Everyone knows the importance of having life insurance. In short, it’s to help your family avoid a financial disaster if you were to die suddenly. This is even more important for anyone that’s an active member of the military. If you’re an active duty service member, then you have access to two military life insurance programs, each with their pros and cons. Today, we’ll go over these life insurance programs as well as a 3rd option.
Here is another in-depth article I wrote about military life insurance.
SGLI vs VGLI
The first of many military life insurance options you will come across are the SGLI and VGLI options.
SGLI stands for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. It’s a VA program that offers term life insurance at low premiums. SGLI is automatically provided for active duty service members. This automatic coverage is available with a minimum face amount of $50,000 and a maximum face amount of $400,000.
Everyone in the military has this life insurance policy.
Qualifying for SGLI
The SGLI policy does not require a medical exam to qualify. That means there’s no blood test, no physical, no health questions.
The SGLI life insurance premiums are pre-determined based on your age. The cost of SGLI is broken down like this: For every $1,000 of coverage, you’ll pay 6 cents. For example, if you wanted the maximum benefit amount of $400,000 — it would cost you a monthly rate of $25.00.
Traumatic Injury Protection coverage
If you’re receiving coverage by SGLI, you can also get Traumatic Injury Protection coverage. It costs an additional $1 per month and it will pay out anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000. The amount will depend on the severity of the injury.
What happens when you leave the military?
SGLI is for active duty military. What happens when you get out? Your SGLI policy will remain active after your discharge for 120 days. Once you’re discharged you have the option to convert your SGLI policy to a VGLI
VGLI stands for Veterans Group Life Insurance. It’s a similar program to the SGLI. When you leave the military you can convert to VGLI which is a renewable term life policy.
Qualifying for VGLI
The conversion is guaranteed. In other words, you won’t be turned down no matter what. You won’t have to qualify medically or answer any health questions. So veterans with mental health issues or PTSD can qualify and it won’t increase their premiums.
The VGLI policy has a maximum death benefit of $400,000. Premiums for VGLI are affordable for veterans who are young. Unfortunately, it gets pretty expensive as you get older.
As we mentioned, VGLI rates are low when you’re young, but increase substantially as you get older. Let’s look at the price differences for a $400,000 VGLI:
- $32 per month for a 29 year old
- $1,840 per month for a 75 year old
That’s a pretty big difference in price!
3. Are there other life insurance options?
Are there any alternatives to SGLI or VGLI? The answer is yes!
If you’ve been discharged or are getting close to leaving you may have more affordable options. You can shop for an individual life insurance policy. We’ll walk you through these options and tips so you can make sure you’re getting the deal available. You can always compare an individual policy with VGLI to see which will save you money.
Shop with an Independent Agent
Like any life insurance shopper, you should work with an independent life insurance agent. Why are “independent” agents preferred? It’s because they don’t work for any particular company. That means they can shop your case to any life insurance company they have access to. There are other types of agents that are called “Captive” agents. When you use a captive agent, you’re only getting quotes from one company. That agent can only offer you products from the company they work for.
Look at Prudential Life
When you contact an independent agent, you’ll more than likely get rates from Prudential. Why is Prudential frequently recommended? It’s because they usually have the lowest premiums for active-duty military personnel. Another reason is because you can lock in rates for up to a 30-year term.
Will Prudential always have the lowest rate? No. The reason is because you need to qualify for an individual life insurance policy. Unlike the SGLI and VGLI options, an individual policy needs to be underwritten. That means you’ll probably have to undergo a medical exam. Other factors will contribute to the cost of your policy such as:
- Tobacco Use
- Your health
- Your lifestyle
- Family history
You should also take a look at USAA and AAFAA. These military insurers should be looked at closely for older veterans that are in good health.
Underwriting isn’t Standardized
Your policy’s actual price will be determined by the factors above (and more). Here’s the good news. Life insurance underwriting isn’t standardized. In other words, each company has different standards with how they rate you. Some are more strict and some are more lenient when looking at those factors above.
For example, maybe you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The top 10 companies that you’ll get when completely healthy may not be the same with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The top 10 could change again if you were overweight or used tobacco. This is why it’s very important to use an independent agent that has access to many life insurance companies. It gives you the best chance at getting the best deal available based on your specific health and lifestyle.
Be careful of any agent who gives you the absolute lowest rates (called Preferred Best or Preferred Plus) if you have a health condition or any other potential risk. Quotes are just to give you an idea of what your price might be. Make sure your agent asks you specific questions about your health before they quote you. If they give you a quote without knowing your details, your quote will likely be inaccurate.
Military Life Insurance Options
When it comes to buying life insurance, one size does not fit all. This goes for the average Joe as well as active-duty members and veterans. If you’re in great shape or if you’re willing to take an exam, you’re probably going to get the best deal shopping around. If you have some significant health issues then the VGLI may offer you the best plan. It’s always best to shop around first and then see how Prudential or any other company compares to the VGLI. Only then will you know who you should ultimately apply with.
About the Author:
Michael Quinn is the cofounder and Senior Editor at www.lifeinsuranceblog.net where visitors can learn about life insurance types, get shopping tips and instantly compare rates from the best companies.