Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) covers spouses and unmarried dependent children of military personnel insured under SGLI, providing essential life insurance protection.

Written by: Michael Knisley

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If you’re currently serving in the military, chances are you already have low-cost life insurance for yourself. When you went on active duty, the government automatically enrolled you in its Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) plan, so you are covered for the maximum amount ($500,000) unless you pro-actively reduced it or declined it altogether. It’s a pretty good deal, especially if you don’t have a spouse or dependent children.

But what if you have a wife or a husband, and kids? You might want more protection against the money trouble that could arise from a death in your immediate family. That’s where FSGLI (or Family SGLI, as it is sometimes called) comes in. Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance is a component of  SGLI that allows a member of the military to provide life insurance for his or her spouse and children, without the worry of meeting the qualification criteria required of a civilian policy. It, too, is a sweet deal, costing considerably less than civilian policies.

But as with many insurance policies, the decision to invest in FSGLI might not be easy. There are competing factors to consider: the financial burden of the additional premiums, the peace of mind the extra coverage might bring, and the concern that even FSGLI coverage might not be enough when unforeseen needs arise. Finding the right insurance balance for your family can be a delicate operation. We can’t, and won’t, try to make the decision for you here. But we will outline what FSGLI is, who is eligible for it, how much it costs, and how to apply for it.

The rest is up to you.

What Is FSGLI?

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance was established in 2001 to extend life insurance coverage to the spouses and unmarried dependent children of members of the military who are already insured by SGLI (Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance) program. FSGLI is only life insurance; it doesn’t cover disability or other medical and health issues.

Like SGLI, Family SGLI is group and term insurance. As you’re weighing its advantages and disadvantages, it might help to understand how those two kinds of insurance function in relation to the alternatives.

Group life insurance means that a relatively large number of people (in this case, members of the military and their families) are covered by a single contract administered by an employer (in this case, the government), which generally lowers the price you pay for the policy. The alternative to group life insurance is a private policy, which gives you more flexibility in benefits, duration, and the frequency of premium payments but likely will cost you more.

A term life insurance policy covers an individual for a defined period (usually between 10 and 30 years) during which a person pays a monthly premium in exchange for a promise from the insurance company to pay a specific amount of money (a death benefit) to a beneficiary if the policy holder dies during the term. The alternative is permanent, or whole, life insurance, which in theory covers you for the rest of your days (though many such policies expire when you turn 95 or 100). Premiums for whole life insurance generally are considerably higher than for term life insurance.

Bottom line: The cost of insuring your spouse and children through FSGLI should be lower than you’d pay to insure them on your own.

Who Is Eligible for FSGLI?

The requirements start with an active-duty service member in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force. National Guard, or Ready Reserve. If that service member is covered by full-time SLGI, then his or her immediate family members are eligible to be covered under FSGLI.

The spouse of someone with  SGLI coverage may qualify for FSGLI coverage whether he or she is a civilian, retired military or on his or her own active duty.

Dependent children eligible for FSGLI coverage include the following:

  • A natural child of the service member.
  • A legally adopted child.
  • A stepchild who is a member of the service member’s household.
  • A child between the ages of 18 and 23 who is a full-time student.
  • A child who became permanently incapable of self-support before the age of 18.
  • A stillborn child whose death occurs before delivery, excluding by abortion.

In most cases, as soon as the service member’s  SGLI policy becomes active, the FSGLI coverage kicks in automatically for his or her civilian spouse and dependent children whose information is already registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Your spouse’s coverage can be changed after that, but coverage for dependent children can’t be declined.

However, the coverage for a military spouse won’t be automatic if he or she was married on or after Jan. 2, 2013. If the marriage happened after that date, the active-duty service member with full SGLI coverage will need to pro-actively sign up the military spouse through SGLI’s Online Enrollment System (SOES).

If a spouse or dependent child is already covered under the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program, he or she is not eligible for coverage under FSGLI.

Types of FSGLI Coverage

The maximum coverage for a civilian spouse is $100,000 or the amount of your own SLGI coverage, whichever is less. It’s available in increments of $10,000. As with your  SGLI coverage, you can lower or raise the amount of your spouse’s coverage (up to the $100,000 maximum), if the request is done in writing. The premium for your spouse’s coverage under FSGLI is automatically deducted from your pay.

If you are married to another service member, your spouse can be insured under both FSGLI and SGLI at the same time, up to a maximum of $500,000.

Family SGLI doesn’t require an additional premium for coverage of your dependent children. Each child insured by an FSGLI policy is provided $10,000 of coverage automatically, at no extra cost. Unless you decline your  SGLI altogether, you can’t decline the FSGLI coverage of your dependent children. But why would you want to? It isn’t costing you anything extra.

For both spouses and dependent children, FSGLI is term life insurance. If your spouse or children covered under the policy survive beyond the end of the term, no benefit will be paid out. Your FSGLI’s term expires 120 days after you leave the service or give up your SGLI coverage.

Spouse Coverage

As we’ve mentioned, the maximum (and automatic) benefit for your spouse covered by FSGLI is $100,000, to be paid to the beneficiary in the event of the spouse’s death. However, if as the active-duty member with SGLI coverage, you have lowered your own benefit to below $100,000 (from the maximum of $500,000), your spouse’s benefit must match that number or stay below it. Remember: Your spouse must be registered in in DEERS to receive FSGLI coverage.

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance is just one of the benefits for your spouse offered by the military, including automatic free health care and health insurance through the Department of Defense’s TRICARE program.

Dependent Child Coverage

Among other military benefits for children, each of your dependents can get $10,000 of life insurance protection under FSGLI at no cost to you beyond the extra premiums you pay for your spouse’s coverage. The policy for your dependent child or children can stay in effect until they reach the age of 18, but the coverage can be extended beyond that if he or she is a full-time student between 18 and 22 or if a child becomes permanently and totally disabled before turning 18. In some cases, FSGLI’s coverage for permanently disabled children who can’t support themselves can be extended indefinitely.

What Are the FSGLI Premiums?

Remember when we told you earlier that an FSGLI policy to cover your family was a sweet deal? Here are some numbers to back that up.

Let’s say your spouse is under the age of 35 and you’ve insured them with an FSGLI policy for the maximum of $100,000. The monthly premium would be $4.50, taken automatically out of your paycheck. That number goes down with each increment of $10,000 of coverage below the maximum. So, if the policy for your spouse is for $90,000, your monthly premium would be $4.05.

That’s definitely low-cost, compared to the average civilian group term policy. According to a July 2023 study by Forbes magazine, a $100,000 life insurance policy over a 10-year term for a healthy, 30-year-old nonsmoking woman costs an average of $7 a month. If it’s a 30-year term, the policy to cover the same woman would cost $11 a month.

In the Forbes study, those average numbers are slightly higher for healthy, nonsmoking 30-year-old males: $8 for a 10-year term and $12 for a 30-year term.

And don’t forget: Covering your dependent children under FSGLI comes at no extra cost to you beyond the premium you pay for your spouse.

As with most civilian policies, the premiums for FSGLI spousal coverage increase as the spouse ages. So, for example, the $4.50 you paid for $100,000 of coverage when they were under 35 will be $10 a month when they are between 45 and 49 years old.

Here’s a chart from the government that shows the increases in FSGLI premiums for spouses as they age.

Increases in FSGLI Premiums for Spouses as They Age.
Spouses’ Age<3535-3940-4445-4950-5455-59>60
Premium per $10,000 of Insurance $0.45$0.53$0.70$1.00$1.70$2.95$4.50

How to Apply for FSGLI

By now, you might have guessed that the key word is “automatic” for most service members who want life insurance for their family. If you’re covered by full-time SGLI and your spouse is a civilian, they automatically became insured, as did your dependent children, when your SGLI coverage began, as long as they were  registered in DEERS. How’s that for a no-muss, no-fuss application process?

However, coverage isn’t automatic if your spouse is also a service member. In that case, you must apply manually for coverage through the SGLI Online Enrollment System. Here’s how that works:

  • Go to milConnect
  • Sign in
  • Go to Benefits, Life Insurance SOES-SGLI Online Enrollment System to sign up

About The Author

Michael Knisley

Michael Knisley writes about military related finance topics like military pay, security clearances, and Tricare for Military Money. Michael was an assistant professor on the faculty at the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism and has more than 40 years of experience editing and writing about business, sports and the spectrum of issues affecting consumers and fans. During his career, Michael has won awards from the New York Press Club, the Online News Association, the Military Reporters and Editors Association, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Sports Emmys.


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