United Services Automobile Association (USAA) may be the right insurance provider for you if you or your immediate family serve in the military, as it can offer you additional life insurance during your military career that most insurers simply won't provide. They received the Customer Experience Index Award of Excellence from Forrester Research in 2013, which says something about their customer service. USAA membership is open to U.S. military service members, veterans who have honorably served and their eligible family members. And while they provide services to those serving in the military, USAA is not a military or government agency. Here, I'll take a look at the unique features and insurances provided by USAA and some of the ways you can save money on their policies.

Features We Like

Report a claim online. You can report a claim for your vehicle or home insurance directly online, at any time.

Manage your claims online. By using their online claims center, you can track the status of your claims at any time.

Support community. USAA members (policyholders) benefit from an online support community made up of fellow Army personnel and their families.

Types Of Coverage

Term life insurance. The Military Protection Plus plan provides initial life insurance coverage of up to $250,000 and is a solid addition to your Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). It also provides a one-time payout of up to $25,000 if you are severely injured in the line of duty. Your premiums remain the same throughout the term. Your benefit will be paid out even if you are killed in action. You can easily transition to whole life insurance and raise your benefit to replace the SGLI insurance that you lose upon completing your service - and you can do this without taking a medical exam.

Whole life insurance provides a benefit to the person or entity you choose, in the event of your death. One thing I like about their whole life insurance is that you can raise the benefit (along with your premiums) up to 6 times to a maximum of $1 million coverage, if you aren't content with the $100,000 standard benefit. Unlike other life insurance policies where the premiums get higher or lower over time, USAA charges a fixed premium. While this may not always suit your situation, it does make things simple.

Combination life insurance combines a term life policy with a whole life policy. This is the most expensive option, but you also get a lot more coverage as you'll have the additional term life insurance coverage (up to $250,000) during your active years, and still enjoy whole life insurance coverage (at least $100,000) when you retire from service.

Universal life insurance. The life of a service member isn't always predictable, and you may prefer to take out this more flexible life insurance which lets you adapt your premium payments to fit your financial situation. The interest you earn on your equity gets higher as your policy's value grows, up to a maximum of 5.10% variable for equity of $100,000 or more.

Car insurance. You can save 15% on your comprehensive insurance premiums if your store your car in a military base (in most states). Other ways to save on USAA premiums include:

  • Low annual mileage. Save up to 24% if your car is stored for long periods.
  • Install anti-theft devices and save up to 25%.
  • Get a car with airbags and save from 6%-9%.
  • Take one or more safe driving courses and you could save an additional 5%.

Motorcycle insurance. As well as liability insurance, this insurer offers optional coverage for your transport trailer (up to $10,000) and custom bike parts and equipment (up to $30,000). This can come in handy if a wheelie-gone-wrong leaves your custom chopper looking like trash. Since premiums are based on your state's riding season, you could come off pretty cheap if you live in the cold north, and still get year round coverage. If you take an eligible safe driving course, you could save an additional 5% on premiums. Coverage is also available for ATVs and Trikes.

Boat insurance offers liability coverage and insurance against physical damage to your boat. You can save on this insurance by:

  • Getting boat safety training.
  • Insuring more than one watercraft (boat or jet ski).
  • Proving that you have experience in boating.

Classic car insurance. One of the nice things about their classic car insurance is that you can insure your car no matter what year it was built or what kind of car it is. If it's a collector's item to you, you can insure it. Many other insurers will only provide coverage for cars which they decide are classic cars. With USAA, as long as long as the car is driven on a limited basis, doesn't take part in races and is stored in a locked garage, it can qualify for this coverage. You set the benefit that will be paid out, and pay premiums to match. You choose the mileage for which you'll be covered, and if you get another qualifying car it will be covered for 30 days (up to $25,000) at no extra cost.

Other vehicle insurance offered by USAA includes motorhome insurance and aviation insurance. There aren't that many insurers that offer aviation insurance, and USAA can help you find the best solution for both leisure and business aviation coverage.

Renter's insurance offers replacement cost coverage - this can cover up to the full price you paid for your items if they get stolen. With some policies, renter's insurance will only cover the cost of replacing the stolen goods (even if prices have dropped), so make sure this is specified when taking out your renter's insurance. I would advise you to get coverage for the full price you paid for items, as this will reimburse your real financial losses. Be sure to keep receipts as proof of the price you paid. Coverage offered in USAA's renter's insurance includes flood insurance, earthquake insurance and ID theft insurance. You don't get this additional coverage with most other insurers.

Flood insurance policies. Like many other insurers, USAA offers flood insurance policies issued by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you live in a flood-prone area you can get a standard risk policy with up to $250,000 in coverage for structural damage, and $100,000 for your belongings (depending on your premium) as long as your district participates in NFIP programs. Be prepared to pay a pretty high premium if you live in an area with a high risk of floods. The preferred risk policy is available to you if you don't live in a designated high-risk area, and offers premiums as low as $414 annually for the same amount of coverage.

Travel insurance coverage offered by USAA gives you vacation cancellation insurance which can save you a lot of money if something comes up that affects your planned holiday. You get full travel refund coverage if you have to cancel a trip due to having your leave revoked, or unexpected deployment.

Umbrella insurance from USAA is pretty standard - it pays out a set benefit if costs are not already covered by your primary liability insurance providers. For full protection, you will have to raise the limit of your primary insurance to the minimum underlying limits, as the umbrella insurance will only kick in once costs reach this limit. For example, if the minimum required underlying limit is $50,000 but your cheaper policy only provides $30,000, you may have to pay the $20,000 difference yourself, before the umbrella insurance kicks in at the $50,000 limit. Make sure to raise your primary insurance coverage if it doesn't meet the bottom-end limit required by your umbrella insurance policy. Umbrella policies from this insurer provide $1 million to $5 million coverage, depending on your policy.

USAA brings a personal approach to the sometimes square insurance business. Their personalized service and community approach makes this a good choice for U.S. military service members, veterans who have honorably served and their eligible family members. The life insurance coverage that they provide to active service members stands alone among major US insurers. If you engage in active military service you should definitely consider this insurance provider.