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Best Car Insurance for Military Personnel & Veterans

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One of the benefits of serving your country is the number of companies that want to reward that service through discounts. Some of the best-rated car insurance companies are known for their dedication to providing military members and retirees with low auto insurance rates. Here, we'll cover some of those insurers and help you decide which might be the best options for you. 

What is the best military car insurance company?

Overall, the best car insurance for military members comes from USAA, a company that caters to military members and their families. Not only are the rates lowest across the board, but USAA has some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the business. 

While most customers rave about USAA, the insurer that works best for someone may be different, depending on things like whether they're deployed or if they're retired. Several top-name auto insurers offer a military discount -- including Liberty Mutual and Farmers -- but here are our top four picks:

Best for military discounts and low rates: USAA

The big name in military insurers, USAA has been covering automobiles since 1922 when 25 Army officers joined together to insure each other's vehicles. 

Across the board, USAA cleans up. Not only do they offer the lowest rates, but according to J.D. Power, the company ranks as one of the top three insurers for customer satisfaction. In addition, Moody's gives USAA a financial strength rating of AAA. 

To be eligible for USAA auto insurance, a customer must:

  • Currently serve in the Army, U.S. Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard, or Reserves
  • Be retired or honorably discharged from the military 
  • Be the current spouse, widow, widower, or un-remarried former spouse of a USAA member
  • Be the child of a USAA member 
  • Be a cadet or midshipman at a U.S service academy, affiliated preparatory school, an officer candidate within 24 months of commission, in advanced ROTC, or on an ROTC scholarship 

Best for veterans or retired service members: Armed Forces Insurance

Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) was founded in 1887 -- 22 years after the end of the Civil War and 27 years before the beginning of the first World War. At the time of their founding, gasoline-injected carburetors had just been patented, giving AFI time to establish themselves as a competitively priced property and casualty insurance company before branching into auto coverage. 

We chose AFI as the best auto insurer for veterans or retired service members because of the unique resources they offer members. While eligibility criteria to join AFI is similar to that of USAA, their benefits include:

  • PTSD card: AFI provides members who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a card to carry with them and hand to someone when their PTSD is triggered. For example, a veteran might be at a sporting event and startled by unexpected fireworks or low-flying jets. If the sounds or sights trigger that veteran's PTSD, they may not be in any condition to explain their discomfort. Instead, they can hand the card to someone nearby, who will hopefully help. PTSD can strike anytime, including on an airplane, when stopped by the police, or smelling an aroma that transports their mind to another, more frightening place. Knowing that they have a card that explains their situation may offer a bit of comfort. 
  • Fraud protection: AFI members receive free fraud advocacy services. While fraud protection is good for people of any age, it can be particularly beneficial as aging retirees find themselves in new situations. 

To be eligible to join AFI, an individual must be:

  • Active duty, retired, or honorably discharged from the military 
  • An active or retired Department of Defense civilian employee
  • A Merchant Marine or ROTC cadet
  • The child of a current or former member of AFI
  • The spouse, widow, or widower of an active duty, retired, or honorably discharged member of the military
  • An active, retired, or former NOAA or PHS commissioned officer
  • The former spouse of an AFI member

Best for active-duty military members: Esurance

When they are deployed, most military members retain auto insurance, even if their vehicle is sitting in a garage for months on end. While military members may be concerned about lack of coverage if the garage caves in or some other unexpected event takes place, most recognize the financial penalty they will face if they allow their coverage to lapse for any reason.

What we like about Esurance -- a subsidiary of Allstate -- is that it allows members of the military to cancel and reinstate their auto insurance policies without penalty. With Esurance, they also don't have to worry about getting hit with a rate hike due to a gap in coverage. This benefit alone can save active members of the military hundreds of dollars each year.

Best alternative when rate shopping: Geico

Geico is a close competitor to USAA. Both companies provide rates well below the national average cost of military auto insurance to veterans and their families. In fact, Geico offers a military discount of up to 15%. Geico is not only a less-expensive option than most, their customer service routinely ranks among the best with J.D. Power. Tech-lovers will appreciate how intuitive the Geico website and mobile app are and how quickly the company responds to customers. 

What car insurance companies give military discounts?

Here's a list of companies we've found currently offering special discounts to members of the military:

  • USAA
  • Geico
  • Esurance
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Farmers
  • Armed Forces Insurance

Find the cheapest, best car insurance for military members and families

Like most things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The cheapest, best insurance company depends on things like whether a person is deployed. If that's the case, it may be best to go with a company like Esurance that allows people to cancel their insurance without penalty while someone is gone. If someone returns from active duty and suffers from PTSD, they may be most comfortable dealing with AFI, an insurance company that recognizes and addresses these unique challenges. Retirees may also find that they can save money by going with AFI because they don't have to pay separately for fraud protection. 

The average cost of car insurance depends on what's going on in a person's life. Maybe someone has a teen driver in the family and is worried about their auto insurance coverage. Some people want to bundle car insurance with homeowners insurance and life insurance for a deeper discount. Others may be looking for a tech-savvy insurance provider that lets people file claims from their smartphone. And some folks prefer a company that offers special military member premiums in addition to other car insurance discounts. No matter what you're looking for, it pays to shop around. Car insurance rates depend on people's specific circumstances, and benefits vary by insurer. 

The good news is this: You now know of at least six insurers that offer car insurance discounts and superior service to military members and their families. The most affordable car insurance is the one that provides enough coverage to make people feel secure -- and at a cost they can easily work into their budget.

RELATED: See The Ascent's guide to the best budgeting apps.

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