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Life Insurance for Military and Veterans

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As an active-duty service member or veteran, you may enjoy quite a few benefits, from on-post housing to free health care, However, one of the most important perks is the comprehensive life insurance plans available to protect the families of service members. Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), forms the backbone of that care.

Members of the military community enjoy a screening-free process and the premiums never change on the basis of age, gender, health status or tobacco use. The policies are underwritten by Prudential, a financially-strong major life insurer, and are offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Military life insurance

SGLI policies include important terms and limitations every military member may benefit from learning about.

Military-provided Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

When you are an active duty member of the military, one of the benefits you can receive is life insurance through the VA’s Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. Service members are able to determine their specific amount of life insurance coverage, with options available in $50,000 increments, up to $400,000. Change requests need to be made in writing and your coverage will stay the same until 120 days after your separation or discharge from your service branch.

As a part of SGLI coverage, service members may be eligible for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) benefits. Should you experience certain losses during active duty, such as blindness or an amputation, you could receive payments through this policy. TSGLI is billed as part of the SGLI premium and is a flat rate of $1 per month.

SGLI premium rates

Coverage amount Monthly premium Total monthly premium deduction (including TSGLI)
$400,000 $24 $25
$350,000 $21 $22
$300,000 $18 $19
$250,000 $15 $16
$200,000 $12 $13
$150,000 $9 $10
$100,000 $6 $7
$50,000 $3 $4

Qualifications for SGLI

To benefit from SGLI coverage, you must be an eligible member of one of these military institutions:

  • Active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard
  • Commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)
  • Members, cadets and midshipmen of the U.S. military academies, Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), the Ready Reserve or National Guard
  • Volunteer in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) mobilization category

If you are considered non-pay status with the Ready Reserve or National Guard, there are two requirements for full-time SGLI coverage you must meet. You must be drilling for points instead of pay, and must be scheduled for 12 periods of inactive training during the year. In this case, you will also pay your premiums directly to your SGLI.

Other insurance options for active military

Although popular, SGLI is not the only option for life insurance for the military community. Other companies also offer military life insurance if you need alternate or supplemental coverage.

USAA

USAA, one of the nation’s largest insurers, extends term life insurance and permanent life insurance options to active-duty military and veterans. USAA’s life insurance protections include severe injury benefits, coverage during a time of war and guaranteed SGLI replacement, even for disabled military service members and veterans.

Learn more: USAA Insurance review

American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA)

American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association also offers both term life insurance and whole life insurance for military members, veterans and qualifying spouses. Each policy type has multiple plan options depending on the beneficiary, coverage amounts, medical circumstances and even payment structures. With AAFMAA, the company offers coverage whether you are training or deployed and survivor benefits to ensure your spouse or any dependent child will have care.

Life insurance options for veterans

Veterans have several different life insurance options when they leave the military:

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is the standard coverage for veterans. When you leave the military, you have up to one year and 120 days from your discharge to apply for a VGLI policy. This covers up to the amount of coverage that you carried with your SGLI policy while you were enlisted and continues as lifetime renewable term coverage.

Service-Disabled Veterans’ Life Insurance (S-DVI)

Service-Disabled Veterans’ Life Insurance (SDVI) is a special kind of life insurance coverage that is designed for veterans with a recent service-connected disability. To qualify for an SDVI policy, you must have received a VA rating for your new rated disability within the last two years, unless you are fully disabled and then you may receive free coverage.

Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

The Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) program caters specifically to disabled veterans who are eligible for a VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant. With a VMLI policy, you have the option to add life insurance coverage based on your needs.

Other life insurance options for military families

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) is an option that extends coverage to spouses of uniformed service members and dependent children. FSGLI provides a term life insurance benefit of up to $100,000 for a member’s spouse and $10,000 for dependent children.

How to determine the right policy

With so many policy options and acronyms, it can be difficult to decipher the tangled web of VA benefits. To help, Bankrate created this handy guide, breaking down each kind of life insurance policy and who it may be best for, so you may be better able to find the best life insurance option for you and your family.

Type of policy Who it benefits Policy coverage
ACTIVE-DUTY
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Active-duty military
commissioned members of NOAA/USPHS
ROTC, the Ready Reserve or National Guard
Volunteers for IRR mobilization
Up to $400,000 available in $50,000 increments
Traumatic Injury Protection Under SGLI (TSGLI) Surviving service members who experience a qualifying traumatic event or loss $25,000-$100,000 in short-term financial support
Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) For spouse and children of a military member when:
Death, divorce or separation from SGLI member
Service member declines SGLI coverage
Service member declines spousal coverage
Up to $100,000 for coverage as a spouse, not to exceed your service member’s SGLI coverage. Dependent children can receive $10,000 and their coverage is free.
VETERANS
Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) Veterans released honorably from active duty on or after April 25, 1951 who are in good health except for any service-connected conditions, were rated for a service-connected disability.
Must apply by Dec 21, 2022 or within two years of receiving a disability rating.
Up to $10,000 of coverage and up to $30,000 of supplemental coverage
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Disability Extension (SGLI-DE) Veterans who are totally disabled at the time of discharge and apply within two years of separation. Free-coverage eligible for up to two years from the date of separation
Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) Veteran or service members must be:
Younger than age 70
Have a severe disability that was caused or made worse by service
Have received Specially Adapted Housing grant on their home
Own or co-own property
SAH grant to cover expenses associated with building or remodeling a primary residence to adapt to service-related disability
TRANSITIONAL
Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) Active Retiring Active Duty
Must convert SGLI coverage before one year and 20 days from discharge
No-cost coverage for 120 days after separation or retirement
Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) National Guard and Reserve Retiring National Guard and Reserve
Must convert SGLI coverage before one year and 20 days from discharge
No-cost coverage for 120 days after separation or retirement
Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) Temporary Disability Retired List (TDLR) Service members or veterans with a new VA disability rating No-cost coverage for 120 days after placement on Temporary Disability Retired List
Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) Individual Ready Reserve Retiring IRR volunteers
Must convert SGLI coverage before one year and 20 days from discharge
No-cost coverage for 120 days after IRR

Frequently asked questions

What is the best life insurance?

The VA offers coverage that is focused on the specific needs of military members and their immediate families. However, private insurers may also provide a variety of excellent life insurance policy options. The Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) recommends you review various options to determine which kind of policy offers the best life insurance coverage and your family based on your current military status and future plans.

Where can I find help with my military life insurance?

The VA provides free financial counseling and customer support through many outlets. You will typically be assigned a Command Financial Specialist and have the option to work with a Financial Readiness Counselor, who can help you review your options and make decisions for your financial future.

How do I manage my military life insurance policy?

The VA allows all users the option to manage policies online. As a user, you can utilize this online portal to securely access and manage your policy, including updating beneficiaries, filing claims and checking claims status. You can also request a decision review or convert your policy from a VA policy to a commercial one.

How much life insurance coverage do I need?

On top of finding the right life insurance policy, you’ll also have to determine how much coverage you need. This figure will be different for every person and their needs, such as whether they have a spouse or a dependent child. To help estimate how much you might need for life insurance, the VA has a life insurance calculator to get you started. Speaking with a financial specialist or financial readiness counselor may also help you determine how much life insurance coverage you need.

Written by
June Sham
Insurance Writer
June Sham is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Before joining the team, she worked for nearly three years as a licensed producer writing auto, property, umbrella and earthquake policies.
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