USAA is a full services financial company offering various insurance, banking and investment products to military members and their families.

They started solely as an auto insurance company. USAA stands for United Services Automobile Association. They were founded way back in 1922 when 25 American Army officers began the group because they couldn't get car insurance. At the time, the insurance companies believed that as military officers, they were a high-risk group.

So, these 25 officers created USAA so that they and other military members could get adequate coverage.

If you’re thinking about getting insurance with USAA and have questions about USAA eligibility, we’ve got answers.

Who can get USAA insurance?

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

But to get a little more specific, along with enlisted personnel of the U.S. military, you can be a retired or honorably discharged member of the military.

If you're an adult child of a parent who is a USAA member, you can also become a member.

If you are a widow or widower of a former USAA member, you can also get it.

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?

Quite a few. Let's work our way through them.

Discounts

There are many, though generally, the discounts are similar to what you would find with other car insurance policies.

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 rep. 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 - possibly up to 20%, 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.

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 chip away at 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.

Other USAA perks

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.

In addition to perks like accident forgiveness commonly offered by insurance companies, USAA offers perks that are specifically catered to members of the military. For instance, USAA understands that if you're deployed, you will have to store your car somewhere. They offer a discount of up to 60% when you store an insured car.

Do you have an adult son or daughter looking for insurance? And that kid wasn't in the military? That's okay. Your kids can get a USAA car insurance policy - and if that happens, you could save up to 10% on your own policy.

And are you parking your vehicle in a garage on a military base? You can save up to 15% on comprehensive coverage.

USAA members also get many discounts from retail partners, such as saving 25% off of FTD Flowers orders, 36% off FedEx Shipping and steep discounts at fitness centers. You also get access to USAA's MemberShop, a program that partners with over 900 brands (including Apple, Home Depot and Staples), and 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?

It isn't hard. You can pretty much do it in three steps.

Comparison shop

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 insurance needs.

Request a Quote

You can request a quote from the website or call the website 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

Can I use any USAA products and services if I am not a USAA member?

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.

Am I eligible to join USAA if my father was a veteran?

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

What is USAA membership eligibility based on?

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

The final word on USAA eligibility

USAA is an insurance company that exclusively sells insurance to active and former military members and eligible family members.

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.