All posts by refactor

RE Factor Tactical’s New Marketing Company

We are excited to announce or new marketing business called Clandestine Media Group, LLC.  After seeing some great success in our marketing we decided to create a business entirely devoted to marketing for third party clients.

Clandestine Media Group offers a unique marketing angle on the tactical gear industry.  We offer a number of services to include: photography, videography, SEO and social media management.  If you’re interested in learning more about our services please visit: https://www.clandestinemediagroup.com/about

You can also see us on instagram at @clandestine_media

Vivint Home Security Review

Determining which security system to sign a long-term contract with can be a bit intimidating. That’s why we’ve taken the liberty of reviewing some of the top security providers out there, one at a time—hopefully, making your choice a little easier. Keep reading for our Vivint Home Security Review.

Vivint Security

I can personally attest to Vivint. I had them for 3 years, and the entire time I never could say anything bad about their customer service. If you’re looking for a company that will work with you during a PCS, they will make it easy for you. When I left my duty location, I couldn’t take Vivint with me because they weren’t servicing the area I was going to be living. They let me out of my contract, didn’t charge me any extra fees, and I was a happy customer in the end. It was so easy and the customer service was exceptional.

Learn More

Pros

  • Professional will come to your home and give you a quote—it’s free
  • You also have the option of online quotes, which is simple to navigate
  • Easy to break the contract when PCSing due to orders
  • You can transfer your system from one home to the next
  • They have a no-contract option (if you’re willing to pay up-front costs)

Cons

  • Unlike most companies who have a 3-year contract, Vivint has one of the highest at 5-years
  • Must pay for equipment up front if you don’t want a contract, and it’s expensive

Main Concern with Vivint

“Vivint contracts are too long and too expensive.”

If this is one of your concerns, don’t worry you aren’t alone. You can pay off your contract up-front, by paying for the equipment, in which case you won’t be bound by a contract. Instead, you pay monthly, and when you don’t want to use the system anymore, you don’t have to worry about breaking a contract. However, the equipment can be costly. In this case, you can select the length of your contract by financing and paying a portion of your equipment off, so that you don’t have a 5-year contract. However, if you choose not to pay the equipment off up-front, or pay off a portion, you will be stuck with the 5-year contract.

Make sure you take a look at Vivint’s disclaimers when it comes to contracts. We’ve taken the liberty and listed them below. (We’ve quoted directly from their main website)

Vivint’s Disclaimers

“Minimum $49.99/month services agreement required. Minimum $599.99 equipment purchase may be financed subject to an agreement with one of Vivint’s financing partners. $49 to $199 installation fee applies.

“Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval.

“Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront. Additional equipment may be purchased and financed.

“Financing options require monthly services agreement coterminous with applicable financing agreement (for example $49.99/month for 60 months = total services cost $2,999.40). The system supports up to four cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds.

“Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Offer not available in all states or provinces. Taxes and local permit fees may apply. New Vivint Customers only.”

Also, Vivint has small hubs all over the country. Depending on where you live, you may get different deals, different equipment, and different features. Keep this in mind when making your phone call or when requesting an online quote.

Interested in Vivint’s competitors, read our 7 Best Home Security Companies blog, here.

Vivint Smart Hub

Vivint’s “Smart Hub”, also known as the main panel, is pretty nice. Not only is it a touch screen, revamped from their old system, but it also has an instant two-way talking feature. It also continues working when the power goes out with its backup battery and it’s connected via an encrypted cellular Wifi, so you’re on a secure network.

Vivint Camera

Vivint offers three different cameras, an indoor, outdoor, and doorbell camera. For the most part, their cameras are too different from any other security company out there. The biggest difference, is in your doorbell camera, with a two-way conversation capability. Also, Vivint’s security cameras are wireless, meaning you don’t have to worry about people cutting wires and preventing their detection. If the wireless bit worries you, they tell us it’s monitored under a secure network.

Outdoor Camera

Each of the cameras come with night vision capability, so you know what’s going on, even when the lights are out—they probably work better than the cameras at your local gas station, at least we’d sure hope so.

Ping Indoor Camera

What’s better, when the cameras detect something, you’ll get a notification sent to your smartphone, where you can see the action. And your indoor and outdoor cameras have smart clip capabilities so you can record and go back to watch the clips at a later time if need be.

Doorbell Camera

Oh, is someone at the door? Not only can you see who’s on your doorstep with the doorbell camera, but also you can conduct a two-way conversation. “Hello UPS, you can leave the package at the door,” Meanwhile, you’re still in your pajamas watching old western reruns, until you’re actually ready to get up off the recliner.

Vivint Smart Drive

Prior to the Smart Drive, Vivint had something called the Space Monkey, in case you’re reading this as a prior customer. The drive gives the homeowner the ability to store more than just security videos. In fact, you can store up to 1 TB of materials, including photos or other things you want to be saved. As far as video storage goes, it’s equivalent to having 30-days of 24/7 video recordings.

This is one of the features that stands out amongst other security providers. So, if you want to ability to record what’s going on around your home without having to worry about deleting other recordings after a few hours, Vivint might be a good security company to look into.

Vivint Thermostat

The Vivint Nest or Element Thermostat is a smart thermostat, which you can control with your smartphone. And if your hands are full, try the voice feature and just tell your thermostat what you want it to do. If that’s not cool enough for you, how about the custom notifications? If your thermostat self-adjusts, you’ll get a notification. Or what about when your kid gets up and turns the temperature up to 80? You’ll get a notification saying the temperature is set too high, and even too cold, meaning you can keep from worrying about the temperature dropping so low inside that your pipes burst while you’re gone on Christmas vacation.

Read our comprehensive review of Guardian Protection, one of Vivint’s competitors, here.

Vivint App

Vivint’s app is pretty much just like everyone else’s, in that it controls your smart home features. The app gives you the ability to lock and unlock your door when you aren’t there—in case you wanted to let your friend in while you’re out of town. What it does differently from the rest of the guys, it lets you control your smart home via voice control.

Other Vivint Products and Services

Vivint is all about customizing your home security desires. You can pick and choose from a variety of products. If you want less, that’s an option. If you want more, you can do that too. If you want a package, they have it available. All of their products are meant to keep you secure, from fire protection to breaking and entering, Vivint has what you need.

  • Burglary Detection
  • Smart Locks
  • Garage Door Control
  • Smoke Alarm
  • Flood Warning
  • CO Detector
  • Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
  • Playback DVR
  • Doorbell Camera
  • Vivint Smart Home App
  • Sky Control Panel
  • Nest Thermostat
  • Element Thermostat
  • Phillips Hue (Lighting Control)
  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Professional Installation

Remember to keep in mind, depending on where you live, some services and products may not be available.

ADT is Vivint’s number one competitor, read our comprehensive review here.

Vivint Professional Installation

Vivint prides themselves on their professional installation. From personal experience, I can say my installer was knowledgeable, courteous, and quick. For the most part, professional installation is going to happen if you go with Vivint. However, if you forgo the smart home features and decide you want basic security without home automation, you can choose to do a self-install.

Military Families

As mentioned before, Vivint is well aware of your duties to the military. They understand you don’t always have control of where you’ll live, and you most definitely don’t have control of when you’ll have to pack up and go. With that being said, they’ll work with you when your military obligations come up.

If you are PCSing, you have the option of terminating your service without any penalties. If for some reason, your contract is listed in the name of a non-military spouse, they will still consider your military service. You simply need to provide a copy of your orders.

However, if you are getting out of the military, this does not mean you can get out of your contract. They will, however, help you move through their “Movers Program” to help get you set up at your new location.

What Cameras work with Vivint?

Vivint has its own cameras. Their devices work with Amazon Echo, Alexa, and Google Home. They also work with Nest, to give you a thermostat you can control through the Vivint app, which by the way lets you control your smart home, and that smart thermostat with your voice. And if that’s not enough, they’ve partnered with Phillips Hue, to let you take control of your lights through your smart home app. So, while you might be paying more for Vivint overall, you’re also getting more than you do with the other companies, at least from what we can tell.

How to use Vivint Camera Without Service

For some reason, this seems to be one of the most asked questions on the internet when it comes to using Vivint home security, so we’ve decided to address it. However, it’s doesn’t come with the answer you might be seeking. Unfortunately, you cannot use Vivint cameras without service. You also can’t use Vivint cameras with any other security company. According to Vivint’s website, they were built to be used specifically with them and is incapable of working under another company’s supervision. Now, this doesn’t take into account all the people out there who are smarter than me, who might be capable of getting around the system. But, for the rest of us, this just isn’t meant to happen.

If you’re interested in DIY home security, read about one of Vivint’s competitors, LifeSheild, here.

Vivint Phone Number

(877) 676-5856

Vivint Customer Service Number

(801) 377-9111

1-800-216-5232

What is VGLI: Life Insurance after the Military

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be both an exciting and overwhelming feeling, especially if that’s all you’ve known your entire adult life.  Luckily, there are programs upon programs, educational resources, and much more, dedicated to helping you make that transition as smooth as possible. So, while you’re doing your research about life after the military, why not take a look at life insurance too. Let us help you understand the ins and outs of life insurance, by answer some of your biggest questions, starting with: What is VGLI?

Life Insurance after the Military

When you’re getting out of the military, suddenly all the things that made life easier, seem so much more difficult, and now you’re worried about all the basic necessities the military has been giving you. How will I support myself? How will I support my family? Should I go back to school? How do I get health insurance? How do I find a new job? Will I find purpose again? Will I make it in the civilian world? All of these questions are enough to make even the most level headed and prepared individual a little bit queasy, which we can all understand.

With that being said, most of us know that the VA can help us with our healthcare and our education, what you might not know is, they also have an option for life insurance. But that still leaves a lot of questions, such as: do I actually need life insurance coverage?

The answer is, it depends—which we will cover shortly—When you get out of the military, you have 120 days to find new life insurance because this is how long after your separation date that you are covered under SGLI. And up until that point, chances are, you didn’t have any concerns about it because it was just something you signed up for when you joined. But things have changed, you’re getting out and you have to seek things like healthcare and life insurance on your own, which if you joined at 18, right out of high school, you might not know where to start.

Good news is you have options, bad news; you have an overwhelming number of companies to choose from. However, finding life insurance for veterans may come with a little more difficult, which is where VGLI might become beneficial.

What is VGLI

Veterans Group Life Insurance is an option all veterans who were discharged under anything other than dishonorable have an option obtaining. If you used SGLI—which chances are high you did—then you are eligible. If for some reason, you did not have coverage under SGLI, then you would not qualify for VGLI. For veterans that do qualify, when you initially sign-up for coverage, you can only select up to the same amount of coverage you had under SGLI.

For example, let’s say you had $200,000 worth of coverage under SGLI. When you get out of the military, if you elect VGLI for your coverage, you can only get up to $200,000 coverage. However, once 5-years have passed, you can increase your coverage by $25,000, and so on for every 5-years after, for a maximum amount of $400,000.

You also have the option of selecting less coverage under the VGLI plan compared to what you had with SGLI but in increments of $10,000.

Do I need Life Insurance

Unlike health insurance, life insurance is not for everyone, because not everyone needs it, which leads to your question, “Do I need life insurance?” The answer truly depends on you. There may be a point in your life, where it’s a necessity, and then one day you wake up and you simply don’t need the coverage anymore.  

Let’s say, you’re 65, all your bills are paid off and there’s no one depending on you for financial support, then life insurance may not be needed. Remember, life insurance isn’t for you, it’s for your family. If you don’t want your family having to worry about paying off the rest of your house, your car, paying necessary bills, putting food on the table, your kid’s college getting paid off, etc., then having life insurance might be a good idea. If these are things you don’t have to worry about, the life insurance might be pointless.

However, let’s say you’re in great health; you’re 65 but haven’t paid off all your bills. Using VGLI might be a financial burden because it’s considerably more expensive than getting life insurance through someone else. If you’re 70 or older, your premium rate will also increase. But, if you still have bills and your family is still depending on you for support, again, life insurance may be necessary.

Now, let’s say you did your 20 years—maybe more, maybe less—in the military, you got out, you’re 40 years old, have one kid in middle school, two kids in college, you just purchased a new home, and your spouse stays at home as a result of a physical handicap. In a scenario like this, you are the breadwinner, if you were to pass away, your living spouse would not be able to pay the mortgage, keep food on the table, keep your kids in college, or provide other essentials for him or herself and your kid who just started the 6th grade. This isn’t a scenario any of us wants to picture, but it is always a possibility. This is why life insurance is important. If you want to make sure your family is provided for in your death, life insurance is there to make sure that happens.

Should I get VGLI

After you’ve answered the question about needing life insurance, you’re left wondering who to get it from. Should you get coverage under VGLI? The answer again, it depends. Have you sustained considerable health issues as a result of your service or are you in great health? Do you smoke, or no? Are you over 60? How you answer these questions can increase or decrease your monthly payment when it comes to life insurance, and sadly, it can increase your chances of not getting the coverage you need.

However, VGLI can make things a little easier. Let’s say you did sustain considerable health issues while you were serving. With VGLI, as long as you apply for their life insurance within 1 year and 120 days of separation from the military and you were discharged with anything other than dishonorable, you qualify. This coverage is called term life insurance, meaning you can increase or decrease your coverage every 5 years. The only qualification is that you be a qualifying veteran, it doesn’t matter your health. Your age is also the only determining factor when it comes to your monthly premium, not your gender, not your health, not even if you’re a smoker.

Unlike some insurance companies, which require you to get a physical, provide medical documentation and then determine the price based on age, gender, medical history, smoking history, and your physical results, VGLI won’t require a deep look into your lifestyle as much, at least not if you apply within 240 days of separation—after this, you’ll have to answer questions about your health.

Not so sure about life insurance through the VA? Check out some of these top life insurance companies here.

Is VGLI Worth the Price

The price of life insurance can be a reasonable one, especially if you’re young and in good health. But, where you might see a bit of concern, is when you reach 60, at least under VGLI terms, in which case the price may seem completely unreasonable.

Depending on your age and health, the price of life insurance through most providers and VGLI can be competitive. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t find insurance at a lower price. The real advantage comes if you have health issues, you’re a smoker, or you can’t get insured elsewhere. Once you’re over 60 the prices raise considerably, and the competitive part goes out the window, especially if you’re over 75. Again, this is a good choice if you can’t get life insurance elsewhere because of your current health condition. If you can get  $400,00 worth of coverage at 75 years of age for under $1,840/month, then it’s probably a good idea to look elsewhere. Again, make sure you need life insurance, and make sure you need the amount of coverage you’re paying for. If you don’t have $400,000 worth of expenses and no one is relying on you for financial support, then maybe you don’t need $400,000 worth of coverage. Maybe, $10,000 is all you need. So, do the math and elect the amount of coverage that makes sense to you, and then decide if the price is worth it.

Why does the cost of VGLI Increase Drastically at age 75

There are actually a few reasons VGLI increases so drastically, especially at age 75. The main answer is, the likelihood of you passing during your coverage has increased drastically as well. Just as bad health increases your chances of death, so does age. And if an insurance company is expecting to pay out, they’re going to raise the cost of coverage to help ease their own burden. A second reason is that you aren’t required to take a physical exam. Because it’s not a requirement, it means they are covering any and all qualifying veterans, and that means their chances of them paying out, in general, are much higher.

Therefore, if you want a reasonable price on life insurance at an older age, your best option is to go with a provider who requires a physical exam—assuming you’re in good health. This is because they don’t cover just anyone. By covering only people who are in a higher bracket of health, they don’t have to worry about paying out as often, meaning they can afford to offer lower premium rates. So, if you don’t smoke (because smokers pay more) and you aren’t out there doing high-risk activities (because you’ll pay more there too), then an option outside of VGLI might be a better choice.

Below is the list, per the VA of cost per amount of coverage, based on age:

Amount of Insurance Age

29 & Below

Age 30-34 Age 35-39 Age 40-44 Age 45-49 Age 50-54 Age 55-59 Age 60-64 Age 65-69 Age 70-74 Age 75 & Over
$400,000 $32.00 $40.00 $52.00 $68.00 $88.00 $144.00 $268.00 $432.00 $600.00 $920.00 $1,840.00
390,000 31.20 39.00 50.70 66.30 85.80 140.40 261.30 421.20 585.00 897.00 1,794.00
380,000 30.40 38.00 49.40 64.60 83.60 136.80 254.60 410.40 570.00 874.00 1,748.00
370,000 29.60 37.00 48.10 62.90 81.40 133.20 247.90 399.60 555.00 851.00 1,702.00
360,000 28.80 36.00 46.80 61.20 79.20 129.60 241.20 388.80 540.00 828.00 1,656.00
350,000 28.00 35.00 45.50 59.50 77.00 126.00 234.50 378.00 525.00 805.00 1,610.00
340,000 27.20 34.00 44.20 57.80 74.80 122.40 227.80 367.20 510.00 782.00 1,564.00
330,000 26.40 33.00 42.90 56.10 72.60 118.80 221.10 356.40 495.00 759.00 1,518.00
320,000 25.60 32.00 41.60 54.40 70.40 115.20 214.40 345.60 480.00 736.00 1,472.00
310,000 24.80 31.00 40.30 52.70 68.20 111.60 207.70 334.80 465.00 713.00 1,426.00
300,000 24.00 30.00 39.00 51.00 66.00 108.00 201.00 324.00 450.00 690.00 1,380.00
290,000 23.20 29.00 37.70 49.30 63.80 104.40 194.30 313.20 435.00 667.00 1,334.00
280,000 22.40 28.00 36.40 47.60 61.60 100.80 187.60 302.40 420.00 644.00 1,288.00
270,000 21.60 27.00 35.10 45.90 59.40 97.20 180.90 291.60 405.00 621.00 1,242.00
260,000 20.80 26.00 33.80 44.20 57.20 93.60 174.20 280.80 390.00 598.00 1,196.00
250,000 20.00 25.00 32.50 42.50 55.00 90.00 167.50 270.00 375.00 575.00 1,150.00
240,000 19.20 24.00 31.20 40.80 52.80 86.40 160.80 259.20 360.00 552.00 1,104.00
230,000 18.40 23.00 29.90 39.10 50.60 82.80 154.10 248.40 345.00 529.00 1,058.00
220,000 17.60 22.00 28.60 37.40 48.40 79.20 147.40 237.60 330.00 506.00 1,012.00
210,000 16.80 21.00 27.30 35.70 46.20 75.60 140.70 226.80 315.00 483.00 966.00
200,000 16.00 20.00 26.00 34.00 44.00 72.00 134.00 216.00 300.00 460.00 920.00
190,000 15.20 19.00 24.70 32.30 41.80 68.40 127.30 205.20 285.00 437.00 874.00
180,000 14.40 18.00 23.40 30.60 39.60 64.80 120.60 194.40 270.00 414.00 828.00
170,000 13.60 17.00 22.10 28.90 37.40 61.20 113.90 183.60 255.00 391.00 782.00
160,000 12.80 16.00 20.80 27.20 35.20 57.60 107.20 172.80 240.00 368.00 736.00
150,000 12.00 15.00 19.50 25.50 33.00 54.00 100.50 162.00 225.00 345.00 690.00
140,000 11.20 14.00 18.20 23.80 30.80 50.40 93.80 151.20 210.00 322.00 644.00
130,000 10.40 13.00 16.90 22.10 28.60 46.80 87.10 140.40 195.00 299.00 598.00
120,000 9.60 12.00 15.60 20.40 26.40 43.20 80.40 129.60 180.00 276.00 552.00
110,000 8.80 11.00 14.30 18.70 24.20 39.60 73.70 118.80 165.00 253.00 506.00
100,000 8.00 10.00 13.00 17.00 22.00 36.00 67.00 108.00 150.00 230.00 460.00
90,000 7.20 9.00 11.70 15.30 19.80 32.40 60.30 97.20 135.00 207.00 414.00
80,000 6.40 8.00 10.40 13.60 17.60 28.80 53.60 86.40 120.00 184.00 368.00
70,000 5.60 7.00 9.10 11.90 15.40 25.20 46.90 75.60 105.00 161.00 322.00
60,000 4.80 6.00 7.80 10.20 13.20 21.60 40.20 64.80 90.00 138.00 276.00
50,000 4.00 5.00 6.50 8.50 11.00 18.00 33.50 54.00 75.00 115.00 230.00
40,000 3.20 4.00 5.20 6.80 8.80 14.40 26.80 43.20 60.00 92.00 184.00
30,000 2.40 3.00 3.90 5.10 6.60 10.80 20.10 32.40 45.00 69.00 138.00
20,000 1.60 2.00 2.60 3.40 4.40 7.20 13.40 21.60 30.00 46.00 92.00
10,000 0.80 1.00 1.30 1.70 2.20 3.60 6.70 10.80 15.00 23.00 46.00

Pros and Cons of VGLI

Pros

  •      Cost effective for the younger generation of veterans, especially if in poor health
  •      The older generation of veterans in poor health are eligible, even when most companies won’t provide coverage
  •      No proof of good health required if applied for within 240 days of separation
  •      You can increase your coverage by $25,000 every 5 years, up to $400,000

Cons

  •      Expensive for the older generation of veterans in good health
  •      Doesn’t require a physical exam, therefore lower prices can be found with other providers
  •      Not always the best option if you’re in excellent health
  •      You can only enroll up to the amount of life insurance you were covered for under SGLI (after 5 years you can increase the amount)

How to sign-up for VGLI

There are three different ways to sign-up for VGLI. The fastest way to do this is online. Simply go to Prudential or eBenefits’ online VGLI application. There will be step-by-step instruction through both platforms. If you’d rather not apply online, you can also print out the application on the VA’s website, fill it out, and mail it to:

OSGLI

PO Box 41618

Philadelphia, PA 19176-1473

Again, ensure you apply for VGLI no more than 1 year and 120 days after separation and no more than 240 days after discharge if you want to apply without having to answer any medical/health-related questions. If you apply after the 240-day mark, your health will be considered in determining your coverage, which means there’s a chance you could be left without an option of utilizing VGLI.

Other Varieties of Insurance through the VA Include

The VA actually offers a variety of life insurance options. There’s the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection or (TSGLI), which is available to anyone who’s serving with the SGLI, who has also received a traumatic injury. This includes all traumatic injuries, including those as a result from combat. It is meant to help cover the service member while they recover from their injuries.

If you were released from active duty with a service-connected disability (including 0 percent), you’re in good health (with an exception to your service connected rating) and you were discharged under other than dishonorable, you also might be eligible for Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI).

To recap, VGLI is available for all qualifying veterans of any health condition (if you apply before 240 days). Depending on what your current health looks like and how old you are, should determine if this is a good option for you. If you’re older and have poor health, the steep prices of VGLI might be your only reasonable offer, especially if you can’t get covered elsewhere. Simply remember, if you want to apply without having to answer questions about your health you must apply within 240 days of separation from the military. And if you aren’t supporting anyone financially and all your bills are paid off, you might not need life insurance at all.

TSGLI is also another option if you sustain a traumatic injury during your service. This life insurance will help until you have recovered from any traumatic injury, and is only available to those who are currently using the SGLI—this should be automatic coverage.

S-DVI is available to any veteran with a service-connected disability, even if you have a 0 percent rating. The only exception is you need to have good health, outside of anything service-connected. And like all benefits used with the VA, you have to be discharged under anything other than dishonorable.

Guardian Protection Home Security Review

Okay, we know what you’re thinking, “what makes Guardian Protection any different than the other home security companies out there?” Well, that’s what we’re here to try and uncover. There’s a lot of companies out there promising this and that when it comes to protecting you and your family, and we want to help you make the right choice by reviewing a few of the top companies on the market. Today we’re looking at Guardian Protection home security.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army, Alaska

Guardian Protection

Guardian Protection approaches home security a little differently than some providers. While companies like Protect America and Link Interactive pride themselves on what they call easy DIY installation, Guardian Protection leans on the idea that self-installation isn’t on the top of your priority list. Because of this, it is a professionally installed system, taking the hassle out of trying to figure it out yourself. So, if you don’t like the idea of having a stranger come into your home, this probably isn’t the system for you. For everyone else, it will make your life a little easier, at least in the sense that it’s one less thing on your to-do list.

Pros

  • They recognize military members, if you PCS and can’t continue services, they’ll let you out of the contract, free of charge
  • They offer a variety of equipment options
  • They have a “best price guarantee” policy

Cons

  • They don’t list any prices online, you have to provide your information online or call if you want an idea of their prices
  • Their package options don’t include a lot of equipment, meaning you’re most likely going to add a lot of additions to the package or have to customize, which could cost you a lot more

To read our comprehensive review of LifeShield, one of Guardian Protection’s competitors, click here.

Guardian Protection Services

Guardian Protection offers a few different types of services, the main being residential home security. However, if you happen to be a company owner and you’re reading this post, they also offer business security—on both the small and large scale. Next to the basic home security you’re used to, they also offer a medical device. If you are or you have an elderly parent or anyone in your family who’s at risk for falling or who has medical issues but lives alone, they offer a watch that can be worn and pushed if a medical need arises. And if you’re worried about it accidentally being pushed or bumped, they claimed to have built it so that won’t happen. It’s called a medical pendant and it can be added to your package if so desired.

Besides a medical alert system, they also offer video surveillance, a fire alarm system, carbon monoxide detectors, heat detectors, burglar alarm systems, Guardian Edge Home Automation, and of course 24/7 professional monitoring. Unfortunately, most of these things come separate from the basic plan. In fact, everything but the 24/7 professional monitoring and smoke detector, come separately if you’re looking at installing the basic plan.

Guardian Protection Products

Guardian Protection actually offers a variety of products or equipment. Below is a list of what you can find through their services. However, keep in mind, while they offer a lot, it does not necessarily mean it is included in any package options. With that being said, there is the option to customize your security needs, in which case you can pick and choose from their inventory.

  • Guardian IQ2
  • Wireless Control Panel
  • Outdoor Security Camera with Night Vission
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Door and Window Sensor
  • Smart Sensor
  • Smoke Detector
  • Motion Sensor
  • Garage Door Control
  • Guardian Protection Customer Service
  • Video Doorbell Camera
  • Streaming Video Recorder
  • Indoor Security Camera with Night Vision
  • Glass Break Detector
  • Remote Key Fob
  • Medical Pendant
  • Low-Temperature Sensor
  • Image Sensor
  • Heat Detector
  • Smart Thermostat
  • Light Control Modules
  • Keyless Entry Door Lock

Guardian Protection Reviews

Guardian Protection reviews are about the same as any other security company’s. However, it appears that they may be better at resolving complaints. You can actually file a complaint through the Better Business Bureau—they’ll help file if you’re not sure how—and from what we’ve seen, Guardian Protection is pretty quick to resolve the issue and satisfy the customer. Recent complaints revolved around technicians installing and charging customers for items before giving them notice, not letting people out of their contract if they were moving to a non-service provided area, and equipment not being able to withstand the colder temperatures, and of course their lengthy 5-year contract.

Despite the 400 complaints filed through the BBB, they are still rated with an A+. Keep in mind, most of the complaints are both addressed and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction in a timely manner by Guardian Protection, which may help in their rating.

Before making a home security selection, check out our comprehensive review of Protect America Home Security.

Guardian Protection App

The Guardian Protection App comes with all plans. You don’t have to pay extra for it, which is nice since you have to pay extra for pretty much everything else. Through the app, you can arm and disarm your home, check your security system’s history, assign specific user codes, and receive notifications via text or email when any activity has been detected. 

If you’re planning to have security cameras, you can also view them live from the app. You have the option of turning lights on and off, adjusting your thermostat, locking or unlocking doors, and even opening and closing your garage doors. However, if you’re planning to go with a package deal, and you do not plan on paying for add-ons, you can only select one of those home automation options.

Also included in the app—if you have the supporting equipment—you have the ability to record videos and then access them later, a personalized online customer care dashboard, local weather alerts, and a display on control keypad.

Guardian Protection Packages

Guardian Protection has three standard packages. In our opinion, the packages aren’t really that great compared to other companies—keep an eye out for our comparison article in the near future—especially since you can only pick one home automation device in two of the three plans. Also, they just don’t offer a lot of equipment in general with any of their plans.

However, they do offer price comparison, so if you’re looking for cheap—not always the best idea, but only you know your needs and finances—but you want Guardian Protection, it might be something worth looking into if you can get a good comparison quote.

Standard Security Package

  • 1 Color, touchscreen control keypad
  • 3 Door/window sensors
  • 1 Motion sensor
  • 1 Smoke Detector
  • Yard sign and window decals 

Essential Security Package

  • 1 Color, touchscreen control keypad
  • 3 Door/window sensors
  • 1 Motion sensor
  • 1 Smoke Detector
  • Yard sign and window decals

You can only choose one home automation device:

  • 1 Door lock
  • 1 Thermostat
  • 1 Light modules
  • 1 Garage door switch
  • 1 HD Video Doorbell

Premium Security Package 

  • 1 Color, touchscreen control keypad
  • 3 Door/window sensors
  • 1 Motion sensor
  • 1 Smoke Detector
  • Yard sign and window decals

You can only choose one home automation device:

  • 1 Door lock
  • 1 Thermostat
  • 1 Light modules
  • 1 Garage door switch

You can only choose one video surveillance device:

  • 1 HD Video Doorbell
  • 1 Indoor Camera
  • 1 Outdoor Camera

Guardian Edge™ Smart Home Security System

Guardian Edge Smart Home Security System is Guardian Protection’s version of home automation. If you’re willing to pay extra, you can take advantage of all that their home automation options. All you need is a smartphone and the right package/add-ons.

Home Automation consists of:

  • Door Locks
  • Thermostats
  • Light Modules
  • Garage Door Switch

If you select a package deal and don’t choose the add-ons, you’ll only get to select from one of the above, and you’ll only get one of those devices. So, if you were thinking, well I have two doors coming into my home—well you’ll only get a lock for one of those doors unless you’re willing to pay more.

Customer Support

Guardian Protection has a pretty good customer support base on their website. If you’re a person who likes to figure things out on your own, or you just simply hate the idea of physically speaking to a person in customer service, then you can look to their online resources. There you will find video tutorials on the equipment, resources for cybersecurity, information on invasion and fire protection and even resources for your child’s safety.

Besides customer support, Guardian Protection also offers Equipment Upgrade options. However, be aware, some customers reported that an upgrade will start your contract over, which is 5-years. They also offer incentives for referring a friend who uses their services.

How to Cancel Guardian Protection Services

Before we get too deep into this section. Be advised, there are a lot of negative reviews about canceling your contract with Guardian Protection. Complaints ranging from those who simply did not read their contract and want out to those who are moving and can’t get service at the new location. There are also complaints from people who say they requested to cancel their services and were continuing to be charged. With this in mind, BBB does offer services to help you file a complaint, to which most were resolved and customers who legitimately should have been let out of their contracts were, and without a fee.

The good news, to get out of your contract, as of this publication, it will cost you $750. This might be considerably lower than most major security companies when you consider the fact that most require you to pay out the remainder of your contract.

Let’s do a little math: We’re going to pretend that your monthly security cost is $25/month You’ve been paying for these services for 10 months. To make things even, we will say that you have a contract with your company for 5-years. Month 11, you decide you don’t want the services anymore. To pay yourself out of 4-years and 1-month of your contract, you’d have to pay $1,225, making $750/month, while high, still less than paying $1,225.

Now the bad news, let’s say that you wanted to end your contract 12 months early, that’s $300 you’d have to pay with most security companies, and $750 you’d have to pay to get out of your contract with Guardian Protection. So, when you’re thinking about canceling or comparing companies, make sure you look at the cost of cancellation.

Guardian Home Security Transfer

If you enjoy your services provided through Guardian Protection and you don’t want to cancel, but you’re moving they do offer a security transfer option. However, keep in mind, they do not provide security everywhere, so talk to a representative about your needs and any potential moves you’ll be making.

If you want to learn more about Guardian Protection’s top competitors, check out our review here.

Best Concealed Carry Insurance 2019

You just got your brand, spank’n new CCW. You can’t wait to show your friends and family and carry your new $10,000 dollar Glock to the park, because, America. The first thing you purchased is a nice inside of the waistband holster, a mag carrier, and a weapons light, you want to be prepared for anything that comes your way. But what about concealed carry Insurance? Keep reading to learn about the best concealed carry insurance of 2019.

Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW)

So, there you are, at the supermarket and right in front of you while standing in line the guy ahead of you decides to make a withdrawal from the cash register at gunpoint. You snap into action, draw your weapon and take the shot. You miss, scare the crap out of him and hit the tobacco display. The suspect runs and you stay at the scene waiting for the cops.

To decrease your chances of missing, check out these 5 Gun Targets to Increase your Marksmanship.

The one thing you didn’t get, the one thing you didn’t buy. CCW Insurance. Now, you find yourself at the police station, answering questions. The person who was standing behind you made the statement, “He didn’t have to shoot at him!” and now she wants to sue you because she can’t work due to “PTSD”. Oh, did I mention that the supermarket also wants to sue you? Yeah, you now lost your home, cars and if you lose in court, you will have your wages garnished for the foreseeable future. How about them apples?

Trust me, if you decide to take on the risk of carrying a firearm in today’s “sue happy” system, you better source some CCW insurance. I have it, I know many who do and I hope after reading this article you start looking for some for yourself, before buying that $10,000 Glock, before buying your holster, mag carrier, and little weapon light. Do your homework, get the darn insurance and make sure it starts the same day you get that new CCW!

The following five companies are ones you can look into and at the very least, point you in the right direction to get the process started. ReFactor, has no stake in these companies. I was not paid to represent any of these companies or push their products. Now, I am not going to cover every nuance of CCW coverage, but the finer points.

This article will list the top selling points of the selected companies, their websites and who they are. It is upon YOU, the CCW holder to dig deeper into whatever membership agreements you enter into with these companies, do your due diligence.

USCCA

The first company is, USCCA, which boast that it has 285,000 members and offers several different packages. You can find them here, USConcealedCarry.com, their website is very simple and straightforward. The packages they offer for concealed carry insurance are as follows:

GOLD MEMBERSHIP

$22/MONTH or $247/YEAR.

With this package, you get a subscription to their magazine, education, training, legal representation, member perks and access to their community.

The Gold Membership gives you up to $500,000 for civil defense coverage and up to $100,000 in Criminal Defense coverage.

PLATINUM MEMBERSHIP

$30/MONTH or $347/YEAR.

The Platinum Membership provides you with everything the Gold Membership comes with and ups the Civil Defense coverage to $1,000,000 and the Criminal Defense coverage to $150,000. You also will be given additional video packages if you choose this coverage.

For more information you can visit their website, linked above, and here is a link to their membership agreement, which can be found on the site as well.

ELITE MEMBERSHIP

$47/MONTH or $497/YEAR

With their top tier “Elite” package, you see the Civil Defense coverage jump to $2,000,000 and Criminal Defense coverage goes to $250,000. There is also added perks, like lifetime access to all their back issues of the magazine and added perks of discounts with their partners.

CCW Safe

CCW Safe was co-founded by three gentlemen, one being a police officer and DOJ contractor, another police officer of over 20 years and a lawyer (general counsel). The company is based out of Oklahoma City, Ok. One thing I like about CCW Safe is they have an eclectic panel of advisors that cover many different professional areas. This panel includes the likes of Larry Vickers, behavioral physiologists, a women’s advisor and more, it really runs the table of experts.

The plans they offer pretty much cover anything a CCW holder is looking for, which include, but not limited to, plans for active and retired LEO/Mil, CCW permit holders, constitutional carry (non-permit) holders, and home defense gun owners. These plans all vary in costs ranging from as low as $149 a year up to $499 a year. You can select the plan that best works for you and builds a plan with additional coverages if needed. It is pretty comprehensive and tailored to fit your needs.

Before you go around carrying a weapon, check out these top 7 pistol targets and get some quality range time in.

Listed here are some of the coverage options that come with their “Protector” plan, which is designed for active/retired LEO and Mil (taken from CCWsafe website):

  • Access to our 24-hour emergency hotline
  • Critical Response Team on site
  • $500,000 bail coverage
  • Vetting of Attorneys by National Trial Counsel
  • Unlimited Attorney fees covered up front
  • Unlimited Investigators covered up front
  • Unlimited Expert Witnesses covered up front
  • All trial fees covered up front
  • Firearm Replacement during trial
  • Spouse and children under 18 covered in home only
  • Up to $250 a day work loss while in criminal or civil trial
  • Up to 10 sessions (up to $4k) for a licensed counselor
  • Up to $3k for crime scene clean-up home*
  • Appeals and expungements covered

Click here to visit their website and to view their packages, click here. Another great feature they offer is training. They call this the “Academy” and it covers the following areas:

  • Firearms training, handling, and storage
  • The aftermath of a shooting
  • The real cost of self-defense
  • The art of de-escalation

These courses are very reasonably priced and are a very nice touch to round out their insurance coverage and products. 

Lockton/NRA Carry Guard

One of the biggest players in the firearms industry is the NRA. Love them or hate them they are here and they too offer insurance through their partner, Lockton Affinity. The NRA definitely have a polished website and support from many well-known players in the industry. One thing you get with the NRA is a known entity with deep pockets and connections. Which is a good thing, as they have been on the frontlines when it comes to anything firearm related.

Lockton/NRA offers four (4) different levels of insurance coverage; Bronze, Silver, Gold and Gold Plus. Each coverage option allows you to choose a monthly payment, ranging from $16 dollars to $43 dollars a month, respectively. Each plan also allows for annual payment plans, once a year, ranging from $173 dollars to $508 dollars a year. The plans, like most companies, become more comprehensive as the rates change. Below I have provided links to each of the plans, click the link to be directed to the finer details.

Bronze Plan

$250,000 in civil coverage protection, $50,000 criminal protection coverage

Silver Plan

$500,000 in civil coverage protection, $100,000 in criminal protection coverage

Gold Plan

$1,000,000 civil in coverage protection, $150,000 in criminal protection coverage

Gold Plus Plan

$1,500,000 in civil coverage protection, $250,000 in criminal protection coverage

Each plan comes with other added perks and resources, please see the links for further details.

Disclaimer:

I have used Lockton products in the past, not CCW coverage, and had a good experience. I am not saying they are the best on this list, just that it is the only company on this list that I have had personal experience with.

Second Call Defense

One of the most affordable companies I have found is Second Call Defense. Their slogan, which can be found in their mission statement, is “When you are forced to defend yourself with a firearm, your first call should be to 911. Your second call should be to Second Call Defense.” I listed the plan details below as the link just takes you to a page to sign up for coverage. They offer three (3) plans with escalating coverage;

Entry Level (Basic)

$9.95 a month or $119 a year

  • Insurance Protection
  • Criminal Defense Protection – $10,000
  • Financial Support
  • Immediate Cash for Bond – $1,000
  • Immediate Attorney Retainer – $2,000
  • Rapid Response Team
  • 24/7 Emergency Legal Hotline
  • Personal Crisis Manager
  • Nationwide Attorney Network Access
  • Local Attorney Referral within 24 hours
  • Emergency Contact Notification
  • Training & Education
  • Member Newsletter
  • Self Defense News

Full Coverage (Defender)

$14.95 a month or $179 a year

  • Insurance Protection2
  • Civil Suit Defense Protection – $500,000
  • Civil Suit Damages Protection – $50,000
  • Criminal Defense Protection – $50,000
  • Financial Support
  • Immediate Cash for Bond – $5,000
  • Immediate Attorney Retainer – $5,000
  • Aftermath Cleanup – $1,000
  • Compensation While in Court – $250/day
  • Rapid Response Team
  • 24/7 Emergency Legal Hotline
  • Personal Crisis Manager
  • Nationwide Attorney Network Access
  • Local Attorney Referral within 24 hours
  • Emergency Contact Notification
  • Expert Witness Coordination
  • Gun Retrieval or Replacement
  • Psychological Support – 20 sessions
  • On-Site Assistance
  • Training & Education
  • Member Newsletter
  • Self Defense News
  • Online Training

“Elite” Protection (Ultimate)

$34.99 a month or $399 a year

  • Insurance Protection2
  • Civil Suit Defense Protection – $1,000,000
  • Civil Suit Damages Protection – $250,000
  • Criminal Defense Protection – $100,000
  • Financial Support
  • Immediate Cash for Bond – $25,000
  • Immediate Attorney Retainer – $10,000
  • Aftermath Cleanup – $2,000
  • Compensation While in Court – $500/day
  • Rapid Response Team
  • 24/7 Emergency Legal Hotline
  • Personal Crisis Manager
  • Nationwide Attorney Network Access
  • Local Attorney Referral within 24 hours
  • Emergency Contact Notification
  • Expert Witness Coordination
  • Gun Retrieval or Replacement
  • Psychological Support – 40 sessions
  • On-Site Assistance
  • Training & Education
  • Member Newsletter
  • Self Defense News
  • Online Training

As you can see, there is a pretty big difference when comparing plans, both in price and in coverage offerings. Take this into consideration when choosing, there isn’t much offered with the basic plan, that being said, it doesn’t cost much either. You get what you pay for, however, I am sure there are a lot of people that could benefit from the basic plan, something is better than nothing.

Be a responsible concealed carrying American, go to the range and test out some of The Best Shooting Targets on the market to help improve your shot placement.

In summary, if you are willing to carry your pistol and obtain a CCW, you need to do the research and invest in proper training that is relevant to your purpose for carrying concealed. With this a CCW holder should also obtain insurance to protect you, your family and your investments in the event an incident occurs. The companies I have listed run the gambit of offerings and price. Find the one that works best for your lifestyle and budget, there are no excuses for someone not have this type of coverage.

Protect America Home Security Review

Protect America is a home security company that’s trying to make it known, they care about those serving and our veterans. Because of this, they attempt to offer some of the best deals out there. They also work to make installation, moving, transferring, and deployments as stress-free as possible. They know you’re or have served your country, so they claim it’s their turn to serve you. Continue reading for our full Protect America home security review.

Photo Credit: Dvids

Protect America

Okay, let’s get dirty here for a second. Home security systems aren’t cheap. You’ll either save a lot up-front with free equipment, but really you’re paying for it in cost over the length of your contract. Or, you’ll pay a ton of money up-front for the equipment and maybe you’ll have a cheaper service. Then there’s that whole contract bit. Some are one-year, others five years, but the most common option is the three-year contract. Then there’s always that one company who offers a no-contract option, but maybe their service sucks…maybe it doesn’t, but who knows until you try it out for yourself, right? Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it’s not like you haven’t seen it before.

Well, we’re trying to get past that by reviewing some of the top home security systems on the market. What makes them great, terrible or just meh…today, we’re looking at Protect America, the good, bad and the ugly.

*Make sure you hit the drop-down button and click “read full review” above for an even more comprehensive review of Protect America and their competitors

Pros

Protect America might have one of the easiest DIY systems to set up. Considering it’s completely wireless, it helps take some of the stress out of the process. You don’t have to worry about drilling a bunch of holes in your walls or floors to get home protection. This also means those who live in an apartment can get the same level of home security as homeowners. If for some reason, you can’t figure out the home install, you can either chat with a representative online or over the phone and they’ll walk you through each step. There’s no service call fees or set-up fees as a result.

With that being said, the most difficult part of self-installation is the programming part. Unlike some leading security providers, Protect America sends you all the sensors pre-programmed, so you don’t have to worry about calling anyone for set-up unless you want to.

The biggest advantage you’ll have selecting Protect America over another security provider is their price match guarantee—something that most companies simply don’t offer. So, if you find a company that provides the same services at a cheaper price, but you’re telling yourself, “I really want Protect America to protect my home!” then you can get them to drop the price to match the other service you didn’t want.

Something to note, they do have locked rates, not just locked during the length of your contract, but lifetime locked rates. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. For instance, like renting an apartment, when your contract is up, you have to renew and with renewal comes the chance of a price increase. The increase might be small or it might be huge. Either way, it’s more than what you’ve been paying in the past. With a lifetime locked rate, you don’t ever have to worry about this price going up. However, this also means, if for some reason there’s a promo or a price drop, you won’t be able to take advantage of it, and those new customers are paying less than you, a long time, always pay your bills on time customer.

Otherwise, price consideration here, they offer a pretty good up-front deal compared to some of the other leading security providers. Now, does that make up for some of the less than stellar reviews, only you can decide that. Equipment costs $99. The most you’ll pay a month—as of now—is less than $43/month. If you wanted the very basic service you’ll pay less than $15/month—again, as of the publication date of this article.

Learn More

Cons

One of the things that Protect America definitely falls below the mark in, is their motion detectors. If you have a pet, motion detectors might not be a good idea. However, a lot of security companies compensate this by making a motion detector that won’t go off for pets less than 80 lbs. However, Protect America claims their detectors won’t go off for “most” pets under 40 lbs. If you’ve got your fluffy German Shepard sitting next to you, either forgo the motion detectors or go with a different security system.

Let’s face it, you can’t be a company and not have negative reviews. Even some of the best companies have “haters,” probably because someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day. Now, we aren’t saying that the more than 100 negative reviews found on BBB were false, but in the end, they aren’t the only company with terrible reviews. For example, some negative reviews revolve around contract length. Okay, we get it, three years is a long commitment for something you might not like. However, these companies make their contract lengths known and they give grace periods for you to try their services without a commitment. Of course, there’s always the chance you might hate the product day 31 of your 30-day free no-worry, no-hassle guarantee. But, as far as contract lengths go, three years is the standard. Yes, some companies provide shorter contracts and others offer lengthier ones. So, when you read negative reviews, make sure you’re comparing that specific complaint with the other security providers.

Since complaints typically revolve around contract length and people trying to get out of said contract, let’s talk about their cancellation policy for a minute. Protect America is no different from the other leading security providers out there. If you decide on year one out of three that you hate the company and its products, the only way out is basically to pay your way out. This means, even if you cancel your obligation with the company, your obligation to pay will remain, and you’re going to pay the remaining two years with or without their services.

However, if you’re a military member, they understand that you have a certain obligation you have to meet. At any time the military can say, “hey, pack all your things, you’re deploying for the year” or, “Time to PCS…again.” Because of this, there is an exception to the rule. If you have to cancel your contract out of obligation to the military’s mission, they will let you out of your contract. According to them, the process is easy. All you have to do is show them a copy of your orders if it’s for a PCS. If you’re deploying, again, a copy of your orders that shows your estimated report and return date.

For military and civilian alike, they also offer a transfer option. Meaning, if you can’t stand the company and want to pass off your misfortune to the next person, you can. The good news, the contract doesn’t start over and the price will be the same for them as it was you.

But, let’s say you love Protect America so much you can’t stand to live without it. If you’re moving and the service is provided at the new location, then they will send you a relocation kit and help you get set up at your new place free of charge. Between transferring and relocation kits, you can’t say they don’t give you options. 

Protect America Reviews

Depending on who you look to, the reviews for Protect America vary.

  • Shopper Approved gave them a 4.9/5 stars
  • Trust Pilot gives them a 5.4/10
  • Consumers Advocate gives them an 8.5/10

Better Business Buero gives them an average A rating, but if you look at individual offices, there is an F.—not really something any of us wants to see, but it is there, and there being Carrollton, GA. However, we’d like to point out, this is only based off of four reviews.

Again, most complaints do seem to revolve around the contract. We can’t tell from personal experience, but it seems as though getting out of your contract—after the obligations were met—isn’t always that easy. With that being said, there is a process to terminating services once your contract is up. You can verbally tell a representative you’re done with your contract and do not wish to renew. However, for it to be official you MUST sign a form stating your wishes. Also, you MUST give them 30 days notice about your choice to terminate their services or you will be charged for the next month. Some reviews out there say physically getting the form is a bit ridiculous, but again, this varies according to location. Make sure when you look up reviews about Protect America’s home security in the location you want service as well as the overall rating.

Protect America Customer Service

While Protect America has a decent level of complaints about them, one place they seem to stand out in is with their customer service. A quick search online, and you’ll see some people listing complaints about this or that, but then adding, but customer service was great, or that the representative helping them with the install was nothing but helpful. Of course, the only way to know this for yourself is to give them a call and see how they treat you and come to your own conclusion before making that three-year commitment.

Protect America Equipment

Equipment, next to actually having monitored home security might be the most important thing when it comes to feeling secure in your own home. Protect America’s equipment is under 24/7 professional monitoring, and if something happens, there’s a 2-way intercom so you can speak with someone directly from the main unit. Standard with most security providers, you get police, fire and medical dispatch if need be.

Depending on which package you get, or how you customize your package, if you have home automation, you can control lighting, thermostats, appliances, and electronic door locks. Also included in the home automation packages are event-triggered automation, a history log and a user code unique to you.

If home automation is for you, the equipment works with the iPhone and Android. You’ll also get email and text alerts, live surveillance feed and remote arm/disarm capabilities.

Protect America is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Z-Wave, and ZigBee.

Also, the equipment has a lifetime warranty. If you need new equipment it will be shipped to you—read the fine print about what constitutes free replacement and what doesn’t—If you’re transferring the equipment to someone else, and an update needs to be made, they’ll get the same benefits as you.

Learn More

Protect America App

Protect America isn’t much different from the other major home security companies. They have the same option for home automation and they have an app so you can control your home’s security, lights, temperature, etc. from your smartphone. However, if you have the basic plan, this won’t be an option for you. Again, this is pretty standard in comparison, so if you’re looking for home automation, they offer it. And if not, then you can go for the basic plan.

To learn more about Protect America, click here. You can also read a short review of their competitors here.

The VA pretty much sucks, but you already knew that

Disclaimers

Before you begin reading this post: we understand that the VA is not all terrible. It’s an organization with good intentions but bad habits, to say the least. With that being said, there are plenty of people out there who have never had a single issue with any department within the VA.

Secondary disclaimer,  this entire article is based strictly on my experiences, and my experiences alone. Feel free to read this post, take away what you will and even add some of your own concerns, issues, complaints, and good stuff if you have it.

I’d like to make this post a conversation piece amongst fellow veterans. If you have ideas about making things better, or how you went about fixing anything in regards to the VA, then comment. Because, if we’re going to be disgruntled, let’s be it together while attempting to find a solution.

Background

When I got out of the military back in 2014, I had left it with a lot of back issues—now before you start yelling, well you shouldn’t have gotten out or you should have been med-boarded if it were that bad, know that my choices were limited and the military, much like the VA wasn’t helping me any. Also, due to the military’s *cough-extensive-cough* medical investigation, I never knew how bad my back actually was.

Also, despite my months of physical therapy, chiropractic care, two bilateral nerve ablations, steroids, and too many drugs to mention, the military still thought I was perfectly capable of continuing my military duties.

Now, let’s fast forward past all the stuff everyone knows about getting your VA rating and all that—it happened, eventually, but still, this isn’t the moral of the story.

Since I received my rating in the summer, or maybe early fall of 2015, I have had nothing but issues from the VA. Unfortunately, the 17 things to follow have not been my only complaints with the VA, but it’s a pretty good start.

*Know, while that I’m listing them as a form of venting, I’d equally value your feedback if you’ve had the same issues or worse and how you went about getting the treatment you needed. What steps did you take, who’d you call, what VA facility are you being seen at, what type of answers did you receive to your complaints or are you still having issues?

Personal Issues with the VA

  1. The VA didn’t actually have my rating in the system, so I wasn’t getting free medical care for my issues like I was supposed to be (I didn’t know if you’re over 50% your VA can see you for anything and you won’t have to pay. For instance, my back is service connected, but I could go in for a cold and not pay a dime).
  2. The VA was charging me for my medications (again, if you’re over 50% you don’t have to pay for it, or if it’s for a service connected issue)
  3. I was not getting compensated for my appointments at the VA (if you’re over 50%, your travel should be paid for. You simply have to fill out a form; it doesn’t matter if you live less than 30 miles away).
  4. I was telling my doctor I didn’t want medication, I wanted a long-term fix, physical therapy, chiropractic care, etc. Anything that didn’t involve drugs—she wouldn’t listen and insisted on prescribing me medication I wasn’t taking, yet still paying for.

*This bothers me more because while I’ve asked not to be put on a bunch of meds to manage my pain when I really needed them, the Doctors wouldn’t give me anything—more on that later.

  1. I was told I couldn’t do physical therapy and chiropractic care at the same time—funny how I was receiving both forms of care through the military.
  2. When I went to my first non-VA Emergency Room, I was unable to file my visit because the office responsible for payout wasn’t returning my calls or responding to the official complaints I made. So, despite my eligibility and the nature of my ER visit being something I had a rating for and living over an hour away from the nearest VA ER, the VA claimed I had no rating and was not eligible for reimbursement (that entire process alone took over a year…how long for the rebuttal, no one knows).
  3. When I went to my first VA Emergency Room, my doctor told me I had acid reflux, then told me my back pain was too low for that to be the case, and still gave me their version of Maalox and sent me home with heartburn medication—I’ve never once experience heartburn and I can assure you the pain in my middle/lower back wasn’t that—back to that whole not listening to the veteran part.

Everything You Need To Know About SGLI (Service Member’s Life Insurance)

  1. The second time I went to a VA Emergency Room, I sat in the waiting room bent over in tears for several hours, while people with sprained ankles were being seen before me. When I was FINALLY called back, they put me in a chair, where I sat and stared at an empty bed across the hall, still crying and after reporting my pain level as a 9 out of 10—who knew hurry up and wait applied to emergency care too.
  2. The doctor asked me how I wanted him to treat me—umm…sir, I’m not a Doctor, so anything to take away the pain (clearly they need more training if they have to ask the patient about solutions to their medical problems).

*In all honesty, it was probably just the Doctor’s wording that ticked me off, maybe if I’d been seen in less than 5-hrs and didn’t have pain radiating down my spine I would have thought differently.

  1. When changing VA facilities after moving, I could not get anyone to answer their phone or call me back so I could enroll at my new location, preventing me from continuing the weekly treatments I was getting at my old facility—more on that later.
  2. I was on hold for 35 minutes when trying to reach the nurse’s hotline—I realize the wait time on most VA calls averages around 45 minutes or so (from my experience), but you’d think things would be quicker when you’re trying to reach a nurse).
  3. Before the VA finally figured out they weren’t supposed to be charging me for visits. My doctor called me after my official complaint was made, prescribed me medicine that I told her not to give me, told me it was my fault that I wasn’t getting the treatment I needed and should have complained to her first—which I did—and then charged me for a phone consultation. Again, the call was in reference to a complaint, not a desire for more drugs.
  4. I was told it can take two weeks to get enrolled into a new VA facility—this is false, I’ve done it in a day before.
  5. After telling my VA doctor about my back history, and without even looking at my back, my VA doctor sent me home after I reported my back pain being at a pain level of 10/10 and laying on the bathroom floor unable to move for an hour and a half, with a prescription of Motrin—yes we make jokes all the time about how the military thinks Motrin and water are the cure-all, I guess the VA thinks the same way.
  6. The VA sent me a random letter telling me I had 0% disability—this had to have been an accident because my representative looked my file up and assured me this was not the case, especially since I was given a permanent service-connected disability rating.
  7. The VA apparently sent me an appointment letter to assess my non-permanent rating, but I never got it and they’ve threatened to drop my rating. No phone call, no email, and no follow-up appointments.
  8. Now just being a little petty here, but we’re on complaint number 17, so why not. Apparently, you can’t update your phone number with the VA if you don’t know your old one. Yes, I called, verified my name, age, DOB, full SSN, current VA facility, my branch of service, DOS and my current and past home address. Yet, they told me they couldn’t update my phone number that I had 5 years ago unless I remembered it.

Today, luckily, after 11 days of constant pain, ranging from an 8/10 to a 10/10 on the pain scale, I am happy to say my back is feeling like it normally does—typically a 2 or 3 on the pain scale. I found this relief only after receiving care from one of those veteran friendly clinics, something that I ended up finding out was a part of the VA, but the VA failed to mention—it sure would be nice if they told you about the resources they offer.

The VA’s Solution to Pain Management

Now, let’s get back to complaint number four, which I’d like to find some solutions to.

Before I started having back issues, the strongest medication I ever took was probably Excedrin Migraine. I’ve always been the person who was afraid I’d get addicted to medicine if I started taking it regularly, so I combat this fear by not taking anything unless I absolutely need it. This week, I needed it. The most difficult part about this was the fact that the VA was not willing to give me any relief, and gave me a prescription of Ibuprofen. Yet, when I said, my pain was a 10/10 and I laid on my bathroom floor for over an hour, unable to move, it still didn’t change their opinion on how they wanted to treat me.

My opinion, they’re so concerned about turning veterans into a bunch of drug addicts, that they aren’t treating us. But, this creates an entirely new problem. If you’re in an extreme level of pain for an extended time, it definitely puts thoughts into your head that you’d never considered before—unfortunately, that thought is suicide. So, while the VA is preventing drug addictions, they may not be preventing suicide.

The Beneficial Elements in Using Service Dogs to Treat PTSD

I am fortunate, that my extreme pain only lasted about a week and a half, I honestly can’t imagine feeling that way for years. Unfortunately, the VA doesn’t have a solution to that either. They refuse to do MRIs, I basically had to beg for one. In fact, when I asked about getting an MRI, they said, well we don’t want to do an MRI because the last one 6 years ago only showed moderate degeneration and bulging in about half your discs…clearly that wasn’t enough. Finally, I just made demands. I told them, I’m not waiting to be like I’ve been this week again before you decide to see if my back has gotten worse—clearly it has done that already—all the treatments they were giving me, I’ve done them before, yet I’m still getting worse.

Why do I need to wait until I physically cannot walk before we check to see what’s going on? This series of defending my desire for an MRI went on for a few minutes, until finally, the Doctor said, well if we do an MRI and you needed surgery, would you be willing to go through with it. To which I replied, “I will do anything in this world not to feel like I’ve felt this week. I’d chop my left leg off and give it to you now if you wanted.” Apparently, that convinced them I wasn’t joking about my pain level—I’m now scheduled for an MRI, acupuncture, chiropractic care, one more week of medication and more physical therapy. I’m also continuing my yoga.

My doctor also tried telling me If I were to do more back strengthening exercises my back wouldn’t be as bad after I told him I do yoga 5-7 days/week for preventative measures, also it’s pretty much the only form of exercise I can do without putting myself back on the bathroom floor. It’s as if they don’t want to listen because I said all this before he made that comment.

The VA Enrollment Process

I’ve moved from the main DC VA facility to a VA facility in Virginia, to a VA facility in TN, and then to the one I’m in now. What I can’t wrap my head around is the lack of communication between VA hospitals. Every time I’ve switched, they can’t find my medical records, it shows I don’t have a service-connected disability, and it takes forever to even get my name enrolled so I can continue my regular treatments. Maybe had I been enrolled into this current facility, coming from TN, I could have continued my weekly chiropractor appointments, and maybe I wouldn’t have ended up at the level of pain I’ve been at recently—it’s hard to know for sure, of course, but either way, there’s no reason I couldn’t have been enrolled on the same day and set-up with a PCM.

As I was sitting in the chair, checking in, about to burst into tears from the pain radiating down my spine, I couldn’t get checked in until the representative at the front desk could get my rating—the system was “down”—finally after about 10-15 minutes, she gave up and let me get my vitals at least. Even if I wasn’t service connected, I’ve still had my name in the VA’s system, how was that not enough to get emergency care? What would they have done if I were bleeding out? “Sorry, we can’t treat you, and you’ll bleed out while we wait on the system to load the rest of your medical records…”

What is a Protected Veteran?

Of course, this isn’t anything new. I’m not the first, and I highly doubt I’ll be the only veteran to go through this. The scary part about all of this is the fact that I know there are so many veterans who are in a worse condition than myself. What is the VA doing for those veterans?

I know that privatization of the VA has been the talk of the town lately, and I understand both the pros and cons to doing this. However, when you receive less than even OKAY care from the VA, but amazing care from civilian providers, it’s hard not to at least wonder if it would make veterans’ lives a lot better.

And considering that the care I’ve received from the smallest VA facility was 1000x better than the bigger facilities, It feels like the VA is simply stretched too thin for the amount of care they’re expected to provide. If we could fix this, could there be a mass improvement?

With everything that I’ve said and had issues with, I want to list out/reiterate important things you might not know about, but should.

  1. If your disability is 50% or more, you get compensated for your travel to the VA, no matter the distance.
  2. Depending on where you live, some locations have a shuttle program, and they’ll actually bring you to your appointment and then drop you back off at your house when you’re done.
  3. If your rating is 50% or more, you don’t have to pay for your medication, your visit or anything actually, even if it’s for something that isn’t included in your disability rating.
  4. You need to tell your doctor exactly what it is you want, even if you don’t know what it is you need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to make demands—respectfully of course—and if that doesn’t work, there’s an official White House Complaint program for veterans not getting the care they need—the departments are required to address your complaint within 14 days of your report.
  5. You can visit a non-VA Emergency room, even if you live within the designated radius (It must be a real emergency, related to your disability given by the VA).
  6. You have exactly 72-hours to report your non-VA Emergency Room visit.

Again, I know that not everyone has a bad experience with the VA. But, if you have real issues, your best bet is to have a different provider outside of the VA. The VA is not health insurance, and it’s pretty much only a good option if you can’t afford the real stuff.

**Remember, this is my personal opinion, I understand not everyone feels this way and not everyone has issues with the VA**

Following my complaints, I’d like to say, I don’t think it’s necessarily the people who work for the VA causing the problems. For the most part, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with the actual people—although, there have been some negative situations I’ve dealt with in regards to the Doctors and mostly the customer service side of the house.

I do believe that a huge portion of the problems within the VA are due to manning—although, there’s still plenty of room for policy changes and all that.

If it wasn’t for a lack of doctors, maybe I could have been seen much sooner. Maybe, had there been more staff in the enrollment office I could have been enrolled in less than two weeks. Maybe, if the VA had accurate, up-to-date phone numbers, I could easily report my non-VA Emergency Room visit. Do you see a trend yet?

Yes, the VA needs more than a boost in its manning, but I think figuring that part out could help with a lot of the problems veterans are having.

How to File a Complaint against the VA

  1. You can reach the White House Veterans’ Complaint line here: 855-948-2311 and the good news, you’ll speak to a real person, who’s a veteran just like you.
  2. I’ve never used this form of complaint, but here’s another location where you can file anonymously (Feel free to let us know if you’ve used this and if it worked).
  3. There’s also a Patient Advocate program, where a representative will help you get what you need. However, I tried it once and had subpar results. Maybe you’ll have a better chance. Click here to learn more.

Potential Ideas for VA Improvements

  1. Hire more doctors
  2. Train the doctors better on medical scenarios
  3. Give VA Doctors a lesson in proper treatment of people
  4. Give VA staff more information on programs related to medical care
  5. Update phone numbers for VA facilities and departments
  6. Make it easier to locate phone numbers on the VA’s website
  7. Get rid of the 75,000 different automation steps before talking to a real person (it took me over 5 minutes of automated selections before I got to the department which connected me to a nurse
  8. If the VA refuses to get rid of automation, then at least put the least important automated responses at the end. Maybe put “speak to a nurse, press 1” instead of “speak to a nurse press 7”

*I’m sure every VA location has a different order in their selections, but so far the above has been my experiences.

  1. Keep the VA opened past 1600, at least until 1700 would be nice

With all that being said, my experience with the VA has been less than stellar. And I can’ t say this enough, but what scares me the most in this situation is that I know there are veterans that are worse off than me. If I’m not getting care, who else isn’t?

Luckily there are other care options outside of the VA, unfortunately, I didn’t know this. A fellow veteran told me that non-VA facilities offer things like free yoga, free acupuncture, free massage therapy, sleep therapy, etc. The requirements: be a veteran in need. Some of these programs are also available to members still serving who need a little extra or aren’t getting the attention they need from their military doctor.

Therefore, if you’re having some of the same problems as I, look up pain relief programs for veterans, or something along those lines and see what’s available in your area.

Top Life Insurance Companies for Veterans

I want to reiterate one last time, I am telling my story, not because I want a bunch of sympathies or anything like that. I’m telling you because there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know about, but as a disabled veteran, I should have. Yes, maybe I should have done more research, but it’s hard to research something that you never knew existed. And I’m not sure when the last time you went on the VA’s website or thumbed through their policies, but it’s not an easy read and you can never seem to find all the answers in the same place.

We want your Opinions 

If you can think of any other ways of improving your VA experience and care, please leave us a note so we can add it to the list. It’s easy to sit here and complain all day, but unless you have a solution, not a lot will be done about it. Let’s help each other out and figure out how others have gotten around some of these problems, and make each other’s experiences a little bit better.

How Politicians Have Responded to This Post

We reached out to several Colorado officials to see how they would respond to this post in hopes of getting someone who actually cares.  We reached out by letter with the following:

Dear XXXXXX,

My name is Luke, I am the owner of RE Factor Tactical, a Denver based tactical gear company. At present we host a workforce of over 50% veterans and we are constantly seeing their interactions with the VA. One of my employees has been dealing with an injury she sustained while in the Air Force that is leaving her in severe and crippling pain. I’ve watched first hand her dealings with the VA and I wanted to bring her experience to your attention. We decided to share her experience with the public via our online blog. You can read her piece here. https://blog.refactortactical.com/blog/the-va-pretty-much-sucks-but-you-already-knew-that/ It’s important to add that her experience was so bad that I took resources from our company just to write a blog about how incredibly terrible her experience is.

I sincerely hope you’ll take the time to read about what it’s like to be a Veteran in need of medical assistance.

My guess is that in the past you guys get a lot of VA related complaints, however, I feel as though many of them go unanswered. I am writing to you in hopes of being able to work with you to show you some of the issues of the local VA. I’d like to know how you believe we could potentially change an ongoing issue that has become so prevalent, it’s almost a joke now. I would assume your office’s first reaction may be to file this away in your complaints section only to be addressed at some point down the road. However, I am hoping that our ability to reach your constituents might be of some interest. For starters, we have a very healthy social media presence with over 350,000 Facebook followers, 500,000 combined Instagram followers, 100,000 email subscribers along with another of other healthy platforms such as snapchat and Tumblr. We also specialize in SEO and our website gets up to 500,000 views a month. This means that our article we just posted is about to get a lot of viewers, all who are interested in how their local representatives will respond. One thing we are going to add to our article is that we have officially reached out to you and other politicians within Colorado in hopes of getting some sort of change. I’d love to add that we were able to find a representative that is a champion of the Veteran community and that you are personally looking into it. However, if we simply get back a copy and paste response, then that too will be added to the blog. Our goal here is to offer our readers complete transparency when it comes to how our elected officials are tending to the needs of our Veterans. At this point I think the ongoing Veteran saga is something that has become a social norm, that no-one is willing to pursue. Let’s work together to change that.

XXXXXX, I sincerely ask that you take the time to help us right the wrongs of the VA system, especially when it comes to your local Coloradans.

I appreciate your consideration and response.

Respectfully,

Luke

 

In order to show full clarity of how the various politicians have responded, we will put their responses below.

Senator Gardner

Letter sent on 2/7/2019.  No response yet.

Senator Bennet

Email Sent on 2/7/2019.  No response yet.

USAA vs Geico Renters Insurance for Service Members/Veterans

Renting while you’re in the military is pretty much inevitable. You’ll move more times than you can count, and you most likely won’t be able to remember all the addresses of the places you’ve lived in the past 10 years. However, what you’ll most likely do is purchase renters insurance. Companies like USAA and Geico are great examples of insurance providers that attempt to give military members the best deal. Keep reading for our full USAA vs Geico renters insurance review.

USAA Renters Insurance

Let’s face it USAA seems to offer everything, one of which is Renters Insurance. Which is great as a military member, because you’re more likely to have your personal items in a rented place, storage unit, or in your car from all that moving you’re doing instead of in an owned home—although they do offer coverage for that too. And unlike a lot of USAA’s competition, they offer both earthquake and flood insurance with their policy. So, you don’t have to dish out any more money for a different type of protection.

How much is renters insurance-USAA 

The price of your renters’ insurance will vary based on where you need coverage, the type of coverage you get, and how much of it you want. The amount you agree to be deducted in the case your insurance provider will pay out will also determine how much your coverage will cost. As of this post, USAA provides basic coverage for $12/month. Again, this will depend on a lot of different variables. So, if you’re in the market for renters insurance, the best option is to talk with an actual representative who can let you know what you need and how much.

What does USAA renters insurance cover?

If you’re worried about your valuables being stolen or ruined from fire and lightning, flood and water, windstorm or hail, collapse of building, volcanic eruption, earthquake, smoke, freezing, falling objects, explosion, aircraft, vehicles, vandalism and malicious mischief, riot and civil commotion, sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging, and sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current, then USAA will have you covered.

If in one of the incidents listed above you were to lose clothing, electronics, silverware, phones, military equipment, jewelry, storage, fine art, bicycles, sports equipment, cameras, coins, china or crystal, music equipment, guns—we like this one—furniture, stamps, antiques, computers, appliances, furs, hearing aids, they’ll replace them with new stuff, even if it’s old. They’ll also cover liability, so if it’s your fault that the next door neighbor’s apartment caught fire, then USAA will take care of it.

Geico Renters Insurance 

If you’re anything like me, when you hear someone talk about Geico or you see any of their commercials, you think car insurance. Chances are, renters insurance didn’t come to mind when you read Geico in the title. Even so, Geico seems to be one of the biggest competitors of USAA in most of these cases.

The downside to Geico insurance really is the fact that their flood insurance is sold separately, however, this is a pretty common theme with both renters and homeowners insurance.

How much is renters insurance-Geico

Geico is a competitor with USAA, so generally, they’re competing in price—if that’s your concern. Geico also provides basic renters insurance for $12/month—again this will depend on location, the amount of coverage you want and your elected deductible. Your best option is to talk with a professional about your needs and let them help you determine your valuables and their worth.

What does Geico renters insurance cover?

Most people don’t realize how much they have. Those clothes you bought last winter, the new laptop you got your kid as a gift for making it into college—we knew you’d make it Johnny!”—the gun you have behind every door, etc., it all adds up. And if you were to lose everything, your furniture, appliances, and other personal items, the costs will add up. But, if you have renters insurance, even those old clothes, insurance from companies like Geico will replace them.

Geico renters insurance covers the following items (this is a non-exhaustive list):

  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • A television or entertainment system
  • A computer
  • An iPod
  • Musical or sporting equipment
  • Jewelry

They also have a personal property calculator to help you get a better estimate on how much your stuff is worth.

While all Geico policies include liability, other options consist of:

  • Fire or Lightning
  • Windstorm
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism or Malicious Mischief
  • Theft
  • Accidental Discharge of Water

Examples of when your Geico renters insurance will kick in are:

  • Your apartment building burned down
  • A thief broke into your townhouse
  • A guest slipped and injured himself in your kitchen
  • The home you’re renting suffered water damage

However, and we can’t stress this enough, you have to get the right insurance coverage and the right amount of you want coverage. Basic typically means liability, but if you own a lot of valuables, you live in a flood zone, etc., you have to make sure this will be covered under your policy. Always read the fine print. If you don’t, you might be left with nothing and no way to pay for the replacements without spending an arm and a leg for it. Therefore, talk with your provider, discuss your needs and let them help you calculate the cost of anything you’d want to be replaced if it were to get damaged.

What is renters insurance?

Renters insurance is like any other type of insurance. Renters insurance basically protects your valuables inside the home, even your car depending on the provider you go with. And if you’re planning on renting out an apartment, chances are high it will be a requirement. In most cases, landlords require that you have liability insurance at a minimum. Liability renters insurance works like liability insurance you can get for your car. If you cause damage to someone else’s property—because you don’t know how to boil water without burning the place down—then your finances are protected and maybe you won’t get sued—we can’t make that promise though.

What does renters insurance cover? 

If you’re in the market for renters insurance, there are various types of coverage you can select. For example, Geico, at a minimum will give you liability—no, this isn’t Geico specific, just an example—meaning if your neighbor Bob comes over to borrow a cup of sugar and slips and falls in your kitchen, your liability will cover him.

Other benefits of having renters insurance, besides the insurance company replacing your stuff and medical bills, includes legal fees—if necessary—stolen items, accidental damage, and even flood and earthquake damage—not all insurance companies include this, meaning you might have to pay more if you want flood protection for your things.

How much renters insurance do I need?

How much renters insurance you need will depend on how much you have. Are you a huge stamp collector, do you have a lot of hi-tech equipment, clothes, antique clocks, china, etc.? If so, you probably want more coverage than an 18-year-old with less than $100 to his or her name.

With that being said, only you can determine how much renters insurance you need. But, keep in mind, most renters require a minimum amount of liability coverage, and you’re going to pay at least $12/month through USAA or Geico for that.

What doesn’t renters insurance cover? 

Renters insurance covers a lot, so much that you might be wondering what it doesn’t cover. In most cases—not including USAA—damage caused by a flood is not covered. This is different than a pipe bursting and flooding your place.

Typically, renters insurance doesn’t cover natural disasters, property damage caused by your pet—sorry Fido, this is your fault—damage caused from a nuclear war or terrorism, and in some cases highly valuable items, such as jewelry or antiques. Again, this will depend on your policy, the amount of coverage you’re getting and the company you’re seeking coverage through.

How to get renters insurance

Acquiring renters insurance is pretty easy. So easy, some companies don’t even require you to physically talk to anyone. You go online, click a few buttons and the next thing you know, you’re covered.

Some insurance companies can also provide you with immediate coverage. For example, let’s say you want to go with USAA as your provider, and your apartment requires you have $20,000 in coverage to move in. But wait, it’s move-in day, and you completely forgot about the whole insurance bit. You can simply call a representative, tell them how much coverage the landlord requires, they’ll write up a policy for you, explain it and then tell you your coverage starts “right now.”

With that being said, your first step is to look around and estimate how much your stuff is worth. Then shop around to find a company that will give you the policy you want. It really is that easy, so don’t stress yourself over the requirement—it’s typically not a huge sum of money and in some cases, you can get discounts for bundling or being a military member or veteran. Both USAA and Geico provide military discounts.

Disclaimer

Keep in mind, everyone is different and so are your insurance needs. When you go comparison-shopping don’t just look at the price. There are cases where cheaper is better and then there are cases where it’s not. If you can get the same thing through someone else at a better price, then yes, cheaper could be the better option. However, if you need more, don’t be afraid to spend the money to get what you need, so long as you can afford it. Sometimes, you aren’t just paying for a product; you’re paying for the customer service. For example, some insurance companies provide all the things you need, but after you’ve been paying them for years, when it’s time to file your first claim, you never see a dime or have to fight tooth and nail for them to follow through on their policies.

So, while the pros and cons include cost with pretty much anything you purchase, don’t base your selection of renters insurance, or any product really, on that alone. Talk to your friends, co-worker, family members, etc. and see how their experiences with these different companies are going.

In fact, you should never base any of your purchases or policies on one fact alone. Don’t make your selection simply based on customer service, only based on price, only base on any one thing. However, base your selection on a combination that best suits your lifestyle and your personal needs.

If you’re currently in the market for renters insurance, you can read about some other providers here.

USAA vs Geico Car Insurance for Veterans

Everyone needs car insurance, and we’re trying to give you the most information we can about it. We started by giving you an in-depth look at Geico, and then USAA. Well, today we want to go a little deeper and point out the differences between USAA and Geico Car insurance, specifically as it relates to veterans and service members, using personal experience to back it up, of course.

USAA Car Insurance

USAA is probably one of the best-known providers of car insurance, home insurance, banking and investment needs for military members and our veterans. So, we probably don’t have to mention they’re pro-military, which means they’re looking to give you some of the best discounts available.

From personal experience, they love bundling, and the more you have, the more you save. The nice thing, unlike cable, your bundle won’t end up costing you more next year. I’ve saved so much money over the years by banking through USAA, having my personal property insurance through them, my homeowner’s insurance, my car insurance, and my investment through them. Every time I ask about adding something, it seems like I save another $5 and my fees go down instead of up.

Now the above will depend on what you’re bundling, how much, where you live, your credit, etc. But, it’s a good option if you want everything in one spot. That and dealing with USAA has always been so easy.

What makes them even better, they don’t hide behind their contracts. If the representative knows you can save money by doing this or that, they’ll tell you. They also take the time to go over your contract with you and explain the fine print. Which means, that hit and run you had last week, yeah you don’t have to pay $1,000 deductible if the police report says that’s what it was. Unlike other insurance companies, they’ll let you know about this, instead of trying to get the full $1,000 from you, when really you only owed $250. If you haven’t realized it yet, this is what happened to me. Thankfully, I was dealing with an awesome USAA representative who filled me in on this piece of knowledge. So, I ended up saving $750 by switching to USAA.

Pros

They have excellent customer service
They offer huge discounts, especially if you can bundle
Free payment plan available
Car replacement assistance available
Military Installation discount, if you store your car on base while deployed (must be more than 30 days)

Cons

Geico is a cheaper option, in most cases
Driver training discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or NY
Safe Driver’s discount isn’t available in HI
Storage discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or VA
New vehicle discount isn’t available in NY

USAA Car Insurance Quote

Getting a quote from USAA is extremely easy too. If you’re like me, when it comes to finances and any amount of money you’ll be spending on a product meant to protect you, you’ll want all the details. You’ll also want to talk to an actual person and find out how you can get the most coverage for the lowest price.

I can’t remember how long I was on the phone with my representative, but he was incredibly knowledgeable and just all around pleasing to deal with. As I went back and forth asking him to crunch numbers and the ol’ “well what if I do this…” he never once treated me like I was just another customer. Everything was broken down for me and in the end, I got the coverage I wanted for the price I could afford.

However, keep in mind, every state is different. No matter what insurance provider you go with, you have to abide by the state’s minimum coverage requirement. Typically, liability is that minimum. But, again every state is different, some require more coverage and some less.

If you’re looking for the minimum price you can pay and the smallest amount of insurance coverage you can get, then feel free to shop around. Just because USAA is pro-military, pro-veteran doesn’t mean you can’t find a cheaper option.

I personally am a fan because of their customer service and the fact that they’re both knowledgeable and friendly. I also like having all my coverage in one place, and I save a lot by bundling. Again, you can find cheaper elsewhere, but remember you get what you pay for.

USAA Car Buying

USAA, unlike many other car insurance providers, does something a little more. They’ll let you pick and buy a car through them. Now, with that being said, USAA is known for being extremely selective about whom they’re willing to hand loans out to. Just because you’ve served in the military, or you’re serving now does not mean you automatically qualify.

If however, you do, USAA is known for giving low-interest rates—this is why they can be so picky. And if you qualify through them, it only adds to your savings. Typically this is done by finding a dealer that USAA is partnered with—you can find this on USAA’s website.

The downside, you won’t have as many options because they don’t partner with every dealership. In which case, you might be able to find dealers willing to give you the same types of discounts for your service. But, either way, it’s a cool feature USAA has, and an awesome opportunity to take advantage of if it will save you money.

In all cases, make sure you do your research. Compare prices and discounts between USAA and your local dealers that aren’t an affiliate of USAA and then make your decision. Don’t be afraid to comparison shop. Yes, I’m a huge fan of USAA, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other comparable options out there.

Is USAA Actually The Best Car Insurance for Veterans?

Geico Car Insurance

Now, let’s talk about Geico car insurance. I can’t give you a lot of personal stories about my experience with Geico like I can with USAA. However, I know a lot of fellow service-members and veterans who’ve chosen to use Geico over USAA.

Through a lot of research and personal references, here’s what we’ve got for you on Geico car insurance and why it may be a better option for you over USAA.

An In Depth Look at Geico’s Military Discount

Pros

They offer a 15% military discount and a federal worker’s discount
They have an emergency deployment discount
Often they are cheaper than USAA
They have a team of only veteran military members dedicated specifically to helping service members

Cons

If you have a low credit score, prices seem to be more expensive than USAA
If you have a negative mark on your driving record, prices seem to be more expensive than USAA
Their veteran’s discount is hit or miss, so you might only be able to get it if you live in a certain state.

Geico Car Insurance for Veterans

Geico offers veterans a 15% discount as well. However, this discount is strictly based on which state you live in. Also, if you want the discount, make talk to your representative about your prior service. Unfortunately, Geico doesn’t advertise this discount online, so the only way to find out if you qualify is if you ask an agent.

Geico Car Insurance for Deployed Service Members

Geico does offer a deployment discount. However, depending on where you’re deployed to will determine if you actually get an extra discount. If you’re deployed to an area that received imminent danger pay, you qualify for an extra 25% discount on your premium. Unfortunately, this is lower than USAA’s discount.

The imminent danger pay location also means, you won’t get the discount for being stationed at a place like Italy or Germany, where your life isn’t exactly being threatened.

If for some reason, you aren’t sold on USAA or Geico, that’s okay. Again, we want you to comparison shop, that’s why we’re pushing out articles for you to read about the different types of car insurance options available to you. If you want to learn about some of your other options read our article on the best car insurance companies for veterans and military service members—that aren’t USAA or Geico.

Best Car Insurance for Veterans – Military Personnel

Compare USAA vs. GEICO Car Insurance Rates

Overall, Geico’s prices are lower than USAA’s prices. However, there are some cases in which you can get a better deal through USAA. Geico offers things like deployment discounts, but only in certain circumstances. It’s also a smaller discount than what USAA has to offer.

However, if you’re CONUS, you might get a better deal with Geico. If you have very poor credit, you’d probably want to go with Geico as well, since their premium rates are typically lower, even with poor credit. Yes, your credit will determine the cost of your premium, and USAA will charge you more for it than Geico, but only if you have very poor credit. Typically, USAA charges less if your credit score is over 579. The best choice you can make is to call Geico and USAA and see who will give you the service you want at the price you can afford.

Disclaimer: Cheaper doesn’t always mean better, keep this in mind when comparing car insurance companies. As we pointed out, Geico is a great option because of the potential overall cost. However, USAA continuously wins at customer services against Geico. They also made it to number one when it came to handling claims. And trust us, if you’ve never filed a claim, you want that to be easy. It’s enough of a headache dealing with that fact that you were in a wreck or that your car was stolen. If the representative helping you isn’t doing their best or doesn’t know their job like they should, it only makes it that much more frustrating and you might end up missing out on something as a result. Unfortunately, this means you might end up paying more than you have to in a claim, or you may not get all the benefits you deserve.

USAA vs. GEICO: Rates by Age Bracket

If you’re young, you’ll typically pay for it. Fortunately, USAA will give you a break, even if you’re in your teens. However, Geico tends to charge higher rates the younger you are. Therefore, if you’re young, look at USAA for the better premium rates.