Life Insurance

What is the Best Life Insurance for Veterans

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As a veteran or former service member of the United States Armed Forces, you may be eligible for Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI). VGLI is a continuation of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, a low-cost group life insurance program that all active-duty military and members of the Reserves and National Guard automatically receive.

SGLI provides up to $400,000 in coverage. Upon separation from the military, eligible veterans can apply to convert some or all of their SGLI policies to VGLI. 

From the date of separation, SGLI remains in place free of charge for 120 days. After that, veterans have one year to convert to VGLI, but there's no insurance coverage until the application is approved.

If you're considering converting, there's an important note to remember: Provided you apply within 240 days of separation, eligible members enjoy guaranteed acceptance with no medical examination or health requirements. This is especially important for anyone with a disability who may be uninsurable on the private market. After 240 days, however, approval is contingent on the health information you must provide with your application.

Am I eligible for VGLI?

Eligibility for VGLI is based on meeting at least one of the following criteria:

  • You participated in SGLI during your time in the military, and it's been less than one year and 120 days since you completely separated from service.
  • You're less than one year and 120 days from retiring or being released from the Ready Reserve or National Guard.
  • You're within one year and 120 days of being assigned to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), the Inactive National Guard (ING), or being put on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL).
  • You suffered an injury or disability while covered by part-time SGLI that makes you otherwise uninsurable.

Provided you meet at least one of these requirements and apply within 240 days of separation, you're guaranteed to be approved for VGLI.

Is VGLI Worth it?

In certain circumstances, VGLI is the best life insurance for military veterans. Anyone with a disability or medical condition that makes them uninsurable or would cause premiums to be prohibitively expensive should convert to VGLI. Unlike the very low, flat rate for SGLI, however, VGLI coverage rates are based on age, escalating in 5-year increments. 

For example, a veteran between the ages of 40 and 44 will pay $64/month for $400,000 of coverage. At 45, the premium increases to $84, then $132 at 50 years of age. Premiums stop increasing when the member turns 80, but by then, the monthly cost will have swelled to $1,800. 

Private insurance is often more affordable, with age-based pricing, especially for young, healthy veterans. Ethos offers several policy options that may be preferable VGLI alternatives. You can learn more about veterans' life insurance rates and how much VGLI costs on the VA website. 

How much life insurance do veterans get?

In addition to pricing considerations, you should consider how much coverage you need. The maximum amount of life insurance for vets through VGLI is $400,000. Be aware that your veterans' life insurance policy is initially limited to the same amount of SGLI coverage you had while in the service. Once in place, you can increase your coverage by $25,000 every five years, but only up to the $400,000 limit. 

After you calculate how much coverage you need, you can supplement your VGLI coverage with a private term or permanent life insurance policy.

Or, get a quote from Ethos for an online life insurance policy to replace it entirely.

VGLI vs. Private Insurance

While VGLI provides life insurance for retired military veterans, private insurance offers several advantages. If you're young and healthy, it may be a good idea to lock in a term life insurance policy with low fixed premiums that won't increase as you age. You can also consider a permanent insurance policy that builds cash value and provides life insurance for veterans over 70. Note that in certain circumstances, VGLI can be converted to a whole life policy as described in the benefits section of the VA website.

Ultimately, the best life insurance for retired military must meet several requirements. First, veterans must qualify for coverage, whether it's life insurance for veterans over 60 or for someone half that age.  Next, it should be affordable, both initially and for the duration of the policy's term. Finally, the policy must offer sufficient coverage to protect the financial stability of a veteran's family. While VGLI may meet the needs of some, it is worth exploring all options to find the best term life insurance for military veterans.

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