Before you buy any insurance, make sure to ask the agent specific questions about how the company handles issues related to military deployment. Each company has its own way of doing things. Compare prices and the level of service from a few different insurance providers. By shopping around, you might find an insurer that specializes in serving service members.
Before you leave for your military deployment, check with your agent about your policy renewal date and payment terms. You want to ensure that your coverage stays active during your deployment. If needed, you might be able to renew your policy early or set up automated bank payments for your premiums. Some insurance companies may also let you suspend certain coverage while you're deployed.
To help military members better understand their insurance needs, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers tips and advice on home and auto insurance.
Many homeowners policies have a "vacancy clause" that may be triggered if you are deployed for an extended period of time and your family has moved to a new location. Such policies might not pay claims if your house is vacant for 60 days or more. A house is considered vacant if there are no occupants and it is unfurnished, while a house is considered unoccupied when it is furnished, but there are no occupants. Some companies offer an endorsement that specifically allows coverage for your house to continue, even if it is vacant for an extended period of time. Consult with your insurance company to learn how it defines "vacancy" and whether the claims for a vacant house will be paid.
It is a good idea to review your homeowners' policy with your agent before you leave for military duty. Doing so could help you avoid a dispute in the future. Also, make sure your policy limits are sufficient to cover your home and your personal property at today’s costs. Consider increasing your coverage if you have made additions or improvements to your property.
While homeowners' and renters' insurance policies typically cover personal property that you take with you while traveling, most policies exclude damages caused directly or indirectly by acts of war. The military generally will not pay to repair or replace property that is damaged or lost in military housing or in a war zone. Talk to your agent about whether personal items that you take with you during your deployment will be covered if they are lost, stolen, or damaged.
If you will be deployed for an extended period of time and no one will be driving your vehicle, you may be able to suspend some of your auto insurance coverage to save on premium payments. Not all states – or insurance companies – allow for coverage to be suspended.
If you want to suspend auto coverage, contact your agent and state insurance department for the specific laws and policy limitations applicable in your state. You may want to ask whether the following types of coverage can be suspended while you are deployed: liability, collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist, medical payments, and personal injury protection (PIP).
If your state mandates automobile insurance coverage, you may need to file an affidavit of non-use with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to avoid being fined for failure to maintain insurance. If you suspend coverage, you may not be able to recover money for damage to your vehicle due to weather (i.e. hail or tornado damage), Acts of God (i.e. earthquake or flood), or acts by another individual, unless you keep the coverage known either as "comprehensive" or "other than collision" in force (i.e. vandalism or hit-and-run).