If you’re one of the 2.4 million military personnel serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, you qualify to become a member of USAA, which continually provides outstanding customer service and affordable insurance rates to its constituency. It’s a full services financial company offering various insurance, banking and investment products to military members and their families.

USAA eligibility

USAA, which stands for United Services Automobile Association, started as an auto insurance company and was founded in 1922 when 25 American Army officers began the company because they couldn't get car insurance.

At the time, insurance companies considered military officers a high-risk group so they founded USAA so that they and other military members could get adequate insurance coverage.

If you’re thinking about getting insurance with USAA and wondering how to qualify for USAA insurance, whether it’s only for the military and what the requirements and qualifications are, we’ve got the answers.

Key Highlights
  • USAA insurance is for military members and their families including spouses, children, step-children and widows.
  • USAA offers several discounts for auto insurance, such as for a good driving record, defensive driving/driver training course, good student discount, bundled/stacked discounts, breaks for newer vehicles, driving less, multi-vehicles and anti-theft devices.
  • USAA offers discounts from retail partners, such as FTD Flowers orders, FedEx shipping, fitness center discounts, prescription drug discounts through GoodRx and TurboTax tax prep software.
  • USAA has a stellar mobile banking app and a telematics app that tracks your driving habits and can provide a discount on your auto insurance.

Who can get USAA insurance?

USAA offers insurance for members of the military and their immediate family members.

Along with enlisted personnel of the U.S. military, which includes those who are on active duty, or are part of the guard or reserve, you can be a retired or honorably discharged member of the military.

Here are some folks who qualify for USAA insurance:

  • If you're a pre-commissioned officer, such as a contracted cadet, midshipman enrolled in a service academy in the U.S., or are an officer candidate, you can hop on a USAA insurance plan.
  • If you're an adult child of a parent who is a USAA member you can become a member.
  • If you are a widow or widower of a former USAA member, you can get a USAA insurance policy.
  • If you, your spouse, or a parent is currently employed with USAA, then you are eligible to become a member.

USAA eligibility: Family members

Now, let’s break down some more USAA eligibility criteria.

Stepchildren

If a member remarries, their spouse's children are eligible for USAA membership.

Parents

Though you are eligible for a USAA membership if your parents are members, the same is not true in reverse. If you are a USAA member, eligibility is not extended to your parents.

USAA Tweet on Parents Eligibility

Nieces or nephews

If you are a niece or nephew of a USAA member, you can only become a member if your aunt or uncle is your legal guardian.

Cousins

If your cousin is your guardian and a USAA member, you are eligible for USAA insurance.

Grandchildren

If you are a grandchild of a USAA member, you can become a USAA member in one of two ways: The first is if your grandparent adopts you and they are your legal guardian. The second is if your parents are USAA members because one of their parents was a USAA member. As long as no generations are skipped in terms of USAA membership, one can qualify.

USAA Tweet on Grandchildren Eligibility

Girlfriends, parents, siblings and in-laws

Girlfriend, parents of USAA members, siblings and in-laws are not eligible to join.

How does USAA verify eligibility?

We would love to tell you that all you have to do is call or write USAA, “I’m in the military,” or, “I was in the military,” and USAA would say, “We’re good.”

But, understandably, the company requires proof. They’ll ask you to provide a copy of military documents proving that you’re in the military and a copy of your government-issued I.D. Or you can offer proof that a family member was in the military – or that you used to be in the military.

For instance, you could provide the long version of the D.D. Form 214, which shows that you were released or discharged from active duty.

What car insurance discounts and other perks does USAA offer its members?

When it comes to lowering your car insurance premiums, USAA offers quite a few ways. Let's take a look, shall we?

Auto Insurance Discounts

USAA offers many discounts for car insurance, which are similar to what you would find with other insurance companies.

There's a good driving record discount:

If you maintain a good driving record for more than five years, you'll be eligible for USAA's "safe driver" discount. Alas, it isn't available in every state, but if you can get it, you may save up to 30% on your insurance.

You can get a defensive driving discount:

If you take an approved course, you can get a "defensive driving" discount. Unfortunately, USAA can't say how much you can save unless you talk to your customer service agent. It depends on what state you live in.

You can get a discount for taking a basic driving training course:

Drivers younger than 21 who take an approved basic driving training course can get a discount, which can be up to 30% if you live in a state that's eligible for USAA's safe driving program, SafePilot.

You can get a discount for being a good student:

You can get a "good student" discount for high school and college students maintaining good grades. As usual, talk to your customer rep, but most companies will discount prices by 10%-15% for good grades. This is available in most states (except for HI and NC.)

Stack discounts:

USAA encourages discounts, so you can keep making that premium lower and lower. Will you be able to get enough discounts to bring your premium to zero? Well, no, but there are a lot of opportunities to bump down that monthly premium.

Bundle discounts:

If you already have homeowners or renters insurance with USAA, and you add auto insurance, you'll get up to 10% off your homeowners or renters insurance.

Multi-vehicle discounts:

Insure more than one of your rides through USAA, and you could be eligible for a lower rate on your premium.

Newer vehicle discounts:

If your car is not older than three years, you might be able to get a bit of a discount on your insurance.

Anti-theft devices discount:

Do you have an alarm system, wheel lock, or GPS-based vehicle recovery system, that added layer of protection could equate to a discount. This isn't available in all states and might require a yearly certification. Learn about the top 11 anti-theft devices that can help you get a discount.

Storing your car discount:

If you're deployed or simply don't use your car very often, keeping it in storage means you aren't driving it very often. In turn, this lowers the risk and could also mean a chunk of your insurance premium shaved off—we're talking up to 60% off.

Make sure to call USAA if your vehicle is stowed away while you're on a military deployment as that can save you money as well.

Driving less discount:

If you're putting fewer miles on your car each year, it could mean a less-expensive premium. The discount you're eligible for depends on how many miles you're driving.

Loyal member discount:

Have you been a USAA member for quite some time, or your family has been members for generations? If so, you might be able to receive a lower premium.

Accident forgiveness:

It's an optional feature, and it's free after five years of paying for it. But your rates won't go up if you're in an accident. Of course, you have to keep in mind that you have to pay for the accident forgiveness for five years.

Some people feel "accident forgiveness" is a valuable perk; others think it is not.

Other USAA perks

Let's say you added a teen driver to your policy. Once they reach 18 and are adults, they can hop on their own USAA car insurance policy – and if that happens, they could save up to 10% on their own policy.

USAA members also get many discounts from retail partners, such as car rental discounts of up to 25%, travel deals, shopping rewards and 24/7 protection from ADT. So, if you shop through their website, you'll pay less than you would find in the brick and mortar locations.

How do I join USAA and buy insurance?

If you're eligible, the beauty of being a USAA isn't hard. You can pretty much do it in three simple steps.

Shop around

Look, you can go straight to the next step, but even if you love the idea of becoming a USAA member, you should comparison shop to be sure it’s the right choice for your budget and insurance needs.

Request a quote

You can request a quote from the website, chat with a representative through its online chat feature, or call USAA at 800-531-8722 and talk to an agent. They'll ask you a few questions on the website and then tell you whether you're eligible and how much you'll pay.

Get a USAA membership

Once USAA has established that you're a military member or eligible to be a USAA member, you’ll be alerted and can set up your USAA membership, activate your online account and make your first payment.

Frequently asked questions about USAA eligibility

No. Maybe there's a loophole somewhere that we aren't aware of, but generally, you have to be a member of USAA to use their products and services.

If your mother or father was a USAA member, the USAA membership can be passed on to you as her child. If your parent is deceased and was not a USAA member before their death, you cannot become a USAA member.

If you became a USAA member through marriage, then you can still keep your USAA membership after your divorce. However, you cannot join after the marriage ends unless you fit the eligibility requirements on your own.

To be eligible for USAA membership, you must show proof of military service or a copy of your government-issued identification.

USAA eligibility: not what you might think

While you do have to meet USAA eligibility criteria to join, what many people might not be aware of is that if you have a direct relationship to someone who served in the military, whether it's a grandfather, mom or great-grandparent, you might be eligible to join.

You also can join if you are a widow, are enrolled in a U.S. military school and retain membership as a divorced person.

Plus, under special rules, you might be able to join if you are an extended family member. By knowing the rules for USAA eligibility, you can get your own car insurance policy, and enjoy the perks and discounts that come with it.

If you meet the USAA eligibility requirements, you’ll enjoy competitive rates, discounts and other perks. If you don’t meet the requirements, don’t worry, there are many other great options for car insurance companies.

Sources:

  1. The Soldiers Project. “What Percentage of Americans Have Served in the Military?” Accessed May 2022.
  2. U.S. National Archives. “National Personnel Records Center: DD Form 214, Discharge Papers and Separation Documents.” Accessed May 2022.
  3. USAA's safe driving program, SafePilot
  4. Why Join USAA - Benefits of Membership