Guide to insurance for active military and veterans

1
SDI Productions/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . This content is powered by HomeInsurance.com (NPN: 8781838). For more information, please see our

If you’re an active duty member of the U.S. military, a veteran or a qualifying family member — your auto, life and home insurance may deserve special consideration. Several companies offer special deals and discounts to military personnel or even tailor their coverage to meet your unique needs.

In this article, Bankrate’s editorial team analyzed military-focused auto, life and home insurance coverage options and carriers to find the best insurance options for your needs.

Key takeaways
  • USAA, which only sells insurance policies to current and former military members and qualifying family members, is renowned for low prices with excellent customer service.
  • Military members may want to look for the following discounts: mileage, on-base, vehicle storage and bunding.
  • Active duty military members can get low-cost life insurance through the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI).

Auto insurance coverage

Current and former military personnel are eligible for special coverage and discounts from several top car insurance companies. While it’s fairly common for insurance companies to offer a military discount, some offer extended deals such as reducing coverage for stored vehicles while the owner is deployed.

Popular providers

USAA

USAA is one of the most popular providers of auto insurance among military families. The company is widely praised for low rates and customer satisfaction, consistently claiming the top scores in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction index, even though it is not officially ranked because it is not available to everyone.

USAA only sells policies to current and former military members, so coverage options are tailored to service members and their families. Flexible coverage options can be adjusted during deployment periods, and multiple discounts are available for additional savings.

Geico

Another popular choice among the military for car insurance is Geico. It isn’t a military-specific insurance provider, but it offers substantial discounts and specialized coverage exclusively to military families. Current and former service members are eligible for an immediate discount of up to 15 percent off Geico’s civilian pricing.

Additional discount programs are available for specific situations such as long-term vehicle storage during deployment. Geico also has a dedicated overseas department to assist if you decide to take your car abroad with you.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual also offers a military discount if one of the drivers on your car insurance policy is military personnel. You’ll qualify for this discount even if the driver is a veteran or in the reserves. The company offers countless other discounts that you may be eligible for – along with a full suite of coverage options.

While you’re deployed

When you leave for deployment, you have a few options regarding your vehicle. Whatever you decide will affect your auto insurance coverage and may raise or lower your premiums.

The most straightforward choice is to simply leave your car in long-term storage and collect it when you return. Many insurance companies are more than willing to slash your auto premiums because stored vehicles can’t get in an accident and are less likely to be damaged. This is advantageous as you’ll retain coverage in the unlikely event that something does happen to your car while you’re gone. When you return, call the insurance company to reinstate your full policy.

If you live on base, you’ll likely be able to store your vehicle in a special parking lot, which is typically less expensive than other storage options. On some bases, on-base vehicle storage is free.

Another option is to transport your car overseas. This is typically only ideal if you’re facing a long-term or indefinite deployment as shipping a vehicle can be significantly more expensive than simply renting one in your destination country. Still, there are options available to you should you decide to go this route. USAA and Geico both offer auto insurance coverage to military members stationed outside the U.S. and can help guide you through the process of relocating your vehicle.

Discounts to look for

Whether you’re on active duty or a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, there are many auto insurance discounts to keep an eye out for. Here are a few you should know about:

  • Military discount: Some mainstream auto insurers offer an instant discount for being in the military. For example, Geico reduces premiums up to 15% for service members. Similar discounts are also available from Farmers and Esurance.
  • Mileage discount: If you don’t use your personal vehicle often, you can often pay less for driving fewer miles than average. USAA offers a mileage-based discount that varies depending on how much you drive. Geico’s usage-based DriveEasy program involves installing an app on your phone to track how far you drive, potentially earning discounts if it’s less than average.
  • On-base discount: USAA offers a unique discount that lets you save up to 15% when you keep your vehicle in a garage on base. Theoretically, these garages offer better security than a residential street, so there’s a smaller chance of something happening to it.
  • Vehicle storage discount: Many insurers heavily reduce your premiums if your car is placed in storage for long periods of time – such as during deployment. USAA and Geico both offer this type of discount, and USAA advertises discounts up to 60%.
  • Bundles: You can often save money if you combine auto insurance with a homeowners or renters policy from the same company. This is one of the most universal insurance discounts and is offered by most providers. USAA gives discounts up to 10% for bundled policies; Geico doesn’t give an exact number as percentages may vary by state.

Remember that just because you’re getting a discount doesn’t mean you have the best price. Always compare quotes from military-friendly insurance companies with other local competitors to make sure you’re not overpaying for coverage.

Life insurance coverage

With more uncertainty from COVID-19 continuing into 2021, many families have begun thinking more seriously about life insurance. Life insurance allows you to protect your family financially if you pass away.

Anyone who’s tried to take out life insurance as an active duty military member knows firsthand how difficult it is to find the right coverage. Many standard life insurance policies include a war clause that prevents benefits from being paid if the policyholder is killed during combat. This effectively disqualifies many service members from civilian life insurance.

The good news is that service members automatically get life insurance upon enlistment and can retain coverage after leaving the military. But keep in mind that you aren’t limited to these policies. You can also supplement or replace service members’ and veterans’ life insurance with a policy from a company like USAA that understands military needs.

For active service members

Active duty military members can get low-cost life insurance through the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program, or SGLI. In addition to standard coverage, SGLI also offers several extensions with injury-related benefits and coverage for your dependents.

  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI): Upon enlisting in the armed forces, you’ll automatically be signed up for the maximum $400,000 in life insurance coverage through SGLI. Premiums are taken out of your base pay at a rate of six cents per $1,000 in coverage, which means you’ll pay $24 per month for a $400,000 policy. You can adjust or opt out of coverage at any time. If you do choose to keep your SGLI policy, make sure you name a beneficiary.
  • Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI): If you’re eligible for SGLI, you can also enroll your spouse and any dependent children in FSGLI. Spousal coverage has a maximum limit of $100,000; premiums are determined by age. Your children will get $10,000 in coverage free of charge.
  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance – Disability Extension (SGLI-DE): SGLI-DE is an extension you can apply for if you become totally disabled and leave the military while enrolled in SGLI coverage. If approved, you’ll keep your same SGLI coverage at no cost for two years following your date of separation.
  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI): Anyone who has SGLI coverage will also get TSGLI, an extension that covers traumatic injuries. If you’re severely injured while on or off duty, TSGLI can cover loss of income, temporary housing, and travel costs up to a total of $100,000.

For veterans

Once you leave active duty, you’ll only be covered by SGLI for a short period of time. At this point, you can elect to replace your coverage with Veterans’ Group Life Insurance, or VGLI. Like SGLI, there are several variants that you may want to take advantage of depending on your situation:

  • Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI): Former service members who had SGLI coverage can keep their same benefits by changing over to VGLI. Premiums will increase and are calculated based on age; the maximum $400,000 benefit costs $40 per month for a 30-year-old and $88 per month for a 55-year-old. If you want VGLI coverage, you’ll have to apply within 16 months of leaving the military.
  • Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI): If you were disabled while on duty and received a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to make accessibility modifications to your home, you may be eligible for VMLI. This policy covers your remaining mortgage balance up to $200,000 and names your mortgage lender as the beneficiary in the event that you pass away. Premiums are based on your age and the amount of coverage you need.
  • Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI): Veterans who have a service-connected health condition and have received a disability rating from the VA can get up to $10,000 in life insurance through S-DVI coverage. Premiums are based on age and the amount of coverage elected. If you’re totally disabled, you may be eligible to have these premiums waived. Note that there is a time limit; you’ll have to apply within two years of receiving your disability rating.
  • Supplemental Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (Supplemental S-DVI): If you meet the eligibility requirements for S-DVI but are totally disabled, you’ll be able to apply for up to $30,000 in additional coverage. The deadline to apply is one year from the date that your waiver for S-DVI premiums is approved. Unlike S-DVI coverage, however, you cannot apply to have supplemental S-DVI premiums waived.

Home insurance coverage

If you’re on active duty, reviewing your home insurance coverage is an important step to take while preparing for deployment. Even if a standard policy gave you enough coverage while you were at home, it may not be as effective as you think while you’re away.

There are three primary types of home insurance coverage to be aware of if you’re in the military. The first is dwelling coverage, which covers your home’s structure if it is damaged or destroyed. Personal property coverage is insurance for your home’s contents and any belongings you carry around with you on a day-to-day basis. Finally, liability coverage protects you from lawsuits if you cause bodily injury or property damage. These are part of most standard home insurance policies but may work differently while you’re on active duty. Keep in mind that you may need vacant home insurance if you live away from your home for a long period.

Many insurers offer reduced pricing or discounts to service members. USAA and Armed Forces Insurance both offer competitive pricing exclusively to military families and veterans, and Geico’s military discount of up to 15% can be applied to home insurance premiums.

While you are deployed

Before deploying, review your home insurance coverage to make sure everything will be taken care of while you’re away. Ask your home insurer if the belongings you take with you on deployment will still be eligible for personal property coverage; some policies have a war exclusion clause that would cause your claim to be denied. Your home insurance may also lapse if your home is vacant for more than 60 days, which is something you should talk over with your insurer. As noted above, many home insurance companies offer special insurance for unoccupied homes.

Once you’ve made the necessary pre-deployment preparations, find a trusted financial decision-maker who can handle anything unexpected that comes up. This can be a family member, trusted friend or colleague who will remain on base while you’re away. Provide this person’s contact details to your home insurance company in case of emergency.

Discounts to look for:

If you’re a military member looking for discounts on your home insurance, the following information may be valuable.

Home insurance discounts by company:

  • Liberty Mutual: Liberty Mutual’s exact discounts vary by state, but the company offers discounts to military members and veterans.
  • Farmers: If you’re a military member, veteran or in reserve, you may qualify for a home insurance discount between 4% and 8%.
  • Kemper Insurance: In addition to offering discounts to military members, Kemper Insurance offers home insurance discounts to junior and senior military academy cadets.

General home insurance discounts to look for:

  • Bundling: If you bundle your home and car insurance, you could qualify for a discount.
  • Smart home: If you have a smart home, you could save between 5% and 20% on your home insurance premium.
  • Claims-free: If you’ve never filed a claim or haven’t filed one within the last several years, you may qualify for a discounted rate on your homeowners insurance.
  • Loyalty: If you’ve been with your home insurance company for a certain amount of time, you may be able to get a discount on your premium.
  • Upgrades: If you add upgrades such as a new roof, you may be able to get a discount on your homeowners insurance.

The bottom line

Service members need to take special care when purchasing auto, life and home insurance as standard policies may not cover every aspect of military life, particularly deployment. Thankfully, there are many different discounts and special coverages available exclusively to active duty members and veterans. These programs can help ease the burden of protecting your loved ones whether you’re at home or away serving your country.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best insurance company for military members?

USAA is well-regarded for offering low prices and top-notch customer service. The company only offers insurance to military members, veterans and qualifying family members, so some of their coverage options are tailored for military-specific scenarios such as deployment. However, the best insurance company will vary for everyone based on what type of insurance you need and your personal characteristics and individual needs. Whether you’re looking for the cheapest car insurance companies, best home insurance companies or best life insurance companies, it may be helpful to compare quotes from multiple providers and talk with an independent insurance agent about your needs.

What is a typical military discount?

Different companies offer varying military discounts. Geico offers military discounts of up to 15%. USAA offers a unique discount of up to 15% for keeping your car in an on-base garage. The best way to find out how much you can save with military discounts is likely to speak to an insurance agent.

How does car insurance work for military personnel?

In general, car insurance works the same for military personnel as civilians, with a few other features and considerations. For instance, since military personnel often move around a lot, many states allow them to have car insurance and registration from their home state instead of wherever they are stationed. In addition, if you’re deployed, you’ll likely want to check with your car insurance provider to see what steps you can take and what deals may apply to you.

Written by
Lizzie Nealon
Insurance Writer
Lizzie Nealon is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Her favorite part of the job is making home, auto and life insurance digestible for readers so they can prepare for the future.
Edited by
Insurance Editor