Auto Insurance

Tips To Save on Auto Insurance While on Active Duty

Drivers who are on active duty are eligible for military discounts on their auto insurance. Learn how you can save up to 90% while you're deployed.

If you or someone in your family is currently serving in the military, you may be eligible for a discount on your auto insurance rates of up to 60%. Certain providers offer significant discounts to those in the armed forces. And certain techniques, such as suspending your policy while you're deployed, can lower your policy costs as well. The best steps for you to take will depend on your unique situation, so read more to find out how to find the best savings.

Who has the best deals for regular, non-deployed drivers?

Based on our research, GEICO and USAA offer the best deals for active duty drivers. The competition between the two is stiff, however, and which one will help you save the most may come down to where you serve and the how much you'll use your vehicle.

The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) was founded specifically to aid current and former members of the US military, so its rates, discounts and outstanding customer service make it one of the best choices for those on active duty. In addition to offering rates well below most major competitors, USAA offers a flat 15% discount if you park your car on a military base—regardless of whether you park in a garage.

By comparison, we found that, on average, GEICO offers premiums equal to or lower than those offered by USAA to military members. Additionally, GEICO offers a base discount of 15% to anyone who has served or is serving in the military, and further reductions if you're a member of any of these organizations:

  • American Society of Military Comptrollers
  • Armed Forces Benefit Association
  • Association of the US Army
  • Fleet Reserve Association
  • National Infantry Association
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center FCU
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Navy League of the United States

If you're on active duty but are unlikely to be deployed, GEICO might be the best place to start your search for affordable auto insurance. USAA would make a great second option.

Who has the best deals for low-mileage drivers that aren’t deployed?

You'll find the best auto insurance rates if you shop around to compare car insurance rates offered by different insurance companies, starting with USAA and GEICO. However, if you're an active duty member who is unlikely to be deployed, and you live and work on a military base, you might not drive many miles per year. If this describes you, there is another type of auto insurance company you may want to consider.

The average driver puts 13,476 miles on their vehicle in a year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. If you regularly use your car, but drive significantly less than this amount, a policy that charges you for the miles you drive might be your cheapest option.

For example, Metromile bases about half of your rate on the actual number of miles you drive per year, significantly benefiting those with a minimal annual mileage. The other half of your premium is based on an annual rate, and your total annual policy rate will be determined by your driving history, the type of car you're insuring, and the specific types of insurance you choose to add to your coverage—like any auto insurance policy.

Since GEICO and USAA already offer excellent discounts for active duty members, a mileage-based policy will probably only benefit those who stay well below the average number of miles driven per year. And keep in mind that while insurance companies like Metromile may be the best option for occasional drivers, it could turn out to be more expensive for those who end up driving more than the average amount.

Who has the best deals for deployed drivers?

While GEICO may have a slight edge for non-deployed service members, USAA tends to offer the best rates for those who are likely to be deployed. When you're deployed, USAA will give you a discount of up to 60% off your annual rates. That's the largest discount you'll find from any insurance provider.

GEICO does offer a discount to drivers who are deployed, but only if you're sent to a location designated as an "imminent danger pay area" by the Department of Defense. So if you're deployed to Berlin, for example, you won't receive the discount.

If you're going to be deployed, USAA is likely your best option for saving on auto insurance. However, if you know you're going to be deployed to an imminent danger pay area, it would be worth getting a quote from GEICO as well.

What are some other ways I can save while on deployment?

In addition to the discounts mentioned above, there are some other methods you could consider to save money while deployed.

  • Suspend your policy: If you're the only one who drives your car and you're going to be deployed, you may choose to suspend your policy for the duration of your deployment. While less convenient than retaining a discounted policy from USAA, you would avoid paying monthly premiums on a car that isn't being driven. This should be safe to do, as long as your car will be parked in a secure area where it is unlikely to receive any damage typically covered under a comprehensive insurance policy. However, if you are concerned about these risks, ask can your insurance agent if you can change to an comprehensive-only policy while the car isn't being driven. That way, if your car is stolen or damaged by a storm, you will still have coverage.
  • Take yourself off the policy: If you aren't the only one who drives your car and you're going to be deployed, consider taking your name off the auto insurance policy. Generally, the more drivers who are insured by a policy, the higher that policy's premiums will be. By removing yourself from the policy, your spouse or other family member will receive lower rates until you return and add yourself back to the policy. This method will especially benefit you if you have a poor driving history, and are a driving up your insurance rates more than your policy's other drivers. However, keep in mind that if you do decide to drive the car while your name is excluded from the policy, and you get into an accident, your insurance company may deny coverage.

Final ways to save

As always, knowing the types of coverage your policy includes will help you make sure you're only paying for the coverage you need. Car insurance policies are composed of a number of various coverages that protect you from various forms of damage, and not all the options are necessary or even beneficial to every driver or vehicle. For example, if you're going to be deployed and your car is worth less than $3,000, the premiums and deductible you'd have to pay before you’d collect any money from a comprehensive-only policy might exceed the amount you would receive in reimbursement. In this case, it might make sense to forgo a comprehensive policy altogether. For drivers parking more expensive cars, it might make sense to add a policy, or to agree to a higher deductible in order to receive lower monthly premiums. Review your options with your insurance agent to make sure your coverage is tailored specifically to your needs.

Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick is a Research Analyst at ValuePenguin focused on the insurance industry. He previously worked in Country Risk Management at State Street Corporation.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.