What You Need to Know About Military Life Insurance

in Plan by Lacey Langford, AFC®

FTC Disclosure: Heads up, this post is sponsored by USAA. Even though it’s sponsored, this post is all me. It’s my thoughts, stories, and opinions on life insurance. Let’s be honest, planning for your own demise isn’t a fun topic. It’s not an easy conversation to start either. But death is a reality for all of us and just like any life event…ya need to plan for it. It so happens that September is the perfect time to do just that. It’s Life Insurance Awareness Month. If you’re wondering where to begin, no worries. I’m going to break down what you need to know about military life insurance—what it is, why you need it, who needs it, options for military Service members, and how to get it. I’m gonna tell you how it all works. Plus, my story of a scary life insurance lesson learned.

What Is Life Insurance?

Basically, it’s a contract between you and a life insurance company. In the contract, you agree to pay what are called premiums or payments to the insurance company in exchange for a death benefit. I know that’s not a fun description but stick with me. The death benefit is a lump-sum payment that goes to your beneficiaries upon your death or the insured person’s death. Just like any contract, if you don’t hold up your end of the deal, neither will they.

Why Get Life Insurance?

There are many different reasons why someone would need life insurance. The “why” depends on the needs and goals of the person and/or their family. One of the main reasons why a person needs life insurance is to their replace income when they die. If you’re the sole source of income for your family, you can imagine your death would have serious financial ramifications for them. Let’s not forget stay-at-home moms and dads either. If they pass, who will be caring for your children when you work? There will be an increased expense for that. Another reason for life insurance would be to maintain financial goals like paying off a mortgage or paying for college. Bottom line is insurance helps your family maintain financial stability even when you’re gone.

When To Get A Life Insurance Policy

As soon as someone depends on you financially, you should get life insurance. Ensuring your livelihood isn’t just for middle-aged folks. It’s for newlyweds, breadwinners, new parents, working parents, business partners, stay-at-home and single parents plus many more. When the loss of your income will have a negative financial effect on someone, you need a life insurance policy. I would recommend getting life insurance as soon as possible because as your age increases, so does the expense.

Types Of Life Insurance

Ok, this part’s important. To make an informed decision about what type of insurance you’re going to buy, you need to understand the differences between them. There are different types of life insurance you can choose from but Term and Whole Life Insurance are the most common. So, that’s where I’ll focus.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is temporary. It’s for a “term” of your “life” or a certain time period. When you buy a term life insurance policy, the policy is good for a certain term. Examples would be a 20 or 30-year term policy. You will pay fixed premiums for the length of the term. Term life insurance is usually the least expensive life insurance and the one I typically recommend to clients.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is for-ev-er. It’s for your “whole life.” When you buy a policy, it lasts for your lifetime. And you will pay premiums your whole life too.  Whole life is usually more expensive life insurance policy and comes with a cash value. This cash value can be an additional savings component for you but you’re better off saving the money in the bank or in a retirement account. There are very few situations where I would recommend whole life insurance to a client. Because most likely, when you’re in your 60s-90s, no one is depending on you for money. And if you have enough income to meet your needs, there isn’t a need for life insurance at that point. It’s also expensive compared to getting a cheaper term policy that meets your needs.

military life insurance

Where To Buy Military Life Insurance

You can buy life insurance directly from an insurance company or you can use an insurance agent, I recommend going straight to the company. Some agents are limited in what they can offer. It’s smart to shop around and find the best possible price for the coverage you need. My husband and I both have life insurance policies with USAA. By the way, my hubby was even able to get a life insurance policy through USAA while he was deployed. In addition to USAA, we have group policies through my husband’s employer. If it’s offered where you work, you can get additional life insurance through your employer at a group rate. The military has the benefit of the SGLI, FSGLI, and the VGLI.


The Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance or SGLI is term life insurance coverage for military Service members run by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). If you’re eligible, you’re automatically signed up and insured for the maximum SGLI of $400,000. Some eligible Service members include active duty, cadets or midshipmen, reserve and guard members and the coast guard. The SGLI also has coverage for traumatic injury and the VA offers life insurance for spouses and dependents, too.


The TSGLI is automatic traumatic injury insurance provided to anyone insured under the SGLI. It gives financial help to people recovering from a severe injury such as the loss of a limb. TSGLI coverage is not just for combat-related injuries, it also covers injury on or off duty.

Family SGLI

The Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) is a group term life insurance policy for your spouse and dependent children. FSGLI is free for your children but the service member pays the premium for the spouse. The maximum coverage for your spouse is $100,000 and $10,000 per child.

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

The VGLI is another group policy that allows you to keep your life insurance after you leave military service up to $400,000. You’re able to keep the VGLI for life as long as the premiums are paid. A benefit to the VGLI is you do not have to prove good health or take a medical exam. A drawback is the VGLI is much more expensive than the SGLI and the cost increases with age.

Why You Need More Than The SGLI?

You don’t have the SGLI for life. At some point, you will lose the SGLI when you leave or retire from service. Yes, you can use the VGLI but the cost might be too steep for you (remember it increases with age) or it might not be enough coverage. Life is not all sunshine and roses which I’m sure we’re all aware. Life is going to happen. A situation could come up that makes you uninsurable. That’s why it’s important to have insurance other than the SGLI and FSGLI. An issue with your health such as heart disease could make you ineligible for life insurance. Your alcohol consumption or reckless driving could also cause you to be denied insurance. It’s better to get additional coverage sooner than later. Remember, the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper the insurance.

Life Insurance Lesson I Learned

Before my first child, I was only covered under the FSGLI. It never occurred to us that we might need more insurance on me. My husband was the main income earner and I was going to stay home with our children. Why would we need more? That’s when life punched us in the face. One morning, during my first pregnancy, I started to feel really weird. I had just dropped my husband off at jump school. Yep, we were at Fort Benning, GA. My stomach hurt, my head hurt, I knew something was wrong. I got myself to the hospital ASAP. Boy (pun intended), was I right. Something was wrong, I developed a rare condition in just one day. My liver was failing, my blood pressure was dangerously high and my blood platelets dropped so low that I was at risk of hemorrhaging. Right as my husband rushed into my hospital room, the doctor ran in to tell me I needed emergency surgery. Our son was healthy and fine but my life was at risk unless they delivered him early… right then. Within 5 minutes, I was put under for surgery.   It took a minute but I got better. Our son was born healthy and happy. But when the dust settled, it hit us, what would my husband have done if I died…which almost happened. Who would take care of our newborn while he worked? Who would take care of him when my husband deployed? How long would the $100,000 FSGLI last? Even though I was not the income earner for our family, my death still would’ve had life-long financial ramifications for my family. You can probably guess, that’s when I called USAA and bought additional life insurance for myself.

Military Life Insurance For Kids

If talking about life insurance for adults was uncomfortable for you…take a breath. We’ve gotta talk about insuring your kids for a sec. Unless your child is a baby model or a YouTube star, you don’t need life insurance to replace their income. But you may want life insurance coverage for your child’s funeral expenses. I say “may” because although funeral expenses aren’t cheap, the cost is low enough that you could self-insure your child, i.e. save money. But know yourself. If you struggle with saving, you may want to get a policy for your child or you may be able to add a child to your USAA policy. I’m partial to saving money but it’s really a personal decision. If you do buy life insurance for your kids, a term insurance policy is the way to go. Some employers offer low-cost life insurance policies for children that may be a good fit for your goals. Don’t forget, under the FSGLI dependent children have a $10,000 term policy. As soon as someone depends on you financially, you should get life insurance. Knowing when and how much coverage you need or where to buy to buy life insurance are going to be individualized decisions. But having life coverage is something everyone should think about. Getting life insurance gives you peace of mind and helps your loved ones maintain financial stability when you die. Starting planning. If you need some more guidance and information on buying a life insurance policy, USAA has it covered. They offer special policies and benefits for Service members. Check out their site for resources like their, Life Insurance Product Comparison, How Much Life Insurance Do I Need Calculator, and How To Get Life Insurance Guide. You can also get a free, no obligation life insurance quote at USAA right meow! signature