Since the first modern life insurance company started in the 1700s, life insurance has offered protection for countless families. Today, people with all backgrounds need life insurance. But life insurance for veterans works a bit differently than for civilians.
Your family needs the protection that life insurance offers, and it’s up to you to choose the best life insurance for veterans. However, from making the choice to taking out a policy, the process can get complex.
We’re here to help. Keep reading to clear up all your questions about life insurance for veterans and make the right decision for your family’s future.
Why Life Insurance For Veterans Matters
Many servicemembers have families at home who depend on their military income. Without life insurance, if you pass away, you could leave your family struggling. Life insurance for veterans provides a crucial safety net in case the worst happens.
While you’re a service member, you automatically get a $400,000 life insurance policy from the VA’s Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). For most service members, this policy is enough to cover their needs. As long as you meet the qualifications of military service and don't decline the policy, you get automatically enrolled in this program without an application.
You don’t have to use this life insurance option as a service member, but it’s a good idea if you do. SGLI is an affordable life insurance policy that you qualify for automatically. You can also choose a lower-than-maximum coverage option if you prefer, and you can choose your beneficiaries for the policy.
However, once active duty ends, so does the SGLI policy. You’ll need to start thinking about your other life insurance options to make sure your family remains protected.
Types Of Life Insurance
It gets easier to choose the best life insurance for veterans when you understand the basic types available. Let’s take a look at the main types of life insurance -- this will help you decide between the life insurance for veterans options we’ll list later.
Universal life insurance
This kind of life insurance keeps you covered throughout your lifespan and also has a cash value for your policy. Part of your monthly premium will go toward your policy, while another portion goes into a cash account that grows, tax-deferred, with interest.
This kind of life insurance has the benefit of being an investment method, as well as an insurance policy. It’s also very flexible. For example, you can quit making your premium payments for a while and use the cash value in your account to cover the cost. You can also borrow money from the cash account as a tax-free loan when you need to.
However, because it’s an investment, you’ll pay more for universal life insurance than for some other types of policies.
Variable life insurance
This kind of policy works like a universal insurance policy but allows you to invest the cash value of your account into investments like stocks or mutual funds. Instead of getting the policy’s set interest rate, you can grow your funds more by making wise investments with the account.
Of course, this flexibility does come with some risk. If you don’t make good investment decisions, you could lose the cash value amount in your account. And if your account value drops too much, you might have to pay higher premiums to keep the policy going.
Whole life insurance
Some veterans may choose whole life insurance policies that keep them covered throughout their lives. These policies also have a cash value, like the universal life policy options. You’ll usually pay a fixed premium that doesn’t change with factors like age or health, and your family will be eligible for a fixed death benefit.
Whole life makes it easy to plan for the future because the specifics of the policy don’t change with time. Even the interest rate on the account’s cash value is fixed. You can take loans or make withdrawals from that cash account as needed with most whole life policies.
However, this is also one of the most expensive types of life insurance, because it’s a guarantee for the future. It doesn’t allow much room for change, either: you can’t adjust your death benefit or monthly premium amounts once you commit to the policy.
Term life insurance
Both of the life insurance options offered by the VA are term life insurance policies (more on those later).
Term life insurance doesn’t cover you for life, but for a set period of years. You’ll pay a monthly premium during that term. Once the term is up, the policy ends. Your family only gets a death benefit payout if you pass away before the end of your policy's term.
One benefit of term life insurance is that it’s very affordable. Your premium will depend on how much coverage you have. Although health affects the premiums for civilian term life insurance policies, it doesn’t affect the cost of VA policies.
Choosing The Right Life Insurance For Veterans
As a veteran, you have a few different life insurance provider options. Let’s take a look at how to weigh your choices and decide on the best one.
The first and easiest type of life insurance for veterans is the VA-provided Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI).
Once you leave service and your SGLI policy ends, you can transition into a VGLI policy instead. As with SGLI, it’s easy to qualify for: You just need to be a veteran who had SGLI in the past. Continue paying your premiums, and you can keep your policy going even after your service ends.
However, although this option is easy and inexpensive, it may not be the best for all veterans.
The benefits of VGLI include having no application and no membership fees. You won’t need to pass medical exams or take any tests.
Your VGLI death benefit remains the same no matter what (unless you want it lowered). All you need to do is pay your premiums to keep the policy going. It doesn’t matter if you run into health problems along the way. Your premium won’t change due to any health issues you might have, unlike most insurance policies for civilians.
However, your premiums do go up based on age, not health. As a young veteran, you might find the premiums very manageable. But as you get older, the premiums go up, even if you remain in peak physical condition. This means VGLI works well for a transitional period, but it isn’t the best long-term life insurance option for many veterans.
VGLI also has some limits, because like SGLI, it’s a term life insurance policy. It doesn’t make a good investment -- it just pays a death benefit. Other types of life insurance can offer more value in the long term by letting you build up or invest a cash value in the account.
While veterans can choose any life insurance providers they want, many other organizations besides the VA offer life insurance specifically for veterans. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones.
American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association
This association helps veterans with everything from loans to wealth management, as well as life insurance. However, its services are available to veterans with an honorable discharge only in certain states, and you’ll have to meet medical requirements for life insurance.
If you’re not in one of these states, you can enroll with the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association before your time as a service member ends to get life insurance through the organization. You can choose from different types of life insurance, and the wide variety of financial assistance offered goes above and beyond just life insurance protection.
Military Benefit Association
The Military Benefit Association offers term life insurance policies to all veterans, and you can choose the amount of coverage that’s right for your family. This option is also very affordable; you might find rates even lower than those offered by the VA.
This large insurance company invests in its military-focused offerings. For example, it hires veterans to help answer any insurance questions former service members may have.
Even though Geico primarily focuses on car insurance, some veterans will find that the company’s military-focused consulting team can help them choose the right life insurance for veterans, too.
Uniformed Services Benefit Association
This nonprofit organization helps both active duty members and veterans get the best term and whole life insurance policies. The New York Life Insurance Company backs policies offered by the Uniformed Services Benefit Association so that you can feel confident in your choice.
United Services Automobile Association
Term life insurance offered by the United Services Automobile Association can give you the coverage you need and also works well as a supplement to your VA policy.
With this option, you pay the same premium for the entire term, so you don’t have to worry about your payments going up as you age. This association even offers war-time coverage in case you return to service while holding a policy. And if you have a significant life event, like buying a house or getting married, you can increase your life insurance coverage.
Veterans Of Foreign Wars
As a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) member, you can access a number of life insurance for veterans options. Some plans even extend coverage to your grandchildren, while others are available with no medical exam.
Armed Forces Benefit Association
In addition to term life insurance, you can also get banking services, health plans, and more from the Armed Forces Benefit Association. This organization doesn't stop at the usual life insurance coverage; you can even get a college scholarship for surviving family members in certain cases.
How To Choose The Best Life Insurance For Veterans
With these and many more organizations offering life insurance for veterans, how should you make your decision?
While there are many variables you’ll need to consider before deciding, here are some of the top things veterans should keep in mind.
The rates can vary widely depending on which policy you decide on. As mentioned above, your premium rates might change according to your age, health, or other factors. You’ll need to think about not just what you can afford now, but what you can afford in the future. For many veterans, it’s worthwhile to look for rates that won’t change much with time.
The different types of life insurance all have benefits and drawbacks.
Weigh your family’s unique situation before choosing the type of life insurance that works best for you. If you’re concerned about your lack of investments, you might want a life insurance policy that includes a cash value component. If you want to make sure you’re covered for life, make sure to avoid a term life policy that’s set to expire at a certain date.
It’s a good idea to learn as much about an organization as you can before buying life insurance from them. If you’re already familiar with one of the organizations on this list, and you’re happy with what they offer, that could be the best life insurance option for you.
You can also check resources like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners or your state’s insurance department to see any financial and complaint information about an insurance company. The best companies have a track record of financial stability and few complaints.
All the life insurance for veterans options listed here come from respected, reputable companies. But if you’re interested in another source for life insurance, it’s especially important to do this research before moving forward.
Ready To Protect Your Family For Life?
image source: Pixabay
Life insurance for veterans buys you and your family peace of mind. No matter what happens in your life after service, you’ll know that your family is taken care of. And with some policies that offer investments, scholarships, and more, they’ll be taken care of in more than one way.
Everyone with dependents benefits from a life insurance policy, but getting life insurance for veterans can look a little bit different. Do you feel prepared to choose the right life insurance for veterans now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!