If you've recently returned from an active tour of duty, you may be eager to jump back into civilian life stateside. This can often mean renewing (or getting) insurance policies on your personal possessions and vehicle. However, if you don't already have an established relationship with an insurance company, you may find the array of options available dizzying and overwhelming. What can you do to fully protect yourself while keeping your costs down? Read on to learn more about your insurance options and what you can do as a military veteran to reduce the price of your insurance.
What insurance do you need as a recently-returned military veteran?
As a veteran, your healthcare needs should be fully covered by Tricare, the federal government's military health insurance policy. Active duty members of the military receive automatic coverage through Tricare Prime, while those who have retired or been released from active duty may choose between Tricare Prime, Tricare Extra, and Tricare Standard. Tricare Standard operates much like a PPO policy, requiring you to pay a small copay for each doctor's visit or prescription medication, but allowing you the freedom to see just about any doctor available (whether in or out of network). Tricare Extra allows you to see in-network providers to pay a lower copayment, and (like Tricare Standard) offers coverage for your entire family. Tricare Prime is generally your least expensive option but is a bit more restrictive when it comes to the physicians you see. If you're not satisfied with your Tricare Prime coverage upon your return to the U.S., you may opt to switch to one of the other plans to give you more freedom in your healthcare providers.
In addition to health insurance, you'll want to purchase homeowner's or renter's insurance to cover your personal belongings -- especially if these items have been stored in a parent or friend's basement and must be moved to your new home. Renter's insurance will pay to replace any belongings that are damaged or destroyed during a move, as well as cover any damage to these items once you've settled into your new place. When selecting a renter's insurance policy, it's important to determine whether this policy covers actual or replacement value. "Actual value" policies are often less expensive than other alternatives, but will only pay you the depreciated value of any items, rather than the cost you'll pay to replace them.
Finally, you're likely to need car insurance. Even if you don't yet have your own vehicle, purchasing an auto insurance policy now can help protect you against liability if you're involved in an accident while driving another person's vehicle and can allow you to qualify for lower "loyalty" rates once you've established a brief history with a single auto insurer.
What military discounts are available on your various insurance policies?
Many young people just out of high school or college may find themselves paying high insurance rates due to their lack of credit history. Although having no debt is a commendable achievement for any young adult, a debt-free report can leave the credit bureaus without enough information to even calculate a credit score. Being in the military can compound this issue -- if you've spent most of the last few years stationed in another country, you likely haven't had much time to take on consumer debt.
Fortunately, the military discounts available for your renter's and auto insurance policies should eliminate any surcharge that may be imposed due to a lack of credit history, as well as provide you with insurance at an even lower cost than available for civilians. Members of the military are considered a good credit risk by most insurers, making it simple for you to get discounts that members of the general public can't access.