Being prepared comes with costs. This is especially true when it comes to car insurance — typically, if you want the best coverage, your costs will be higher. It’s not uncommon for car insurance premiums to set drivers back thousands of dollars a year. However, there are some policies specifically for veterans and active-duty US service members that can help them can save big on auto insurance rates. If you are a veteran or US service member, it may pay to look at military car insurance discount programs.
“Current and former military [personnel] should shop for insurance just like everyone else,” says Dan Karr, CEO and founder of ValChoice, an independent platform for insurance analytics and ratings. “This means claims handling should be included as an important factor. The difference for former and current military [personnel] is they may have additional options available that may not be available to the general public.”
Many of the largest insurers in the country offer military discounts to service members and veterans. These discounts, which take different forms, are offered by auto insurance companies such as Geico, Allstate, Progressive and Nationwide. Some car insurance company options offer a straight percentage off their premiums, while others have car insurance discounts for active duty service members who are separated from their vehicles due to the demands of their jobs, those deployed in imminent danger pay areas and for cars that are in transit to overseas service members. Some car insurance companies offer both kinds of benefits, so make sure you shop around.
It also makes sense to do your due diligence. “Keep in mind that the lowest price isn’t always the ‘cheapest’ option,” says Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communication at the Insurance Information Institute. “Make sure the company you choose is reputable, and that you’re comfortable with the service you get from the insurance professionals you speak to. Your state insurance department or online consumer information sites may provide information on consumer complaints by company to help you choose the right insurance company for your needs.”
There are also auto insurance companies that only serve service members and veterans, offering them prices that larger car insurance organizations typically can’t match. USAA is one of the best-known, lauded for its great rates and service (including accident forgiveness, safe driver discounts, and defensive driving discounts). Technically, you don’t even have to be a service member or veteran to qualify with USAA, as their families are also eligible for coverage.
Still, it pays to shop around. “Consumers of all types (whether military, civilian or members of some other group), should focus on finding the best insurance where they live,” advises Karr. “The best insurance provider[s] for military members and veterans are the companies in their state that provide the best protection at a fair price. This may or may not be companies that market specifically to their demographic.”
Here are the best military car insurance companies for military members and veterans according to experts and customer ratings on popular review sites.
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Whether you’re an active-duty military service member, a military veteran or a family member of either one, there’s no better car insurance provider than the United Services Automobile Association (USAA).
Though only people who fall into those categories can take out policies with USAA, they’ll find themselves eligible for cheaper rates than they’d get anywhere else. According to their website, customers who switch their auto insurance policies to USAA save an average of $707 on their auto insurance annual premiums.
Those low rates for auto coverage are a big draw, but they’re not all USAA members enjoy. USAA is routinely lauded for the services it provides, which include accident forgiveness and the availability of flexible payment plans. USAA’s towering customer satisfaction rates even drove The Financial Brand to proclaim it “The most beloved financial brand on Earth.” That’s high praise, but USAA customers would be hard pressed to disagree.
The bottom line is that if you’re eligible for a car insurance policy with USAA, it’ll probably be your best option. Make sure you at least get a car insurance quote from USAA before making your final decision.
Geico routinely tops lists of the best auto insurance policies available, and while the company doesn’t quite match car insurance rates with USAA, the military discount it offers to current and former service members make it the best choice of the more mainstream auto insurance policy providers.
All active duty military and retired military personnel, as well as members of the National Guard or Reserves, are eligible for up to 15% off their total insurance rate premiums. Given Geico’s industry-low prices, this additional insurance discount makes the company’s auto insurance policies affordable. Geico also offers an additional Emergency Deployment Discount to customers who deploy into a military base in imminent danger pay areas, as designated by the Department of Defense.
The customer service for which Geico is so beloved extends to military personnel, as well. The company has a special team dedicated to military assistance, as well as a toll-free line dedicated to serving these customers (it can be reached easily at 1-800-MILITARY).
Service members and veterans looking for affordable car insurance coverage from an insurer that’s recognized around the world should consider Geico as they make their selection.
Armed Forces Insurance
Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) may not be as well-known as USAA, but it serves the same military family customers and offers similarly low rates. That alone makes AFI worth checking out if you think you might be eligible for auto insurance coverage.
One of the most glaring differences between AFI and USAA is reflected in the companies’ customer satisfaction and ratings. While USAA is routinely praised by customers and has been given high ratings by a variety of organizations, opinion on AFI is more divided. AM Best has given AFI a B++ financial strength rating (as compared to USAA’s A++), while Yelp and other customer review platforms are filled with disagreements about the company’s level of service.
That said, one major draw for AFI is that its eligibility requirements are broader than USAA’s. Not only are active duty and retired service members and their children and spouses able to get coverage with a military discount, but the same applies to Department of Defense civilian employees, officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Public Health Service. If you fall into one of those groups (or have in the past), AFI may be your cheapest insurance company option.
Direct Auto Insurance
Like with geico, you don’t have to be military personnel to sign up for coverage with Direct Auto Insurance, but if you are, you’ll be eligible for a host of military car insurance discounts. Before you get started, though, it’s worth mentioning that these military auto insurance discounts only apply to active members of the military, not veterans.
If you are a member of any branch of the US Armed Forces, including the National Guard or Reserves, you can qualify for up to 25% off many different kinds of insurance coverage, including comprehensive, collision, bodily injury, uninsured motorist and property damage. Direct also offers flexible payment options designed to make covering your premiums easier.
The discounts and customer service that Direct offers makes the company worth checking out, but only residents of seven states are eligible for a military discount through Direct. If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina or Texas, make sure you get a quote from Direct and factor it into your process.
Comparison of best car insurance companies for military and veterans
|Company||Military service discounts||Additional benefits|
|USAA||Continuing family coverage, military installation storage.||Award-winning service and coverage.|
|Geico||Military personnel, emergency deployment.||Dedicated hotline for military customers.|
|Armed Forces Insurance||Company membership determined by military status. Additional discounts include good driving record and multiple cars.||DOD civilian employees and NOAA and PHS commissioned officers eligible.|
|Direct Auto Insurance||Military personnel, depending on state (see above).||Flexible plans available to accommodate military demands.|
Strong car insurance options for military members and veterans
It’s not hard to see why USAA is the best car insurance company for military members and veterans. Not only does it offer the kind of insurance product that people need to feel protected, but its coverage is also the cheapest around. Geico is a strong second choice for service members and veterans, as it offers dedicated coverage and the best military car insurance discounts on its already-low prices.
Whichever auto insurer you choose, your military service may potentially mean savings. For that reason, it’s important to always check your eligibility and inquire about the rates and discounts that service members, veterans, and their families can get.
5 things to do when applying for car insurance as a military member or veteran
- Look for quotes from a variety of insurance companies. Make sure to include companies that offer military discounts, as well as those that only serve the military.
- Choose the plan that makes the most sense for you, based on the car insurance discounts for which you qualify, the company’s customer service, coverage options, and the final price.
- Gather documented proof of your identity and your military service (or the service of your family member, along with proof of relation).
- Submit the appropriate documents to your insurer of choice, then wait for final approval.
- Once your policy takes effect, drive safely!
Written by Scott Fried for Roadshow.