VA Life Insurance Review

Low-cost term life insurance for military members with limited coverage

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VA Life Insurance

VA Life Insurance

overall rating
3.8

Our Take

The VA (the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs) offers life insurance that covers active military members and their families, as well as veterans with simple term life coverage options. The VA also offers several other insurance coverages including traumatic injury insurance, service-disabled veterans insurance, and mortgage life insurance. While the VA offers affordable life insurance for those who may not otherwise qualify for traditional life insurance, older, healthy individuals may save money by getting a traditional term life policy through another life insurance company.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No-exam term life policies for service members (plus their family members) and veterans

  • Fixed pricing structure, not based on health status

  • Available policy riders to help cover injured and disabled military members and veterans

Cons
  • Maximum coverage of $400,000 for term coverage

  • No permanent life insurance options available

  • For veterans, limited time to sign up after leaving service

  • For veteran coverage, rates increase with age (every five years)

Key Takeaways
  • VA life insurance is a collection of life insurance offerings managed by the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (OSGLI).
  • VA life insurance coverage does not penalize those in poor health.
  • Veterans need to apply for VA life insurance (VGLI) within 1 year and 120 days of leaving the military, or they no longer qualify for coverage.
  • VA life insurance is underwritten and serviced by Prudential Life Insurance.
Specifications
  • Year Founded 1965
  • Kinds of Plans Term
  • Number of Plans 1
  • Payment Options Monthly, quarterly, annual
  • Official Website https://www.va.gov/life-insurance/

Introduction

VA life insurance offers term life insurance to military members, their family members, and veterans, with policies underwritten and serviced by Prudential Life Insurance. We researched the VA’s life insurance options, including its partner’s financial stability, policy plan options, riders, website tools, and customer service reviews to help you compare the life insurance policy options of the VA with the competition. 

Company Overview

VA life insurance coverage is part of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), established in 1965 to allow servicemembers to receive affordable term life insurance coverage. Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) was formed and partnered with insurance companies to provide coverage. In 1974, Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI) was established to allow service members to convert their SGLI policy to a five-year term policy after separating from military service. 

VA life insurance is available in all 50 states.

Available Plans 

VA life insurance offers term life insurance only. The policies do not require a medical exam or health questionnaire to be approved, except for VGLI coverage if you apply more than 240 days after leaving military service. If you wait until after 240 days to apply, you will need to submit evidence you are in good health.

SGLI Term Life Insurance

SGLI term life policies start at $50,000 and go up to $400,000 in death benefit coverage. Coverage is available in $50,000 increments and can be increased at any time during service. Age and health status are not considered when applying for SGLI coverage, and premiums are withdrawn directly from military pay.

Servicemembers who qualify for SGLI coverage are automatically enrolled through their service branch for the maximum amount available. Members can change or opt out of coverage at any time.

Note

There is also part-time coverage available to Reserve members who do not qualify for full-time coverage. Contact your unit’s personnel office for more information.

FSGLI Term Life Insurance

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) offers term policy coverage to the spouse and dependent children of active military members. Spouse term policies are available from $10,000 up to $100,000, and children can receive $10,000 of coverage per child. Coverage is a guaranteed issue, meaning health status is not considered when applying.

FSGLI coverage is an optional benefit that members can enroll in, and premiums are deducted directly from military pay. Members can change or opt-out of FSGLI coverage at any time. Premiums for spousal coverage are based on age and increase in five-year age bands.

To sign up your spouse or dependent children for FSGLI, you must be covered by full-time SGLI.

VGLI Term Life Insurance

VGLI term life policies start at $10,000 and go up to $400,000 in death benefit coverage. The coverage amount available will match the coverage amount you elected for SGLI coverage before leaving the military. You can only increase your coverage amount by $25,000 every five years (up to a maximum of $400,000) until you are 60 years old. Once you are age 60, the benefit amount remains the same until the policy is canceled.

You can keep your term policy for life as long as premiums are paid. The policies are also convertible to permanent life insurance policies at any time without any medical exams or health questionnaires. Conversions are available from select partner insurers including New York Life and Northwestern Mutual.

Note

Conversions must be to permanent life policies only. There are no conversions available to other term life policies from partners.

Available Riders

A rider is an optional policy enhancement that adds additional benefits or custom coverage options to the insurance policies. VA life insurance offers a few policy enhancements and options for additional coverage. Some of these are not considered riders but act much in the same way, providing additional coverage options.

Accelerated Benefits Rider

This rider is available on all SGLI and VGLI plans, paying up to 50% of the death benefit if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of nine months or less.

Traumatic Injury Protection Coverage (TSGLI)

This optional policy enhancement is only available to SGLI members and provides short-term financial support to help eligible service members recover from a severe injury. The cost is $1 per month, and enrollment is automatic. This rider is no longer available once separated from military service.

Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

This optional policy enhancement is available to veterans that have severe service-connected disabilities who’ve adapted a home to fit their needs. This optional coverage provides up to $200,000 in additional death benefit to pay down a mortgage should the insured become deceased. 

This is a declining benefit coverage and will lower in coverage as the mortgage balance of the insured lowers. The beneficiary of this coverage is the bank or financial institution that carries the mortgages on the insured’s personal residence only.

Note

This coverage is only available to veterans that received a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to buy, build, or make modifications like installing ramps or widening doorways to a home.

Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI)

This supplemental insurance option is for military veterans that have received a service-connected disability. Coverage is up to $10,000 in life insurance benefits (in $1,000 increments), with the ability to add another $30,000 in optional coverage. Premiums vary by age and coverage elected and may be waived if the insured becomes permanently disabled (unable to work) for at least six months.

Customer Service: Contact OGSLI or Prudential

VA life insurance options are managed by the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (OSGLI), but policies are underwritten and serviced by Prudential. To sign up or have basic questions answered about policies, service members or veterans can contact the OSGLI by calling 800-419-1473 or email Prudential at osgli.osgli@prudential.com

Once the policy is purchased, service and claims will be handled by Prudential. Clients can log in to the Prudential online portal, call directly, or email for assistance.

OSGLI customer service hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET, and Prudential business hours are Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET.

Customer Satisfaction: Average Scores from Prudential

The NAIC rates life insurance companies via the complaint index, giving scores for the number of complaints received. Prudential, the company that services all VA life insurance accounts, Prudential received a 0.98 score in 2020. This is about average for the industry (the average complaint score is 1.0 and the lower, the better). This is more complaints than Prudential received in 2019, in which it received a complaint index score of 0.33.

J.D. Power also ranks companies based on customer satisfaction, and they ranked Prudential 11 out of 23 life insurance companies in the U.S. in their 2020 Life Insurance Study. This puts Prudential at the industry average based on their application and orientation (on-boarding process), communications, interaction, price, product offerings, and statements.

Financial Strength: A+ (Superior)

VA life insurance policies are underwritten by Prudential Life Insurance, which is a strong financial company with an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best. This rating was given based on Prudential’s highly diversified earnings sources, de-risking initiatives, and strong liquidity. This gives VA life insurance policies great financial backing, giving customers confidence claims will be paid.

Cancellation Policy: No Refunds

VA life insurance does not follow the typical state minimum “free-look” period for insurance policies. It is offered as a military benefit and does not offer refunds for canceled policies. You can cancel your policy at any time by simply calling the OSGLI or Prudential and elect to discontinue coverage. 

There are no penalties or additional fees for canceling VA life insurance coverage.

Price of VA Life Insurance: Low Cost Term Coverage for Younger Individuals

VA life insurance premiums are a fixed cost. While SGLI premiums for active servicemembers are dependent on the amount of coverage selected, VGLI premiums for veterans vary by age and benefit amount and increase every five years. 

For younger veterans or those in poor health, the policy premiums are a great deal because there is no penalty for your health status. For older, healthy veterans, the policy premiums get very expensive for the amount of coverage received.

Note

FSGLI coverage for spouses is dependent on age, but dependent children coverage is free.

SGLI Term Life Rates

Here are a few sample monthly premium rates based on coverage amount. TSGLI coverage is automatically enrolled for SGLI members.

Coverage Amount Monthly Premium TSGLI Monthly Premium
$100,000 $6 $1
$200,000 $12 $1
$300,000 $218 $1
$400,000 $24 $1

FSGLI Term Life Rates (Spouse)

Here are a few sample monthly premium rates based on age and coverage amount.

Age $50,000 policy $100,000 policy
35 and below $2.25 $4.50
45-49 $5 $10
60 and over $22.50 $45

VGLI Term Life Rates

Here are a few sample monthly premium rates based on age and coverage amount.

Age $200,000 policy $400,000 policy
29 and below $14 $28
45-49 $42 $84
65-69 $294 $588
80 and over $900 $1,800

How VA Life Insurance Compares to Other Life Insurance

VA life insurance offers various term insurance policies for servicemembers and veterans as well as active service member families. While SGLI offers very low-cost premiums for modest coverage amounts, VGLI has increasing premiums over time. Policies can be considered “guaranteed-issue,” as all veterans can apply for and be approved for coverage, regardless of their health status.

The VA does not offer permanent life insurance policies or cash value policies with riders to customize the coverage. Many other life insurance companies have a wider range of offerings and may offer lower rates for older, healthy individuals.

Here’s how VA life insurance coverage stacks up against the competition.

VA Life Insurance vs. AARP Life Insurance

Both the VA and AARP both offer guaranteed-issue life insurance policies. Both companies outsource insurance policies to be underwritten and serviced by a third party. But while the VA offers only term life policies, AARP offers multiple types of life insurance for AARP members and their families.

Here are few key differences between VA and AARP:

  • AARP offers term and whole life insurance, while the VA only offers term policies.
  • VA life insurance policies are automatically enrolled for active military servicemembers.
  • AARP life insurance is only offered to AARP members, with a minimum age of 50 years old.
  • VA term insurance for veterans renews every five years, with increasing premiums.

While VA term life insurance coverage may be a great option for active servicemembers and young veterans in poor health, AARP offers guaranteed-issue permanent life insurance policies for older individuals, regardless of age or health status.

Read our full AARP Life Insurance review.

  VA Life Insurance (underwritten by Prudential) AARP Life Insurance (underwritten by New York Life)
Market Share Fifth-largest in the U.S., 4.6% Largest in the U.S., 6.75%
Number of Plans 1 4
Online Quotes Available? Yes (term life only) Yes
Service Method Email, phone Direct, phone
AM Best Rating A+ (Superior) A++ (Superior)
Complaints Index 0.98 (average) 0.16 (excellent)

Final Verdict

VA offers low-benefit term life insurance for active servicemembers, their families, as well as veterans, with no medical exam required. For active military members, younger veterans, and those in poor health, the rates may be much lower than competitors, as health status does not determine the monthly premium amounts. Once separated from service, older, healthy individuals may pay prohibitively expensive rates and would be better served finding another life insurance option.

With the low benefit maximum ($400,000), VA life insurance should be seen as a supplemental insurance policy for those who want more coverage. If you are looking for more flexible policy options, such as whole and variable life, as well as the ability to accrue cash value over time, you will need to look elsewhere.

Methodology 

All of our reviews of life insurance companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company’s offerings, customer service, financial stability, cost, and more. For each company, we compared the life insurance products offered, as well as available features, and reported customer experiences. Visit our life insurance review methodology for the full breakdown of what we evaluated for over two dozen companies.