United Services Automobile Association offers some of the lowest car insurance premiums around right now, but you must be eligible for a membership to take advantage of them. Only current or retired military members and their immediate relatives can join USAA.

This insurance provider is a financial services company that provides banking, insurance, investment and retirement products in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. USAA started in 1922 when 25 Army officers couldn’t get car insurance elsewhere and decided to insure each other.

With a full-featured website and mobile apps, USAA insurance ranks high in customer satisfaction and service ratings and provides welcome additional features like roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement, as well as perks and discounts tailored specifically for military families.

In this article

Although membership is limited, its low rates and strong features helped USAA auto insurance earn the award for “best military perks” in our collection of best car insurance companies. Read on for our full review of USAA car insurance for 2022.

Like

  • Low premiums
  • Highest customer satisfaction ratings
  • Banking services and insurance bundling
  • Special perks for military families

Don’t Like

  • Exclusive membership restrictions
  • No gap insurance
  • Higher than average customer complaints
  • Relatively high cost to add teenage driver

Pros of using USAA

It’s hard to beat the lowest auto insurance rates, and right now USAA has them — at least among major car insurers. Both its full and minimum annual coverage rates are hundreds of dollars less than the industry average, per Bankrate.

Another benefit of USAA is the ability to combine your banking, investments and car insurance in one place. USAA offers a wide range of financial products from checking and savings accounts to IRAs and 529 college funds. USAA can even help finance your car with an auto loan.

USAA can insure any other vehicle you’ve got, from mobile homes, motorcycles and ATVs to boats and airplanes. It will also give you a 10% discount if you bundle home or renter’s insurance.

Cons of using USAA

USAA’s exclusive membership rules are its biggest downside. It’s limited to current US military members, military veterans or their immediate family members.

USAA auto insurance also doesn’t provide gap insurance, which helps pay off your auto loan if your car is totaled or stolen. For those with car loans from USAA, however, a feature called Total Loss Protection can give similar coverage.

Though the standard premiums are low, USAA’s rates for adding teenage drivers to your account are actually higher than competitors, which could end up costing some families more overall.

USAA insurance cost

USAA offers some of the most competitive auto insurance rates on the market right now. At an annual average of $1,209, its full coverage rate for drivers with clean histories is at least $500 less per year than the industry average, per Bankrate. USAA’s minimum coverage per year costs $354, far below the industry baseline of $545.

As mentioned above, be sure to consider the impact of teenage drivers on your monthly bill. It will cost an average of $2,186 more on your overall annual premium to add full coverage for a 16-year-old driver with USAA, compared to $1,241 for Nationwide or $1,897 for Geico.

Progressive premium prices

record USAA average annual full coverage premium National average annual full coverage premium
Clean driving history $1,209 $1,771
One speeding ticket $1,464 $2,138
At-fault accident $1,742 $2,521
Adding a 16-year-old driver $2,186 $2,531

USAA coverage options

Although it doesn’t offer conventional gap insurance, USAA offers all of the other major coverage types generally provided by auto insurers. Here’s a list of its available protections:

  • Bodily injury liability protection: This standard coverage is required by most states. It pays for injuries to others caused by the at-fault policyholder and other drivers listed on the policy.
  • Property damage liability protection: This insurance coverage is required in all US states where insurance is required. It pays for damage inflicted by a policyholder or other insured drivers onto another person’s or organization’s property. That mostly means other cars, but it can also cover things like trees, fences or mailboxes. 
  • Personal injury protection, or PIP: This protection covers medical costs and lost wages of the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car if injury occurs, regardless of fault. It can also cover funeral expenses and essential services like childcare or dog-walking that cannot be carried out due to physical injury. PIP is required in 14 states.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage: This coverage pays for your and your passengers’ medical expenses up to the policy’s limits when an underinsured or uninsured motorist causes an accident. Uninsured motorist property damage is available in some states to help cover repairs to your vehicle if it’s damaged by an uninsured driver.
  • Medical payments: Similar to PIP coverage, this protection pays for the medical costs of the policyholder and their passengers up to the policy limit, regardless of fault. Unlike PIP, medical payments does not cover lost wages or essential services. Med Pay is optional in most states, and required in a few. 
  • Collision coverage: This coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in an accident resulting from a collision between your car and another car or an object.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This coverage pays for damage to your car caused by events other than collisions, such as theft, vandalism, fires or natural disasters.
  • Rental reimbursement: This insurance protection covers the cost of a rental vehicle, if your automobile is totaled or needs repair because of a covered claim.
  • Rideshare coverage: If you drive for a rideshare company, such as Uber or Lyft, there might be gaps in your insurance coverage, such as when you’re waiting for a customer or technically “off the clock.” Rideshare insurance makes sure you’re covered, even when you’re “unmatched.” It’s available in all US states except Hawaii, North Carolina, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina and Virginia.

USAA discounts

USAA’s discounts can help reduce the cost of your auto insurance bill. Unique to USAA is a military installation discount, which offers up to 15% off your premium for storing your vehicle at a military base.

Here’s a list of notable discounts at USAA, though the company does not advertise the value of most of them:

  • Military installation discount: up to 15%
  • Bundling home or renter’s insurance: up to 10%
  • SafePilot enrollment: up to 10%
  • Annual mileage discount
  • Multi-vehicle discount
  • Multi-policy discount
  • Safe driver discount
  • Defensive driving discount
  • Driver training discount
  • Length of membership discount
  • Vehicle storage discount
  • Shopping discounts

Customer satisfaction

USAA is excluded from J.D. Power rankings because its features are not available to all consumers, but its auto insurance ratings for customer satisfaction and claims satisfaction for 2021 were the highest among major car insurers. While average ratings were 880 and 834, respectively, USAA scored 884 for customer satisfaction and 909 for claims satisfaction in the 2021 J.D. Power US Auto Insurance Study.

Complaints

Although USAA scores high in J.D. Power customer surveys, the company also receives a higher than average number of complaints. USAA’s NAIC complaint index rating of 2.21 indicates the company gets more than double the industry’s average.

USAA customer satisfaction and complaint scoring for 2022

A.M. Best A++
J.D. Power Overall Customer Satisfaction 884 out of 1,000
J.D. Power Auto Claims Satisfaction 909 out of 1,000
NAIC Complaint Index 2.21

SafePilot telematics program

Telematics describes systems that monitor driver and automobile behavior over long distances using GPS and on-board diagnostics. Like other auto insurance telematic programs, USAA SafePilot monitors how, where and when you drive your automobile. The company claims that you can save up to 30% — if you drive safely — by registering for the program and using the SafePilot mobile app.

SafePilot tracks data about your automobile usage, including location, time of day, who’s driving, phone calls, braking and the total amount of hours driven. USAA promises not to share any information from SafePilot with any third parties. 

Other USAA features we like

USAA’s free mobile app for iOS and Android lets users pay their insurance bills, review their policies, display or download their insurance cards, file claims or call roadside assistance. The app is also integrated with banking services like checking accounts and retirement services like IRAs.

USAA offers additional roadside assistance benefits that cover tows up to 50 miles, tire changes, jump starts and unlocking for no charge at all. Even if you don’t have roadside assistance included with your USAA policy, you can access these services at reduced rates.

If you’re a good driver who avoids accidents for five years, USAA will automatically enroll you in its accident forgiveness program, meaning that one at-fault accident won’t raise your premium. The program is not available in California, Connecticut, Delaware, New York or North Carolina.

Although USAA doesn’t have conventional gap insurance, it does offer car replacement assistance for an additional price. If your automobile is totaled, the program provides an additional 20% of the vehicle’s cost in the claims settlement to help you buy a new car. 

CNET reviews insurance carriers and products by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria. For auto insurance, we examine average annual premium rates for full coverage, consumer complaints, collision repair scores, the carrier’s financial strength, auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction. Our data comes from a multitude of sources. 

Auto insurance rates come from Bankrate, which gathers data using Quadrant Information Services. We also use both J.D. Power annual surveys that collect data on customer auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction.

Consumer complaints are taken from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which collects consumer complaints across states, indexing complaints on a scale that takes into account the industry average. We collect the financial strength rating of each carrier from the A.M. Best Rating. Lastly, we collected collision repair scores from the Crash Network Insurer Report Card, which collects data from collision repair professionals, including mechanics, to gauge the quality of collision claims service from insurance carriers.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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