Best Life Insurance Options for Veterans

Written by: Tom Jackson

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Life insurance is one of those subjects, like funeral planning and pest control, that turns heroes into cowards: Almost everyone needs it, but nobody wants to talk about it.

Active-duty military personnel can avoid the life insurance conversation almost completely, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Sign-up is automatic, and additional coverage — deducted from your paycheck — is available for pennies on the dollar. Easy peasy.

Alas, the same doesn’t hold true for veterans or those rapidly approaching veteran status. Lurking dead ahead: The unsettling life insurance discussion and all it portends. Insurance for veterans is made more difficult by choosing the most suitable option for your particular circumstances from a variety of competing choices.

Whole life? Term life? Universal life? Convert your old active-duty policy to the veterans option? Dive into the pool of private insurers?

Let’s have a look.

Do U.S. Veterans Receive Free Life Insurance?

Military veterans enter civilian life supported by an enviable portfolio of well-earned benefits. Free life insurance, however, is not among them.

While on active duty, military personnel (plus those in a variety of service-related designations, from service academy students to unpaid reservists) are eligible for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, or SGLI. SGLI offers bargain-rate term policy coverage; signing up is automatic.

Upon leaving the military, veterans in good standing have their active-duty life insurance for 120 days, a period when they are encouraged to make decisions about their future coverage.

How to Choose the Best Life Insurance for Veterans

The journey to life insurance coverage for veterans starts out easy enough. The path begins with a simple fork: over here, life insurance coverage through the VA; over there, a policy with a private life insurer.

Deeper in, however, however, things can get tangled. Making the right choice begins with hashing out assorted factors, including your personal situation (age, family, obligations, financial assets), your budget, and your financial goals.

First and foremost, decide whether you need life insurance at all. If you’re entering veteran status as a young, healthy, single person without financial obligations to others, you may be better off using the money you’d spend on premiums to pay off debt, build an emergency fund or feed an investment or retirement account.

Personal wealth also can be a consideration. People with liquid net worth (cash, savings, investments) to rival a lottery winner (or you are a lottery winner — lucky you!) may be able to consider themselves self-insured for the expenses life insurance death benefits typically are designed to cover. (On the other hand, as a method for preserving wealth, life insurance is a proven winner.)

Everyone else, let’s have a gander at the factors influencing your decision.

Fits Your Budget

Budgeting effectively will play a key role in your post-military life. Ensuring your income and expenses balance includes having a proper fit for your life insurance policy.

Yes, having the right life insurance coverage may turn out to be vital to your family’s financial needs. You must balance, however, the coverage that’s right for you against your policy’s affordability; there’s little point in being life-insurance rich if you’re having trouble paying the light bill.

Home in on what you want from your life insurance coverage. Death benefit-only coverage (term insurance) is cheaper than whole or universal life. Lower payouts mean lower premiums. If you’re employed in your civilian life, investigate whether your company offers group life insurance, whether your coverage is among your benefits, and whether you can stack on additional coverage at a low premium.

Provides Features for Veterans’ Needs

Make certain you can get the coverage you need. Not all insurers will cover veterans with disabilities, physical or psychological (including PTSD).

Other considerations to weigh as a veteran:

  • If your health isn’t ideal, be wary of insurance companies that won’t provide an online quote. Some insurers require a medical assessment under all circumstances.
  • Make certain your insurer of choice offers the policy you want in your state. Coverage areas are not universal.
  • Don’t settle on an insurer until you have investigated the company’s reputation for customer service.
  • Be alert to the obstacles the insurer makes you hurdle before providing coverage. Do you have to interview with an agent or a financial advisor? Are they simply attempting to up-sell you?
  • Beware the companies with limited options (only one whole life plan, for instance), or lack the option you prefer.

Consider What Type of Coverage You Need

Life insurance comes in three types of packages: Term, whole and universal.

Term life insurance gets its name from providing coverage for a specific period of time — a term. Typically, term policies pay only death benefits and do not build cash value. Accordingly, term policies typically carry the lowest premiums.

Term insurance is a useful product for someone who needs coverage through a specific time of life — 10, 20 or 30 years. For instance, it can be used as a stopgap to finance college educations if you’re gone, or to pay off a mortgage, or to help a young family transition to an altered financial reality.

Whole life insurance usually builds cash value, offers a steady premium as long as the policy is current, provides a death benefit, can be borrowed against, and, as the name indicates, is designed to last a whole lifetime.

Universal life, a more flexible version of whole life, presents a permanent life insurance package that can build cash value, can serve as an investment vehicle, can be borrowed against, and provides a death benefit. Within parameters, policyholders may adjust their premium payment and their death benefit.

“For veterans deciding between term life or whole life, here are the basics,” says Scott Lieberman, founder of “Whole life insurance never expires but is more expensive than term life. You can usually buy Term Life insurance that lasts from 10 to 30 years.

“Another big difference is that whole life has a cash value. This cash value increases over time. You can potentially borrow against it with a life insurance loan.

“If you’re unsure which is right for you,” Lieberman says, “consider that many term life insurance policies allow you to convert it to whole life insurance later on.”

Best Life Insurance Options Available through the VA

Losing that sweet, sweet deal on coverage through SGLI does not mean you’re out of Pentagon-backed options. You may find a good fit through the VA’s assortment of choices.

Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is coverage available at group rates through the VA. Veterans who carried SGLI as active-duty personnel are eligible to enroll in VGLI, but must do so within 1 year 120 days from their discharge date.

Veterans can choose to carry up to the amount of coverage they had through their SGLI policy; policies can be renewed through your lifetime.

Policyholders who carried part-time SGLI coverage may qualify for a VGLI policy if they suffered an injury or disability that bars them from life insurance rates offered to healthy clients.

Other considerations regarding VGLI:

  • Coverage ranges from $10,000 to $500,000.
  • Policyholders may increase coverage by $25,000 every five years, up to $500,000, or until their 60th birthday.
  • A VGLI policy can be converted to individual life coverage with a participating insurer.
  • Although VGLI policies include lifetime renewability, premiums rise with your age. For clients 29 and younger, a $500,000 policy costs $35 per month; that same coverage for a 69-year-old vet runs $735 per month.

VGLI casts a wide net; to qualify, only one of the following must be true:

  • You received SGLI during active duty and are within 1 year 120 days of release from active duty of more than 31 days.
  • As a member of the National Guard or Reserve, you received part-time SGLI and suffered a disability or injury while on duty (including travel to and from your assignment) that blocks access from standard premium insurance rates.
  • It’s within 1 year 120 days from your retirement or release date from Ready Reserves of the National Guard.
  • It’s within 1 year 120 days from your having received assignment to the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR).
  • It’s within 1 year 120 days from the date you were placed on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL).

Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife)

Initiated by the VA Jan. 1, 2023, Veterans Affairs Life Insurance is guaranteed-acceptance whole life insurance coverage for veterans with service-connected disabilities. VALife replaces Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance. (While coverage remains in force for existing clients, S-DVI stopped accepting new applications December 31, 2022.)

Highlights of VALife include:

  • No medical underwriting required.
  • Applications may be completed online. Decisions are received instantly.
  • Applicants may choose up to $40,000 in whole life coverage. Lesser amounts are available in increments of $10,000.
  • Elected coverage takes effect two years after enrollment as long as premiums remain up-to-date.
  • S-DVI clients who apply by December 31, 2025, may keep their coverage during the two-year waiting period by continuing to make premium payments. (In short, you’ll be making payments on two policies.)
  • Premium rates, which are competitive with private carriers, depend on the veteran’s age and the amount of coverage chosen. Premiums are locked in for life at the time of application.

Veterans’  Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) provides mortgage protection insurance to families of veterans or service members with severe service-connected disabilities who have adapted a home to fit their needs.

VMLI falls into the category of “decreasing term life” coverage. Valued at up to $200,000, coverage decreases as the mortgage balance is paid down. Coverage ends when the mortgage is paid off.

Payment goes directly to the institution or lender holding the mortgage. You do not designate a beneficiary. Additionally, VMLI carries no loan or cash value, nor does it pay dividends. VMLI is designed to protect the home for the family of the disabled veteran.

Applicants for VMLI coverage must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You have a severe disability that the VA concludes was caused, or exacerbated, by your service.
  • You received a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to buy, build, or make changes (such as installing ramps or widening doorways) to a home so you can live more independently.
  • You have the title of the home.
  • You have a mortgage on the home.
  • You’re under 70 years old

Best Life Insurance Options Available Through Private Insurance

In addition to their VA-supported options, veterans — like their fellow civilians across the fruited plain — also have the option to find life insurance in the private sector.

Veterans may be attracted to the private option for a variety of reasons. They don’t qualify for life insurance through the VA; they want coverage higher than the VA offers; they want to supplement their VA life insurance coverage.

Veterans should bear in mind, within 120 days of their discharge date, they may convert their SGLI policy into a civilian one. Keep an eye out for companies that cater to veterans with specially crafted policies.

Below are listed some of the best life insurance options for veterans through private insurance.

United Services Automobile Association (USAA)

Serving only military families, United Services Automobile Association (USAA) offers coverage designed for those who have served or are serving.

Well-regarded for its competitive pricing, USAA’s life insurance products often are substantially less expensive than its competitors.

USAA allows retiring military to replace SGLI with the ability to lock in premiums, including veterans who are disabled.

The company is well-known for its advantageous term life insurance coverage, and its survivor relationships.


  • Established in 1922.
  • Rated A++ (Superior) by insurance watchdog AM Best.
  • Online quotes available.
  • Offers term, whole, and universal life policies.
  • Disabled veterans may choose from an assortment of plans.
  • Customers may add children to their policies.—even for retiring military members who are disabled.


  • Requires medical checkup to rate the policy.

Military Benefit Association (MBA)

The Military Benefit Association (MBA) offers 10- and 20-year term life insurance for veterans, underwritten by MetLife, Inc. Term life insurance to age 90 offers generous children’s rider policies, free, up to $12,500.

Explain the MBA is one of the best options for term life insurance.


  • Underwritten by MetLife Inc.
  • Established in 1957.
  • Eligible children covered at zero additional cost.
  • Coverage for policyholders offered to age 90.


  • No whole or universal life coverage offered.

Prudential Life Insurance

Regarded as among the top life insurance companies for veterans, Prudential offers an assortment of policies to active military and veterans, including three levels each of term and universal life coverage.

Prudential’s veterans’ group life division offers guaranteed lifetime coverage without a medical exam.


  • Variety of coverage options.
  • No medical exam required in most cases.
  • No exclusions for mental health, PTSD or TBI.


  • Tight eligibility requirements.

Allstate Life Insurance

Rated as among the best life insurance providers, Allstate offers term, whole and universal life policies.


  • Allstate allows clients to customize some of its life insurance policies through its TrueFit Term plan.
  • No medical exam required for term life.
  • Allstate offers term, whole, universal and variable life policies.


  • Applicants with imperfect health cannot receive an online quote. You would have to enlist an agent.
  • Weak website.
  • No mobile app.

Northwestern Mutual

Venerable Northwestern Mutual (founded 1857), the company offers a variety of coverage options, plus customizable coverage.


  • A variety of coverage plans offered.
  • Term life may be converted into whole life.
  • Some policies pay dividends.
  • User-friendly online features include automatic premium payments, an insurance calculator, and customer service.


  • Lots of fluff on the website; few direct answers available online.
  • Getting started requires contact with company financial advisors.

American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA)

Launched in 1879 by the War Department in response to the Battle at the Little Bighorn (Custer’s Last Stand), American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association targets senior veterans for affordable life insurance policies up to age 84.


  • Veterans may choose from a variety of policies among its term and whole-life options.
  • Coverage offered up to age 84.
  • No medical exams required for veterans and their spouses.


  • Coverage not available in all states.


Our list of excellent insurance providers for veterans could have been much, much longer. New York Life, MassMutual, Uniformed Service Benefits Association, Pacific Life, Penn Mutual, Transamerica, Nationwide, Corebridge Financial, Midland National … we could go on.

This is simply to indicate that veterans considering life insurance options have plenty of options to choose among. Here’s your course of action:

  • Analyze your needs and goals.
  • Research the plans that best suit your ambitions.
  • Review your budget.
  • Identify the top providers of the policy you seek.
  • Compare and contrast before you buy.

About The Author

Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson focuses on writing about debt solutions for consumers struggling to make ends meet. His background includes time as a columnist for newspapers in Washington D.C., Tampa and Sacramento, Calif., where he reported and commented on everything from city and state budgets to the marketing of local businesses and how the business of professional sports impacts a city. Along the way, he has racked up state and national awards for writing, editing and design. Tom’s blogging on the 2016 election won a pair of top honors from the Florida Press Club. A University of Florida alumnus, St. Louis Cardinals fan and eager-if-haphazard golfer, Tom splits time between Tampa and Cashiers, N.C., with his wife of 40 years, college-age son, and Spencer, a yappy Shetland sheepdog.


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