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Life insurance for military and veterans
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If you are one of the 18 million Americans who identifies as a military member or veteran, you may be interested in purchasing a life insurance policy. Whether you purchase your policy through the Department of Veterans Affairs or through a private insurance provider, Bankrate’s insurance editorial team can help provide you the information you need to help you choose the best plan for you and your family. With nearly a combined nearly 50 years of insurance industry experience, our editorial team is here to walk you through the different benefits of a military-focused life insurance policy.
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)
If you are an active-duty member of the military, one of the benefits you could receive is life insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. The policies are underwritten by Prudential and can provide free coverage for 120 days after you leave the military.
The recently-passed Supporting Families of the Fallen Act increased this maximum coverage amount from $400,000 to $500,000. Service members are able to determine their specific amount of SGLI coverage, with options available in $50,000 increments, up to $500,000. SGLI has a standard coverage rate, which is six cents for every $1,000 in coverage. If you qualify for a life insurance policy, it is possible to have your premium deducted from your military pay as opposed to paying SGLI directly.
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.
Service members who are totally disabled, as defined by military qualifications, at the time of discharge may be eligible for a Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Disability Extension. This allows an SGLI member to keep their life insurance coverage for up to two after discharge at no additional cost.
Qualifications for SGLI
To qualify for SGLI coverage, you must meet qualifications under at least one of the following categories:
- Active-duty members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Space Force or Coast Guard
- Commissioned members of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Members, cadets and midshipmen of the U.S. military academies, Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), the Ready Reserve or National Guard
- Volunteers 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 premium directly to your SGLI policy, rather than having it automatically deducted from your military pay.
USAA, one of the nation’s largest insurers, extends a variety of life insurance options to active-duty military members, veterans and their eligible immediate family. These products include term life, simplified whole life, and universal life. USAA’s life insurance policies may be more limited compared to other companies, but they do offer potential endorsements that may include the option to add $100,000 term life coverage when you get married, buy a house or have a baby, if you meet eligibility requirements.
Learn more: USAA Insurance review
American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA)
American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association also offers a broad selection of life insurance policies for active-duty 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 may offer additional support for your spouse or dependent child.
Life insurance options for veterans
Veterans may have several different life insurance options when they leave the military:
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is a group life insurance policy available from the VA 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. Policyholders who held part-time SGLI coverage may be eligible for VGLI coverage if they sustained an injury or disability that disqualifies them from standard premium life insurance rates.
Service-Disabled Veterans’ Life Insurance (S-DVI)
Service-Disabled Veterans’ Life Insurance (S-DVI) is also offered by the VA and is life insurance coverage that is designed for veterans with a service-connected disability. To qualify for an S-DVI policy, you must meet all of the following qualifications:
- Release from active duty without a dishonorable discharge on or after April 25, 1951.
- Rated for a service-connected disability
- Good health status, with the exception of service-related conditions
- Application within two years of receiving your disability rating
Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)
The Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) program offers mortgage protection insurance to disabled veterans who are eligible for a VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant. With a VMLI policy, you have the option to add mortgage life insurance coverage up to $200,000. Your coverage amount is determined by the amount you still owe on your mortgage and will decrease as you pay off your loan. If paid out, the money will go directly to the lender that holds your mortgage. In addition to having a severe disability related to service and receiving a SAH grant, veterans must hold the title of their home and be under 70 years old to qualify for coverage.
Other life insurance options for military families
Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) is an VA program designed for spouses and dependent children of SGLI policyholders. FSGLI may provide a term life insurance benefit of up to $100,000 for a member’s spouse and $10,000 for dependent children. Members pay a monthly premium for coverage for a spouse, but dependent children may be insured at no additional cost.
How to determine the right policy for you
With so many policy options and acronyms, it may 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 able to more easily find the best life insurance option for you and your family.
|Type of policy||Who may receive benefits||Policy coverage|
|Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI)||Active-duty military Commissioned members of NOAA or USPHS Members, cadets or midshipmen of ROTC, Ready Reserve or National Guard Volunteers for IRR mobilization||Up to $500,000 available in $50,000 increments|
|Traumatic Injury Protection Under SGLI (TSGLI)||SGLI members who experience a qualifying traumatic event or loss||$25,000-$100,000 in short-term financial support|
|Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)||Spouses and dependent children of a military service members covered by SGLI||Up to $100,000 for coverage as a spouse, not to exceed your service member’s SGLI coverage. Dependent children can receive $10,000.|
|Type of policy||Who may receive benefits||Policy coverage|
|Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI)||SGLI policyholders who have been released from active duty within one year and 120 days of applying for coverage Part-time SGLI policyholders who suffered a disability that disqualifies them from standard premium insurance rates Temporary Disability Retirement List members who were placed on the list within one year and 120 days||Between $10,000 and $500,000; Term life insurance benefits match the amount of coverage you held as an SGLI policyholder. VGLI members may be able to increase coverage by $25,000 every five years until age 60.|
|Service-Disabled Veterans' Insurance (S-DVI)||Veterans rated for a service-connected disability who were released honorably from active duty on or after April 25, 1951 Must be in good health except for any service-connected conditions Must apply 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)||Veterans or service members who are: Younger than age 70 Have a severe disability that was caused or made worse by service Have received SAH grant Own or co-own property with a mortgage||Up to $200,000. Coverage is determined by the amount still owed on a mortgage loan. Coverage decreases as you pay off your loan.|