What Is Veterans Life Insurance? A Guide for Veterans

What Is Veterans Life Insurance? A Guide for Veterans

There are many options available to active-duty service personnel, veterans, and their families regarding life insurance, including government-sponsored programs and private insurance.

It is critical to understand what your insurance policy covers, regardless of the coverage you choose. Here is a guide to help you make the right choice.

What Is Life Insurance for Veterans?

Life insurance provides financial protection in the event of the death of a person. The life insurance policy of the U.S. government covers active duty service members automatically, but it is not the only option available to them.

Some members of the military opt for the standard coverage. A private-sector supplemental policy is also often purchased by those who want a little more coverage than the government plan offers. Many people opt for a private insurance policy rather than the program by the government.

Check out our article on the best life insurance companies for veterans!

What Are the Life Insurance Options for Veterans?

  • Once VGLI becomes too expensive, you can switch to a different term life provider. If you are healthy and young, this may be a viable option.
  • You can also lock in rates on term life insurance for up to 40 years with some insurers. A term policy is usually the best non-group life insurance option if you require more coverage than the VGLI offers.
  • Depending on the level of cash value you wish to build, whole life insurance may offer relatively low rates. Permanent insurance policies are more expensive than term insurance, but their coverage lasts your entire life without increasing your monthly premiums.
  • Even if you do not have proof of excellent health, you can convert your VGLI policy to a permanent life insurance policy with a participating insurance provider at ordinary rates.
  • If you don’t want to convert an SGLI or VGLI coverage, look into alternative private insurers.

Veterans Life Insurance Coverage Through the VA

There are various insurance options available to veterans, from coverage for disabled veterans to home mortgage payments in a veteran’s death. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of all below.

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

All service members are automatically enrolled in this insurance program and can get low-cost group life insurance for veterans.

Coverage: This term of life insurance provides benefits in the event of death or disability. The maximum range is set at $400,000, although servicemembers can opt for less coverage in $50,000 increments.

Eligibility Requirements: SGLI coverage is available to the following groups:

  • Active duty service in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard
  • National Guard, Ready Reserve and inactive with 12 training periods per year
  • Cadets and midshipmen at the Military Academy
  • Trainees in the ROTC
  • Volunteers in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)
  • Advisory committees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Public Health Service

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)

Short-term financial help to critically injured service members and veterans to aid in their recovery.

Coverage: SGLI participants are all insured for traumatic injury protection up to $100,000.

Eligibility Requirements:

TSGLI automatically covers you if you are covered by full-time SGLI. Active duty, reservists, National Guard soldiers, funeral honors, and one-day muster duty are all covered by TSGLI.

To qualify for TSGLI payment, you must meet all the following requirements:

  • When an injury happens, you must be covered by SGLI.
  • Your injury must result in a financial loss that is covered by the insurance policy.
  • You must have sustained a catastrophic injury while serving in the military.
  • Within two years (730 days) of the severe injury, you must suffer a planned loss.
  • From the date of the catastrophic injury, you must survive for at least seven days.

Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) allows former military personnel and veterans to continue their coverage after leaving the military as long as they continue to pay premiums. To remain covered, service members must have had Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI).

Coverage: Depending on the coverage level of their previous SGLI policy, veterans can get anywhere from $10,000 to $400,000. It’s also possible to raise your coverage limits by $25,000 every five years, up to $400,000, until you’re 60 years old.

Eligibility requirements: Veterans must apply for VGLI coverage within one year and 120 days of leaving the military to be eligible. Veterans must show they are in good health after 240 days to continue receiving benefits. Those who use within 240 days of the deadline will not be required to show that they are in good health.

Besides having SGLI coverage, the following requirements must be met by veterans to qualify for coverage:

  • You may not qualify for standard premium insurance if you were injured or disabled while on duty (including direct transit to and from responsibility).
  • SGLI was received while serving in the military, and you are within one year and 120 days of being released from active service for more than 31 days.
  • Are leaving or retiring from the National Guard’s Ready Reserves (within one year and 120 days).
  • Have been assigned to the IRR (Individual Ready Reserves) (within one year and 120 days).
  • Have been placed on the TDRL (Temporary Disability Retirement List) (within one year and 120 days).

Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)

Coverage: This term of life insurance provides payouts in the event of death or disability. Dependent children up to 18, disabled children, and full-time students are insured for up to $10,000. For up to $100,000, a spouse is insured. In $10,000 increments, servicemembers can opt-out of spousal coverage.

Eligibility Requirements: A group may apply for FSGLI if it meets the following criteria:

  • Full-time SGLI coverage for active duty, National Guard, Ready Reserve and National Guard members
  • Dependent children
  • An active duty retired or civilian spouse.
  • Civilian spouses are automatically covered. In the case of a marriage date on or after January 2, 2013, a spouse in uniform must apply.

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI)

Those with service-connected disabilities can get affordable life insurance coverage through the Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance program.

Coverage: Basic S-DVI provides coverage up to $10,000. You can qualify for up to $30,000 in extra coverage if you become disabled and unable to work.

Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You were discharged from active duty after April 25, 1951, and you did not get a dishonorable discharge.
  • Approved for service-related injuries
  • You’re in good health, save for the service-connected injuries.
  • You applied for coverage within two years after receiving a service-connected injury.

If you meet the following criteria, you may be eligible for the $30,000 extra coverage:

  • Be eligible for a premium waiver.
  • One year after receiving notice of the waiver, apply for coverage.
  • You are under the age of 65.
Related:How to Decide a Life Insurance Beneficiary As a Veteran

Veteran’s Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) provides mortgage protection insurance to veterans and service members whose houses have been modified due to a service-connected disability. “Decreasing term life” coverage is the name for this sort of policy. In other words, with each payment of the mortgage balance, the coverage decreases. In other words, with each payment of the mortgage balance, the coverage decreases.

Coverage will terminate after the mortgage balance has been paid in full.

Coverage: Up to $200,000 in coverage is available to eligible veterans or service members. The death benefit is given to the bank or lender who holds the mortgage, not your family, as with other mortgage life insurance policies.

Eligibility Requirements: Veterans or military members must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • Have a service-connected disability that has been caused or worsened by your service.
  • Received a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to pay for modifications to your home to accommodate your disability, such as ramps or wider doorways.
  • Be the legal owner of the home.
  • Own a home with a mortgage
  • Be under the age of 70

Add-Ons

  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D*) – These insurance policies pay a death benefit (on top of the money from your term life insurance) in case you die in an accident.
  • Burial insurance – This optional coverage pays a small benefit for burial, cremation, or funeral expenses, which can cost $10,000 or more.

Private Life Insurance for Veterans

As an alternative to VA-sponsored life insurance, veterans can also choose coverage from a private-sector provider.

Term Life

Term life insurance protects your family financially for a set length of time (the term) before it expires. Death benefits are tax-free lump sums of money that the beneficiary can withdraw to cover funeral expenses, bills, or other expenses.

Coverage: The term length is determined by the plan you select. USBA provides 5,10,15, and 20-year term plans. All of these options are renewable.

Whole Life

The term “whole life” refers to a type of permanent life insurance (also called cash value life insurance). The insurance lasts as long as the premiums are paid, and it has a cash value feature that grows at an interest rate determined by your insurer.

Coverage: You are guaranteed coverage for the rest of your life if you pay your premiums on time.

Learn the difference between term vs whole life insurance!

How Much Does Life Insurance for Veterans Cost?

As long as you pay your premiums, VGLI is a permanent life insurance policy. The premiums are determined by the amount of coverage and your age. VGLI premiums rise with age, regardless of how old you were when you first purchased the policy. For the maximum coverage amount ($400,000), these are the VGLI premium rates by age:

Age Monthly VGLI Premiums
29 and under $32
30 to 34 $40
35 to 39 $52
40 to 44 $68
45 to 49 $88
50 to 54 $144
55 to 59 $268
60 to 64 $432
65 to 69 $600
70 to 74 $920
75 and older $1,840

As of July 1, 2014, these rates were provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Note: Premiums for non-paying National Guard and Ready Reserve members vary by branch; contact your military branch’s personnel office for details on coverage and rates.

VGLI Rates vs. Private Life Insurance Rates

We used data for a healthy 30-year-old nonsmoking guy with no family history of the disease to compare the costs of VGLI to those of a private policy. When you get term life insurance, your rate is locked in for the duration of the policy. He’d pay $35.77 per month (about $430 per year) for private $400,000, 30-year term insurance.

Over 30 years, the following table compares the monthly costs of VGLI with private life insurance:

Age     Rates for VGLI (monthly)     Rates for Private Term Life Insurance (monthly)
30 to 34 $40 $35.77
35 to 39 $52 $35.77
40 to 44 $68 $35.77
45 to 49 $88 $35.77
50 to 54 $144 $35.77
55 to 59 $268 $35.77
60 to 64 $432 $35.77

Do Veterans Get Free Life Insurance?

The VA helps veterans with part of the costs of life insurance plans, but only those with qualifying impairments are eligible for free coverage.

Veterans who are unable to work or who have one of the following conditions are granted disability status by the VA:

  • Complete loss of hearing in both ears.
  • Loss of speech.
  • Loss of function in both hands, feet, or eyes for an extended period, or vision loss.

In some situations, converting a VA life insurance coverage to a commercial policy may be more cost-effective for veterans, although premiums will vary depending on medical history and age.

How to Determine the Right Policy For You?

In some cases, getting VGLI instead of private coverage makes sense. If you have medical issues that make regular life insurance challenging to qualify for, you may want to consider VGLI. This includes not only PTSD but also other disabilities and medical illnesses, such as those acquired during combat. Mental health issues, neurological issues, and cardiac problems can all impair your ability to obtain insurance. You won’t have to take a medical exam if you apply for VGLI coverage during the first 240 days of becoming eligible.

When you are 60 or older and looking for life insurance, you will find that a privacy policy can be pretty costly. Even VGLI premium rates can add up quickly when you become older. However, VGLI premium rates may be more inexpensive if more senior people seek smaller coverage to pay final expenses.

Private final expense insurance for those in their late 60s, for example, costs around $200 per month for a $20,000 benefit. On the other hand, veterans who switch to a VGLI policy would just have to pay $30 per month.

Where to Find Help With Military Life Insurance?

The Department of Veterans Affairs in the United States offers free financial counseling and customer service through various channels. A Command Financial Specialist will be assigned to you, and you will have the option of working with a financial readiness counselor.

Contact the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (OSGLI) if you have any questions.

Call 1-800-419-1473 for more information (inside the U.S.)

973-548-5699 (overseas)

For general inquiries, please send an e-mail to: osgli.osgli@prudential.com

Questions about claims should be directed to: osgli.claims@prudential.com

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