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Life Insurance for Veterans
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is the best alternative for veterans who may not qualify for a private life insurance policy. For veterans who need more coverage or lower rates, term life is the best life insurance.
Much active-duty military personnel already have a life insurance policy. When they leave or get out of the armed forces, there are only a few options for continuing coverage. Veterans can usually convert their Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) policy over into a Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policy, buy life insurance coverage from a private insurer, or they could convert their SGLI or VGLI policy over into personal life insurance.
VGLI only offers guaranteed approval up to 240 days after leaving active duty, but it has limitations. For example, the max VGLI death benefit is $400,000. Private term life insurance has significant benefits up to several million dollars face amounts and competitive pricing but is not always available or affordable for veterans with complex medical conditions. Our partner agency, Policygenius, can help you choose the best life insurance for your circumstances.
Life insurance for veterans with PTSD
An Army veteran and his wife said they were “shocked and saddened” when they learned he was denied life insurance because of his history of post-traumatic stress and depression.
“There have to be a lot of veterans with this diagnosis,” said the wife. She asked to remain anonymous as they continued the process of getting insurance through another company that specializes in life insurance for service members and veterans.
The denial letter they received from USAA cited his history of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and asthma. The Army veteran said a USAA representative emphasized his PTSD and depression in explaining the denial.
Insurers don’t talk about a particular individual’s situation for privacy reasons, but they offer general information about how they make their decisions. And comparing companies’ policies is often like comparing apples and oranges.
The veteran said one difference was applying for an individual term policy with USAA. Our life insursance for veterans with ptsd program can get you an approval with another company in a group term policy situation. The risk is spread over a broader category of people in group term policies, and the underwriting requirements aren’t as strict. He also applied for a lesser amount of coverage initially.
Can you qualify for commercial life insurance for veterans if you have PTSD? It depends on each individual’s circumstances and the insurance company’s policies, according to officials at four companies that are among a number that specialize in providing life insurance to the military community.
“The great majority of members with histories of PTSD are offered life insurance, many at our very best price,” said Alex Gairo, a spokeswoman for USAA. “As with so many health issues ranging from diabetes to depression, degree and duration are questioned.
“The applicant’s health history is reviewed to determine the following: how severe are the symptoms, the date of the onset of symptoms, how necessary are the medications to achieve effective control, and does the applicant need counselling/psychotherapy? All these factors weigh in on the decision of the applicant.”
“Talk to other insurers and us. We all have different underwriting rules,” advised Mike Meese, a retired Army brigadier general who is the chief operating officer at AAFMAA.
At AAFMAA, “we probably, as a percentage, have more people with PTS that we underwrite and insure than any other condition,” said Meese. The company looks at each individual’s case, including the treatment, the medications, and the doctor’s diagnosis. He said the applicant might pay a higher rate depending on the situation, but it’s usually cheaper than Veterans Group Life Insurance.
When he left the Army in 2008, the veteran didn’t sign up for Veterans Group Life Insurance, which is available to those insured under the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program.
“Unfortunately, he missed his window to get insurance under VGLI,” his wife said. “We were both in our 20s, and we’re not thinking about this. We now have two kids.” That changed their thinking about their family’s financial situation if something happened to their husband.
Under VGLI, service members have one year and 120 days from the date of separation from the military to apply for the insurance. If service members use VGLI within 240 days after the break, they will not need to answer health questions.
Since being turned down for insurance, the couple has applied for coverage elsewhere and initially used for a lesser amount of coverage. They were accepted by another company specializing in scope to the military community and are now trying to increase the amount of coverage. The wife said the rate is competitive with the life insurance she has as a federal employee.
Insurers also look at whether the applicant has a VA disability rating and cut for space: The Army veteran was honest about his PTSD when he applied for life insurance. That honesty is essential, all the company officials said. “You need to be honest,” Meese said. “Most people in the military are honest, and there aren’t any problems in most cases.”
“The decision is made based on the risk. That’s how the insurance industry works,” said Mike Reyna, a retired Air Force colonel and president of the Military Benefit Association.
“A high percentage of veterans have a PTSD diagnosis,” he said. “That’s usually disclosed in the application process. But there are no automatic disqualifiers. Like other medical issues, there are levels of severity.”
Navy Mutual has insured people with PTSD, but again, it depends on the individual circumstance and the whole health picture, said Stephen Pietropaoli, a retired Navy admiral chief operating officer at Navy Mutual.
Post-traumatic stress itself is not disqualifying, he said. Still, the applicant may be denied or have to pay more for insurance when the PTS is more severe and if they are on medication for other physical injuries, for example.
Navy Mutual tries to come down on the side of approving the application. “We exist to provide life insurance for veterans who serve and their families,” he said. But if they don’t assess the risk properly, it could affect the company’s financial strength. “We have to be around for 30, 40, 50 years from now to pay the claims,” he said.
He and others advise applying for commercial life insurance before transition or after leaving the military. That gives the option of using VGLI when you’re still eligible.
And like this veteran and his wife learned, it’s wise to shop around to find options.
Ready to see the plans and pricing?
Best life insurance for disabled veterans
Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI) provides low-cost coverage to eligible service members. If you have a service-connected disability, find out how to apply for S-DVI online or by mail.
Am I eligible for Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance?
You may be eligible for S-DVI if you meet all of these requirements.
All of these must be true:
- You were released from active duty on or after April 25, 1951, and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, and
- You were rated for a service-connected disability (even if only 0%), and
- You’re in good health except for any service-connected conditions, and
- You apply by December 31, 2022, or within 2 years of receiving your disability rating (whichever comes first)
Note: An increase of a rating you had before—or a rating of Individual Unemployability, meaning you can’t work—doesn’t qualify you for S-DVI.
Can I get more life insurance coverage if I need it?
If you carry the basic S-DVI coverage and become totally disabled and unable to work, you can apply to get up to $30,000 more in coverage. This is called supplemental S-DVI coverage.
You may be able to get $30,000 of supplemental coverage if you qualify for a premiums waiver, and you meet both of these requirements.
Both of these must be true:
- You apply for the coverage by December 31, 2022, or within 1 year from the date you get notice of the grant of waiver (whichever comes first), and
- You’re younger than age 65
What should I do if I received an other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge?
If you’ve received one of these discharge statuses, you may not be eligible for VA benefits.
There are 2 ways you can try to qualify:
What kind of life insurance benefits can I get with Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance?
- Up to $10,000 of coverage
- Up to $30,000 of supplemental coverage
How do I get these benefits?
You’ll need to apply for benefits in 1 of 2 ways:
- Apply for basic S-DVI online, or
- Fill out an Application for Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (VA Form 29-4364).
- Get VA Form 29-4364 to download
Securely upload the form, or mail it to:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Regional Office and Insurance Center (RH)
PO Box 7208
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Whole life insurance for veterans
When you’re an active military member, many of your basic needs will be taken care of, having access to inexpensive life insurance for veterans and your family. But when transitioning back to civilian life can be difficult. Figuring out your life insurance plans is one of the significant challenges.
However, suppose you are a veteran and looking into buying a whole life insurance policy. In that case, you need to know they have the added benefit of building tax-deferred cash that can be used later in life, such as for higher education, large purchases, or retirement.
Unlike term insurance, whole life is permanent coverage, meaning it does not run out after a specified time. (Some entire life policies do have an age limit, but newer policies usually last at least until you reach age 100.) Additionally, whole life monthly premiums never go up, so it is wise to take out a whole life policy as early as possible.
However, the premium is higher than an equivalent term life policy because of the many benefits of whole life insurance for veterans. It costs more because you get more.
Compare the market, right here.
Coach B. saves you up to 60% by comparing the top-rated companies on our quote and apply platform.
Military life insurance for veterans over 60
Veterans have four life insurance choices after leaving active duty.
- Let SGLI expire and buy from a private life insurance company; if you want to purchase a policy from a private insurer, you should start the application process quickly. This is the best option for veterans without severe health conditions who will qualify for a cheaper civilian policy.
- Convert SGLI to VGLI- If you like your military-provided life insurance, you’ll have 485 days to convert to VGLI after leaving active duty. Shop your premium with online quotes for private life insurance to ensure you’re getting some of the cheapest rates.
- Convert SGLI to private life insurance. You only have 120 days of leaving active duty for a no medical exam policy conversion. This is worth considering for veterans with health concerns who know they want a private insurance policy.
- Convert SGLI to VGLI, then convert your VGLI into private life insurance coverage with specific providers that allow you to convert VGLI into a civilian policy without a medical exam. This lets you shop online quotes for private insurance to ensure you’re getting the best price possible.
Depending on your specific health history and financial needs, many veterans with several medical conditions who need a small coverage might benefit from staying on with VGLI. When others may find a private policy better fits their needs and budget.
How much does life insurance for veterans cost?
VGLI is a permanent life insurance policy — it never expires as long as you pay premiums. The premiums increase over time and are based on your coverage amount and age. These are the VGLI premiums by age for the max coverage amount ($400,000):
|29 and under||$28|
|30 to 34||$36|
|35 to 39||$48|
|40 to 44||$64|
|45 to 49||$84|
|50 to 54||$132|
|55 to 59||$240|
|60 to 64||$396|
|65 to 69||$588|
|70 to 74||$904|
|75 and older||$1,712|
Rates as provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rate illustration valid as of 2/08/2022.
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Do veterans get free life insurance?
Service-Disabled Veterans’ Life Insurance (S-DVI) provides life insurance coverage to Veterans who have been given a VA rating for a new service-connected disability in the last two years. Totally disabled Veterans are eligible for free coverage and have the opportunity to purchase additional life insurance
How much life insurance do veterans get?
Active-duty military personnel are eligible to receive up to $400,000 in life insurance coverage offered through Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and that benefit continues for 120 days after leaving military service.
Is there life insurance for retired military members?
We’re here to help protect your military family. While on active duty, servicemembers have access to life insurance for veterans through Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), a group term life insurance program for servicemembers and their dependents.
About Coach B.
After starting his financial career with Phoenix Home Life Insurance Company back in 1992, Scott decided he wanted to provide people with an easier and more enjoyable way to buy life insurance. That was the start of Coach B. Life Insurance, whose mission is to be transparent, honest, and helpful to customers — without ever bugging or pushing them.
In the years since then, he has worked tirelessly to improve the process of shopping for insurance. His goal is to make sure that everyone who comes to Coach B. — whether they end up buying a policy or not — has the best possible experience.
Advertiser disclosure While our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product on the open market, we believe everyone should be able to make great