Military Car Insurance

Updated: August 6, 2020
In this Article

    Whether you are active duty, Guard, Reserve, a dependent, or military spouse, the need for auto insurance is a basic fact of life. If you are new to military life or are exploring your car insurance options after a long time, you might not know about some of the perks, discounts, and coverages offered to you.

    There are some important things to keep in mind when searching for the best military deals for auto insurance. Some insurance providers such as USAA (see below) aren’t technically open to the public.

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    Military Insurance

    Military auto insurance is basically a type of insurance plan designed specifically for military members and their families. Some insurance providers have programs for military members in addition to their other offerings available to the general public.

    But some programs are only for those who qualify. USAA is a good example of this–here’s the USAA list of the people who are eligible to apply for a military-friendly auto insurance policy:

    • Active duty service members
    • Military retirees
    • All honorably discharged officers and enlisted
    • Officer candidates active in commissioning programs
    • Adult children (18+) of USAA members past and present (conditions apply)
    • Widows and widowers of USAA members (conditions apply)

    USAA auto insurance plans include coverage for overseas driving, so military members with PCS orders to an overseas assignment should explore their options in this area before shipping household goods and starting the journey to the next assignment.

    Some regular insurance companies offer special programs for military members. Allstate is one example. Via their platform service members can easily cancel and reinstate car insurance policies without rate changes that typically result from a gap in coverage.

    Driving Overseas

    The moment you get orders to PCS overseas, it is crucial to contact your insurance provider to learn if coverage is possible, and to what extent. Some policies may protect your vehicle while being shipped overseas, others may allow you to get coverage on a car or truck you buy in the host country.

    But not all do–you will need to learn the extent of your current policies and ask your sponsor at the gaining base what to do if you can’t rely on your current provider once you relocate.

    For non-military auto insurance providers who don’t offer overseas coverage for military drivers, it may be necessary to change providers or to suspend coverage as mentioned above and apply for an auto policy from a company based in the host nation being PCSed to.

    Typical Car Insurance Coverage For Military Members, Dependents, And Spouses

    If you operate a motor vehicle overseas or stateside, you will be required to carry certain protections as required by law. Some host countries have more expensive insurance requirements; Japanese Compulsory Insurance or JCI is one such insurance requirement U.S. troops PCSing to Japan will face.

    It is very important to ask your sponsor, command support staff, or other people knowledgeable about Japanese insurance law about coverages. The minimums may be your technical legal protection but the actual amount of money required in case of an accident may be far greater than your insurance will cover.

    One Japanese website for an agency called Chubb (which was partnered with USAA at one stage to provide auto coverage for U.S. troops in Japan) explains, “The amounts that can be paid under JCI, for example, is up to 30 million yen, and you may think it’s enough, but it isn’t in Japan. Recent court awards  have reached 100,000,000 yen.” The actual dollar amounts may be quite different in today’s marketplace, but it is easy to see that a lack of knowledge can be costly in this area.

    Typical Coverage Requirements

    What kind of coverage could you and your family be required to carry stateside or overseas? Local laws vary, so this should be interpreted as a broad list. Your experience may vary:

    • Liability coverage is required in almost every state in the U.S.
    • Collision/Comprehensive protects against damage or bodily injury to you and your car, along with other drivers
    • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
    • Medical payments and personal injury protection (PIP) is not required in all states, but covers medical expenses, loss of income and other costs regardless of fault in many cases
    • Overseas companies offering these protections may have terms and conditions you are not used to seeing in an insurance contract. Read your documents carefully and be sure to contact the base legal office if you aren’t sure what kind of legally binding agreement you are committing to.

    Discounts And Price Breaks

    There are military discounts, and there are regular price breaks for being a safe driver, being an older driver, not driving a flashy sports car, etc. The key to maximizing your discounts with your auto insurer is to know what they have typically offered veterans in the past, and asking for the latest version of those perks.

    But if you are using a company like Allstate, which caters to veterans and other military people but not exclusively so, be sure to read up on what companies like USAA are offering to their military auto insurance beneficiaries.

    If it’s a better deal, use those numbers to haggle your way into a more advantageous position with your insurance costs. It’s not wrong to play two car insurance providers against one another for perks, discounts, and price breaks. If the company is willing to match another company’s lowest offer, you win as the consumer.

    Typically, military families can expect some or all of the following:

    • Auto insurance discounts based on your military status alone
    • Discounts for signing up for car insurance near a military base in your local community
    • Price breaks for PCS, TDY, deployment, or other situations where you may be required to put your vehicle in storage while on duty
    • Insurance price breaks for living on base or storing a vehicle on-post
    • Price breaks for being a member of a local Guard or Reserve unit
    • State-offered insurance discounts for military members

    The trick to getting these discounts? Sometimes you have to ask for them. Some companies may have ongoing promotions where they inform you up front of a price break for being in uniform, but others may have discounts they don’t talk about at all and only offer when asked.

    A Word On Bundling

    Bundling is the practice of combining certain kinds of insurance such as home insurance and auto insurance. The same company provides both policies and often (but not always) offers a discount for doing so. The most important things to remember about bundling?

    • Shop around. You may find that some bundled insurance policies charge you more in some areas you may not need as much coverage in. Know your needs and the marketplace.
    • Some insurance bundling can be an advantage if you have a good driving record. But if your car insurance is more expensive because of tickets or accidents, you may not get such a great deal on certain types of insurance bundling.
    • When you compare quotes for bundled insurance, be sure to check the cost of each policy with and without being bundled. Is it more costly in your market to get car insurance and home insurance separately? Or is it a better choice to combine them? You won’t know until you shop around.

    Non-Military Price Breaks On Auto Insurance

    Some companies offer a price break for military families. But what about military spouses who are also federal employees, work for or belong to a military credit union, or who are employed on-post as a civilian contractor or other non-military worker? There may be special programs aimed at you, too.

    The best place to start learning about such insurance discounts? Your fellow employees, Human Resources rep, etc. If you are a recent hire, be sure to ask your boss, and if you have been working for some time, ask both your current insurance provider and your H.R. department if there are new options or price breaks on certain kinds of coverage.

    Other non-military price breaks include the usual discounts for being a safe driver, an older driver, operating a motor vehicle rated for its safety, or for adding or reporting existing safety and anti-theft equipment.

    Deployments And Your Car Insurance

    In cases where a military deployment requires changes or cancellation of auto insurance policies, companies like Esurance may waive certain cancellation fees. It pays to explain fully why you need to cancel or alter coverage.

    Reinstating car insurance after you return from a TDY, PCS, deployment, or training may be more complicated than simply paying the first bill once you call or email to reinstate coverage.

    You may be required to provide documentation such as “…a letter from your commanding officer that lists your dates of deployment” in the case of, which adds that in order to be given consideration for certain military-related fee waivers or other perks, you must often verify, “that you haven’t driven any civilian vehicles in the U.S.” during the period of time under consideration.

    Some insurance policies have a provision for customers to pay less when their vehicle is in storage. But these same companies often also have a policy especially for military members who must store a vehicle prior to deployment. The price break or the advantage you may be offered in this situation is often better than simply reducing your coverages to the bare minimum. Ask specifically about deployment policies with your insurer; you will be glad you did.

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    Military-Friendly Insurance Companies

    What follows is a list of companies which have military-friendly policies, or did have at the time of this writing. This list should not be considered an endorsement of any company, but rather an example of how many insurers may be willing to work with you on getting good military discounts and protection:

    • USAA is the only major company specifically serving military members, veterans, and family members.
    • AAA offers regional auto insurance discounts depending on location.
    • Direct General has offered as much as 25% in price cuts for active duty military.
    • Esurance offers discounts on a regional basis.
    • Geico has offered 15% discounts to military customers.
    • Nationwide offers special “affinity” programs for military customers.
    • Progressive offers discounts in selected states.
    • The General: military/veteran discount offered in certain states.

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    Auto Insurance For Veterans And Military Retirees

    USAA gets high marks for being a military and veteran-focused insurance provider. But other companies also get praise specifically for service to the veteran community. As a veteran driver, you may qualify for safety discounts, age-related price breaks, local promotions aimed at vets, and more.

    Veterans sometimes don’t realize their memberships in veteran service organizations and related entities may also qualify them for insurance discounts. You could be eligible for a price break for being a member of the Air Force Sergeants Association (depending on current promotions at the insurance agency), the Association of the United States Army, Navy League of the United States, and many others.

    Be sure to ask your insurer about discounts related to your affiliation with the USO, Disabled Veterans of America (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or any other veteran service organization.

    Disabled Veterans

    Your insurance agency may have special policies for disabled veterans, and especially those who drive or plan on driving specially adapted vehicles. Ask your provider about their policies on adaptive equipment such as the kinds you can apply for VA grants to have installed via the VA Automobile Allowance program. Those who have adapted vehicles may actually be required to enroll in a different type of insurance protection program so be sure to ask before deciding on a policy.

    About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News

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