Military life insurance death benefits could help prevent your family from facing financial devastation if you die while they’re dependent on you. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several life insurance options for active duty, veterans and their immediate family members. Understanding the options available to you in each stage of your military career can help you make the best decision for your and your family’s future.
Life Insurance for Active Duty Military Members
The U.S. government provides several life insurance options for active duty military members. Eligible members can get up to $500,000 of military life insurance. Spouses can get up to $100,000 and dependent children can get up to $10,000 in free life insurance coverage.
Active service members can also get life insurance through private insurance companies, but should consider the cost, eligibility criteria and exclusions of personal life insurance compared to military life insurance.
VA Life Insurance Coverage
The VA provides most current service members with military life insurance and traumatic injury protection.
Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
From $50,000–500,000 in group term life
Meet eligibility criteria as an active duty
Change coverage, turn down coverage,
Most active-duty service members are eligible for up to $500,000 in group term life insurance. You get signed up automatically if you qualify, though you can choose your coverage level and beneficiary or decline coverage.
You get free coverage for 120 days after separation or up to two years if you become disabled when leaving. You can then convert your policy to military retirement life insurance or a civilian policy.
You must meet at least one requirement to be eligible for SGLI:
- Active duty in a military branch
- A NOAA or USPHS commissioned member
- U.S. military academy cadet or midshipman
- ROTC cadet, midshipman or member practicing cruises or training
- Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) mobilization volunteer
- Assigned to a Ready Reserve or National Guard unit and scheduled for a minimum of 12 periods of annual inactive training
Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)
Provides between $25,000–100,000 in
Fill out the Application for TSGLI
There is no option to change coverage
Service members signed up for SGLI can get up to $100,000 in short-term benefits after a traumatic injury. The injury cannot be self-inflicted, involve illegal drug activity or result from mental or physical illness/disease or medical or surgical treatment. You’re also eligible for coverage if you were committing a felony or trying to. This coverage is automatically included in SGLI and costs $1 monthly.
To be eligible for TSGLI, you must:
- Have a traumatic injury as a direct result of a scheduled loss within 730 days (two years) of the loss
- The injury must have occurred before midnight on your separation date
- Have survived at least seven days from the injury date
- Be an active duty service or National Guard member, Reservist or on one-day muster or funeral-honors duty
SGLI and TSGLI Premium Rates
The premium rate for SGLI military life insurance is $0.06 per $1,000 in coverage. You can buy coverage in $50,000 increments from $50,000–500,000. The cost depends on your coverage amount, from $3 for $50,000 to $30 for $500,000. TSGLI costs $1 per month and the premium is automatically included in your SGLI premium, which is deducted from your base pay.
SGLI Monthly Premium
TSGLI Monthly Premium
Total Monthly Premium
Private Life Insurance Options for Military Members
Although SGLI is automatic, you can change your coverage amount or decline coverage completely. If you need more than the $500,000 maximum coverage, consider getting additional coverage from private life insurance. You can convert SGLI to an individual policy without proving insurability by filling out the SGLI conversion notice. You can get the form by emailing or calling Prudential, your military life insurance company.
Private life insurance costs can vary since your health, age, lifestyle, occupation and other factors determine your risk class and pricing. When getting private life insurance, asking about coverage exclusions and other benefits you may be eligible for is essential. Some insurers won’t cover active duty military or may have exclusions military life insurance doesn’t, such as a suicide clause or war exclusion.
Some insurance companies and organizations offering active-duty military life insurance include:
- American Fidelity
- Army & Air Force Mutual Aid Association
- Guardian Life
- Massachusetts Mutual (MassMutual)
- Navy Mutual Aid Association
- New York Life
- Prudential Insurance Company
- USAA life insurance
Life Insurance for Veterans
Veterans have several options for military retirement life insurance:
- VGLI: SGLI conversion option for veterans and former service members.
- SGLI-DE: Provides SGLI extension for totally disabled veterans.
- VALife: Life insurance for veterans with a service-related disability.
- VMLI: Mortgage protection insurance for veterans who’ve adapted their homes after severe service-related disabilities.
There’s also the option for private life insurance, though pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart and mental health conditions may affect eligibility and cost. Your health isn’t a factor when you apply for VGLI within 240 days of separation. The VA recommends applying for VGLI within the window, even if you apply for private life insurance, to avoid missing the no health screening window.
Life Insurance Coverage Through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Veterans can get life insurance through the VA, even with pre-existing conditions or severe disability.
Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
Your coverage amount is between
You can increase your coverage by
Veterans can convert their SGLI coverage to VGLI. The application deadline is one year and 120 days after military separation. If you apply after this deadline, you must prove good health to be eligible. Your VGLI coverage will match your SGLI amount, but you can buy more if you haven’t reached the $500,000 maximum. You can increase coverage by $25,000 every five years until you reach 60.
Veterans and former service members are eligible for VGLI as long as they meet at least one of the following requirements:
- You’re a part-time National Guard or Reserve member with part-time SGLI coverage and have a disability preventing you from getting standard rates.
- You’re within the 485-day window and are:
— converting your SGLI
— being released or retired from the National Guard or Ready Reserve
— on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL)
— a member of the Inactive National Guard (ING), Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) or U.S. Public Health Service Inactive Reserve Corps (IRS)
VGLI costs depend on your age and coverage amount. Premium rates increase with every $10,000 in coverage.
Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Disability Extension (SGLI-DE)
Veterans will receive up to two years of
You must fill out the SGLI Disability
The SGLI-DE does not allow coverage
SGLI-DE is an SGLI extension for permanently disabled veterans. Eligible veterans will get up to two years of free SGLI coverage. You must fill out the extension form and mail it to OSGLI with your separation orders and current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) or a DD-214 or NGB22 copy.
If you become fully disabled and can’t work or have permanent hearing or speech loss, and permanent loss of at least one limb or eye, you may qualify for an SGLI coverage extension of up to two years. Your SGLI coverage will be free when your disability extension is granted.
If you are approved for an SGLI disability extension, your coverage is free for the extension, which is a maximum of two years or when you can return to work, whichever happens first.
Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife)
Coverage ranges from $10,000–40,000,
Check eligibility and apply online
If you have S-DVI, you can keep it or apply
Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife), formerly Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI), is for service-related disabled veterans. This policy is guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance with a two-year death benefit waiting period. You can get between $10,000–40,000 in VALife in $10,000 increments.
Veterans with a service-related disability rating of at least 0% are eligible if they’re 80 or younger. For those 81 and older, you must meet the following criteria:
- You applied for VA disability before your 81st birthday
- You got your disability rating after turning 81
- You apply within two years of receiving your disability rating
The cost depends on your coverage amount and age when applying. If you’re within six months of your next birthday, your rate will be based on your upcoming age. Your rates will never increase as long as your policy stays in force.
Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)
Receive the equivalent of your loan
Apply before you turn 70 with your SAH
Your coverage will change automatically
VMLI is for severely disabled veterans who were injured during service and have made adaptations within their homes. You can get up to $200,000 in mortgage life insurance which is paid directly to your lender if you die. This policy is a decreasing term policy — the coverage will decrease in line with your mortgage.
Service members and veterans must qualify for the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to be eligible for VMLI and meet the following criteria:
- You have a severe disability made worse or caused by your service
- You received the SAH grant
- You have the title of the home and it has a mortgage
- You are under 70 years old
Several factors determine your VMLI cost:
- Current mortgage balance
- How many mortgage payments remain
- VMLI coverage amount
Accelerated Benefit Options
If you or your spouse have received a terminal illness diagnosis with nine or fewer months to live, you can get up to 50% of your SGLI, VGLI or FSGLI coverage, whichever is applicable. The amount you receive while still alive will reduce your beneficiary’s military life insurance death benefit.
Private Life Insurance Options for Veterans
Veterans can convert their VGLI policy to an individual policy with a private insurer or get a private life insurance policy. Converting VGLI requires completing the VGLI Conversion Notice, which you can get from Prudential Insurance Company.
Your premium will increase every five years if you keep your VGLI policy. If you convert it to a private whole life insurance policy, you won’t have to prove insurability. If you apply for private life insurance, you will likely have to answer health questions and undergo a medical exam.
Private life insurance costs may be higher since your health status is part of the rating process. Veterans with mental health conditions, such as PTSD or depression, or other health problems, could affect their rating and eligibility with private life insurance. There is also a two-year suicide clause with private life insurance that VGLI doesn’t have.
If you’re looking for military retirement life insurance from private companies, consider:
- American Fidelity Life Insurance Company
- American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA)
- Bankers Life and Casualty Company
- EMC National Life Company
- Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual)
- Military Benefit Organization
- Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
- USAA life insurance
Life Insurance for Military Families
The spouses and dependent children of SGLI-enrolled service members are eligible for Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI). This term life policy is also administered through the Department of Veterans Affairs and issued by Prudential Insurance Company.
Spouses are eligible for up to the military member’s SGLI coverage amount or $100,000. Each dependent child gets $10,000 of free coverage until they’re 18. Full-time students may get coverage up to age 22, and permanently totally disabled dependents may get indefinite free coverage.
This low-cost coverage for spouses and free coverage for dependents can help military families’ budgets, as it is usually cheaper than individual life insurance. Like SGLI, FSGLI coverage is automatic, so there is no underwriting process to consider, like private life insurance.
Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
Spouses can match the service member’s
There is no application; coverage is
The service member can lower the
Spouses and dependents get automatic coverage through the FSGLI program. The premium for FSGLI is automatically deducted from the service member’s base pay.
FSGLI is term life insurance, which increases with age. The spouse can convert FSGLI to an individual whole life policy within 120 days of military separation, divorce, death or written election to cancel SGLI or spouse FSGLI.
Spouses and dependent children of active duty, National Guard or Ready Reserve service members are eligible for FSGLI if the military member has full-time SGLI. The spouse can be active duty, civilian or a veteran and still qualify for FSGLI.
FSGLI Premium Rates
Premium rates for spousal FSGLI are based on the spouse’s age and coverage amount.
60 and older
How to Choose the Right Military Life Insurance Plan
Military members should consider their coverage needs, health and budget when choosing the right military life insurance plan. Although military life insurance is cheap, you might have coverage needs larger than $500,000, and your spouse may need more than $100,000.
If either of you has health problems, they can cause higher rates for private life insurance or might get your application denied. There are no health considerations with military life insurance. The free coverage for dependents may also factor into your decision to buy private or military life insurance.
However, you’re limited to term life insurance through the VA unless you convert your policy privately, while several types of life insurance are available through private insurers.
Evaluating your individual and family needs can help you determine whether military life insurance, private coverage or a mix of both is the right solution.
Prudential, the life insurance company underwriting and issuing military life insurance, has superior financial stability to pay claims. A private insurer’s financial strength can vary and should be verified before applying.
Costs are fixed for military life insurance by age and coverage amount, except for VMLI, which includes mortgage factors. Age, health status, occupation, lifestyle and hobbies and other factors determine the cost of private life insurance.
There is only an underwriting process for VGLI, FSGLI or VGLI if you apply for VGLI over 240 days after separation. Most private insurers require health questions on the application and may require a medical exam.
Military life insurance doesn’t have a war clause, which would prevent payment to the beneficiary if the insured dies during war. Private life insurance may have a war clause and other exclusions.
Should You Choose a Private Life Insurance Policy?
Before choosing a private life insurance policy, weigh the pros and cons compared to military life insurance. Coverage amounts, benefits and available riders can vary widely by insurance company. The underwriting process and cost may not be worth buying private life insurance for some military families.
Benefits and Drawbacks
- Coverage, premium and benefit flexibility
- Healthy applicants may get cheaper rates than military life insurance
- Choose from term and permanent life insurance
- Adding riders like spouse and child term riders to the service member’s policy may be more cost-effective
- Can be in addition to a government-issued life insurance policy
- Military-related injured or disabled veterans may not qualify
- Accidental death and dismemberment, disability premium waivers may not be available or cost extra
- Health status may cause a denial or expensive rates
- Might have war, terrorism, traveling to a high-risk country and other exclusion
- Private life insurance has a two-year suicide clause
Purchasing Additional Life Insurance Coverage
Even if you maximize your military benefits, you may need more life insurance than the military provides. In this case, buying additional private coverage may be a good idea.
Remember that age, health status and military rank can affect eligibility and coverage limits. Higher-ranking members are typically less risky to insure since they aren’t as likely to go to combat or high-risk areas as lower-ranking members.
The application for private life insurance is much more thorough, typically requiring lifestyle, occupation and health questions. Plus, you might have to qualify for a medical exam. Comparing life insurance policies will help you find the best price for your age, health, policy type and coverage needs.
Do You Need Additional Coverage or Private Life Insurance?
If you’re considering buying additional life insurance from private insurers, consider:
- Available benefits and riders
- Company’s financial strength rating
- Death cause exclusions
- Eligibility guidelines
- Policy type
- Underwriting process
- Your coverage needs
Transitioning Military Life Insurance Coverage After Retiring From Active Duty
Veterans retiring from active duty have many obstacles when transitioning back into civilian life. Part of the financial planning process may include transitioning your military life insurance coverage to private coverage.
The VA makes converting SGLI and FSGLI an easy process. You’ll have to apply for VGLI within a year and 120 days from discharge or convert your SGLI or FSGLI to a private policy within 120 days. Spouses should convert if the service member dies, cancels SGLI or FSGLI, separates from the military or if they divorce.
Contact a participating life insurance company to convert your policy, gather the necessary documents and complete the conversion notice. Although health questions are not a requirement, answering them could get you a lower rate.
How to Transition Your Coverage
When you retire from the military, you can convert your SGLI to VGLI or a private policy or cancel SGLI coverage.
Although you have 485 days to convert to VGLI, you don’t have to prove your health status if you do so within 240 days. If you convert after 240 days, you will have to prove insurability, which could jeopardize your eligibility and cost. Once you have VGLI, you can convert it to a private policy anytime.
Disabled veterans who qualify for SGLI-DE should fill out the SGLV 8715 form to get up to two years of free SGLI coverage. You’ll get a notice 20 months post-separation date advising when your SGLI-DE coverage and conversion options end.
Service members can verify, change, or restore SGLI or FSGLI coverage and beneficiaries by logging into their milConnect account and accessing the SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES).
Veterans can access their policy to update their beneficiaries by logging into the Prudential Life Insurance account or filling out the VGLI Beneficiary Designation form (SGLV 8721) and faxing it to OSGLI.
Your most recent VGLI billing notice or LES will also have coverage information.
Military Life Insurance FAQs
Expert Insight on Military Life Insurance
- When should military members seek private life insurance instead of military life insurance?
- For active duty military looking for private coverage, what considerations, like coverage exclusions/inclusions, should they look for when buying private life insurance?
- For veterans looking for private coverage, what considerations, like coverage exclusions/inclusions, should they look for when buying private life insurance?
- What can military members/veterans expect from the private life insurance underwriting process that differs from civilians and how can they prepare themselves for it?
Chief Operating Officer & Secretary at the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA)
Financial planning helps protect your assets, health and family with benefits and coverage. The following resources provide relevant and valuable information for your situation.
- American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association: AAFMAA can help you achieve your financial goals through life insurance mortgages and wealth building. Use their resources, tools and calculators to make financial decisions with confidence.
- Benefits.gov: This website helps you find benefits you’re eligible for, including disaster assistance, SSA benefits, loans and medical assistance.
- Disabled American Veterans: DAV offers many resources to disabled veterans, including employment and volunteer connections, help with VA benefits, medical transportation and transitioning to civilian life.
- DoD Casualty Assistance Program: This program assigns a Casualty Assistance Officer to help families navigate assistance and benefits after a service member is injured or killed.
- GI Rights Network: Call the GI Rights Hotline from anywhere worldwide for counseling and information about GI rights, military discharges, AWOL and UA.
- Healthcare.gov: Veterans can learn about their healthcare options, including TRICARE, coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and the VA Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA).
- Military Benefit Association: The MBA offers life insurance, TRICARE supplements, hospital and legal services for active duty military members and veterans, plus discounts on Liberty Mutual auto and home insurance.
- Military.com: Get access to military news, employment resources for veterans, benefits, family and spousal support from a staff full of veterans, retirees and their spouses.
- Military Connection: Access savings, employment assistance and opportunities, education, licensing and more using this online military directory.
- National Military Family Association: NMFA offers scholarships for military spouses and assistance for children and families to attend camps, retreats and other programs.
- National Resource Directory: The NRD is a resource database that helps service members, veterans and their families with recovery, rehab and reintegration for wounded warriors.
- Navy Federal Credit Union: Besides bank accounts, loans and credit cards, Navy Federal offers tools and calculators to help with financial planning.
- The Military Wallet: Learn about military and veteran benefits, discounts, news and financial planning from a USAF veteran and active duty National Guard member.
- USAA insurance: Along with insurance, banking and investment products, USAA has a robust resource library dedicated to military life, whether you’re considering joining or ending your service.
About Mandy Sleight, Licensed Insurance Agent
- Congressional Research Service. "Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths From 2006 Through 2021." Accessed June 5, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)." Accessed June 5, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "How Does VGLI Compare To Other Insurance Programs?." Accessed June 5, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "How to Convert Your SGLI/FSGLI/VGLI Coverage to an Individual Policy." Accessed June 7, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Life insurance if you have preexisting conditions." Accessed June 5, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Myths and Rumors About SGLI/VGLI Insurance." Accessed June 8, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)." Accessed June 5, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)." Accessed June 5, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "TSGLI Loss Standards." Accessed June 7, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife)." Accessed June 7, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)." Accessed June 5, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)." Accessed June 7, 2023.