Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, also known as SGLI, is a term life insurance policy offered to:
- Active-duty military
- National Guard
- Members of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Members of the Public Health Service
- Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) members
SGLI is offered to most as “full-time” coverage, except for Reserve members who qualify for part-time coverage instead. SGLI requires payment of a monthly premium automatically taken out of the servicemember’s basic pay.
In 2020, the basic SGLI premium rate was 6 cents per $1,000 of insurance coverage. This number is provided as a reference only–payment rates are subject to change each year due to inflation, cost of living adjustments, federal law, program changes, etc.
You can customize your SGLI coverage; the system allows adjusting levels of coverage and your beneficiaries. Most will make these changes via the MilConnect portal (see below).
SGLI Coverage Amounts
SGLI is offered in increments of $50,000 up to a maximum of $400,000. These amounts are offered with age restrictions. Servicemembers deployed to a combat zone will have their SGLI automatically increased to the maximum coverage amount of $400,000 without exception.
SGLI Premium RatesEffective July 1, 2019:
|Coverage amount (in U.S. $)||Monthly premium rate (in U.S. $)||TSGLI premium (in U.S. $)||Total monthly premium deduction (in U.S. $)|
You are automatically enrolled in and covered under “full-time” SGLI if any of the following is true:
- The service member is an active duty member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Marines, or Coast Guard
- Commissioned member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)
- Cadet or midshipman of the U.S. military academies
- Member, cadet, or midshipman of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) engaged in authorized training and practice cruises
- Member of the Ready Reserve or National Guard and scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year
- A servicemember who volunteers for a mobilization category in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)
SGLI For Those Retiring or Separating
Those covered by SGLI retiring or separating from the military have an additional 120 days of free SGLI effective from the servicemember’s retirement or separation date. SGLI extensions are offered to those retiring or separating who are considered totally disabled at the time they leave military service. Such extensions can run as long as 24 months.
Part-time coverage is offered to Reserve members who do not qualify for full-time coverage, with the caveat that part-time coverage does not permit the 120 days of free coverage once the reservist leaves military service.
SGLI Coverage For Ready Reserve or National Guard Members in Non-Pay Status
Some are still covered by SGLI if they are in the Ready Reserve or National Guard and are:
- scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year, AND
- are drilling for points, rather than pay.
SGLI premiums are the same as those drilling for pay. How your premiums are to be paid during the non-pay period will be determined by your branch of service.
Converting SGLI To A Commercial Policy
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site says that anyone with SGLI coverage may convert to an individual insurance policy within 120 days from separation.
The SGLI Online Enrollment System
The SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES) allows service members to view and customize their SGLI coverage. This applies to most SGLI policy holders including members of the:
- Air Force
- Space Force
- Coast Guard
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Those who work in the Public Health Service must submit SGLI changes using Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate (SGLV 8286) and submitting the form to your unit’s personnel officer.
Those who use MilConnect are required to have or obtain a DS Login. To obtain one you must either have a Common Access Card or be one of the following:
- Current or previous service member (Active Duty, Guard, Reservist, Retiree, Veteran)
- Spouse or former spouse who receives DoD benefits
- Eligible family member over 18 years old receiving DoD benefits
- DoD Civilian
- DoD Contractor
There are only a few instances where Servicemembers Group Life Insurance coverage would be forfeit. These include cases “when an insured member is found guilty” of any of the following:
SGLI coverage or dividends may also be forfeit in cases where the service member “refuses, because of conscientious objections, to perform service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or refuses to wear the uniform of such force.”
VA.gov adds that SGLI is not payable, “for death inflicted as a lawful punishment for crime or for military or naval offense” except in cases when such death is “inflicted by an enemy of the United States.”
SGLI Options: Traumatic Injury Protection Program (TSGLI)
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection is an automatic traumatic injury coverage program offered to those already covered under the SGLI program. TSGLI offers “short-term financial assistance to severely injured Servicemembers and Veterans to assist them in their recovery from traumatic injuries” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This type of coverage is for combat injuries, but not limited to them. TSGLI also covers service members for injuries incurred on or off duty.
SGLI Options: Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance offers term life insurance to qualifying military spouses and dependents of those eligible for coverage under SGLI. Spouses require a premium but dependent children are covered at no charge to the service member.
SGLI Options: Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance allows veterans to continue life insurance coverage as long as the premiums are paid. Veterans are eligible to apply for the same maximum coverage offered under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance that the veteran carried when they separated from the military.
Other Options: Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance
The Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) program was established in 1951 to assist those with VA-rated service-connected disabilities. S-DVI is available in a variety of plans that include term insurance options. S-DVI has a maximum coverage amount of $10,000.
VA Assistance With Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and Online Will Prep
The Department of Veterans Affairs makes counseling services available for veterans and currently serving men and women in uniform to help assign beneficiaries, write last wills and testaments, and other crucial planning. This counseling is a no-cost benefit for the following programs:
- SGLI (Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance)
- TSGLI (Traumatic Injury Protection)
- FSGLI (Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance)
- VGLI (Veterans’ Group Life Insurance)
This help may be sourced via Command Financial Specialists or Financial Readiness Counselors, and help is also available online from www.militaryonesource.mil.
SGLI Facts You Should Know
There are plenty of half-truths and myths about SGLI coverage. For example, did you know that some mistakenly believed that SGLI would not pay in cases where the service member was killed on duty while wearing privately-obtained body armor?
The VA official site reminds, “SGLI claims are paid regardless of body armor or helmet type. Wearing body armor or a helmet is not a requirement for a SGLI claim to be paid.”
Another SGLI myth; that the policy won’t pay surviving beneficiaries if the service member dies in an accident and not wearing a safety belt or seat belt. This is also not true; SGLI pays the claim regardless.
Does SGLI pay out regardless of the circumstances? Some mistakenly believe there are “war exclusions” or “terrorism exclusions” that would prevent payment of SGLI to a beneficiary. But there are no such exclusions. SGLI claims are also paid no matter where the service member dies. There are no “blackout” areas, “no-go” zones, etc.
There are also myths about SGLI coverage for Reservists and members of the National Guard–some aren’t sure whether their SGLI coverage applies only to drill periods and active duty or not.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “If you are a Reservist or a National Guard member and have been assigned to a unit in which you are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive duty that is creditable for retirement purposes, full-time SGLI coverage is in effect 365 days of the year. You are also covered for 120 days following separation or release from duty.”
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News