Finding the best life insurance as a veteran can be overwhelming. The VA offers low-cost term life coverage through Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) when you are in the service, with the option to convert the coverage to a VA Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) after your service is complete. Once you leave the service, your SGLI life insurance does not continue without this conversion.
While the VGLI plan has its advantages, it may not get you the best price long term. But what are the options? What else is available and how do you find the policy that best fits your needs for valuable life insurance?
To help, we reviewed over 25 top life insurance companies, including life insurance programs that are geared specifically for veterans, and compared them for price, coverage options, and customer satisfaction in this comprehensive list of the best life insurance for veterans.
The 8 Best Life Insurance Companies for Veterans in 2020
- New York Life: Best Overall
- MassMutual: Best for Cash Values
- Northwestern Mutual: Best for Young Families
- Prudential: Best Term for Senior Veterans
- USAA: Best Price
- USBA: Best Group Plan
- Navy Mutual: Best for No Medical Exam
- Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI): Best for Disabled Veterans
Best Overall: New York Life
New York Life Insurance Company was founded in 1845 and is highly rated in customer satisfaction for both product and pricing in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study. New York Life also has the highest financial strength rating of A++ (Superior) by AM Best and an excellent track record of very low complaints filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Overall, New York Life offers a robust selection of coverage plans, SGLI and VGLI conversion, riders that can save you money—and they also pay dividends. They were the top-ranked life insurer in our life insurance reviews. All of these benefits make them our best overall life insurance choice for veterans.
The company is listed as one of the participating companies for SGLI and VGLI benefits conversion by the VA and also offers civilian life insurance options in term, whole, and universal life.
New York Life offers riders to add coverage at a later time without having to take a new medical exam. Living benefits riders for chronic or terminal illnesses are also available.
To obtain quotes from New York Life, you can speak to an agent or ask to be connected with a local financial professional who can work with you to find the best plan. There are no New York Life quotes online.
Read the full review: New York Life Insurance
Best for Cash Values: MassMutual
MassMutual has been in business since 1851 as a mutual insurance company, meaning that eligible policyholders receive dividends. The company has an AM Best financial strength rating of A++ (Superior) and an excellent track record with the NAIC for low levels of complaints year after year.
We chose MassMutual as best veterans life insurance for building cash values due to the participation in dividends, a good selection of permanent life insurance options, and access to living benefits.
MassMutual offers all types of life insurance, including term, whole, and universal life. The company also offers riders including:
- Long-term care
- Accelerated benefits (in case you are diagnosed with a terminal or critical illness)
- Guaranteed insurability
- Renewable term
- Life insurance supplement
- Waiver of premium on death of insured rider
MassMutual does not offer military program quotes online, but you can get help from a financial advisor regarding the conversion of SGLI, VGLI, or Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI). MassMutual offers standard Direct Term quotes online.
Read the full review: MassMutual Life Insurance
Best for Young Families: Northwestern Mutual
Northwestern Mutual is the largest life insurance provider in the U.S. and the top-rated insurance company for customer satisfaction. Founded in 1857, it is a well-established and respected mutual insurance company. Northwestern Mutual also has the highest financial strength rating of A++ (Superior) from AM Best, and as a mutual insurer, shares profits with eligible policyholders through dividends.
We chose Northwestern Mutual as the best for young families in this review because of the dividend options, which help you build cash values over time, and other features that allow you to start with smaller limits of insurance and buy more coverage as your family grows.
As the largest life insurer in the U.S., Northwestern Mutual offers more than a dozen life insurance policy options for all budgets, including a one-of-a-kind blended whole life and term policy that offers options to combine term and whole life insurance with accelerated death benefits designed to cover long-term care costs in the future.
Northwestern Mutual also offers several riders, including:
- Living benefits
- Additional purchase benefit, which allows you to add coverage without proof of insurability up until age 38.
We quoted Northwestern Mutual life insurance online using the calculator on their website, resulting in price estimates between $1 a day and $3 a day, depending on your age, for $400,000 of term life insurance. However, you still need to speak to a financial professional in order to buy a policy or get a detailed price breakdown.
Read the full review: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
Best Term for Senior Veterans: Prudential
Prudential was established in 1875 and is rated #1 in the Life and Health category of Fortune’s 2020 list of The World’s Most Admired Companies. Prudential is the third-largest seller of individual life insurance in the U.S. and has an AM Best financial stability rating of A+ (Excellent). Overall, the company’s complaint trends with the NAIC are good relative to its size.
We chose Prudential as the best term for senior veterans because of the ability to convert your SGLI or VGLI to a policy with level premiums for up to 30 years. For example, at age 45, you could lock in a rate of $74 a month up to age 75. This gives veterans an advantage over other term life policies whose premiums increase every few years as you get older.
Prudential offers universal life and term life insurance plans. The Prudential life insurance plans have optional riders for living benefits, accidental death benefits, and waivers of premium for disability. Prudential also offers a few estate planning riders, including an estate protection rider, no-lapse guarantee, and over-loan protection options on the universal life policies.
You can get a civilian Prudential quote online, or contact one of their agents to get the best rates for SGLI or VGLI conversion options.
Read the full review: Prudential Life Insurance
Best Price: USAA
USAA is a well-known insurance name for military group insurance, founded in 1922 by a group of army officers who pooled together to insure their own automobiles. The company has grown ever since, offering products in every area of insurance. USAA has an AM Best rating of A++ (Superior) and an excellent track record with very low complaints with the NAIC.
We chose USAA as the life insurance policy for veterans with the best price because, when compared with other life insurance companies, including those offering military group insurance conversion plans, USAA offered some of the lowest rates over time, starting with costs under $20 a month on level term premiums.
USAA life insurance has both permanent and term life insurance policy options. The permanent life insurance plans include a guaranteed cash value growth feature. The simplified life insurance plan has level premiums and lifetime coverage. The company also offers a universal life option with adjustable benefits and premium flexibility.
USAA riders include guaranteed insurability for 10 years or up to the age of 45, Military Protection Plus riders for conversion policies, Severe Military Injury Benefit riders, disability riders, and child or spousal riders, which allow you to insure your family on the same policy.
While USAA offers quotes online, your military information is required to obtain a quote.
Read the full review: USAA Life Insurance
Best Group Plan Options: USBA
The Uniformed Services Benefit Association (USBA) was founded in 1959 and is a not-for-profit association providing insurance solutions for military personnel, national guard, federal employees, and reservists. Underwritten through New York Life Insurance, USBA offers six different term life insurance options and three whole life policy plans, including life insurance for children and a joint life insurance plan known as the Two for One.
USBA has an online quoting tool that gives you life insurance pricing for all the plans. You can access the rates for term, whole life, and the Two for One family plans in one easy step, with a chart that makes it easy to compare, and see the price range for various options.
Sample pricing for USBA for $400,000 of coverage ranges from $24 a month (under 31 years old) to $532 a month (at age 69) for the Two for One (joint life insurance) plan. The simplified issue policy for age 50 plus offers premiums starting at $56 a month at age 50, up to $171 for age 69 for a sample male, at $25,000 of whole life coverage.
To qualify for a plan, you must be a member of USBA, however, membership is free and there are no dues. Policies are available in 50 states as well as DC, Puerto Rico, and Canada. We chose USBA as the best group plan for veterans because of the number of plan options and simplicity in getting quotes and comparing information.
Best for No Medical Exam: Navy Mutual
Navy Mutual was formed in 1879 and is the nation's oldest Veterans Service Organization. It has high customer service ratings from policyholders and a financial strength rating of A+ by Fitch Ratings.
Navy Mutual offers three term life insurance policy options with both convertible and level premiums. It’s Express Term policy is a 10-year term policy that includes $250,000 in benefits. The policy is an instant issue policy with no medical exam, which you can buy while in service and continue when you are a veteran. Policies can be issued from ages 18 to 55. There are no restrictions for war, aviation terrorism, or travel clauses for those on active duty.
Navy Mutual offers riders for accelerated death benefits, guaranteed convertibility, child benefit riders, and paid-up additions riders.
All U.S. military members who are active duty or retired, or separated within 120 days from service, may buy their products, as well as Navy Mutual members regardless of service status. To obtain a quote and full details of qualification requirements, you must speak to a representative. You can also get a quote online by filling in your information, including military service.
Best for Disabled Veterans: VA Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI)
Getting life insurance for disabled veterans can be tricky. Even though some policies don’t require medical exams and have simplified underwriting, there are still medical questionnaires, and you may be denied coverage for certain disabilities, including PTSD. For those who have trouble getting coverage elsewhere, the VA offers insurance for disabled veterans who are in good health (other than their disability). This can help ensure you get life insurance coverage even when other life insurance companies deny coverage.
In some cases, totally disabled veterans may be eligible for free coverage and can purchase additional coverage through the program. The program offers up to $10,000 of coverage and the possibility to increase coverage by up to $30,000 if you become totally disabled and are unable to work. There are nine plans to choose from, with issue ages up to 70 years old. Plans include a five-year level term and some permanent life options with cash values.
To be eligible, you must apply within two years from the date the VA grants your new service-connected disability. There are no online quotes, but they offer a brochure with premium and plan options with rates per $1,000 of coverage. You can apply for policies online through your VA online account.
What Is Life Insurance for Veterans?
Life insurance provides payment in the form of a death benefit to your beneficiary if you die and can also be used as an investment or savings tool. Life insurance rates increase as you get older, and depend on your health condition, medications taken, and other criteria. When you leave the military, you may have health conditions or disabilities due to your time in service or injuries acquired in combat. These conditions can make it hard to find good life insurance at a good price.
Fortunately, as a veteran, you have many choices for life insurance:
- Continue your group plan with the VA
- Find private insurance
- Supplement your VA group insurance with private insurance
- Convert your policy with private life insurers who participate in conversion programs
How Does VGLI Compare to Civilian or Private Life Insurance?
If you have health issues, or you miss your conversion period, there are a lot of advantages to the VGLI policy. However, if you’re younger and in good health, you can save a lot of money on insurance premiums by shopping around and investigating options.
- Same rates for smokers and non-smokers
- Same rates regardless of health
- No investigation of health history within 240 days of separation
- Same rates regardless of sex
- No health questions if you apply within 240 days of separation
- Term life insurance only, no cash values
- Policy premiums increase every five years based on age
- Maximum coverage is $400,000 or the same amount you had on your SGLI plan (if less than $400,000)
Private Life Insurance
- Rates based on smoker or non-smoker status
- If converting SGLI with a participating conversion company, no medical exam
- More policy options available, including permanent policies
- More riders available
- Possibility of dividends on whole life policies
- Possibility of terms up to 30 years
- Coverage not limited to a maximum of $400,000, can go to several million depending on the company
What Life Insurance Does the VA Offer?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several life insurance plans to cover active servicemembers and their families, disabled veterans, and veterans. Life insurance overage offered by the VA includes:
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI): For active service members, no health requirements to obtain coverage, it is automatic. Coverage is $25 a month for $400,000 of coverage.
- Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI): You can convert your SGLI policy when you end service to a VGLI policy. This is a renewable term policy, premiums increase every five years at renewal.
- Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI): This is life insurance provided to spouses of active duty service members. This coverage can be converted within 120 days of separation.
- Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI): For those who have received a VA service-connected rating in the last two years and are in otherwise good health.
- Veteran’s Mortgage Life Insurance: This coverage is available for severely disabled veterans who have a Specifically Adapted Housing grant.
What Does Life Insurance for Veterans Typically Include?
Life insurance coverage for veterans through private insurers or membership plans may include a death benefit, cash value accumulation, investment options, and the ability to collect dividends, all depending on the insurance company and policy type you choose.
Some policies have riders, such as living benefits, that allow you to access part of the death benefits in the event of critical illness or terminal illness. Other policies may allow you to add coverage for your spouse or children. Each life insurance company will provide different options, which is why it is worthwhile to shop around to find the best plan for your needs.
What Does Life Insurance for Veterans Typically Exclude?
Veterans life insurance (as well as civilian life insurance) may exclude coverage in certain circumstances, including:
- Waiting period clauses that limit the death benefit payout in the first two years to premiums paid (unless death is accidental). This is often found in policies that have no medical exam or are guaranteed issue.
- Contestability or Suicide clauses: These may deny payment for various reasons, including suicide in the first two years of the policy. Other reasons for denial of payment may include alcohol or substance abuse and illegal activity.
- Some life insurance companies may exclude coverage for suicide entirely.
It has been found that some veterans with PTSD have had challenges obtaining life insurance. Some companies may not agree to offer coverage, while others require additional underwriting. If you can show your condition is stable, or you are in treatment, they may be more willing to accept your application, but there are no guarantees.
What Are the Expected Costs of Life Insurance for Veterans?
The cost of veterans’ life insurance will depend greatly on the type of policy you choose. For example, term life with level premiums may cost you the same amount for up to 30 years. Whereas a renewable term policy, one that renews every five years like VGLI, will start off at one rate, but then goes up every five years until age 75, at which point it is $1,840 per month.
VGLI Five-Year Renewal Term Insurance Rates 2020
|Age||Policy Value $400,000|
|29||$32 per month|
Compared to other insurance companies we reviewed, where there were options for level term premiums at $75 a month for 30 years (ages 45 to 75), there’s a significant range difference in premium options.
What Is the Time Limit to Convert SGLI Coverage to an Individual Policy?
Conversion is the process of switching your SGLI coverage to a private insurer or to a VGLI plan without having to provide proof of good health. In order to benefit from conversion, you must do so within specific timelines:
- 140 to 240 days after the end of active duty to convert your SGLI to a VGLI (with no medical exam), and 240 to 485 days with a medical exam.
- 120 days after the end of active duty to convert your SGLI to a private plan without a medical exam with private insurers. The participating private insurer may ask you to answer health questions, but the VA states that you are not obliged to answer those health questions.
- You can convert a VGLI to an individual policy at any time.
How We Chose the Best Life Insurance for Veterans Companies
To find the best life insurance companies for veterans, we researched more than two dozen life insurance companies for reputation, product selection, underwriting tendencies, and price. We also analyzed the insurance companies cited by the VA as options for continuation of coverage, along with other non-profit and member group plans. We checked each one for pricing, customer satisfaction, complaints, and coverage options to come up with our overview of the best life insurance companies for veterans.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)." Accessed June 3, 2020.
Veterans Administration. "How to Convert Your SGLI/FSGLI/VGLI Coverage to an Individual Policy." Accessed May 16, 2020.
J.D. Power. "U.S. Life Insurance Study – Individual Life Insurance (2019)." Accessed May 16, 2020.
AM Best. "New York Life Insurance Company." Accessed May 16, 2020.
NAIC. "New York Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed May 16, 2020.
AM Best. "Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (Login Required)." Accessed MAy 16, 2020.
Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Life insurance." Accessed May 16, 2020.
AM Best. “Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (Login Required).” Accessed May 16, 2020.
AM Best. "Prudential of America Group (Login Required)." Accessed May 16, 2020.
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NYC Veterans Alliance. "Veterans With PTSD are Being Denied Life Insurance, What's Happening?" Accessed May 16, 2020.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "How to Convert Your SGLI/FSGLI/VGLI Coverage to an Individual Policy." Accessed May 22, 2020.
VA.gov. "Life Insurance." Accessed May 25, 2020.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)." Accessed June 3, 2020.
AIG. "Life insurance with no waiting period and no medical exam." Accessed May 16, 2020.
Military Times. "Does PTSD Affect Your Ability to Get Life Insurance?" Accessed May 22, 2020.