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The United States has about 1.4 million soldiers, sailors, and airmen serving on active duty in the U.S. military. There are just over 20 million military veterans in the country. That’s about 7% of the general population, making active duty service members and veterans a small, yet important demographic. 

Active duty service members and military veterans have many of the same needs as their civilian counterparts. If you’re a member of the military or 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 an auto insurance company you want to work with. To help veterans and others with military affiliation find the best auto insurance, we’ve assembled this article. It covers the best car insurance companies for military members and veterans, auto insurance discounts for service members and veterans, as well as other ways a military affiliation can potentially save you money on car insurance, buying, ownership, and financing. 

USAA Is the Best Car Insurance Company for Veterans and Active Duty Military

Learn more in our USAA insurance review.

USAA

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. Our college rankings, launched in 1983, set the standard in educational rankings. Our ranking in other fields, like healthcare, government, and the automotive sphere, help people and thought leaders make choices that make lives better. 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.

We surveyed 2,732 consumers who filed an auto insurance claim in the last five years, asking questions about their auto insurance company. These questions covered satisfaction with the ease of filing a claim, customer service, claim status communication, claim resolution, and overall value. We also asked whether they’d recommend the company and if they planned to renew their policy. We used their responses to build our Best Car Insurance Companies ranking and this guide.

Our Study Rates

To get comparative insurance rates for this study, U.S. News also worked with Quadrant Information Services to analyze a report of insurance rates in all 50 states from the 10 largest national car insurance companies, though not every company operates in every state. Quadrant obtained publicly available rate data that car insurers file with state regulators. Our study rates are based on profiles for both male and female drivers aged 25, 35, and 60. Vehicles used include the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford-F-150, with annual mileage ranging from 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 of certain driver archetypes. To get the state-wide study rates shown here, we computed the mean rate for male and female drivers ages 25, 35, and 60 who drive 12,000 miles per year, have medium coverage, good credit and a clean driving record. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only, and should not be considered “average” rates available from individual insurers. Because car insurance rates are based on individual factors, your auto insurance rates will differ from the rates shown here.

The Best Car Insurance Companies

  1. USAA
  2. Geico
  3. Allstate
  4. State Farm
  5. Farmers
  6. Progressive
  7. American Family
  8. Nationwide
  9. Travelers

Why USAA Is the Best Car Insurance Company for Veterans and Active Duty Military

You need to have a military affiliation to get USAA auto insurance, but that’s not the reason why it is the best place for veterans and members of the armed forces to buy an insurance policy. Our research showed that USAA insurance is the best not just because it caters to service members and others 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.

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Because low auto insurance rates are pretty useless if you’re not satisfied with the service and customer satisfaction you get, we’ll look at how USAA treats their member-customers first. In our survey, about three-fourths of USAA customers were completely satisfied with USAA customer service when they filed a claim, and about 73% were completely satisfied with how easy filing a claim was. About 67% were completely satisfied with how USAA updated them on their claim status, and about 75% were completely satisfied with how their claim was resolved. About 85% of respondents indicated that they’re likely or very likely to recommend USAA insurance to others, while more than four out of five respondents said they are likely or very likely to renew their insurance policy with USAA. No other auto insurance provider got higher marks in our survey.Based on the insurance profiles we used in our study, annual study rates for USAA tend to be lower than the competition. This may be due in part to USAA’s restricted membership. If you qualify to be a USAA member, 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 in our study were, on average, 37% less than the average annual premiums among all companies in the study. For nearly every driver profile we examined, the resulting USAA member rates were either the lowest, or among the lowest in our study.

Looking at a few states with large military populations, we see that our representative driver profiles insured by USAA Auto Insurance would save serious amounts of money. In California, which has massive bases supporting every branch of the U.S. military, they have rates about 19% lower than the state’s average auto insurance costs. 

In Virginia, home to the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, our representative drivers would have insurance costs a whopping 51% lower than the state’s average. In the state of Texas, which hosts the Army’s Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, our profiled USAA auto insurance customers would save about 36% compared to the state’s average. 

About USAA

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 membership. Veterans with honorable discharges are also eligible to become members. 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 two years of commissioning, you also qualify for USAA membership and can purchase their car insurance.

Despite serving a small section of the general population, USAA has managed to grow to a 5% 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 membership, 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 military discounts. Like USAA, Geico was formed specifically to serve government and military personnel. In fact, Geico is short for Government Employees Insurance Company. Geico has one of the best military discounts available, with up to a 15% auto insurance 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.

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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 an armed forces 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. You may need to store your car in a particular way when you’re gone, but garaging or otherwise storing it correctly 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-specific issues, they are equipped to rapidly respond to the realities of military life.

Inti St Clair / Getty Images

You’ll also want to be careful not to let your insurance lapse while you are deployed. Having a lapse in car insurance coverage, even during periods of non-use, 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 money-saving discounts available to the general public are also open to veterans and service members. Bundling policies, where you get car insurance and other types of coverage (like homeowners or renters insurance) from the same company, results in a multi-policy 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 an auto insurance discount in some cases. Read about other common car insurance discounts.

Some car insurance providers offer extra benefits, such as roadside assistance, accident forgiveness, and mobile apps to manage your account and file claims. When comparing competing insurance quotes, be sure to factor the value of those benefits into your decision-making process. Knowing that a spouse or children back at home have the safety net of roadside assistance can provide peace of mind to deployed military personnel.  

Car-Buying Discounts for Military Members and Veterans

Car insurance isn’t the only way military members, their families, and veterans can save on automotive expenses. Many carmakers also provide discounts or special pricing on the purchase or lease of new vehicles. Our guide to discounts for military members describes the discounts offered by different automakers. Some local dealers also offer special purchase and financing incentives to active duty armed forces members and veterans. Watch for special military deals to be offered around Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day.

In addition, some lenders offer discounted financing to military members, though the discount may not be advertised. It’s always a good idea to ask if there’s a discount available. There are some lenders who only serve the military. Navy Federal Credit Union, for example, is one of the largest car lenders in the country, and you have to be a current or former member of the military, civilian contractor, or DOD employee to join. 

Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson not only offers special financing, but they’ll store your bike while you’re on deployment. SiriusXM satellite radio offers military discounts on service plans, while several auto parts stores offer military personnel and veterans discounted products.