USAA's Casey Marmol asked a 25-year-member with only an auto policy how USAA could do more for her. The 66-year-old Colorado widow replied: "Tell me what you can do for an old lady who lives on $2,000 a month and has lost everything."
After her husband died, she'd lost their family business and retirement savings, and was now relying on a fixed Social Security check of $2,000 a month to make ends meet. A short sale on her home had even left her homeless for a while.
Her challenge wasn't lost on Casey. He inquired about all her financial needs and:
• adjusted her auto insurance coverage to save her $22 a month.
• helped her apply for a low variable rate USAA Bank credit card to replace her high-interest one with another bank.
• transferred her to apply for a Medicare Supplement policy that was more competitive than her current policy.
• recommended that she reduce or eliminate umbrella coverage that provided liability protection for a business she no longer owned.
• guided her through Auto CircleTM and connected her with a local dealer to trade in her big, gas-guzzling Volvo SUV for a smaller, more economical car.
Casey then asked the widow, "What do you have set up for savings in case of an emergency?" She replied "Nothing. I did sell a painting worth $80,000 below value, for $50,000, to bail myself out and purchase my home." Recognizing this as a large sum of money for a painting, Casey asked her more. Apparently, she and her husband had collected 11 more paintings, including two David Mazures and four Salvador Dalis, oriental rugs, gold coins and stamps.
Upon hearing this, Casey recommended that she:
• Appraise each item and add a Valuable Personal Property rider through USAA to her current homeowners policy to make sure her collectables were adequately insured.
• Consider selling some pieces to ease her financial burden and start a savings or retirement fund.
She liked all of his recommendations but was concerned about one. She told Casey that she had procrastinated in having the paintings appraised for more than 10 years out of fear that she'd be taken advantage of by the appraisers. Easing her concern, Casey contacted the Better Business Bureau and found an A-rated appraiser in the area who happened to be a USAA member and was wowed that USAA would go to such lengths to help a member. Casey arranged a conference call with the appraiser and member to set up an appointment for a home visit.
"She was fearful and didn't trust others but trusted us," said Casey. "We took care of her and her husband for years while her husband was alive, so she wanted to stay with us, but her husband had taken care of everything and she needed someone to guide her on what to do."
When the call was over, she was so appreciative, Casey said, telling him, "You couldn't have called at a better time. I knew what I had to do but was afraid."
Casey will follow up with the member after the appraisal to see how he can assist her in setting up a savings or retirement plan and check on the progress of her new coverages.