D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: May 13, 2021

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The Lowdown

  • USAA car insurance is available only to active and retired military and their family members
  • USAA’s rates will always be 20-30% cheaper than those of other car insurance companies
  • American Family offers a higher discount for using its driving app than USAA
  • American Family doesn’t have a military or garaging discount

Both American Family and USAA are good car insurance choices, but what is USAA? What does USAA stand for? Is there a catch? Yes, there is.

USAA stands for United Services Automobile Association — which means any branch of the military is eligible. A cheap car insurance policy with this company is available only active and retired military service members and their immediate families.

There are many factors that affect the cost of car insurance. In our American Family vs. USAA car insurance guide, we compare rates by age, driving record, and credit score.

We also compare available discounts and ratings from agencies with a credible and trustworthy view of car insurance companies.

Looking for affordable American Family vs. USAA car insurance quotes? Enter your ZIP code to start comparing quotes from multiple companies in your area.

Is American Family car insurance or USAA car insurance cheaper based on age?

The more we drive and the longer we drive, the safer and more aware we become when behind the wheel. For this reason, American Family vs. USAA car insurance companies consider age to be one of the most important factors in quoting your American Family vs. USAA car insurance rates.

In most states, it’s legal to base car insurance rates on marital status and gender; however, some have banned this practice. Is it easier to find affordable American Family car insurance or affordable USAA car insurance?

Let’s compare American Family insurance and USAA insurance rates based on age, gender, and marital status.

American Family vs. USAA Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Age, Gender, and Marital Status
DemographicAmerican Family Average Annual RatesUSAA Average Annual Rates
Single 17-year-old female$5,997$4,808
Single 17-year-old male$8,131$5,386
Single 25-year-old female$2,289$1,989
Single 25-year-old male$2,695$2,126
Married 35-year-old female$2,203$1,551
Married 35-year-old male$2,224$1,540
Married 60-year-old female$1,993$1,450
Married 60-year-old male$2,014$1,449
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Generally, you can expect USAA car insurance rates to be about 25 to 30% cheaper than most other car insurance companies.

Car insurance for teen drivers will always be expensive. Why? They have limited experience behind the wheel and their brains are still developing — they don’t always make the best choices.

American Family car insurance rates for teens are around 30% higher than the rates for drivers older than 25.

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Is American Family car insurance or USAA car insurance cheaper based on driving record?

Speeding tickets, accidents, or DUIs on your driving record will raise your car insurance rates no matter what company you pick. Any of these infractions on your record will cause insurers to view you as a higher risk.

American Family vs. USAA Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record
InfractionAmerican Family Average Annual RatesUSAA Average Annual Rates
Clean record$2,694$1,934
With one speeding violation$3,026$2,193
With one accident$3,723$2,516
With one DUI$4,330$3,506
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When it comes to rates by driving record, USAA car insurance quotes are about half the cost of American Family car insurance quotes.

However, USAA takes accidents and DUIs much more seriously. Rates with USAA will increase 30 to 81% if you are in an accident or get a DUI while carrying a policy.

Rates with American Family will increase 12 to 61% if you are in an accident or get a DUI while carrying a policy.

Is American Family car insurance or USAA car insurance cheaper based on credit score?

If you experience some type of financial trauma such as incurring medical debt or going through a divorce, your good credit score can drop in a matter of months.

In most states, it’s legal for car insurance companies to factor in your credit score when determining your rates; however, some are banning this practice along with factoring in gender and marital status.

Car insurance companies justify using your credit score to determine your rates based on the assumption that those with higher credit scores are more responsible and overall safer drivers less likely to file a claim.

Let’s take a look at how American Family and USAA set rates for drivers with different credit scores.

American Family vs. USAA Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Credit History
Credit HistoryAmerican Family Average Annual RatesUSAA Average Annual Rates
Good Credit (670-739)$2,692$1,821
Fair Credit Score (580-669)$3,170$2,220
Poor Credit Score (300-579)$4,468$3,691
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Again, USAA will usually have the cheapest insurance rates compared to other car insurance companies.

Rates with American Family will increase 18 to 66% if your credit score drops significantly while carrying a policy.

Rates with USAA will more than double if your credit score drops significantly while carrying a policy.

Check your local car insurance laws before choosing a policy. It may be that basing car insurance rates on gender, marital status, and/or credit score has been outlawed in your state.

Does American Family or USAA have better car insurance discounts?

If you have a bad driving record or low credit score, getting good discounts can offset your high rates.

USAA has more discounts than American Family based on our records, but it never hurts to ask to make sure you’re taking advantage of as many discounts as possible.

American Family vs. USAA Car Insurance Discounts
DiscountsAmerican FamilyUSAA
Adaptive Cruise Controln/an/a
Adaptive Headlightsn/an/a
Anti-lock Brakesyesn/a
Anti-Theftyesn/a
Claim Freeyes12
Continuous Coverageyesn/a
Daytime Running Lightsn/an/a
Defensive Driver103
Distant Studentn/an/a
Driver's Edn/a3
Driving Device/App405
Early Signingn/a12
Electronic Stability Controln/an/a
Emergency Deploymentyesn/a
Engaged Coupleyesn/a
Family Legacyyes10
Family Planyesn/a
Farm Vehicleyesn/a
Fast 5yesn/a
Federal Employeeyesn/a
Forward Collision Warningn/an/a
Full Paymentn/an/a
Further Educationyesn/a
Garaging/Storingyes90
Good Creditn/an/a
Good Studentn/a3
Green Vehiclen/an/a
Homeowneryesn/a
Lane Departure Warningn/an/a
Life Insurancen/an/a
Low Mileagen/an/a
Loyaltyyesn/a
Marriedn/an/a
Membership/Groupn/an/a
Militaryyesn/a
Military Garagingyes15
Multiple Driversn/an/a
Multiple Policiesn/an/a
Multiple Vehiclesn/an/a
New Addressn/an/a
New Customer/New Plann/an/a
New Graduateyesn/a
Newer Vehicleyes12
Newly Licensedn/an/a
Newlywedsn/an/a
Non-Smoker/Non-Drinkern/an/a
Occasional Operatorn/an/a
Occupationn/an/a
On Time Paymentsn/an/a
Online Shoppern/an/a
Paperless Documentsn/an/a
Paperless/Auto Billingn/a3
Passive Restraint30n/a
Recent Retireesyesn/a
Renteryesn/a
Roadside Assistanceyesn/a
Safe Drivern/a12
Seat Belt Usen/an/a
Senior Drivern/an/a
Stable Residenceyesn/a
Students & Alumnin/an/a
Switching Providern/an/a
Utility Vehiclen/an/a
Vehicle Recoveryyesn/a
VIN Etchingyesn/a
Volunteeryesn/a
Young Drivern/a$75
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The American Family car insurance company offers discounts of 10% to 40% for taking defensive driver training, having airbags, and using the company’s driving device or app.

American Family and USAA both offer up to a 20% discount for using the driving app or driving device.

The USAA car insurance company may offer fewer discounts, but the ones they do offer are pretty good. You can save 10% to 12% by being a family legacy, signing early, driving a newer vehicle, being claim-free, and being a safe driver.

And, with USAA, if you are an active military member and get deployed, you will get a 90% discount for garaging your vehicle while you’re away.

Our records show that American Family doesn’t have a military or garaging discount, but it still pays to get a quote because car insurance companies are offering new discounts daily to stay competitive in the market.

What about USAA vs. American Family home insurance? You may get an additional discount for bundling your car insurance with American Family home insurance or USAA home insurance.

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Does American Family or USAA have better car insurance mobile apps?

Usage-based car insurance has become a hot trend in the car insurance industry in the last decade.

All of the best car insurance companies have a driving app for your mobile phone or a device that can be installed into your vehicle to evaluate your driving in exchange for a discount.

A more general app is also offered by most major car insurance providers to allow you to access your policy, make adjustments, and pay your bill. But, before you make adjustments to your policy on the app, make sure you understand the different types of car insurance coverage.

If you don’t understand, learn the elements and terms to help you understand your policy.

How do American Family and USAA car insurance compare in financial strength and customer satisfaction?

Purchasing car insurance is an important financial responsibility, so you want to make sure you’re selecting the right company that will be there for you when you need it most.

A company’s financial strength, customer satisfaction with the claims process, and the number of customer complaints should be reviewed prior to making your decision.

The following three agencies provide insight into these factors:

A.M. Best scores companies based on their ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations, such as balancing premiums collected and claims paid. The highest score A.M. Best awards is Superior A++.

Consumer Reports collects annual data from its subscribers regarding customer satisfaction with the claims process, step by step. In its 2017 survey, 27 insurance companies were rated, and scores ranged from 86 to 96.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) calculates a complaint ratio based on the total number of customers vs. the total number of complaints. In 2017, the national average complaint ratio was one. The lower the ratio, the better.

American Family vs. USAA Company Ratings
Rating AgencyAmerican FamilyUSAA
AM Best RatingAA++
Consumer Reports8995
NAIC Company Complaint Ratio0.790.74
NAIC Total Complaints73296
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A.M. Best awarded American Family an excellent rating, but USAA received the highest possible rating.

The two companies are also highly competitive when it comes to customer complaint ratio. Both are below one, which is a good sign for customer satisfaction.

Also, USAA has a much higher score than American Family from Consumer Reports, indicating that customer satisfaction with the claims process is much stronger with USAA.

Before you buy American Family vs. USAA car insurance, do your research. Googling “car insurance near me” will get you started. you can always use our FREE comparison tool to compare car insurance quotes in your area.