We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Written By
Published Sep 20, 2022 10:08 AM

Looking after the welfare of loved ones following our death is among our most important duties, which is why identifying the best life insurance for veterans is paramount. Thankfully, when uniformed service members separate from the military, they have an abundance of options regarding life insurance. While we discuss these in detail later, departing personnel can convert their Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) into Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI), purchase coverage from a private company, or convert SGLI or VGLI into a private policy. 

In any event, there are decisions to make, and each carries its own advantages, costs, and benefits that a veteran should understand to ensure they choose the best solution to their needs. What’s more, there are deadlines for converting SGLI, as well as additional deadlines for converting policies without triggering a medical exam requirement. It’s complicated, and there are a lot of moving parts. So to help you make the most informed decision possible, we’ve rounded up some of the highest-rated companies that provide life insurance for veterans. 

Prudential’s Veterans’ Group Life plan is tailor-made for veterans and their families. You can convert your military SGLI plan within one year and 120 days (485 days total) of separating from the service. There is no medical questionnaire requirement for those who convert within the first 240 days from their separation date, but you may need to provide evidence of health if you wait longer than that.

Once you do transfer your SGLI policy, you’ll enjoy renewable coverage regardless of changes to your health or employment status. In addition, every five years you can increase your coverage amount by $25,000, up to $400,000.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to this plan is that veterans will not be denied coverage for post-traumatic stress injury (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or combat-related illness or injury. In fact, Prudential is well-regarded for underwriting policies for those with complicated medical histories, including conditions such as cancer and HIV.

Still, Prudential may not be for everyone. While you can begin the quote process online, receiving and canceling your policy is all done through snail mail, which can cause unwanted delays. In addition, Prudential caps your coverage limit at $400,000, so if you require a greater death benefit, this might not be the plan for you. Further, Veterans who prefer whole life insurance will have to go elsewhere. Prudential doesn’t offer this type of coverage — although, you will find other forms of permanent insurance such as universal, indexed universal, and variable universal policies.

This provider offers a wide variety of financial services, and veterans will find options for investments, 529 plans, annuities, retirement accounts, and even health insurance. Prudential has a reputation for strong financial strength from independent companies like A.M. Best and Moody’s, but Trustpilot shows it may have customer satisfaction issues. Some policyholders take Prudential’s customer service team to task and cite long call wait times.

Key Features
  • Continuous lifetime coverage, provided premiums are paid on time
  • No exclusions for PTSD, TBI, or other medical and mental health conditions
  • No medical exam required for most policyholders
Why It Made The Cut
  • Veterans who want a VGLI alternative may find their best option with Prudential. You’ll potentially enjoy all the benefits of your military life insurance with less hassle and fewer costs.
PROS

Term and universal life insurance available

Wide variety of riders to customize your policy

Online quotes available

CONS

Whole life insurance is not available

Some account management is done via mail

Best Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent insurance that pays a death benefit to the beneficiaries of the insured for the duration of their life, provided premiums are paid on time. These policies are popular because of their “cash value.” In other words, a portion of a whole policy can be tapped for emergency funds. Not only does New York Life offer veterans tax-free access to their cash values, but many will also qualify for annual dividends. This provider’s “dividends have been paid continuously since 1854.” This means you can earn a percentage of your whole life policy back in cash each year.

New York Life’s whole insurance is highly customizable with riders that allow your spouse to use your death benefit to purchase coverage without a health screening, waive premiums should you suffer a disability, and pay out a portion of your policy early if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness. It also offers a lineup of other financial solutions, including annuities, mutual funds, estate planning, and long-term care insurance.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to New York Life may be its lack of transparency around price points and policy details. Few coverage specifications and requirements can be found on its website. Indeed, it seems the primary purpose of its online footprint is to encourage potential customers to speak directly with an agent by phone. Still, for some veterans, this traditional relationship may be appealing. It just depends on how you like to conduct business.

New York Life Insurance Company has 4.1 stars on Trustpilot, but only a handful of customer reviews, yet many are complimentary, giving the underwriter points for its experience and integrity. To see what kind of rate you will be given, connect with a representative through the company website.

Key Features
  • Military SGLI and VGLI plan conversion available
  • Eligible whole life policies pay dividends
  • Offers whole, term, and universal life policies
Why It Made The Cut
  • Veterans in search of whole life insurance from a well-established company may like what they see in the venerable New York Life. It’s been underwriting policies since 1845.
PROS

Wide variety of riders to customize your policy

Living benefits rider for terminally ill policyholders

Industry leader for financial stability

CONS

Online quotes not available

Not all policies available in every state

Term life insurance will pay a stated death benefit to your beneficiaries should you pass within a specified term, usually 10 to 20 years. It’s often ideal for policyholders who are younger and prioritize low-cost premiums. It’s this commitment to providing quality protection at an affordable price that makes AAFMAA stand above the rest. This underwriter claims to have policies that are 75 percent less expensive than others. Obviously, your mileage will vary with these types of advertised rates. But still, AAFMAA is well-regarded within military communities for delivering on its promises.

You’ll have a choice of several term life plans that offer between $50,000 and $800,000 of coverage for individuals and families with options for a flexible term (ranging from five to 30 years), convertible plans (from term to whole life), and renewable plans (up to age 70). Plus all term policies come with $10,000 of coverage for dependent children under 21 years of age, at no additional cost.

AAFMAA also features a selection of policies designed with senior veterans over 60 in mind. Its Wealth Builder plan puts forward up to $1 million of whole coverage to seniors who may not meet the medical requirements of other insurers. You can even take out a loan against your policy balance or cash it in without penalty.

Trustpilot ranks AAFMAA with 4.6 out of five stars, and over 80 percent of its many customer reviews are categorized as “excellent.” It’s also noteworthy that despite its name, this company is not affiliated with either the U.S. Government or the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can get a better idea if this provider is right for you by speaking with a life insurance agent for a personalized rate.

Key Features
  • Many policies do not require a health screening
  • Variety of term life plans and several whole life policies
  • Coverage for active-duty military, retirees, veterans, military spouses and children at any age
Why It Made The Cut
  • If you’re looking for flexible and inexpensive term life insurance, then you may have much to celebrate with AAFMAA. You’ll likely receive a competitive premium with no medical exam requirement.
PROS

Also offers wealth management and mortgage loans

Modern website and online resources

Policies exclusively offered to military households

CONS

Not available to separated veterans in all states (available to active duty, Guard, Reserve, and retirees nationwide)

USBA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1959 to provide health and life insurance to federal employees, military personnel, veterans, and their families. This means that those who are eligible may receive their most competitive rate with this provider. Though, the actual cost will depend on your coverage limits, optional riders, and the type of life insurance you purchase.

Policyholders who opt for a whole life plan can expect a guaranteed premium that will not change regardless of age, health, or employment. Similarly, your coverage is also guaranteed — USBA will not cancel your policy under any circumstances, as long as you keep up with your payments. Like most other whole insurance plans, your policy qualifies for cash value accumulation that allows you to borrow against the balance or cash it out entirely.

Veterans who choose term life insurance will enjoy affordable family rates with level terms of five, 10, 15, and 20 years — all with options to renew. You can secure coverage limits of up to $500,000 with all plans, but age thresholds and costs will vary depending on the level term you select. You can also take advantage of its low-cost children’s coverage that extends $25,000 in benefits for each eligible dependent.

USBA also features a Two for ONE plan that could be beneficial for two-income families. Instead of paying two separate premiums, this plan covers both household earners and pays the surviving spouse a death benefit. It also pays beneficiaries double if both partners die within 15 days of each other from the same accident.

Despite the low-cost coverage, senior veterans may find USBA’s age restrictions unappealing. Certain plans have limits as low as 54 years of age, so veterans over 60 will likely want to look to AAFMAA or other companies for coverage.

USBA is not found on customer review sites like Trustpilot. Since it partners with New York Life to underwrite member policies, USBA isn’t on the radar of independent reviewers either. But you’ll find testimonials on its website. Additionally, because it’s a non-profit, you can also review many of USBA’s governance documents online, too.

Key Features
  • Whole life coverage limits upwards of $750,000
  • Term life policies are renewable and range between five to 20 years
  • 30-day “free look” that fully refunds your money
Why It Made The Cut
  • This not-for-profit insurer offers veterans with families a variety of reasonably priced household plans and policies for families and married couples with dependents.
PROS

Low-cost children’s group term rider

Digital resources and coverage calculators available online

Sponsors veterans scholarship program and community projects

CONS

Age limits are stricter than most

Term coverage limits could be higher

In some respects, VGLI will often be the best government life insurance program for veterans suffering from disabilities. It does not exclude PTSD, TBI, or any other complex medical conditions — while many private companies will. But VGLI also has a low coverage limit of $400,000, so for disabled veterans who want access to higher limits, USAA will insure amounts of up to $10 million with select plans.

Plus, after converting from SGLI to VGLI, your premiums increase every five years — but not with USAA. Its Level Term V policy can replace your SGLI policy and lock in a premium regardless of your health, provided you convert within 240 days of leaving the service. In addition to its benefits for disabled veterans, USAA provides premium waivers for policyholders who suffer a disability later in life.

USAA offers both term life insurance and whole life insurance. Its term insurance comes in two varieties with coverage lengths of 10 to 30 years, and you can also select between three whole-life policies. The balance from your whole life plan can be leveraged to pay for long-term care or the medical expenses of any household member with special needs. Keep in mind that while USAA is available to veterans in every state, not all plans are available in all states.

Another drawback to USAA’s coverage is that several of its policies require medical screening for veterans who wait beyond the 240-day post-service conversion requirement. This can be a big step back for disabled vets who are worried that a medical condition may exclude them from coverage. But USAA does provide a few options for those who want to keep their medical history private. Its Essential Term life insurance does not require a health screening or medical questionnaire, nor does USAA’s Guaranteed Whole Life program.

USAA comes highly rated by most independent reviewers, including J.D. Power and Associates and Standard & Poor’s. But to see if this provider has the right policy for you, visit its website or speak with an agent by phone.

Key Features
  • Coverage limits in excess of $10 million for both term and whole insurance
  • Age limits as high as 90 years with select plans
  • Supplemental coverage beyond SGLI benefits for active-duty service members
Why It Made The Cut
  • Disabled veterans who are searching for high coverage limits should check out USAA life insurance. This military provider can insure amounts well beyond VGLI’s $400,000 limit.
PROS

Coverage can be added after major life events

Guaranteed insurability included at no additional cost

Few complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

CONS

Most plans require a medical exam

Some policies not available in every state

Things to consider before buying life insurance for veterans

VA life insurance

Active-duty military enjoy ample and affordable coverage through the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance plan, simply referred to as SGLI. While this protection isn’t available post-service, veterans have the option to convert their SGLI policy into a Veterans’ Group Life Insurance plan (VGLI) within 485 days of being discharged from duty. Those who convert to VGLI coverage within 240 days of discharge are not required to undergo a health screening. Yet, veterans who wait until after this threshold are often obliged to provide proof of good health. 

VGLI is generally preferable for veterans and retirees with medical conditions that may make qualifying for private life insurance challenging, such as PTSD, cardiovascular disease, neurological conditions, or service-related injuries, to name a few. However, VGLI is often costlier than SGLI, and its premiums increase with the policyholder’s age. This is not always the case for traditional term life policies. Further, VGLI has a maximum coverage limit of $400,000, which is much lower than comparable private plans. So, depending on a veteran’s personal situation, a whole or term life policy from a civilian company may be preferable. 

Veterans have four main life insurance options

Both veterans and retired military members have more options than most when it comes to life insurance. But this abundance adds a layer of complexity, too. Here are the most common options veterans face when choosing a policy. 

  • Purchase a civilian life insurance policy. Military members can let their SGLI plan lapse and purchase a policy from a private insurer. This is a VGLI alternative that is best for those who are looking for coverage limits and premiums that better suit their needs.
  • Convert SGLI to VGLI. If you want to carry your military benefits over into civilian life, you have 485 days to do so.
  • Convert SGLI to a civilian life insurance plan. A handful of providers will allow you to convert an SGLI policy into a private one without the burden of a health screening within 120 to 240 days of discharge. This could be beneficial to those with medical conditions they’d prefer to keep private.
  • Convert SGLI to VGLI, and the VGLI to a civilian policy. Some companies allow you to convert from VGLI to a private policy at any time without the need for a health screening. This option provides plenty of flexibility to veterans and retired military members who need time to compare rate quotes.

Be mindful of the reality that life insurance policies vary significantly from one underwriter to the next. If you don’t receive an agreeable quote from one, you just might from another. This is why it’s always recommended to comparison shop your life insurance policy with three to five providers. Doing so will always yield the lowest rate. 

FAQs about life insurance for veterans

Q: What is the best life insurance for veterans?

A: The best life insurance for veterans is generally the policy that is most sensible for each unique policyholder. For instance, a veteran who is relatively young and healthy will likely find attractive coverage through a private insurance company like New York Life. Similarly, a Navy veteran may find Navy Mutual easily fits within their current suite of financial products. On the other hand, the best for disabled vets could be VGLI, or a VGLI alternative like Prudential. It really comes down to cost and personal preference. 

Q: Do veterans get free life insurance?

A: Some veterans will get free life insurance. Specifically, policyholders who suffer extreme disability due to a combat-related injury may qualify for free life insurance through Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance, or S-DVI. However, aside from those with dire circumstances, most veterans will not receive life insurance for free.

Q: Can veterans with PTSD get life insurance?

A: Yes, veterans with PTSD can get life insurance. Although, their options are much more limited because most private insurers will deny coverage to veterans with certain medical issues and disabilities, PTSD included. Still, veterans with PTSD are eligible for coverage through VGLI, as well as S-DVI — two VA life insurance programs that are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Q: Do honorably discharged veterans have life insurance?

A: Honorably discharged veterans have plenty of life insurance options. Some will choose to transfer their military benefits into their civilian life by converting their SGLI plan into a VGLI plan. Alternatively, others will opt for a private life insurance policy with a civilian company. The VA also offers programs such as S-DVI for disabled veterans and those suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD.

Final thoughts

Veterans have plenty of choices when it comes to purchasing life insurance. But to take the most advantage of your benefits, you’ll need to make a few big decisions within 240 to 485 days of being discharged from the service. Speak with three to five insurance companies to see which can offer you the best rate on a high-quality policy. Don’t settle for cheap coverage that comes with an unreasonable number of exclusions. Value for money is important, but so is the financial well-being of your loved ones.

Methodology

To choose the best life insurance for veterans for this list, the team at Task & Purpose looked at a large number of companies. We focused on cost, plan features and options, ease of use, customer service reviews, and past customer ratings as the most important factors in our ratings. Learn more about our methodology in the Task & Purpose review guide

Task & Purpose and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Learn more about our product review process.