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Car insurance choices when deployed

Question: I’m in the Army and will be deployed overseas.  Should I cancel my full coverage car insurance policy to save money if the car will be stored?

Answer: There are a few choices military members have when being deployed overseas and leaving a vehicle behind. You can:

  • Keep the same car insurance coverage you’ve had
  • Lower your coverages
  • Drop your car insurance coverages altogether

You’ll need to determine which choice is best for your personal situation.  Just remember saving money now by dropping your car insurance could cost you more in the long run, especially if something happens to your vehicle while you are away.   (See “Protect your car, even when deployed.”)

Keep your full coverages

You may plan to keep your vehicle stored, but if there is even the slightest possibility that someone may use it while you’re away you should consider keeping your car insurance policy as is it.

Liability coverage will help protect your assets if the driver causes an accident. Physical damage coverages of collision and comprehensive will protect your car if it’s damaged.

If someone does end up driving your vehicle while you’re deployed, you’ll need to inform your car insurance provider and make certain the person is covered as a driver. 

Even without changing your coverages, you may still be able to get discounts.  For example, a low mileage discount for less annual miles driven.

Lower your coverages

If you want to keep the registration on your vehicle valid, you’ll need to keep liability coverages on the vehicle; however, you can lower the limits to only what is required by the state (unless you have a lease that requires higher liability limits). 

Even if you securely park your vehicle away for your deployment period, there is always the possibility that something could happen to it.  For this reason, you should consider keeping collision and comprehensive as well -- and they will be required if your vehicle is financed or leased. 

Collision would help if another vehicle collided with yours (you never know if an uninsured drunk driver is going to careen off the road and crash into your garage and total your car).  

Comprehensive covers other than collision damage, so it would cover damage from fire, theft, vandalism, windstorms, or other natural events that could strike the location of where the vehicle is kept and damage it.  

Many insurers, such as Geico and USAA, offer a substantial savings (70 to 90 percent) off your premium amount for storage insurance if you’re a military member. 

Lowering your coverages can save you money and let you keep continuous car insurance and registration on your vehicle and thus save you from the hassle of reregistering your vehicle when you return.

Drop car insurance coverage

If your vehicle isn’t financed or leased, then you have the option to drop all of your car insurance coverage during your deployment overseas. However, if you choose to cancel your car insurance policy, then most states require you to go through the trouble of surrendering your registration and then re-registering the car when you return.

Also, your future rates may be increased since many car insurance companies surcharge if you don’t carry continuous car insurance coverage. 

Some insurers will allow a military member to avert a premium hike if you inform it of your deployment beforehand.  Then, when you return and want your policy reinstated, the insurance provider won’t count your time away as a costly gap in coverage.

Even before you’re deployed, you can start looking for ways to save.  Some car insurance companies provide military discounts whether you’re deployed or stationed here in the U.S. Compare car insurance quotes now to find the cheapest rates for now and when you’re away.

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