Life insurance is an important part of family planning and military life insurance is no exception. There are different types of military life insurance you may have access to during your military career and afterward. The key to knowing what coverage you need? Knowing your own financial goals and needs, and understanding the different policies and when you can access them.
Military Life Insurance Options
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) for currently serving military members.
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Disability Extension (SGLI-DE) is a program for veterans who are totally disabled at time of discharge. It allows the veteran to keep SGLI at no cost for up to two years.
- Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is offered so veterans may continue life insurance coverage after retirement/separation.
- Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) for spouses and dependent children of military members insured under SGLI.
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) is automatic coverage for those enrolled in SGLI.
- Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) is a VA insurance program for disabled veterans.
- Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) covers a veteran’s home loan obligation in the event of the covered veteran’s death.
What Is Military Life Insurance?
Military life insurance is offered by the federal government to qualifying military members, providing coverage that pays the next of kin in the event of the servicemember’s death. This type of life insurance is offered as term life insurance.
There is no “whole life” insurance option offered. Whole life is a type of insurance that builds a cash value over time and allows you (eventually) to borrow against it. Term life does not do this–instead you pay for coverage that is paid out to your surviving family members.
There are several types of military life insurance options (see above). The first, SGLI, is a program you are automatically entered into when joining the military. It has a payout limit of $400,000 at the time of this writing, though amounts are subject to change depending on current regulations, federal law, and other variables. This coverage applies for the entire time you serve in uniform.
When you get ready to retire or separate from the military you have the option to convert your SGLI into a version offered to veterans, or you can choose to convert into a civilian life insurance program instead.
How To Make Changes To SGLI
You may be automatically enrolled in SGLI but other coverages may require you to opt-in. Don’t assume the other life insurance options you see here are automatic–they are not.
And in the case of SGLI, even though you are enrolled when you enlist or get commissioned you will be required to name your beneficiaries and do other tasks to make sure your policy is paid according to your wishes. To do so you will need to access the SGLI Online Enrollment System via MilConnect.
What You Need To Know About Military Life Insurance
Of all the programs listed here, only one applies to family members–FSGLI. This type of insurance offers up to $100,000 of insurance coverage for spouses. The caveat with this coverage? You can’t insure your spouse for more than you are insured for yourself.
If you choose a lower increment of SGLI coverage, your FSGLI must be equal to or lesser than the amount you’re covered for as a service member. Children are automatically covered in these policies and the costs of both SGLI and FSGLI are deducted from your military pay.
Remember, as a veteran you are not required to continue your military life insurance. You don’t have to sign up for VGLI–you can opt for no coverage, or you can opt for converting your SGLI to a civilian policy with the life insurance provider of your choice.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News