USAA is the top auto insurance choice for military members and their families, but isn’t available to anyone else.
USAA offers auto insurance exclusively to members of the U.S. military and their families. If you’re not in the military, or don’t have an immediate family member in the military, you’ll have to look elsewhere for car insurance. USAA is known for its consistently low rates and discounts that cater specifically to military families, like the storage discount it offers for putting your vehicle in long-term storage while deployed. Once you purchase your policy, you’re guaranteed lifetime renewability as long as you remain qualified for USAA, pay your premiums, and maintain your driver’s license.
Where USAA really shines, though, is customer service. Insurance is an industry where you rarely hear glowing reviews from customers, but USAA is the exception to that rule. Members have reported a high degree of satisfaction with the company’s rates, product offerings, and claims handling. There are no branch offices, though, so if you’d like to speak to a representative, you’ll have to pick up the phone.
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|Price||Varies by location, vehicle, and other factors|
|Best For||Military members and their families|
|Not For||People who aren’t in the military|
Defensive Driving Course
|In Business Since||1922|
|A.M. Best Rating||A++|
|Standout Features||Excellent customer service
Consistently affordable rates
Ridesharing coverage in select states
USAA focuses exclusively on veterans, active military personnel, and their loved ones. It treats its customers like family and strives to provide them with quality coverage and outstanding customer service at an affordable rate.
Is it true?
Yes. Despite only being available to military personnel and their families, USAA is still the fifth-largest auto insurer in the nation. It offers all major types of coverage and lifetime renewability, so long as you’re able to drive and pay your premiums. For an extra fee, you can add accident forgiveness, rental reimbursement, and roadside assistance to your policy, which you’ll be grateful for if you get into a bad wreck down the road.
USAA’s rates are known for being consistently affordable, in part due to its large selection of discounts. Some, like safe driver and multi-policy discounts, are common among insurers and easy for most customers to take advantage of. There are also discounts custom tailored to military families for things like keeping your vehicle on a military base, or putting it in long-term storage while you’re deployed.
In terms of customer satisfaction, USAA is unmatched. In J.D. Power’s latest auto insurance customer satisfaction survey, USAA swept every region, scoring 21 to 65 points ahead of the next-best competitor. Customers reported a high degree of satisfaction with all aspects of the process, from its policy offerings and rates to the clarity of their billing statements and the helpfulness of representatives. The company has also received a lot of praise for its claims handling — something that is rarely complimented by customers of other insurers. USAA members, though, report that claims are handled fairly and efficiently, enabling you to get back on the road more quickly.
Our Deep Dive
- Only for military members and family: USAA is an exclusive auto insurance provider that only offers coverage to current and former military members, their former spouses, and their adult children. If you don’t fit into any of these categories, you’ll have to explore other options.
- Guaranteed renewal: Once you’ve purchased a USAA auto insurance policy, you’re guaranteed lifetime renewal as long as you maintain your driver’s license, remain eligible for USAA, and continue paying your premiums. This type of guarantee is rare in the insurance industry, so if you’re interested in this, USAA is worth a closer look.
- No branch locations: If you have questions about your policy, you’ll have to contact USAA by phone or email because they don’t have branch locations. Given the high customer satisfaction ratings, though, most customers don’t have an issue with this.
- Plenty of ways to save: USAA offers 12 auto insurance discounts to help you save on your monthly premium. Bundling your home and auto insurance together and having a clean driving history can earn you some savings. Young drivers can save by completing a driver training course and maintaining good grades. You also receive a discount for staying loyal to USAA, and if your parents were also USAA members, you could save up to 10% more.
- Excellent claims handling: USAA is known for handling claims quickly and fairly. Its claims center is open 24/7, so you can get the process started as soon as the accident occurs. You can file a claim online or over the phone, and you can track your claim throughout the process, so you always know what’s going on.
- Ridesharing coverage in select states: USAA is one of the few auto insurance providers to offer coverage to drivers of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Currently, this coverage is only available in a few states, including Ariz., Calif., Colo., Ill., Mass., Ohio, Tenn., Tex., and Wash.
- Accident forgiveness: If you choose to add accident forgiveness to your policy, you won’t have to worry about your rates going up following your first at-fault accident.
- Help if your car breaks down: USAA offers roadside assistance, so if you run out of gas or get a flat, someone will be sent to assist you at no additional charge. If your car needs to be towed to a repair shop, USAA can help you there as well. And with rental reimbursement, USAA will pay to cover the cost of renting a car while you wait for yours to be fixed.
- Policy access on the go: USAA has mobile apps available for iOS and Android devices. These enable you to get a quote, pay your bill, and view policy documents from anywhere. If you use USAA’s banking or investment services, you can also keep an eye on these from the app.
The only way to find out how much auto insurance will cost you is to get a quote. Insurance companies consider a variety of factors when determining premiums, including your age, driving record, and where you live. Each company weighs these factors differently, which is why rates vary from one company to the next.
USAA is known for offering consistently affordable rates, but it’s worth taking the time to compare quotes from a few other companies as well. That way, you can feel confident that you’re making the right decision. Chances are, if you qualify for USAA, it’s your best bet, but that may not always be the case, so shop around a little before making a purchase.
Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives
Every state requires auto insurance and skipping it will earn you huge fines. The easiest way to save on auto insurance is to shop around and compare quotes to find your best deal. There are also some things you can do to lower your rates across all insurers, including:
- Take a defensive driving course. Most auto insurers, including USAA, will give you a discount if you’ve completed an approved defensive driving course within the last three years.
- Work on your credit. Your credit score tells insurers how likely you are to pay what you owe and a higher score translates into savings on your auto insurance.
- Tell your insurer about life changes. Getting your degree and getting married can help lower your auto insurance rates, so make sure your insurer knows about these things as soon as they happen.
- Spend less time on the road. Statistically, if you spend less time driving, there’s less risk that you’ll get into an accident.
- Choose a safe vehicle. Avoid models known to be targets for car thieves and choose something with high safety ratings.
- Allstate: Allstate has a good selection of discounts, but its rates typically aren’t as low as Progressive’s or Geico’s. It offers all major coverage types, plus some extras like sound system coverage. It has a claims satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with how your claim was resolved, you may be able to get some of your money back. Allstate had middling ratings in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction survey, though, so if this concerns you, you may be better off going with another company like State Farm or USAA.
- State Farm is known for being good to its customers. It scored reasonably well in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction survey, though it still fell short of USAA’s score. State Farm offers all major types of auto insurance protection and an impressive selection of discounts to help you save. Its rates still aren’t quite as low as Geico’s or Progressive’s, but the better customer service may be worth paying a little extra.
- Progressive: Progressive doesn’t have the discount variety of some of the other insurers on the list, but its rates are usually among the most affordable in the industry. There appears to be a slight tradeoff for the low price, though. Its customer service is reported to be just average. However, Progressive is still a good option if you’re on a tight budget or if you’re looking for unique coverages, like pet injury protection, that most insurers don’t offer.
- Geico: Geico is another option military families should check out if for some reason they’re not satisfied with USAA. Geico is known for its affordable rates and it offers special discounts to members of the military. Don’t expect the same quality of customer service that you’ll receive from USAA, though. Geico received mixed reviews in the J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating.
What Others Are Saying
- Consumer Reports named USAA one of its three top car insurance companies again in 2017, adding that it has consistently been at or near the top of their survey since as far back as 1992. Looking at customer feedback, rates, and claims handling, USAA stood out in every category. When asked about its service, one customer said, “[They] are amazing in every way. Every five years or so, I get a quote from someone else, but it never comes near USAA.”
- The Boston Globe noted that while some insurers may drop customers who drive for Uber or Lyft on the side, USAA is one of just a few companies to offer ridesharing coverage to its drivers.
The Bottom Line
USAA isn’t available to everyone, but if you qualify, it’s definitely worth checking out. Few companies can match its affordable rates and you won’t find better service anywhere else.
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