If you're a veteran or active member of the military, you and your family may be eligible for car insurance discounts. If you are deployed, some auto insurance companies such as Esurance, Geico and USAA will work with you to cancel and reinstate your coverage or offer a reduced premium while you're deployed.

Who's eligible for military auto insurance discounts?

Check with your current insurance company to see if it's offering discounts for military members and their families. Those who are eligible are typically:

  • Active or retired from the military or a member of the National Guard
  • Family members and dependents of an active or retired member of the military or National Guard

The table below shows some of the companies that are offering auto insurance discounts for active/retired members of the military and their families. If you already have car insurance, contact your agent to find out if your insurer offers any military discounts.

Examples of U.S. military auto insurance discounts

Arbella Insurance
  • Up to 10% discount if you're deployed more than 100 miles away from where you keep your vehicle (only available in Massachusetts)
Geico
  • Up to 15% of your total insurance premium for active/retired members of the military or National Guard
  • Emergency Deployment Discount if deployed into an imminent-danger pay area
Nationwide
  • Members of VetFriends.com may be eligible for a discount
USAA
  • Up to 15% discount on comprehensive coverage when you store your car on base
  • Up to 10% if you start your own policy (if you were previously on your parent's policy for a minimum of three years)
  • Up to 60% if you put your car in storage while deployed

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Military auto insurance and deployment

Discounts aren't the only consideration when you're looking for the best auto insurance for military members. You'll also want to think about deployment. Some companies might require you to keep your coverage active while you're deployed. Other insurance companies, such as Esurance, will let you cancel (and later reinstate) your coverage. This allows military members on deployment to avoid any penalties or change in rates for gaps in coverage. Some policies may allow you to remove drivers from your policy while they're on deployment.

If you're going to store your vehicle and cancel your insurance policy while you're deployed, there may be additional steps you need to take, depending on your state. You might need to:

  • Get an affidavit of non-use. Contact your DMV. The affidavit allows drivers to legally own an uninsured vehicle.
  • Notify the DMV of your deployment. Most states can make arrangements so your license and registration don't expire while you're deployed.
  • Move your car to an off-street location. If your car isn't registered, you can't legally park it on public streets. Move your car to a driveway, garage or storage facility.

If you are deployed and you're storing your vehicle for more than 30 days, it's a good idea to:

  • Find secure storage. If possible, store your car in an enclosed and locked facility.
  • Protect your car from the elements. If you can't store your car inside, protect it with a weatherproof cover.
  • Top off your gas tank. This prevents moisture from building up inside the fuel tank and keeps the seals from drying out.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer. This prevents ethanol buildup and protects the engine from gum, varnish, rust and gas deterioration.
  • Wash your car. Water stains and bird droppings can damage the paint. Clean the wheels and undersides of mud, grease and tar.
  • Change the oil. If you're storing your car for more than 30 days, clean oil will help prevent used engine oil contaminants from damaging your engine.
  • Release the parking brake. If the brake pads make contact with the rotors for too long, they could fuse. Place a tire stopper or "chock" to keep the car from moving.
  • Prevent flat spots. Tires can develop flat spots if the vehicle is left unmoved for too long. Consider taking the tires off and putting the car on jack stands at all four corners.
  • Keep the battery charged. If you can, have someone start the car every two weeks and drive it for about 15 minutes. Ask your insurance agent if this person needs to be listed on your policy. If you canceled your insurance while you're on deployment, it's not legal to take it out on the road. You may want to purchase a battery tender which plugs into a wall outlet or disconnect the negative battery cable.
  • Beware of critters. Cover any gaps where animals could get into your car (just be sure to remove them when you drive it again). You may also want to spread mothballs or cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil around the car (the smell is said to drive mice away).

When you're ready to drive your car again, contact your insurance company before taking it out on the road. Once you've verified the vehicle has coverage again, it's a good idea to:

  • Check under the hood. Look for any evidence of rodents: chewed wires, belts, hoses or nests. If you covered the muffler or air intake, remove the cover before starting your car.
  • Check the windshield wipers. Make sure the rubber isn't cracked or brittle.
  • Check the tires. Inflate the tires to the proper pressure (specifications are usually found on the tire's sidewalls).
  • Check the brakes. Rust may have built up on the rotors if it's been stored for a long time and will typically go away after driving it for a short time. You may want to have a mechanic look at the brakes to make sure it's safe to drive.
  • Check fluids. Make sure there are no leaks and all fluids are at proper levels.
  • Reconnect the battery. If you disconnected the battery, make sure the terminals are clean before reconnecting it.
  • Wash your vehicle. Remove any dirt or debris that might have built up while the car was stored.
  • Take your vehicle to a mechanic. If the car hasn't been driven in a while, you may want to have a mechanic look it over in case there are any repairs that need to be done.
  • Get your state inspection. If your state requires inspections, it may have expired while you were gone.