There are just over 20 million military veterans in the U.S., with roughly another 1.4 million people serving on active duty in the U.S. military. At around seven percent of the general population, active duty service members and military veterans are a small, but important group.
Active duty service members and military veterans have many of the same needs as their civilian counterparts. If you’re a veteran, you have a family you care about, dreams you want to achieve, a life to live and, of course, bills to pay. When it comes to those bills, military service can complicate payments, due to long deployments, but it can also occasionally make them a little bit easier to bear, as companies offer military discounts.
However, just because a company offers a veteran or active duty military discount doesn’t mean it’s a company you want to work with. To help veterans and others with military affiliation find the best car insurance, we’ve put together this review. It covers the best car insurance companies for military members and veterans, car insurance discounts for service members and veterans, as well as other ways a military affiliation can potentially save you money on car insurance.
USAA Is the Best Car Insurance Company for Veterans and Active Duty Military
Read our USAA car insurance review.
How We Found the Best Car Insurance for Veterans and Active Duty Military
At U.S. News, we’re all about helping people make life’s important decisions, and we’ve been informing people since 1933. In 1983, we launched our college rankings, which for decades have set the standard in educational rankings. Since then, we’ve used our expertise to rank everything from hospitals to diets to states, and in 2007, we started ranking cars. Now we’re continuing to empower you with the information you need to make the right choices for your life with our Best Car Insurance Rankings.
The Best Car Insurance Companies
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
- American Family
To build the car insurance ranking, we surveyed 2,799 consumers who filed a car insurance claim in the last five years. Respondents provided this data based on their experience with their car insurance company, answering questions about their satisfaction with the ease of filing a claim, customer service, claim status communication, claim resolution, overall value they feel their insurance company gives, if they’d recommend the company, and if they planned to renew their policy.
For extra information on car insurance rates, U.S. News also worked with Quadrant Information Services to provide a report of average insurance rates in all 50 states from the 10 largest national car insurance companies. The rates are based on profiles for both male and female drivers aged 17, 25, 35, and 60. Vehicles used include the 2018 Honda Civic, 2018 Toyota RAV4, 2018 Ford-F-150, 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford-F-150, with annual mileage of 6,000 and 12,000. Three car insurance coverage levels were used, as were credit tiers of good, fair, and poor. Clean driving records and records with one accident, one speeding violation, and one DUI were also used in the calculations. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only. Individual rates will differ.
Why USAA Is the Best Car Insurance Company for Veterans and Active Duty Military
Given that you need to have a military affiliation to get USAA car insurance, it’s not surprising that it’s the best car insurance company for veterans and members of the armed forces. However, our research showed that USAA is the best not just because it caters to people with military ties. Rather, USAA excels at customer satisfaction and, according to our study, tends to have lower annual rates than the other nine largest auto insurance companies in the country.
Because low car insurance rates are pretty useless if you’re not satisfied with the service you get, we’ll look at how USAA treats their customers first. In our survey, about three-fourths of USAA customers were completely satisfied with USAA customer service when they filed a claim, and roughly the same proportion were completely satisfied with how easy filing a claim was. More than 70 percent were completely satisfied with how USAA updated them on their claim status, and over 75 percent were completely satisfied with how their claim was resolved. Three quarters of respondents also indicated that they’re very likely to recommend USAA to others, while four out of five respondents said they are likely to renew their policy with USAA. No other car insurance company got higher marks in our survey.
Based on the insurance profiles we used in our study, annual rates for USAA tend to be lower than the competition. This may be due in part to USAA’s restricted membership, but if you qualify for USAA, you may save by using them for car insurance. Based on the profiles we used in our study, we found that national USAA annual insurance rates were, on average, 31 percent less than the average annual premiums among all companies in the study for the driver profiles we used. For nearly every driver profile we examined, the resulting USAA rates were either the lowest, or among the lowest in our study.
In order to get USAA car insurance, you need to meet some requirements. If you are currently serving in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserves, you qualify for USAA. Veterans with honorable discharges are also eligible. If you qualify for USAA because of current or former military service, your spouse qualifies as well. Widowed spouses of military members qualify, so long as they do not remarry. Divorced spouses of USAA members can also keep USAA membership so long as they had the membership during the marriage, and they do not remarry. USAA membership is also open to the children and stepchildren of USAA members. If you’re enrolled in college on an ROTC scholarship, attending a service academy, or are an officer candidate within 24 months of commissioning, you also qualify for USAA membership.
Despite serving a small section of the general population, USAA has managed to grow to a five percent market share for car insurance. In addition to providing auto insurance, USAA also provides banking and investment services, as well as other insurance products like life and renter’s insurance. For more information on USAA, read our USAA review.
Veteran Car Insurance Discounts
While USAA is the best car insurance company for veterans and active duty military personnel, other car insurance companies do offer discounts. Like USAA, Geico was formed specifically to serve government and military personnel. Geico has one of the best military discounts available, with up to a 15 percent discount for military members.
State Farm offers a discount for active duty military, but doesn’t list a veteran discount. Other car insurance companies that offer military or veteran discounts include Progressive, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, and Farmers. Several companies offer affinity group discounts, and some military and veterans groups qualify for those. Make sure you ask about those discounts with any car insurance company you get quotes from.
How Veterans and Military Service Members Can Save on Car Insurance
If you’re on active duty, there are some other ways to save on car insurance beyond getting a military discount. Parking your car on a military base may lead to a lower car insurance rate because there’s lower risk that your car will be broken into or damaged on a base (as long as you don’t park it near an artillery range).
Many car insurance companies will also lower your rates if your car is stored for a long time, such as during a deployment. Before any deployment, speak with your car insurance company about lowering your rates while you are deployed or on float. You may need to store your car in a particular way when you’re gone, but doing so will mean saving on car insurance. In some cases, a deployment discount can be up to 90%. Some companies, like USAA and Geico, also offer lower rates for emergency deployments or if you are deployed to certain areas. Because these companies have lots of experience working with military members, they are equipped to rapidly respond to the realities of military life.
You’ll also want to be careful not to let your insurance lapse while you are deployed. Having a lapse in car insurance coverage can violate your car loan or lease agreement. Even if you don’t have a car loan or lease, a lapse in car insurance usually leads to higher rates when you go to buy insurance again. It’s better to store your car and pay a lower car insurance premium than it is to let your insurance lapse and pay a higher premium down the line.
Many discounts available to the general public also open to veterans and service members. Bundling policies, where you get car insurance and another type of coverage (like homeowners or renters insurance) from the same company results in a discount from most insurance companies. You can also get car insurance discounts and lower your rates by being a safe driver, or having a tracking device in your car. If you’re taking college classes, you may also qualify for a car insurance discount, and if you have teens on your car insurance policy, they can get a discount for getting good grades. Undergoing safe driver training can also nab you a car insurance discount in some cases. Read about other common car insurance discounts.