Military members and their families are typically eligible for some of the best car insurance rates around, but because they have unique stressors and special needs when it comes to their car insurance, it’s really important to find a company that best supports the unpredictable nature of military life.
USAA, which stands for United Services Automobile Association, is the most obvious choice: it offers auto insurance exclusively for the military, has the best prices, and high customer satisfaction ratings.
But it’s not the only good option. In addition to USAA, there are a few other car insurance options for active service members, veterans, and military families worth considering.
Our Picks for the Best Car Insurance Companies for Military Families and Veterans
Why we recommend it: USAA is an insurance company that offers auto insurance, life insurance, and property insurance for active military members, their families, and veterans. It ranks high in affordability and customer satisfaction, and has many types of auto coverage options. It’s an ideal one-stop for those in the military or family members associated with the military — but not for the rest of the U.S. population. USAA currently has over 7 million members with auto insurance, according to a company representative, and many of its features and perks are designed for military members. For example, if you store your car while deployed, you’ll receive up to a 60% discount on your auto insurance (except in California, Hawaii, North Carolina, or Virginia). It has the lowest average annual premium for full coverage on this list and one of the highest claims satisfaction ratings, according to J.D. Power.
Average annual premium for full coverage: $1,225
Why we recommend it: As the second-largest car insurer in the country, GEICO insures nearly 30 million vehicles, including those owned by military members and their families. It’s available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and offers a discount of up to 15% for retired or active-duty military, National Guard members, and those enlisted in the Reserves, as well as deployment discounts. For example, you can qualify for a deployment discount if you’re deployed to particular “imminent danger pay” zones. GEICO will also suspend or reduce insurance coverage during deployment if the vehicle is stored for 30 days or longer.
Geico’s average annual premium for full coverage is almost $200 more than USAA, but keep in mind that rates are very personal. You could still get a lower price from GEICO when the military discount is applied; that’s why it’s important to get quotes from multiple insurance companies to know for sure. On top of its military discount and certain perks, GEICO’s robust website and app let you manage your policy, get quotes, and file claims from anywhere, plus there’s 24/7 customer service available online and through a call center.
Average annual premium for full coverage: $1,405
Honorable Mentions for the Best Car Insurance Companies for Military Families and Veterans
These car insurance companies have been included as honorable mentions because they offer military auto insurance discounts and other special perks for military members, veterans, and their families. They aren’t as competitive when compared to our top picks listed above, but they still could be worth a look.
Arbella Insurance is a small insurance company that offers home and auto insurance to residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut. It offers low rates, and up to a 10% discount for active-duty residents who are deployed more than 100 miles away from their car. Because Arbella has over a dozen different car insurance discounts, there’s a good chance you can find one that applies to you.
Armed Forces Insurance
Armed Forces Insurance is very similar to USAA in that they’re both military-centric insurance companies. Just like USAA, AFI offers auto, home, and renters insurance to members of the armed forces stationed stateside or abroad. So, both of their prices and services are very competitive, but there are a few differences. AFI is a much smaller company and has a lower A.M. Best rating, which evaluates a company’s financial standing, than USAA. Unlike USAA, you can get insured under AFI if you’re an active or retired department of defense civilian employee or if you are a current or former officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Public Health Service.
Best Car Insurance Companies for Military Families and Veterans 2021 Summary
|Insurance Company||Average Annual Premium for Full Coverage||J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Score, 2020||A.M. Best Rating, 2020||States Available|
|Arbella (Honorable Mention)||$1,297||–||A||2|
|Armed Forces Insurance (Honorable Mention)||–||–||B++||50|
Cost of Car Insurance for Military Drivers vs. Civilian Drivers
Military status doesn’t really affect auto premium rates, according to Bankrate’s latest data. Active-duty, retired, and reserve military members all pay about the same for car insurance. But there’s a bigger difference between military and civilian drivers. The average premium for minimum coverage car insurance for military drivers is less than $515 a year versus $565 for civilians. For full coverage, the average military driver will pay around $1,719 per year — roughly $45 more a year compared to civilians.
|National average||Minimum coverage||Full coverage|
Car Insurance and Deployment
If you’re anticipating a deployment, you’ll need to make some changes to your car insurance policy. Essentially, you have three options to choose from while you’re deployed: continue to pay your auto insurance at a reduced rate, cancel your insurance, or pause your insurance.
If no one will be driving your car while you’re deployed, you’re better off pausing or reducing your coverage rather than canceling it. Canceling your auto insurance causes a lapse in coverage, which automatically pegs you as a potential risk to insurance companies and can lead to higher rates. If you are going to continue your auto coverage while deployed, make sure you pay your premiums on time. Insurance laws are different in every state, so talk to your insurer before you deploy to learn more about your options.
If you’re suspending or canceling coverage, but your state requires you to have insurance coverage for your vehicle, file an affidavit of non-use with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to avoid being fined. It’ll give you permission to own an uninsured car.
When you get back from deployment, you’ll need to reinstate your car insurance policy, which should be a quick and easy process if you kept paying for coverage or suspended it. Just reach out to your insurer and let them know that you would like to reinstate your coverage. If you don’t have a policy by the time you’re back, get at least three car insurance quotes and compare your options to see what best fits your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get a military discount on car insurance?
Depending on the insurance company, you’ll need to prove that you’re either actively in the military or retire. Close family members of military personnel, such as spouse or child, can also typically qualify for military discounts.
Is USAA only available to military members and their families?
Yes, the only people who are eligible for USAA auto insurance are:
- Active duty, guard, reserved, retired and honorably discharged officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military
- Contracted cadets, midshipman or officer candidates in commissioning programs (Academy, ROTC, OCS/OTS)
- Adult children (18+) of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy
- Spouses, former spouses, widows and widowers of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy
What proof do I have to show for USAA or other military auto discounts?
Every insurance company handles their verification process differently, but you’ll likely need to submit a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID card or passport, and one of the following military documents:
- DD-214 (statement of active duty)
- Discharge certificate
- Leaving and earning statement (LES)
- Military orders if you’re actively serving
- NGB-22 (statement of separation and record of service)
- Academy appointment letter or ROTC contract
To determine our picks for the best car insurance companies for veterans and military families, we started with a list of 25 of the largest car insurance companies by premiums collected, based on data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. From there, we applied a series of filters to narrow the field across key categories like cost, availability, and customer satisfaction.
For starters, all our top picks must be universally available to all consumers in at least 40 states. Our top picks must also offer military discounts or have special military programs, which are a key way in which premiums can become more affordable for those who are active military members, veterans, or military family members.
To gauge affordability, we looked at Bankrate’s average annual premium across these carriers and eliminated any with an average yearly cost of more than $1,500 for full coverage. (Bankrate, like NextAdvisor, is owned by Red Ventures.)
Next, we looked at J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Study, and ruled out any companies that scored below 850 on a 1,000-point scale (the industry average was 872). Finally, we looked at each insurance company’s A.M. Best rating, which evaluates a company’s financial standing. Financial solidity matters for insurance companies because their customers depend on them to pay their claims if they’re in an accident or experience an insured loss. In other words, an insurance company that has the wherewithal to stay in business is more dependable in the long term. We ruled out any company that doesn’t have A.M. Best’s rating of A+ or higher. We also eliminated any companies that are involved in any active fraud investigations.