If you’re an active or retired member of the armed forces, it’s possible to get affordable car insurance that works for your coverage needs.
Updated October 6, 2020|7 min read
If you’re an active or retired member of the armed forces, it’s possible to get affordable car insurance that works for the coverage needs of those who’ve served their country. Some insurers specifically insure veterans and active-duty personnel, while other insurers offer discounts and special coverages.
Nearly every state requires you to have some amount of car insurance, but you could also need it while you’re on deployment. To make sure you’re getting the most affordable rates and coverage that meets your needs, you can compare quotes from a variety of different insurers online.
Read on to learn more about car insurance for veterans:
Some auto insurers only offer service to members of the armed forces, which includes those currently serving, veterans, people in the National Guard reserve, and immediate family. Because these insurers are designed for the needs of current and former military, they may have a better grasp of the coverage you should have.
These carriers typically offer the same suite of car insurance coverages as those that don’t directly cater to military: liability coverage, property damage coverage, personal injury protection coverage (if applicable), and other types of car insurance like gap insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
The United Services Automobile Association may be one of the best-known insurers for current and former military. With total assets of over $155 billion, it’s also one of the largest insurers.
On average, USAA premiums tend to be higher than those of other insurers. But in J.D. Power’s annual study of auto insurance claims satisfaction, USAA’s overall ranking was higher than that of any other insurer, indicating a lot of happy customers.
In addition to car and motorcycle insurance, USAA offers renters insurance, homeowners, and condo insurance, as well as life insurance and health insurance. Members can also open a banking account, an investment account, or take out a mortgage, an auto loan, or a credit card.
You may also be able to get special discounts, such as legacy discounts for continuing the policy of your parents and length-of-membership discounts, which reduce your premiums the longer you’ve been with the carrier.
While USAA has consistently ranked very high on surveys, many customers have recently voiced complaints on military and veteran message boards about a noticeable decline in service. While these experiences are anecdotal and may not be representative of USAA customers as a whole, they still indicate the need to shop around for car insurance policies to make sure you find a company you’re happy with. An agent as Policygenius can make this process painless.
Armed Force Insurance (AFI) is a much smaller company than USAA, but it offers much of the same coverage. Like USAA, AFI offers coverage for active-duty and retired personnel as well as their immediate families.
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The best auto insurance companies for veterans and current military usually offer generous provisions for those who’ve served their country. For some insurers, that may mean a discount of around 10% to 15% off your premiums, but others have a host of programs designed to meet the coverage needs of those who’ve served.
Military families also benefit from these discounts and special programs, since immediate family members are typically included in your car insurance coverage. (But always double-check with your insurer that spouse and kids have coverage. They may need to be added as a “named insured.”)
GEICO may be the only civilian-oriented insurance company that can give USAA a run for its money. Not only does GEICO offer one of the highest military discounts available – 15% – it also has some of the strongest offerings for deployed and overseas members of the military.
Like USAA, GEICO offers coverage for your car while it’s in transit if you’re deployed in another country. You may also be able to get a discount if you’re not currently deployed and suddenly get called to active duty. On average, GEICO’s premiums tend to be lower than those of USAA, but it has a lower customer-satisfaction ranking from J.D. Power.
Arbella is a smaller car insurance company serving customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It offers a 10% discount on your car insurance premiums if you’re deployed at least 100 miles away from the location of your car, but only for Massachusetts customers.
The General offers a small discount on your car insurance premiums if you live in Louisiana and are currently serving in the armed forces.
Auto insurance for veterans is relatively straightforward, but the picture becomes a little more complex if you’re still active-duty, especially if you’re deployed. No matter what, these tips can help you get affordable coverage that works for you.
Besides military discounts, the best car insurance companies will offer a good selection of discounts. Common discounts include:
Safe-driver discounts, which offers a discount to people who haven’t been involved in any accidents
Discounts for taking a defensive driver class
Good-student discounts, if you’re in school and getting good grades
Bundling discounts, which let you save if you purchase your homeowners or renters insurance from the same company as your car insurance
Safety and security discounts, which are given to people who install certain safety and anti-theft features on their car
Multiple-vehicle discounts, which discounts your premiums if you insure more than one car with the carrier
Both USAA and GEICO have the option to reduce your car insurance while you’re deployed, as long as your car is parked in a secure location, so you’ll pay much lower premiums for the duration that you’re deployed. This typically means canceling the liability insurance and personal injury protection coverages of your policy and leaving you only with property damage insurance.
Property damage insurance covers damage to the structure of your car, and has two components: collision insurance, which reimburses you for damage to the car resulting from a collision with another car; and comprehensive insurance, which insures against damage to the car from something else, like some kinds of weather or elemental damage, animal collisions, or theft and vandalism.
GEICO even lets you suspend your car insurance outright, if you’re deployed for 30 days or more, although that means you’d lose the collision and comp coverage that protects your car while it’s not being driven.
However, reducing your coverage to property damage insurance means that your family and your named and additional insurers won’t be able to drive the car. (When state law mandates car insurance coverage, it typically refers to liability insurance.) If your family needs to drive the car while you’re deployed, look into getting a discount for putting less mileage on the car.
Note that insurers that don’t work as well with active-duty personnel may suggest canceling your car insurance while deployed instead of simply reducing it. Although it may save you money on your premiums while you can’t drive the car, this may not be such a cost-effective idea, since not having continuous car insurance coverage may make it difficult or expensive to get coverage again when your deployment ends.
Your car insurance’s coverage doesn’t cover you while you’re deployed in another country, so you may need to purchase a new policy if you’re driving in a country where it’s required.
Both GEICO and USAA also offer international auto insurance coverage for when you’re deployed overseas. You may need to purchase a new car insurance policy, but both carriers have offices across the globe in case you need to make an appointment in person.
If you’re bringing your car over to where you’re stationed, your international auto insurance may include insurance for your car while it’s in transit. It may be rolled into your international auto insurance policy or you may have to purchase additional “marine transit coverage.”
Like your car insurance back home, your international coverage should include rental car coverage while you’re overseas as well.
When you’re on leave, you want to come home and spend time with your loved ones. If you kept your family’s car insurance policy in force while away, it will still cover you when you come back. (Make sure you’re still a named insured, however.)
But if you want to temporarily borrow or rent another car, you may need non-owner liability coverage, which offers bodily injury liability and property damage liability insurance while you drive a car you don’t own.
If you’re deployed, make sure the insurer can automatically deduct payments from your account so that your insurance doesn’t lapse while you’re away from base. You should also be able to quickly make payments online when possible.
If you belong to an organization for current and former military, such as the Veterans for Foreign Wars or the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, you may be able to get more information about car insurance from the organization itself. Your organization may have a preferred car insurance provider and can help you find the coverage you need. Additionally, some groups offer auto insurance discounts just for belonging to the group.