USAA was founded in 1922 when a group of military officers organized to insure each other’s cars. Since then, USAA has remained a member only insurer dealing exclusively with current and former members of the military and their families. USAA ranked fifth in the 2020 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) survey for auto insurance premiums written and held a 6% share of the total market.
AAA is also available only to members – although memberships can be acquired by anyone. AAA was founded in 1902, well before the flood of cars on the roads. Structured originally as 50 clubs of car enthusiasts around the country, AAA has grown to one of best known car insurance companies. AAA is particularly well known for its roadside assistance and travel plans as well as its broad scope of discounts available to members.
USAA vs AAA: car insurance rates comparison
Though not formally ranked due its membership restrictions, USAA achieved one of the highest ratings from J.D. Power’s recent survey for customer satisfaction. USAA receives higher ratings across the board and is still able to provide more affordable coverage than AAA.
|Car insurance company||Bankrate score||AM Best||J.D. Power||Average annual premium for minimum coverage||Average annual premium for full coverage|
|USAA||4.7||A++||890 / 1,000||$384||$1,225|
|AAA||3.8||A-||858 / 1,000||$602||$1,990|
Rates by credit score
Both USAA and AAA take driver credit scores into consideration, where permitted, in setting auto insurance premiums. Insurers considering these scores believe they indicate a greater likelihood of timely premium payments while a low score may indicate that someone is more prone to risky behavior. While most states permit use of credit scores by auto insurers, some, including California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, impose certain restrictions upon this use.
|Car insurance company||Poor||Average||Good||Excellent|
Rates by age
Age is an important factor to car insurance companies which have seen that older drivers with more experience behind the wheel are less likely to have accidents. As shown below, 18-year-old drivers can expect to pay significantly more with USAA and AAA. Car insurance premiums drop dramatically at age 25 and continue to decrease in subsequent years but at a lesser rate.
|Car insurance company||Age 16*||Age 18||Age 25||Age 30||Age 40||Age 60|
*16 year old cost when added to parents’ policy
Rates by driving record
A driving history is also a critical factor influencing the premiums established for a car insurance policy. Both USAA and AAA place a high cost on traffic violations. Premiums increase quickly with more serious violations that indicate a greater risk to both carriers. AAA rates are higher across the board than USAA when looking at driving records.
|Car insurance company||Clean driving record||Speeding ticket||Accident||DUI conviction|
USAA vs AAA: discounts
Both USAA and AAA have robust discount programs based on a strong commitment to their membership bases. AAA is perhaps best known for its discounts relating to roadside assistance and available trip planning tools but there are other generous member discounts as well. USAA has several discounts aimed at active military members.
- Vehicle storage discounts: Storing a vehicle while on active duty can save you up to 60% on premiums. Additional savings are available if a vehicle is stored on a military base
- Safe driver and accident free discounts: A combination of a safe driving record for a number of years with an accident free record can potentially generate healthy discounts.
- Driver training and defensive driving courses: USAA offers a number of ways to combine efforts to improve driving skills and get discounts on your car insurance.
- General membership discounts: Members of an AAA auto club can often obtain special rates for car insurers.
- Membership loyalty discounts: These discounts become available with an increasing number of years as a member and can vary from club to club.
- Good student discount: High school and college students can obtain a discount when they can show at least a 3.0 grade point average.
USAA vs AAA: online and mobile experience comparison
Both USAA and AAA have highly rated general function apps allowing remote access to comprehensive account management tools and member services. These apps are both available, with ratings, at the Apple App Store and Google Play.
USAA has also entered the driver habit discount world with its SafePilot App. This service which measures insured driving habits in key areas has received mixed reviews.
- USAA Mobile App (Apple store – Score 4.8 of 5; Google – Score 4.5 of 5) This is a comprehensive app allowing easy access to all USAA banking, insurance and investment accounts. The app features access to car insurance quotes, premium payments and claim submission.
- USAA SafePilot App – (Apple Store – Score 1.9 of 5; Google Play – Score 2.4 of 5) This is one the growing type of apps to monitor a driver’s braking and acceleration habits. Discounts for improvement in these areas can generate up to 30% discounts. Reviews are low based in part on driver perception that the app records even modest braking as sudden.
- AAA Mobile App (Apple Store – Score 4.2 of 5; Google Play – Score 4.2 of 5) — Available to members, this app provides access to AAA services for emergencies such as roadside assistance and claims handling. The app also permits members to take advantage of trip planning services, access discounts and manage accounts.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best car insurance for me?
There is no single car insurance company that is best for everyone. As this article indicates, different companies have different strengths and weaknesses. It is always wise to comparison shop to find the best policy for you.
Is more expensive car insurance better?
Not necessarily. The best car insurance is the one that offers the most comprehensive and tightly fitting coverage for your needs. Good companies offer excellent discounts and there are good methods for blending discounts with the right coverage and finding affordable solutions.
What is the best way to shop for car insurance?
It is important to first generally research car insurance companies and online resources are an excellent starting point. Choose several quality companies to review in depth. Finally, using online tools and discussions with agents, obtain several quotes and compare.
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.
Credit: Rates were calculated based on the following insurance credit tiers assigned to our drivers: “poor, average, good (base), and excellent.” Insurance credit tiers factor in your official credit scores but are not dependent on that variable alone. The following states do not allow credit to be a factor in determining auto insurance rates: CA, HI, MA
Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the ages 18-60 (base: 40 years) applied.
Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.