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USAA vs AAA

This is so confusing
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USAA and AAA are two popular car insurance companies, and each company has its strengths and weaknesses. USAA has much better ratings for overall claims satisfaction from J.D. Power, and has cheaper average premiums compared to AAA, based on data Bankrate pulled from Quadrant Information Services. On the other hand, AAA offers more comprehensive coverage options in many regions.

Both USAA and AAA have eligibility requirements. To get an auto policy through USAA, you must be an active duty or retired military service member, or the spouse or child of a service member. For AAA, you must be a AAA member before you can purchase a car insurance policy. A AAA membership costs between $59-$119 per year, depending on the plan you get. It’s important to note that AAA, while open to anyone, is not available everywhere.

USAA vs AAA: car insurance rates comparison

When comparing car insurance companies, it’s important to look at, not just average rates, but also coverage options, discounts and third-party ratings from organizations like AM Best and J.D. Power. Bankrate has examined all of these criteria and more to assign a Bankrate Score to each provider out of a possible five points.

As you can see, USAA received a perfect Bankrate Score of 5.0, due mostly to high J.D. Power scores and strong AM Best financial strength ratings, while AAA came in at 3.8, due primarily to a slightly lower AM Best financial strength rating and lower J.D. Power scores. USAA also has cheaper average rates compared to AAA, based on our analysis of 2022 average overall rates pulled from Quadrant Information Services.

Still, since USAA is not available to everyone, some drivers may want to consider AAA as an alternative if available in their region. AAA does offer robust coverage options and additional perks, such as membership-only discounts at numerous travel destinations and a comprehensive roadside assistance program.

Car insurance company Bankrate score AM Best J.D. Power Claim Satisfaction Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
USAA 5.0 A++ 909/1,000* $384 $1,225
AAA 3.8 A- 863/1,000 $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, Massachusetts and Michigan, impose certain restrictions upon this use. The table below includes the 2021 averages rates from Quadrant Information Services for drivers based on credit score. USAA’s average rates still tend to come in lower than AAA.

Car insurance company Poor Average Good Excellent
USAA $2,270 $1,277 $1,225 $1,030
AAA $3,706 $2,146 $2,003 $1,645

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. It should be noted, however, that Hawaii and Massachusetts do not allow insurance companies to use age as a rating factor.

As shown below, 18-year-old drivers can expect to pay significantly more than average with both USAA and AAA based on 2021 average rates from Quadrant Information Services. Car insurance premiums typically drop dramatically at age 25 and continue to decrease in subsequent years at a lesser rate, assuming all other factors remain the same.

USAA’s average rates by age still tend to be lower than AAA’s, but the gap becomes smaller as the average age increases, meaning that USAA may be a better bet than AAA for younger drivers or parents of teen drivers.

Car insurance company Age 16* Age 18 Age 25 Age 30 Age 40 Age 60
USAA $2,186 $3,361 $1,510 $1,295 $1,176 $1,073
AAA $3,210 $5,446 $2,317 $2,034 $2,025 $1,157

*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. Average premiums increase quickly with more serious violations that indicate a greater risk to both carriers. According to 2021 average premiums from Quadrant Information Services, AAA’s average rates are higher across the board than USAA when looking at driving records, most notably for those with a DUI conviction.

Car insurance company Clean driving record Speeding ticket Accident DUI conviction
USAA $1,225 $1,423 $1,681 $2,126
AAA $2,003 $2,947 $3,057 $5,613

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.

USAA

  • Vehicle storage discounts: Storing a vehicle while on active duty could save you money with USAA. 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.

AAA

  • General membership discounts: Members of an AAA auto club can often obtain special rates for car insurance.
  • 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 potentially 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 also offers a telematics program through its SafePilot App. This service, which measures  the insured’s driving habits in key areas, has received mixed reviews.

USAA

  • USAA Mobile App (Apple store – Score 4.8 of 5; Google – Score 2 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 4.3 of 5; Google Play – Score 4 of 5) This is a telematics app that monitors a driver’s habits, including braking and acceleration. Discounts for improvement in these areas can be generous. Reviews for this app are low, based in part on driver perception that the app records even modest braking as sudden.

AAA

  • AAA Mobile App (Apple Store – Score 4.4 of 5; Google Play – Score 4.1 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 generally 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 best coverage for your needs. Lots of good auto companies offer excellent potential discounts and you may be able to blend those with the right coverage to find more affordable solutions.

What is the best way to shop for car insurance?

You might want to start by researching car insurance companies online. Choose several quality companies to review in depth. Finally, using online tools and discussions with agents, obtain several quotes and compare to find the one that is right for you.

How can I lower my car insurance premium?

There are several things you can do to potentially lower your car insurance premium. First, make sure you are taking advantage of the discounts your car insurance company offers. You can also consider taking a look at your deductibles, work on improving your credit score, pay your annual or six-month premium in full or consider adjusting your coverage to get a lower rate. If you’re not sure which of these potential savings options are right for you, consider speaking with your insurance agent to find the best ways to save without sacrificing any coverage you may need.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2022 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 meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2020 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.

Rates for the following instances are based on 2021 information pulled from Quadrant Information Services and a 2019 Toyota Camry: 

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.

Bankrate Score

Bankrate Scores primarily reflect a weighted rank of industry-standard ratings for financial strength and customer experience in addition to analysis of quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services, spanning all 50 states and Washington, D.C. We know it is important for drivers to be confident their financial protection covers the likeliest risks, is priced competitively and is provided by a financially-sound company with a history of positive customer support.

To determine how well the best car insurance companies satisfy these priorities, third-party agency ratings from J.D. Power, AM Best, S&P, NAIC, and Moody’s had the most impact on the companies’ Bankrate Scores. As price is a common consideration for drivers, we analyzed quoted premiums based on 40-year-old male and female drivers with a 2019 Toyota Camry. This profile, assessed across more than 35,000 ZIP codes in the U.S., provided a basis on which drivers may compare each provider.

While coverage options, insurer availability, affordability and customer experience are often the top priorities, Bankrate also analyzed each insurer’s online and mobile resources for policy management and claims handling. Insurance is rapidly evolving to keep pace with our digital world, so these aspects also carried weight in determining Bankrate Scores.

Written by
Rick Hoel
Insurance Contributor
Rick Hoel is an international business attorney and legal and insurance writer for Bankrate as well as Reviews.com and Accessibility.com. Over the last several years, he has covered topics dealing with personal and commercial insurance and technology and the law. Rick is General Counsel and Director of Risk Management and sits on the Board of Power Stow Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Power Stow A/S in Denmark, the world leader in the supply of tracked conveyor systems to the airline industry.
Edited by
Insurance Editor