Upon joining the military, you will be provided with life insurance through the government, Servicemembers Group Life Insurance or SGLI, and premiums will be automatically deducted from your pay. It is not a requirement that you obtain your life insurance through the government, you may use a commercial or non-profit organization of your choice or you could decline coverage altogether, however this is not recommended. It could be disastrous to you and your family if you are injured or killed in the line of duty. The following groups of individuals are eligible to receive SGLI:
- Active duty servicemembers
- Ready Reservists
- National Guard Members
- Members of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service
- Cadets and midshipmen of the Reserve Officer Training Corps members
Coverage can be purchased in increments of $50,000 regardless of age and only costs the member 6.5 cents per $1000. You can get up to a maximum of $400,000. If you die while on active duty, your family members would be eligible to receive an additional payment of $150,000 (up to a total payout of $400,000) at no additional cost.
All servicemembers are required to fill out the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate, which certifies coverage and designate who the beneficiaries will be that receive payment. This must be filled out even by those members taking less than the maximum coverage or denying coverage all together.
Having this life insurance policy does not prevent you from securing other forms of life insurance simultaneously.
Families where both husband and wife are military members are allowed to carry policies up to $400,000 for each spouse. Be sure to list one another as spouses on your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System to be certain that both of you will have spousal coverage.
Dependent family members are also eligible for life insurance coverage as well through Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance. Spouses can carry up to $100,000 and children can carry up to $10,000 each. One condition that applies, is that spouse cannot carry more insurance coverage than the servicemember. Family members coverage will automatically begin under the following conditions:
- Servicemembers were married when the program began on November 1, 2001
- Servicemembers entered active-duty or Ready Reserve service and are married or have dependent children
- Servicemembers got married or gained a dependent child during service and have full-time SGLI coverage
SGLI Injury Coverage
If a servicemember is insured under SGLI he or she is covered for a traumatic injury in the amount of $25,000-$100,000. The following injuries are eligible to receive insurance payment:
- Total and permanent loss of sight
- Total and permanent loss of speech
- Total and permanent loss of hearing in both ears
- Loss of hand or foot
- Loss of thumb and index finger on the same hand by severance at or above the metacarpophalangeal joint
- Quadriplegic, paraplegia or hemiplegia
- Burns greater than second-degree covering 30% of the body or 30% of the face
- Coma or the inability to carry out activities of daily living resulting from traumatic injury to the brain
Benefits are only payable if these were the results of a traumatic injury and from no other case and the servicemember was insured under SGLI at the time of injury
Upon separation from the military your SGLI will remain effective for 120 days. After that you have the option of converting your coverage to a term policy under the Veterans Group Life Insurance program or you may choose a permanent insurance plan with an outside commercial insurance company.
Veterans Group Life insurance
Even though the Veterans Group Life Insurance is a service provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs it is administered by the Office of Servicemembers Group Life Insurance. Through this insurance policy you may receive up to $250,000 coverage in increments of $10,000. To receive this veterans insurance coverage an application must be submitted to the Office of Servicemembers Group Life Insurance within 120 days of separating from active duty, which is when your Servicemembers Group Life Insurance policy will end. If you choose to go with the Veterans Group Life Insurance policy your plan will begin on the 121st day after separation or at the time to premium is received by the SGLI office.