you think you may be eligible for membership, I highly recommend looking into it!

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

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  1. Mark Medvetz says

    USAA is OK, but don’t be fooled. It has changed greatly over the forty two years I have been a member and this will be my last year. They have diluted the value of the original intent for membership. It’s not now very selective to become a member and the pro-military service schtick only goes so far. USAA loves to advertise on TV. You pay for that, dear “members.”
    Yes, the SSA is your money. Correct.
    Why then would such a great military friendly insurance company take SIX MONTHS to return your money? Well, its because they don’t respect you or your money, thats why.
    It is what it is.

  2. Howard Hague says

    Does anyone know if you have to cancel all your banking and life insurance in order to get the SSA money back? I may switch insurance companies for other reasons but if I were getting back 6-7K it would help me make my decision. I have heard I would just have to cancel my casualty and property but could leave the life alone and my checking account. Any insight would be great, USAA has been vague and I can’t seem to get a straight answer.

  3. Bob says

    I have been a usaa member for over 30 years
    In the 80s and 90s, the ssa statements used to show your account balance, and the total premiums paid for the year. Those totals were multiplied by a percentage determined each year (my old stmts show betwenn 3-9%) to determine the annual allocation in feb and the annual distribution in dec. it was simple, and informative.

    Now i have several rental properties insured with usaa. It would be very helpful to know that multiplier used each year, so i know how much of the distribution to attribute to my rental properties/premiums for tax purposes, and how much to attribute to my home/auto (which is not taxable.)

    But the statements no longer provide that important peice of info. Thats my only gripe.

    Sometimes USAA is more expensive than other companies, but i try to take into consideration the “discount” you get at the end of the year. It would be helpful to be able to calculate it for each policy.

    To clarify, in the old system, if they were allocating 5%, they would send a statement showing 5% of total annual premiums and 5% of ssa balance. Back then, my balance was low, so most of it came from the premiums. The longer you are with usaa, the higher the ssa balance becomes, and therefore more comes from that part. I need to know how much of the rental property premium is returned , but there is no way to calculate that without knowing the multiplier.

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