Many American families face financial struggles, and military families are no exception. Financial difficulties can often be compounded by the nature of active duty military life. Frequent relocations, deployments and unique housing needs can all contribute to financial stress.

Many financial institutions recognize these struggles and provide discounts and other benefits to military families that they couldn’t get otherwise. Insurance companies also do their part to ease the financial burden, often providing service members and veterans with discounted rates and benefits that suit their unique needs.

Car insurance is often a must-have expense, but it doesn’t have to add to your financial burden.  By taking advantage of military insurance benefits and other discounts that aren’t military-specific, you can substantially save on your monthly insurance premiums.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to get the lowest rate for the coverage you need and learn about the best auto insurance companies for Service Members and Veterans.

The Impact of COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak has upended the livelihoods of many Americans, and the military is helping by setting up medical facilities, researching vaccines, and coordinating supply chains for needed goods and services.

As such, the COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded financial challenges for military families. Military service members who have been activated and must relocate because of the epidemic may be under additional financial stress, especially those with a spouse who may have lost their job in the wake of coronavirus, or who must stop working to take care of children during the day. Relocation expenses can add up, and adjusting to a new living environment can require additional purchases of household supplies.

Thankfully, many auto insurance providers offer rebates, discounts, and other relief offerings during the pandemic. This is to recognize that so few drivers are using their vehicles, decreasing the risk that they’ll get into an auto accident.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the amount of these relief funds could total $10.5 billion as more auto insurers make offers. If you already have an auto insurance policy, contact your policy provider to find out if you’re entitled to a rebate.

Military-specific Considerations for Obtaining Auto Insurance

You may not be able to choose exactly where you’re being stationed or relocated, which can make purchasing auto insurance a challenge. If you are given a choice as to where you’ll be stationed, do research beforehand to determine which location has the lowest cost of living. In some areas, it costs more, or less, to get your vehicle insured.

You should also do your due diligence in researching auto insurance policies, as some discounts may depend on your branch military branch.

Casey Dawson, Consultant for Superior Honda in New Orleans, says, “You may be eligible for different auto insurance discounts depending on what branch of the military you or your family member is a part of. Not only are these discounts financially beneficial, but they also take into account factors like active duty service and deployment to help you make the most of your auto coverage for your exact situation. Consider carriers designed for military personnel and veterans.”

Dawson also suggests you be discerning when selecting your auto insurance policy: “Though many insurance carriers provide discounts for military personnel and their families, only some carriers are designed specifically with military families in mind. Research your auto insurance carrier options and compare which ones provide military discounts and which are specifically meant to provide coverage for military personnel and veterans.”

Some states also offer military discounts on auto insurance. For example, if you’re a resident of Louisiana and on active duty in the military, you may be eligible for an additional 25% discount on your auto insurance. To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a Louisiana resident.
  • You must currently live in Louisiana.
  • You must be on full-time active duty.
  • You must buy your insurance in Louisiana.
  • If stationed outside of Louisiana, you must be single, or your family must live in Louisiana.

Other insurance providers only serve military service members who live in specific states. For example, Arbella’s military discount is only available to Massachusetts residents, and their 10% military discount only applies if you are deployed more than 100 miles from where your vehicle is garaged.

Best veteran/military-friendly auto insurance companies

Here is a list of some of the most veteran- and service member-friendly insurance companies, and benefits they can offer.

Armed Forces Insurance

  • Designed specifically for and only available to military service members.
  • Retired or honorably discharged military service members, students at U.S. service academies and the immediate families of military service members can apply.
  • Identity theft services.

USAA

  • Designed specifically for and only available to military service members.
  • Retired or honorably discharged military service members, students at U.S. service academies and the immediate families of military service members can apply.
  • Additional coverage options for your car and passengers, including roadside assistance and rental reimbursement.
  • Up to a 15% discount on comprehensive coverage when you garage your vehicle on base.

Geico

  • Military service team composed of veterans.
  • Dedicated military service hotline: 1-800-MILITARY (645-4827).
  • Worldwide auto insurance coverage.
  • Custom payment plans.
  • 15% off for active duty, retired and members of the National Guard or Reserves.

Arbella Insurance

  • “Military Away Discount” provides 10% off when deployed at least 100 miles from the principal garaging location.
  • Arbella Insurance Foundation supports the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV).

Auto insurance companies with military discounts

If you prefer, you can go with one of the country’s major commercial auto insurance providers. Many of them provide discounts and other benefits to active duty service members and veterans.

Here are a few major insurance providers that advertise a military or affinity discount.

Provider NameApplicable Military BranchRate Reductions and Benefits†Contact Information
 Farmers Insurance Active, permanently based in-state* Rate reductions vary by state and policy 1-888-327-6335 or Website Form
The GeneralActive and veterans*Rate reductions vary by state and policy1-844-328-0306
 Liberty Mutual Active, Retired, or Reserved U.S. Armed Forces Up to $150 per year depending on state and policy 1-844-349-8365
 Nationwide Active, VeteransRate reductions vary by state and policy 1-877-669-6877
ProgressiveActivePotential rate reductions calculated as part of policy1-800-776-4737

*Discount not available in every state. †According to company representatives reached by phone.

Other Auto Insurance Discounts

Although you should take note of any military discounts an insurance provider offers, those aren’t the only discounts you should consider. Some regular discounts may be more advantageous for you, depending on your situation.

You can also reduce your monthly premium by adjusting the type of coverage you have on your policy. For example, if you’ve paid off the loan on your car and you own it, you won’t be required to carry collision coverage by your lender. You could save on your monthly premiums by eliminating this coverage, as long as you’re prepared to pay out of pocket if you need to repair your car after an accident.

If possible, you can increase your deductible or make other adjustments to your policy to save on monthly expenses. You can also only pay for a policy that meets the minimum amount of coverage required by your state.

Bundling insurance is also a great way to save. USAA offers both home and auto insurance and can offer you savings if you bundle the policies. Many insurance providers will also provide a discount if you insure multiple vehicles with them.

David Bakke, Insurance Professional at Dollar Sanity, recommends you “inquire about all discounts, military and non-military alike, and go for all of them if you qualify. Next, get quotes from at least three providers to ensure you’re getting the best deal.”

Standard auto insurance discounts

Here are the common standard discounts you can expect from most major auto insurance providers.

Type of DiscountHow to Get ItPotential Discount
 Vehicle Safety Discounts●      Newer model vehicles
●      Anti-theft devices
●      Passive restraint systems
●      Anti-lock brakes
 Up to 10%
 Driver History Discounts●      Accident-free
●      History of safe driving
●      Low usage of vehicle
 Up to 20%
 Customer Loyalty Discounts●      Bundled insurance policies
●      Multiple vehicles insured
●      Long-time customer
●      Early policy renewals
 Up to 10%
 Demographic Discounts●      Students with excellent grades
●      Homeowners
●      Low-income drivers
●      Seniors
 Up to 35%
Driver Training and Education Discounts●      Defensive driver courses
●      General driver training
 Up to 10%
Payment and Billing Discounts●      Auto-paying premiums
●      Paying premiums annually
●      Going paperless
 Up to 10%

Affinity discounts

Affinity discounts are discounts provided to organizations, associations, or other organized groups, including military branches.  Many auto insurance providers partner with major employers to offer their employees discounts. In Some cases, these discounts can go up to 25%.

If your insurance provider doesn’t offer a military discount, you may be able to obtain a discount if you’re part of various organizations, clubs, or groups, including:

  • Professional organizations or associations: For example, Liberty Mutual offers savings of up to $782 and other benefits to members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and members of the American Bar Association (ABA) can get low rates on Travelers auto insurance.
  • Schools, fraternities, sororities, and sports teams: Geico offers an affinity discount to alumni association members, faculty, and staff at certain colleges and universities, and Nationwide provides discounts on auto insurance to members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, among others.
  • Credit unions: Liberty Mutual offers car insurance discounts up to $509 to credit union members through TruStage, and Geico offers special insurance discounts to members of Navy Federal Credit Union.
  • Auto clubs and other memberships: AAA sells auto insurance policies and provides multiple types of discounts to members, and The Hartford offers auto insurance discounts and benefits to AARP members.
  • Certain jobs and employers: Geico offers discounts to government employees on the G-7 pay scale or above. Farmer’s Insurance provides discounts to policyholders who have certain occupations, including teachers and college professors.

What to Do If You’re Deployed

When you’re about to be deployed, the last thing you want to think about is auto insurance. But it’s important to know what you can do so you don’t waste money while you’re away.

If your car is going to be sitting in a garage, there’s no reason you need to be paying your full monthly premium to keep it insured. If a friend or family member will be using the car while you’re away, you may need to contact your insurance provider to let them know or add them as drivers on your policy.

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic:

Should your vehicle be stored?

If your vehicle is being stored during your deployment, it may be advantageous to store it on-base.

According to Brad Sturgis, active-duty Navy officer and Founder of FinancialSailor.com, “Members can expect to receive 15% to 20% discounts off their comprehensive coverage from most insurers if they garage their vehicle on a military base. If you are storing your vehicle while deployed, consider asking if you could suspend your policy and reinstate it when you return without a lapse in coverage penalty. Also, consider giving your keys to a friend and adding them to the policy if they need to take it in for repairs.”

If your vehicle isn’t being stored and someone else will be driving it, you should continue paying your auto insurance policy as normal. Ensure that whoever is driving your vehicle is listed on your policy, especially if it’s someone who isn’t in your immediate family.

Concerning your vehicle, who needs to know about your deployment?

Brad Sturgis says, “Your insurer should be made aware of your deployment beforehand. If not, they won’t know to make the necessary changes to your policy coverage.”

It’s also recommended that you inform your lienholder, if applicable. This refers to your auto lender or the company that leased you the vehicle.

What changes can you make to your auto insurance?

Once you notify your auto insurance company about your deployment, in some cases, you may be able to adjust your coverage to lower your monthly premiums. Insurance companies that work with customers who are active military service members should be able to tell you if this is an option or not. In some cases, companies will provide military service members with a blanket discount when they are deployed and their vehicle is stored.

You should also ensure your registration, insurance information, and inspection stickers are up to date, and you should ensure your vehicle has been serviced before you leave.

If you’re relocating or rebasing to a new state, you may need to register your car in that state if you’ll be considered a permanent resident. Some states allow service members stationed out of state to register their vehicles online or by mail. If your permanent home is located outside of the state where you are deployed, you may be able to continue to register your car there.

Familiarize yourself with your state’s laws. Some states don’t require active military members to register vehicles at all if they are on military orders.

Our Two Cents

Saving on auto insurance may not always be at the front of your mind, but it should be a major part of your larger plan to reduce expenses. While deployed, saving on auto insurance is an especially important strategy, as it can prevent you from paying for auto insurance coverage you aren’t using.

Many of the discounts listed above are just a start. As a military service member, you have extensive financial planning resources at your disposal. You can speak to a military Financial Readiness Manager or Military and Family Life Counselor at your local installation for assistance with making a plan.

About the Authors

Michael Rand is a writer based in Beverly, Massachusetts. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Salem State University and spent years producing content for clients as an agency writer. His work has been featured in publications like Interest.com, The Simple Dollar, and Overture Magazine.