USAA is one of the most popular car insurance companies for military service members. But is it for you? Our USAA car insurance review has all the answers.
In this USAA car insurance review, we will walk you through its coverage options, its car insurance rates, the discount it offers, its availability and the level of its customer service. We will also take a closer look at how it compares with other car insurance companies.
USAA offers a wide range of car insurance coverage options like liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage and personal injury protection coverage. It also offers several add-on coverages such as rental reimbursement coverage, rideshare coverage, gap coverage and glass coverage, among others.
Our mission is to help our readers make informed insurance decisions, through our comprehensive, objective and unbiased insurance reviews. Therefore, you can always trust the integrity of our independent and balanced financial advice.
About USAA Insurance
Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, USAA or United Services Automobile Association is a multi-line insurer, whose membership is reserved for members of the U.S armed forces and some select family members.
And as much as it offers a wide range of financial products and services like credit cards, checking accounts and savings accounts, its car insurance coverages remain highly popular.
According to third-party rating companies, USAA has consistently earned a decent score when it comes to customer satisfaction, claims settlement, and claims satisfaction. In short, its reviews across different areas are excellent.
What Are Eligibility Requirements for USAA Car Insurance?
As noted above, USAA’s membership is not open to everyone. Its membership is reserved for active and former members of the U.S armed forces and select family members.
It offers its products and services to active and retired members of the U.S Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Navy, National Guard and Reserves.
To be eligible for USAA car insurance, you must be on active duty or a retired veteran. Honorably separated family members are also eligible for membership.
Eligible family members include spouses, children of USAA members, widows and widowers of USAA members, and step-children of USAA members.
However, children and spouses can only become USAA members if the main member is alive.
In short, membership cannot be passed from a deceased member to a living child or spouse. Also, membership cannot be passed to siblings or from children to parents.
What Car Insurance Coverages Does USAA Offer?
When it comes to coverages, USAA offers a wide variety of auto insurance products, both standard and optional. Some of its standard car insurance coverages include:
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
If you are at fault for a car accident that causes injuries to another person, then your USAA’s bodily injury liability coverage will help to pay for their medical expenses. Apart from paying for medical expenses, this coverage also pays for:
Compensation for Lost Wages
Due to the injuries suffered from the accident, the other party may not be in a position to work for some months. During their recovery time, your USAA bodily injury liability coverage will help pay for their lost wages and income.
After you’ve caused a car accident, the other party may decide to take you to court. As a result, you may need to seek legal counsel. And this may be costly. Fortunately, USAA will also help to pay for legal fees through its bodily injury liability coverage.
USAA’s bodily injury liability coverage will also pay for pain and suffering, as well as funeral costs if the other party died because of the car accident that you caused.
All states, apart from Florida, require bodily injury liability coverage. So, unless you live in Florida, you will have to add it to your USAA car insurance policy.
Property Damage Liability Coverage
Also called property damage insurance, property damage liability coverage will help cover repair and replacement costs if you cause a car accident that damages another party’s vehicle or property.
USAA’s property damage liability coverage will help to repair or replace a damaged vehicle, house, store, trees, lampposts, mailboxes, fences, and trees, among others.
For instance, if you rear-end another vehicle when you are in traffic, USAA’s property damage liability insurance will cover the repair costs, up to your policy limit.
USAA’s property damage liability coverage will also help to repair or replace your neighbor’s mailbox if you hit it accidentally.
If you are involved in a car accident and your vehicle is damaged, then USAA’s collision coverage will cover the repair or replacement costs, regardless of who is at fault.
USAA’s collision insurance will pay to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged during a collision with another car, collision with a stationary object such as a tree and damage resulting from a single-car accident such as falling over or rolling.
However, if your vehicle is damaged by a weather-related incident like hail or it’s vandalized, then USAA’s car collision insurance will not pay for the repair or replacement costs.
Collision coverage is optional. So, whether you add it to your USAA car insurance policy is a personal choice.
Your car’s value, your driving record, your location as well as your deductible amount will determine how much you will pay for USAA collision insurance.
As noted above, collision insurance will not pay for damage caused by weather-related incidents, theft and vandalism. And this is where USAA’s comprehensive insurance comes in.
With USAA’s comprehensive insurance, you will be covered for vehicle damage caused by storms, hail, and other natural disasters, theft and vandalism, damage caused by falling branches and other objects, damage caused by hitting a wild animal.
Comprehensive insurance will also help to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged during civil disturbances such as a riot.
In short, USAA’s comprehensive insurance is designed to pay for your car’s repair or replacement, non-collision-related damage.
Theft of personal effects inside your car, general wear and tear, hitting a pothole and collisions with other vehicles are not covered by USAA’s comprehensive insurance.
Similar to collision insurance, USAA’s comprehensive insurance is also optional. Therefore, you can decide to add it to your USAA car insurance policy or not, depending on your car’s value and ownership status.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance
As the name suggests, this USAA car insurance coverage will help to repair or replace your car, if the driver who hits you has inadequate or no car insurance.
USAA’s underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance will also help to pay for your medical expenses, during an accident caused by a driver with insufficient or no liability insurance.
For instance, you may be involved in a car accident where you are not the at-fault driver, and it will cost approximately $20,000 to repair your car.
Unfortunately, the at-fault driver may only be carrying $15,000 in property damage liability insurance, meaning there is a $5000 deficit.
In such a situation, USAA’s underinsured motorist insurance will step in and cover the balance.
Currently, fourteen states require underinsured motorist coverage and 14 jurisdictions mandate uninsured motorist coverage.
So, if you drive a car in a state where this coverage is required, then you will have to purchase it as part of your USAA car insurance policy.
Medical Payments Coverage
If you, your passengers, or your family are injured during a car accident when you are driving, then medical payments coverage will pay for the medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault.
This USAA car insurance coverage will pay for medical expenses emanating from the car accident such as:
- Doctor visits and hospital visit
- Hospital stays
- Ambulance and EMT fees
- Professional nursing care
- Dental care
USAA’s medical payments coverage will also pay for funeral expenses if someone dies in your car during the collision.
It will also cover you or your family members, if injured in another car as a passenger or when hit by another car as a pedestrian.
Personal Injury Protection
Also called no-fault insurance, USAA’s personal injury protection coverage will help to cover various expenses when you are involved in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault.
Personal injury protection will also cover your expenses, if you are injured when riding in another person’s car, riding a bike or walking. It covers things like:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages if you are unable to work as a result of accident-related injuries
- Household tasks such as cleaning and lawn care
- Funeral expenses if the injuries caused by the accident lead to death
Personal injury protection may be a required policy add-on or optional coverage, depending on where you live.
Currently, 13 states require PIP as a policy add-on. So, if you live in any of those states, then USAA will add it to your car insurance policy.
Besides the standard coverages, USAA also offers several optional car insurance coverages, which you can add to your USAA car insurance policy. The optional coverages include:
If your car is damaged during an accident, USAA’s rental reimbursement coverage will help to take your transportation expenses as your car is being repaired.
Whether you opt to use a taxi, a rental car, or public means of transportation, rental reimbursement coverage will cover your expenses.
It’s important to note that this coverage doesn’t come standard with your USAA car insurance policy. Therefore, you will have to purchase it as an add-on policy to your collision or comprehensive car insurance.
This USAA car insurance coverage comes with a limit of $30 per day and a total of $900, which translates to 30 days. So, if you will need a rental car after the 30-day window, USAA’s rental car reimbursement insurance will not cover your expenses.
Rideshare Gap Coverage
USAA also offers rideshare coverage for Uber, Lyft and other app-based transportation companies.
Rideshare gap coverage will protect you when you are not covered by your personal auto policy and the rideshare company’s auto policy.
For instance, when you are logged onto your rideshare app and you are waiting for a customer request, you may not be covered by your rideshare company or personal auto policy, meaning there is a coverage gap.
USAA’s rideshare gap coverage will extend the coverages on your personal policy. It will cover your medical expenses and your vehicle’s repair costs.
So, if you are involved in a car accident while you are waiting for a customer request, USAA’s rideshare gap coverage will protect against paying out-of-pocket expenses.
It’s currently available in 39 states and starts from $6 a month.
If your car’s windshield is damaged during a collision, USAA’s glass coverage will cover repair or replacement costs.
Whether the windshield is to be repaired or replaced will depend on the extent and location of the damage.
For instance, if the crack is larger than 6 inches and it’s in front of a sensor or camera, then the windshield will be replaced. On the other hand, if the damage is smaller than 6 inches and damage spots are three or fewer, then it will be repaired.
If the windshield is to be repaired, then you will first have to pay your USAA comprehensive insurance deductible before the glass coverage kicks in.
USAA auto glass coverage only covers windshields. It doesn’t cover tail lights or headlights.
Total Loss Protection
Also known as gap insurance, USAA’s total loss protection coverage will pay the difference between your car’s value and the outstanding loan on your car if the car is written off or stolen.
For instance, you may have purchased a car worth $20,000 and it’s declared a total loss after a collision.
In such a case, your USAA collision or comprehensive insurance may only reimburse you $14,000, assuming that’s the current value of the car.
However, you still owe $6000 on your car loan. And this is where USAA’s total loss protection comes in. It will pay the $6,000 difference, meaning you will not incur an out-of-pocket expense.
Your car should be less than 7 years old and has an outstanding loan of more than $5,000 to be covered.
USAA also offers umbrella insurance, designed to give you additional protection if you are sued for things you own such as your property, your possessions, investments as well as future wages.
It will also pay your legal defense costs. In short, it picks up where your USAA auto liability coverage limits end.
For example, you may cause a 3-car collision on the highway, after you fail to notice a slowdown ahead of you.
Assuming the total injury and auto repair amount is $800,000 and your car insurance liability limit is $400,000, your USAA umbrella insurance will pay the remaining amount.
Currently, USAA offers umbrella insurance policies from $1 million to $5 million. It’s important to note that this policy doesn’t offer business or professional coverage.
Rental Car Insurance
USAA also offers rental car insurance, available to all its credit card holders. This insurance comes in the form of collision damage reimbursements. USAA’s rental car insurance covers:
- Theft of your rental car
- Physical damage to your rental car
- Eligible towing charges
- Administrative fees
- Eligible loss-of-use charges
However, it doesn’t cover high-value cars and limousines. With USAA’s rental car insurance, you will be covered for 31 days, up to your rental car’s actual cash value.
In case you already have a personal USAA car insurance policy, then your USAA rental car insurance policy will cover your deductible as well as reasonable towing charges.
What is the Cost of USAA Car Insurance?
The cost of car insurance across the country is approximately $500 annually for minimum coverage and $1,600 annually for full coverage.
On the other hand, if you opt to insure your car through USAA, you will be paying approximately $350 for minimum coverage and $1,250 for full coverage.
Without a doubt, their rates are considerably cheaper than most of the other car insurance companies in the country.
The cost of your USAA car insurance policy is calculated based on various risk factors. Some of the factors that USAA considers when determining your auto insurance rates include:
Where you live and garage your car will have a significant impact on your USAA car insurance premiums.
For instance, highly populated areas such as cities and metro areas tend to have higher accidents, compared to sparsely populated areas. So, if you live in a city, then it’s likely your auto insurance rates will be higher than someone living in the countryside.
USAA will also use your Zip code to determine the rate of vandalism, theft, as well as the number of claims coming from that area, whether legitimate or fraudulent.
Furthermore, USAA will also use your location to establish whether there are damaging weather elements in your area.
With this information, it will be easy for the company to determine the risks associated with insuring your car and then assign you a rate accordingly.
But if your car is normally garaged on a military installation, then you can qualify for a 10% discount on your comprehensive car insurance coverage.
Your rates will go up and down during your lifetime as a driver. If you are a teen driver, the cost of your USAA car insurance policy will be the highest compared to other age groups.
And once you reach the age of 25, your rates will start going down, and then increase again when you hit the age of 70.
So, why do teen drivers and senior citizens have higher rates than other age groups? Well, teen drivers and senior citizens tend to be involved in more accidents than other age groups, which translates to higher rates.
However, USAA offers several discounts for teen drivers such as the good student discount, which can help to lower your premiums.
Your driving record is a clear indicator of how risky or safe you are on the road. Just like other car insurance companies, USAA will check your driving record when you are applying for coverage. It will also check your record again during renewal.
If your driving record is full of moving violations like DUI, jumping red lights, and speeding, then you should expect your USAA car insurance premiums to be approximately 20% higher compared to a driver with a clean record.
Furthermore, USAA car insurance policyholders with a clean driving record may qualify for the company’s safe driver discount, which helps to lower the rates even further.
Vehicle Make and Model
Your car’s make and model will have a direct impact on your USAA car insurance premiums. Using your car’s model, USAA will look at its purchase price, cost of repairs, theft rate, accident rate as well as safety tests, among others.
For instance, if you replace a 2019 Honda Civic with a 2021 model year, there is a high chance your premiums will go higher. Newer vehicles tend to be more expensive to repair or replace. Consequently, USAA will charge you more to insure such a car.
However, USAA offers discounts for new cars. So, if your car is not more than 3 years old, then you may qualify for the new car discount, which can help you save money on your USAA car insurance premiums.
USAA also considers your annual mileage when determining the cost of your premiums. Considering that car insurance rates are based on risk, the further you drive, the higher the chances of getting into an accident and filing a claim.
Hence, if your annual mileage is higher than average, then you should expect your USAA car insurance premiums to be on the higher side.
If you are a low-mileage driver and under the age of 29, you will qualify for the company’s annual mileage discount.
Also, if you are driving less or your insured car is currently stored since you are currently deployed, then you may be eligible for the vehicle storage discount.
Your USAA car insurance premiums will also depend on the number of coverages that you have and the limits you’ve chosen.
As you may expect, the more coverage you have, the higher your premiums will be. Also, if you opt for higher limits, then your premiums will also go up, as opposed to someone who sticks with minimum state requirements.
It’s important to note that different states have different requirements when it comes to the type of car insurance that you should have and the minimum liability amount you should carry.
For instance, 12 states require you to carry PIP coverage. And this will significantly increase your USAA car insurance premiums.
Unlike other insurance companies, USAA doesn’t use credit score as a rating factor. Also, night parking or vehicle financing will not push your rates up.
Does USAA Offer Car Insurance Discounts?
When it comes to car insurance discounts, USAA offers pretty much what you will find elsewhere.
However, it also has some special discounts, designed to help military families save money on car insurance premiums while dealing with the challenging nature of their jobs. Here are some of the car insurance discounts that USAA offers:
Safe Driver Discount
USAA offers its auto insurance policyholders a discount if they maintain a clean driving record.
So, if you have been accident-free for 5 consecutive years, then USAA will give you this discount.
Defensive Driving Class Discount
Just like other auto insurers, USAA provides a discount to its policyholders who undertake a defensive driving class.
Also, drivers below the age of 21 qualify for a discount on their USAA car insurance policy if they complete a basic driver training course.
Good Student Discount
Students who consistently earn high grades in high school or college may also qualify for USAA car insurance discounts.
To earn this discount, you will need to score a GPA of at least 3.0 or be in the upper 20% in your class during an exam.
New Vehicle Discount
Insuring your car through USAA will also earn a new vehicle discount, as long as the car is not more than 3 years old.
Also, if your vehicle is equipped with anti-theft devices, you may qualify for a discount.
Insuring more than one car through USAA will earn you a discount on your USAA car insurance policy. For example, if you are married, insuring both your cars through USAA will earn you discounts.
Furthermore, bundling your car and property insurance will also earn you a discount of up to 10%.
Annual Mileage Discount
USAA will check your annual mileage when determining your car insurance rates. If you are a low-mileage driver, then you can qualify for a mileage discount. The annual mileage discount is only available to people over the age of 29.
Vehicle Storage Discount
If you are deployed or you are not driving your insured car for any reason, USAA can give you a discount of up to 60% on your car insurance policy.
Also, if you are garaging your vehicle on a military installation, you can earn a discount of up to 10% on your USAA comprehensive coverage.
If your parents are USAA policyholders, you will get a 10% discount on your car policy if you opt to insure your car through USAA. You will also receive additional discounts down the road if you continue insuring your car through USAA.
Besides getting a discount, staying accident-free or avoiding filing any claims for 5 consecutive years will qualify you for the company’s accident forgiveness program.
In this program, USAA will not increase your rates if you are involved in a single-car accident.
SafePilot Program Discount
SafePilot is a usage-based program, which monitors your safe driving habits and then awards you discounts depending on the score you earn.
Just like other usage-based programs, this program will monitor the time of day when you drive, where your vehicle is garaged, hard-braking instances, using a phone when driving as well as whether you are the driver or passenger.
For instance, if you frequently drive at night or you use your phone when driving, you should expect a poor score, which translates to a low discount.
Considering the program uses a mobile app, you can easily monitor your score through your smartphone.
SafePilot will give you a discount of up to 20% during your next car insurance renewal. The actual discount will vary from driver to driver, depending on their SafePilot scores. You will also get an extra 5% discount simply for signing up.
Discounts availability, amount, and eligibility vary from driver to driver and from one state to the other.
For example, the driver training discount is not available in North Carolina and Hawaii while the accident forgiveness program is not available in California, Connecticut, Delaware, New York and North Carolina.
USAA Car Insurance Availability
USAA car insurance is currently available in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. However, its rideshare insurance is only available in 37 states.
USAA can also extend its car insurance coverage to its members in select overseas destinations. Also, it can help its members to arrange for overseas insurance, for those deploying outside the U.S.
How Does USAA Car Insurance Compare?
As noted earlier, USAA ranks ahead of most car insurance in almost all areas. From its high customer satisfaction score to its strong financial health, USAA car insurance is one of the best in the industry.
Customer Satisfaction Rating
Considering that USAA’s membership is only reserved for members of the armed forces and select family members, J.D Power doesn’t rank USAA against other insurance companies.
But when in all J.D Power customer satisfaction surveys, USAA ranks higher than most of the other car insurers.
In the most recent survey, USAA earned a customer satisfaction score of 890 out of 1000, which was well above the industry average of 833.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), USAA earned a complaint index ratio of 0.69 in 2019 and 1.0 in 2020, meaning their score is better than the industry average.
According to the latest AM Best Financial Strength Rating, USAA received a score of A++, which is the best in the industry.
With such a high score, it’s a clear indication that USAA will have no problems paying out its members’ claims.
- High customer satisfaction ratings
- Strong financial rating
- Multiple discounts available
- Membership is limited to active duty service members and retired veterans
- Too many restrictions
- Online quotes available to members only
If you are a member of the U.S armed forces, then USAA should be on top of your list if you are shopping for car insurance. With its numerous coverage options and several available discounts, it should not be hard to get a policy that aligns best with your needs. The only problem with USAA is that its insurance products and services are limited to members of the U.S armed forces, retired veterans and their families. So, if you don’t qualify under any of the above groups, then USAA car insurance is not for you.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding