Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 3, 2022

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Two longstanding insurance providers that have been around for a long period of time, since the first half of the 20th century, include Amalgamated Life Insurance and USAA Insurance Company.

Both are well established with a target market of specific clientele. However, because of their business approach, one company continues to do well while another may see its market shrinking.

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As an insurance company, Amalgamated Life has stood out with a specific interest in serving the labor community as its primary customer market. Amalgamated is a San Antonio-based company that provides primarily life insurance and disability coverage products; although it covers services in a number of other products as well.

Known officially as the United Services Automobile Association, USAA Life Insurance Company has been a stalwart insurance provider to current and former military members of the U.S. armed services and their families. The company provides a broad array of insurance products as well as other financial services.

However, much like Amalgamated, USAA maintains a direct marketing approach to a specific customer population, military families.

An overview of the company history, products and ratings for any provider you consider is always a great place to start your search.

What do you need to know about Amalgamated Life?

Amalgamated Life saw its business birth smack in the middle of World War II in 1943. From the beginning, the company associated its products and service with working people. For the next 70 years Amalgamated has continued to serve what it sees are the primary labor populations, providing needed financial coverage and safety for its customers.

Fast forward to the mid-1970s, and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America combined with two other clothing worker unions. This in turn increased the membership body that Amalgamated Life could serve as a business. Twenty years and thirty years later, consecutively, the consolidation included two further unions, incorporating both union female workers as well as hotel and restaurant workers. By this time, Amalgamated was offering union members different coverage options for life, disability, and health care.

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How has Amalgamated Life changed?

Since its early history, Amalgamated Life has expanded beyond just a traditional insurance provider role. Additionally, the company now operates and provides third-party administration services, medical insurance, computer and information technology services, property insurance and personal injury insurance, and even printing services.

Amalgamated Life still affiliates with and describes itself as the United States America’s Labor Insurance Company. Continuing to dedicate its services to working persons, the company sees itself in a critical role to help union members stabilize their financial needs so they can grow and live better in their union jobs. With a mission to strike a balance between customer service and expenses, the company strives to provide an alternative for union members seeking insurance products but not wanting to deal with a traditional corporate for-profit insurance company, particularly non-union providers.

Amalgamated Life works across a broad spectrum of clients and major customers, primarily due to the fact that the company is highly diversified now in 2012. With organization customers including consultants and fund administration management as well as the historical market, unions, Amalgamated has expanded its reach to strengthen the company. This has served the company well, especially since union member populations in the employment world have shrunk significantly compared to 40 or 50 years ago.

What insurance products are offered by Amalgamated Life?

Amalgamated Life’s services still include many of the original product categories and services from decades ago, but newer items have been added as well:

  • Group life insurance with term life policies can also be set up with payroll deduction payment systems.
  • Similar group term programs with payroll deduction payment for intermediate-term policies as well as disability coverage benefits.
  • Life insurance plans with cash savings
  • Life insurance plans for retired employees
  • Group disability policies
  • Life insurance plan specific for senior citizens
  • Medicare supplement and enhancement plans

Amalgamated Life handles its medical underwriting process by offering a whole life insurance policy underwritten by Security Mutual. The Whole Life LP95 plan offers guaranteed coverage to those ages 18-72, flexible benefits, and affordable insurance premiums starting at about $8 per month. The permanent policy features a cash value and dividend component.

What are Amalgamated’s industry and financial strength ratings?

As an insurance provider company, Amalgamated has competed and performed well against competition which still meets its mission and goals. A.M. Best ranks the company as a level “A” or excellent score in financial strength and business. Part of the scoring has to do with Amalgamated’s dedication to union member customers, protecting its investment holdings conservatively, and keeping a strong, positive capital balance even in a down economy.

Amalgamated has been in business for more than 70 years and, given its approach to the insurance market and more importantly to its customers, the company looks to have the potential to be around for a centennial party. However, the employment market has shrunk the union base in America severely. Amalgamated will do well to diversify further as its core population will likely continue to shrink further as global business continues to move jobs out of the U.S.

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What do you need to know about USAA Life?

USAA has a bit of an older pedigree than most insurers. Established in the early 1920s to serve Army officer personnel who were finding it near impossible to get insurance services from any other similar business, eventually, the San Antonio-based company grew to approximately 5 million customers and a solid operation.

Today, the business sits well-positioned as the fourth largest player in insurance markets covering vehicles as well as home property and operates with multiple subsidiaries.

Each branch is focused on a different business area and market that USAA pursues. This includes real estate, allied services for shopping, property and personal injury coverage, and financial and banking services. Within this realm, USAA is able to offer its customers a wide array of products and services, numbering more than 150 different items or business lines.

With over 8 million customers as of 2012, USAA has no shortage of business in any of its lines of operations.

Even in the economic downturn at the end of the 2000s, USAA stayed both solvent and strong as a financial company, enjoying the benefits of its conservative approach to the insurance business. Doing so created significant buffers USAA was able to rely on to protect the company in 2008 and forward as the rest of the financial markets roiled.

What insurance products does USAA offer?

In terms of insurance products, USAA offers the major standard categories with strong coverage and support of customer needs. These include automobile insurance, business insurance, life insurance plans ranging from term to whole life, renters insurance, and homeowners’ insurance. USAA offers bundling discounts to customers who purchase more than one type of insurance, such as an auto policy and a renters policy or homeowners policy.

For banking needs, USAA offers standard checking and savings accounts as well as certificates of deposit. Additionally, the business also provides its customers access to credit card services as well.

Additionally, in terms of investment and financial products, USAA operates as a full brokerage, providing trading services on major stock markets. Additionally, the company allows members to invest in mutual funds as well as USAA’s own portfolio of investment vehicles. These services also include assistance and help with a retirement plan.

For real estate needs, members can secure home loans, real estate search services, and home equity financing through USAA.

Finally, USAA also provides its members with additional benefits like shopping assistance. This includes discounting shopping through a wide range of 600+ affiliated online vendors as well as dedicated shopping services for high-end items such as jewelry. Additionally, USAA can also help customers with travel and travel agent services as well.

What are USAA’s industry and financial ratings?

USAA enjoys a strong performance record, even within independent ratings like those from A.M.Best. Scoring the triple crown for customer satisfaction ratings, the scope of policies, and price competition, USAA also scored the most desired auto insurance company from a customer perspective, especially as people have heard how USAA serves its restricted membership.

The company also rates as a desirable place to work, both in salary and hourly wage positions. In fact, USAA repeatedly earns awards and credit for retaining a large number of military veterans within its workforce, thereby giving the business a natural understanding of its core customer base and their unique needs.

Repeatedly noted as a leader in both insurance and banking, USAA took home the highest scores again in 2011 for insurance, credit card services, and banking per the Customer Experience Index.

Additionally, within the Fortune 500, as ranked by Fortune magazine, USAA continues to hold its position of 145 in business sales. However, in terms of bottom-line worth and holdings, the company is much higher, sitting in the low to mid-60s in terms of score.

USAA will continue to exist as it has as long as there are military service members in the U.S. Given the fact that USAA markets directly to service members, their families, and spouses, there will be no shortage of customers, especially when the company performs so much better than other market competitors for general customers.

The low monthly premiums offered to active-duty military and vets make USAA a very attractive option. It’s also worth noting that USAA offers online quotes to potential customers and Amalgamated Life does not. If you are in the military or an eligible family member, it is worth getting a USAA quote for a life insurance policy, especially if you have other forms of coverage with them, like auto insurance or health insurance.

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What’s the bottom line?

USAA is one of the largest providers of life insurance in America. The company was founded in 1919 and currently boasts over 12 million customers. As a direct marketing organization, USAA targets only current and former military personnel and their immediate family members.

USAA is a great choice for military personnel and veterans who want affordable life insurance at competitive prices. It’s also a trusted name among banks and credit unions.

Given the military activity of the U.S. in the last decade, there won’t be a shortage of new members for USAA to rely on for business. The company simply needs to market effectively to bring this newly recruited military personnel into the fold. Amalgamated Life, however, is seeing its core market shrinking as more and more companies eliminate labor activity, especially moving operations overseas. Without further diversification, Amalgamated could see its future go gray.