Category Archives: Blog

Best Motorcycle Insurance for Veterans

There’s nothing quite like the freedom you feel riding down the road on your brand new motorcycle until you wreck it and don’t have the right insurance to cover it.

If you’re a veteran or currently serving, you can get coverage at a better rate or extra benefits, depending on who you go with. Keep reading to learn about the best motorcycle insurance for veterans and military personnel.

Our Top Rated Motorcycle Insurance for Veterans – Service Members

1. Progressive

We’re going to go out a limb here and say, you probably knew Progressive was number one for motorcycle insurance. If you’re looking for full replacement cost, meaning your parts don’t depreciate, then Progressive might be a company you want to look into. They also offer accident forgiveness, which means if you don’t have an accident after four straight years of coverage, your rates won’t go up, no matter how much the claim costs Progressive. However, if you do have an accident, but it’s a small one—less than $500—your rates won’t go up after your first accident either.

Pros

  • When you renew your policy, you can get a discount—if you never filed a claim
  • LoJack® devices give you a discount
  • If you paid all your premiums on time, you can get a discount
  • Homeowners get a discount
  • They offer total loss coverage
  • Full replacement cost is available and no depreciation for parts
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are replaced with OEM
  • parts and custom parts are repaired with custom parts
  • Military members can get a discount in some states

Cons

  • There are several negative reviews about their customer service
  • They take a long time to finish claims and work hard to try and prove they don’t owe you anything
  • They use your credit score to determine your payment, if you have a bad credit score, you will pay more (This is standard, but not everyone puts as much emphasis on it) 

2. Dairyland Auto-Cycle Insurance

Dairyland’s motorcycle insurance is known for being on the cheaper side of coverage. And while that may sound a little sketchy, it doesn’t mean they don’t provide good coverage. They provide Collision, Comprehensive, and Bodily Injury, as well as Replacement Cost, Rental Reimbursement, Roadside Assistance, and Optional/Special Equipment coverage. They also offer discounts to anyone who’s taken the military’s safety riding course. Keep in mind, however, Dairyland Motorcycle insurance is a better option for infrequent riders. If you’re out riding every weekend or using your bike as primary transportation, you’re better off going with a different provider.

Pros 

  • They offer full coverage, including collision and comprehensive
  • They offer coverage in 42 states
  • They cover passengers as well
  • Homeowners get a discount
  • They have a pay-as-you-go option

Cons

  • There are several reviews saying their customer service isn’t very good
  • If you’re a frequent rider, there are cheaper options

3. Harley-Davidson Insurance 

If you’re looking for motorcycle insurance, why not get it from the people who know all about motorcycles? If you’re cruising the streets on your brand new Harley, with genuine Harley-Davidson parts, they’ll replace them with those same parts. So, unlike some companies who’ll give you the cheapest version of what you need, H-D will do exact replacements.

As far as discounts go, H.O.G members get one, as well as anyone who goes through their riding academy. And if you’re deployed while purchasing a H-D, you’ll get an additional year of free membership with H.O.G. once you’ve returned home.

Pros

  • They’ve been in the market since 1903
  • They have an A+ rating
  • They offer a multitude of discounts

Cons

  • If you’re looking to bundle auto and motorcycle, you can’t do it with H-D—but that shouldn’t be a surprise
  • If you want minimum coverage, you can find it at a better price elsewhere

4. Markel

Markel is an insurance company that wants your business, so much that they’ll give you a discount just for switching over to them from a different provider. They also offer customized coverage, and since they specialize in motorcycle insurance rather than home, auto, motorcycle, renters, etc., they claim they’re able to serve you more quickly.

Pros

  • They offer accident forgiveness
  • They offer Roadside assistance
  • You can save up to 35% with discounts
  • They offer mechanical breakdown coverage

Cons

  • Markel offers a lot of discounts, but without them, things get pricey
  • Several complaints have been filed about Markel not providing the coverage they promised

How much is Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance varies from state to state. It also depends on your age, gender, credit score, driving history, location, and any discounts you qualify for. So, giving an exact amount is impossible. For example, if you live in a city where you’re more likely to crash or have your bike stolen, you’re going to pay more for coverage. However, if you live somewhere in the country where there isn’t a lot of traffic and you don’t ride very often, your coverage will cost much less. Motorcycle insurance is pretty much the same as car insurance.

Cheap Motorcycle Insurance

Finding cheap motorcycle insurance isn’t the hard part. It’s deciding how much coverage you actually need. Yes, you can pay almost nothing and have liability coverage only—that’s cheap. But, if you crash and total your motorcycle, will it really be that cheap in the end? Luckily, there are plenty of companies out there willing to let you customize your coverage. Most states require liability insurance, but providers are there to help you pick and choose between collision, comprehensive, parts replacement coverage and so much more until you find the coverage you want at the price you’re comfortable with.

USAA Motorcycle Insurance

You’re probably wondering, why is USAA not at the top of our list, especially if we’re talking about what’s best for our veterans. USAA is a great bank, insurance provider, loan provider, etc. They seem to always be at the top of the rankings when it comes to anything military/veteran related—which we love—however when it comes to motorcycle insurance, they don’t actually provide it. Instead, they outsource to Progressive—who we’ve listed as number one. However, your best option is to go through USAA to get to Progressive, because you’ll get a 5% discount if you’re a USAA member.

Other Motorcycle Insurance Providers

  • Geico Motorcycle insurance
  • AAA Motorcycle Insurance
  • Nation Wide Motorcycle Insurance
  • Allstate Motorcycle Insurance
  • State Farm Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

Liability coverage

Liability comes into play when you’re the at-fault driver. In most states, it’s a minimum requirement for legally driving a motorcycle. Basically, if you do something stupid, like run a red light and T-bone a car, your insurance can pay for the damage you caused, the medical cost of the other driver and their passengers if need be, and even their lost wages.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Pretend for a moment, that not everyone has insurance. Okay, now let us inform you of a small fact, there are a LOT of people out there driving illegally, with no insurance. What does that mean for you? Well, it means if they hit you and don’t have insurance, you’re pretty much screwed, and not in a good way. Or even if they have insurance, but they don’t have enough, you might be stuck paying for the damages. However, let’s say you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If the other driver or rider is at fault, it will take care of what the other person’s insurance couldn’t. The downside to this coverage, it costs more in states where there are more uninsured individuals, and it won’t help in cases where you’re the reason the accident happened.

New Bike Replacement Coverage

Have you ever totaled a bike? Then you were left trying to find the funds to replace what you had. This can be a difficult task. Good thing there’s something called new bike replacement coverage. This coverage ensures you get a brand new bike, not the depreciation value of the old one.

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive insurance?

Collision insurance helps replace or repair damage to your bike because of a collision with another vehicle or object—no that poll didn’t come out of nowhere, no it didn’t hit you, you hit it, but yes collision insurance would cover that. Collision insurance does not cover the damage you might do to another vehicle.

Comprehensive coverage is the opposite of collision insurance; it’s what you need when you don’t have a collision. For instance, say you woke up and your bike was stolen. Comprehensive insurance would help you pay for a new bike. If you out of the bar at 2am and your bike had been vandalized while inside, your comprehensive insurance would help pay to replace or repair it. What comprehensive insurance doesn’t do is pay for damaged not caused by a collision. If your bike was stolen, damaged from fire, vandalism or falling objects—such as a tree or hail—then you would need comprehensive coverage to help replace or repair your bike. 

Is it worth it to have collision coverage?

Is it worth it to have good health? I don’t know, that’s up to you. If you get in a wreck and don’t have collision insurance, here’s what could happen. Pretend you’re involved in a hit and run. You don’t have a name, license plate or even a vehicle description, what you do have is about $5,000 worth of damage. If however, you have collision coverage, you’ll be fine, or at least your bike will be. Collision coverage does come with a deductible, talk to your agent to see home much this will be for you.

Is it worth it to have comprehensive coverage?

Again, like most things in life. Only you can answer the “is it worth it” question. I mean, was it worth it when you missed curfew back in ’69. Was eating that gas station sushi worth it? We could probably guess the answers, but in the end, only you can decide what’s best for you. If that’s not a good enough answer how about this one…

Do you live in an area where your motorcycle is susceptible to natural disasters? Do you live in a flood zone? Do you have an inevitable hailstorm every July? If this is you, comprehensive coverage might be worth it. Why, because comprehensive coverage is meant specifically for damage that didn’t happen during a collision. Of course, if you own an older bike, it might not be worth it. For example, if it would be less expensive to replace your bike if it was totaled in a flood than it would be to have comprehensive coverage, then you might want to think twice.

Comprehensive coverage also only pays your bike’s depreciation value. So, if your bike was stolen the day after you purchased it, you’ll only get back how much it’s worth, not how much you paid for it.

Can an insurance company cancel your policy?

Yes, it’s true; an insurance company can cancel your policy. It’s not their fault you’re a terrible rider, and they don’t want to pay the price because of it. If you’re out there getting DUIs, reckless driving tickets, crashing into other riders or drivers, etc., there’s a good chance your insurance provider won’t want to cover you anymore, because you’ve become a hazard to their bank account. Simply put, the higher your chances of making the insurance company payout, the higher your chances are of being dropped by the said company.

If you’re looking for car insurance too, why not look at bundling with one of the companies we talk about in this article.

Comcast/Xfinity Denver | Our Honest Review

If you’re looking to get business internet installed in Denver, or anywhere else for that matter, chances are you looked into Xfinity/Comcast services.  If you’re wondering whether or not they are the best option available, let us save you some much wasted time and energy and tell you that going with them will be the biggest mistake you could ever make.  Let me explain why:

Our First Issue With Comcast

Our first issue with Comcast began three years ago when we moved from our old warehouse to our new place.  The move ended up being a last minute move so we needed internet fast.  One of our employees was tasked with getting internet set up and listened to the Comcast sales rep who convinced him that getting the TV/Phone/Internet package is the best option.  That combined option ended up costing the company $236/mo.  When the owner found out about the combined account he called Comcast to try and change the monthly bill to just internet.  Comcast informed him that he was locked into that price for three years!  They said they wouldn’t change his account even though he didn’t need the phone or TV service.  So we ended up paying $236/mo for internet for three years.  Mind you the internet continually failed, went out and was extremely slow.

When we went to move into our new warehouse a few weeks ago we called Comcast to change over our service.  The sales rep tried to initially convince us to stay with Comcast but we explained to her how they were unwilling to cancel our TV/Phone service before.  She said the rep who we spoke to actually misspoke and that we could have actually updated our billing to drop the phone and TV service every 6 months.  So we were, in fact, paying for the TV and phone services for three years when we could have changed it the entire time.  Well played Comcast, the good ol bait and switch.   After some serious frustration, we told Comcast that we would most likely cancel their services.  We were informed by the rep that if we decided to cancel our services they would continue to charge us for 60 days because we had to give them 60 days notice!  When we protested she said “it’s not my fault you don’t know how to read a contract”.  Thanks Kelli, that’s some solid customer service.  So if we did choose to go with another internet provider we would have to pay an additional $472 just to get rid of Comcast.  That’s even after they knowingly overcharged us thousands of dollars for the services we didn’t need.  Again, solid customer service guys.

We decided to look for other internet providers in Denver and after a lengthy process it turns out that Comcast/Xfinity is literally the only internet provider that we are able to use.  So we ended up having to go to Comcast for further services.  Now I should mention this initial contact was made on January 9th, it’s now January 17th and we still have no internet.  Not only that, we don’t even have an installation date.  Not only do we not have an installation date, we don’t even have an estimate of when we might get a date for the installation.  Think about that.  Over two weeks later and we don’t even have a date to get a date for our installation date.  Again, smooth move Comcast.

Our Current Issue with Comcast

So let’s take a look at how this process has now played out because I’d like you to know what to expect in the event that you have to end up dealing with Comcast…

Kelli said she would offer us internet for $81/mo.  I’d like to pause for a second and mention that had we been paying $236/mo when we could have been paying $81/mo for three years.  That’s an overcharge of $155/mo for 3 years… That’s $5,580 overcharges made to Comcast and they wouldn’t even cancel our account for free when we asked for it.  Absolutely unreal.  Sorry, I digress….

Ok, so Kelli gets us set up with internet at $81 a month and sends the request for installation over to the service team.  We get connected with a guy named Alexander H. who we tell that we need a fast installation because we are moving businesses locations soon.  His response?  “Well if you need the internet now why are you just telling us?  It’s like calling the movers the day before you move.”  Once again, Comcast nailing that customer service.  Alexander states that because we are at a new location that we need wiring installed before they can come and install the internet.  So we need an installation before our installation.  He says to get the installation before the installation will take a while and can’t give us any date and that it could be anywhere between 60-90 days before they could even get the installation.  Now if this sounds confusing it’s because it is.  Well, a few days go by and we hit up Alexander for an update.  He writes back and says:

“The most important info I got is that it does NOT go thru construction, will be quick… they have meeting this afternoon…”

Wait… What?  What in the world does that even mean?  So Alexander gives me a number to call for the construction installation which we call.  They tell us that we had told them at some point that we didn’t want anything installed until after January 23rd…. Wait??? WHAT?!  So now just to get someone to do the preinstallation we are told we had to wait till the 23rd. Luckily a guy named Eric helped us out and got us a prewiring installation that took place two days ago.  When we just called we were told it takes 7 days for the pre-wire installation into their system and then after that, they could potentially schedule us to get our actual internet installed.  So here we are two weeks later and we can’t even get a date for our installation.

Ok so, are you having issues keeping up with this?  Don’t worry.  So are we.  Comcast has displayed some of the most unprofessional customer support we have ever seen.  It’s an absolute joke and after over paying $5,500, we can’t even get someone to give us the time of day.

So here we are, writing this review.  If you are looking to get Comcast run, run far away.  If you don’t believe us keep in mind that there is a whole episode on South Park that is about how terrible Comcast’s service is.  There are memes all over the internet on how bad Comcast is.

So if you’re a Comcast agent and you want to make things right?  Let us know.  Until then we will keep this blog up for all to read.

 

7 Best Home Security Companies for Veterans and Service Members

You’ve spent your career making sure our country is secure, now it’s time someone starts doing the same for you. Companies like ADT, Vivint, and LifeShield are just a few hi-tech security companies out there whose entire purpose is to give you the security you deserve. Unfortunately, all the choices can make it hard to pick the best service. That’s why we’ve decided to put a small list together on 7 of the best home security companies for veterans and service members.

Top Home Security Companies for Veterans and Service Members

1. FrontPoint

There’s nothing like making a purchase on something that sucks but you can’t return. FrontPoint is not one of those purchases. In fact, you can have a security system installed, keep it for 30-days, decide you hate it and then return it without all the hassle. Not to mention, these guys are known for their awesome customer service—because no one likes dealing with someone who doesn’t actually care about your purchase or satisfaction.

 Pros

  • Known for excellent customer service
  • Free 30-day trial and a money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied
  • Home automation devices are available
  • Self-Installation is an option

Cons

  • While FrontPoint is affordable, the affordability comes with a 3-year contract (this is average)
  • The base plan does not include mobile access

2. ADT 

ADT has been around for a long time, as in, longer than anyone else. Which means they know how security works and more so, they know what their customers are looking for. In fact, we wrote an article you can read about ADT, including their history, what they offer and reviews from everyday users.

Pros

  • A professional will come to your home and do the set-up, hassle free
  • You can control your system from your phone
  • Equipment included

Cons 

  • ADT’s a big company, which means they come at a bigger cost than other security companies
  • ADT is not a self-install system

3. Protect America 

Home security isn’t cheap. Whether your security is in the form of guns and ammo, high-tech security installation, or both—it’s going to cost you. Fortunately, Protect America is a home security company that thrives on affordability. We know as a service member, you already aren’t making that much, so why spend more than you have to.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • DIY set-up, meaning no installation fees
  • All equipment has a lifetime warranty
  • They will price match

Cons

  • If you break your contract, you’ll be required to pay out 100% of the remaining months of service you signed up for. However, if you are breaking a contract due to military service, this does not apply.
  • They don’t have a large selection of equipment compared to some companies

4. Vivint 

Personal experience here, Vivint has great customer service. If you’re looking for a company that will work with you during a PCS, they will make it easy for you. When I left the military, I couldn’t take Vivint with me because they weren’t servicing the tiny town I grew up in. They let me out of my contract, didn’t charge me any extra fees, and I was a happy customer in the end. It was so easy and the customer service was exceptional.

Pros

  • Professional will come to your home and give you a quote—it’s free
  • You also have the option of online quotes, which is simple to navigate
  • Easy to break the contract when PCSing due to orders
  • You can transfer your system from one home to the next

Cons

  • The touch screen system didn’t work well
  • Unlike most companies who have a 3-year contract, Vivint has one of the highest at 5-years
  • Must pay for equipment up front

5. LifeShield

LifeShield has gone through a lot of changes over the years. They’ve been sold, been under new management and even took on some terrible reviews. However, we’ve included them here because things are looking up. Also, they’re a DIY installation security system. Which is great, because not everyone wants a stranger coming into their home. Also, unlike many security companies, they’re transparent about their prices, which we really like. Because let’s be honest, if the price isn’t listed, it’s generally expensive. You can read our full review on LifeShield here.

Pros

  • Cheaper than most major companies
  • Offers 4-layers of protection
  • DIY installation
  • Transparent about their prices
  • Offers a non-contract option
  • You don’t have to pay extra for fire and carbon monoxide monitoring
  • They offer services for rental properties
  • The company’s customer reviews have been more positive with new ownership

Cons 

  • A lot of negative reviews overall
  • Customer service isn’t great, depending on where you live
  • Equipment failure has seemed to be a common complaint over the years

6. Link Interactive

Link Interactive may not be as well known as ADT, but that doesn’t mean they can’t offer you some good deals. The great thing about these guys is their contract. Many contracts are 3-years, some more, but you’ll get options with Link Interactive. They let you choose a contract length for as little as 1-year. So, while you’re still locked in—excluding military obligations—it’s not near as long as contracts with other providers.

Pros

  • Customized solutions for your individual home security needs
  • 1, 2, and 3-year contracts available
  • 100% cellular connection to monitoring
  • Standard 3-year warranty on all equipment and 3-year price lock guarantee

Cons

  • You can ask for a shorter contract, but if you don’t, you’ll automatically be locked into a 3-year contract
  • You have to pay for equipment up front

7. SecurityPricer

SecurityPricer is more like a resource, in that they can get you to the company you’re looking for. It’s kind of like Progressive, but with home security. Meaning, you start out by telling them what you’re looking for and then they give you your best option.

Pros

  • Free home security estimates from experts
  • Compare plans and prices from the top home security companies
  • Fire protection, video surveillance, 24/7 monitoring
  • Option to self-install or have a professional do it for you

Cons

  • You can’t get a lot of information from their website
  • You have to give them all your information and get a quote to see what’s available to you

DIY Home Security

LifeShield is our winner for DIY Home Security, because well, that’s what they’re known for. While you have the option of scheduling an appointment for a professional to come in, you don’t have to. This is especially a great option for individuals who are tech-savvy. If you’re not, they claim anyone can set up their system easily—most within an hour—without a lot of hassle. Another great upside to this option is, you don’t have to worry about some stranger coming into your house, tracking mud around, and then leaving knowing all your security information—because you had to give it to them to set the system up. Either way, it’s good to have options, especially when those options come at a decent price.

Pet-Friendly Home Security

If you have a pet, you might be thinking that you can’t get those fancy little motion detectors because your cat or dog will set it off. However, security companies are one step ahead of you on that one. Both ADT and LifeShield are an example of companies who’ve thought that one out. Of course, if your pet is over 80-lbs, you might have some difficulty, since most cameras are rated around this weight range.

Mobile Monitoring

Times are changing. We’re becoming a society that relies heavily on our phones, but for more than talking and texting. We now use our phones for GPS, Internet usage, games, and even monitoring our homes. If you have an approved security camera, you can watch what’s going on in your home from your phone. And some even record, so you can watch everything later. If that’s something you want, there are definitely security companies providing these services. Link Interactive, ADT, and LifeShield are only a few of them.

Home Automation

Just when you thought things couldn’t get much better, someone goes and makes it so you can change the temperature of your home, turn on the lights, and even start the washer from your phone—miles away. ADT and Front Point are a couple of those companies who provide such a luxury.

Security Cameras

ADT has some top of the line cameras, they also offer several types. They provide both an indoor and outdoor camera. Even a doorbell camera. Which is actually pretty cool. If someone rings your doorbell, you can see who’s there without leaving your couch. Or, if you’re not at home, you can do the same thing using the ADT Pulse app.

ADT Indoor Security Cameras

ADT also offers Indoor Security Cameras. If you purchase ADT Pulse +Video, you get this option. Because your indoor cameras are motion activated, the pet-friendly motion sensor comes in handy. If it senses something other than your dog, it will send you a video clip automatically. If you have more than one indoor camera, you can always shift between them. You also have the option of recording.

ADT Outdoor Security Cameras

Outdoor Security Cameras are where it’s at. These cameras let you see who’s coming up to your property and when they leave. It’s also a great deterrent for burglary, both inside and outside the home. Combined with your ADT app, you can see your camera’s video footage at any time. The outdoor camera is similar to the indoor version, but with weather in mind. Outdoor cameras are snow, rain and humidity resistant. The cameras also come with a built-in heater, to guarantee function at temperatures as low as -40 degrees.

Security Signs

Sometimes the best deterrent is nothing more than that, a deterrent. Security signs aren’t going to physically keep an intruder out, it won’t shoot someone who breaks in and attempts to harm your family, and they won’t record the incident or report it to the police. However, simply having a sign in your front yard or stickers in your window is enough to make an intruder think twice before he enters your home unannounced and unwelcomed. While we don’t recommend this be your only layer of home protection, it might be a good place to start if you don’t have the money for more.

Top Life Insurance Companies for Veterans

The Best Veteran Life Insurance Companies of 2019

Let’s face it; you’ve spent most, if not all of your adult life in the military. Pretty much everything you needed was provided to you. You didn’t have to worry about health insurance, dental insurance and definitely not life insurance.

Unfortunately, because you didn’t have to worry about it, you most likely didn’t learn anything about it either—because everyone gets their chance as a bright new recruit to sign-up for things like SGLI.

But, your military career has come to an end, or maybe it’s about to and you have no clue what to do next. You don’t know how much insurance should cost, where to get it, how much to get, or if you really even need it.

Most of us know this feeling, including myself. So REFT is here to give you a little advice on the best life insurance companies for veterans.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka Engblom/July 16, 2016

RE Factor Tactical Top Picks

Before we get into the details of insurance, we’d like to take a moment to point out a few Insurance companies that you should consider looking into that aren’t with the VA, and why. Then we’ll go into the finer details of insurance, why you should get it, how to get it, you know, all the fun stuff.

Top Life Insurance Companies for Veterans

1. AIG Direct

You’ve probably seen the commercials on television for AIG Direct. They’ve been around a while, which means they know what they’re doing when it comes to life insurance. Luckily, all that experience means they can offer you a lot more than some of the other guys. For instance, they offer whole life insurance up to age 85 without any medical examinations. This means, if you’re a disabled veteran or a veteran in poor health, you’ll still get coverage. The downside, well if you die as a result of “travel outside the earth’s atmosphere,”—as they state in the fine print—you won’t get a payout—we’re going to go out on a limb and say, chances are that’s not you.

Pros

  1. They offer a variety of life insurance plans
  2. You don’t have to get a medical exam

Cons

  1. They will give life insurance to anyone, meaning even though they are affordable, you can get a better price elsewhere
  2. If over 50, you can only get up to $25,000 of coverage in whole life insurance

2. Health I.Q.

Health IQ might be an intelligent choice for life insurance, especially if you’re in great shape. While this may not encompass all veterans, they will cover prior service. Let’s say you get out and you continue your healthy lifestyle. IF you want to become a national weightlifting champion, not only will they cover you, they’ll fairly take into account your BMI as a result. Despite being very health conscious when it comes to selecting their clients, their tailored underwriting will make sure you get the best deal you can.

Pros

  1. Great for individuals in excellent health
  2. Tailored underwriting, so you get the best deal 

Cons

  1. Must have a minimum coverage amount of $100,000
  2. They put a lot of emphasis on health, if you aren’t healthy you might want to look elsewhere

3. Bestow

Bestow might be the easiest life insurance to get. You don’t have to do any medical examinations—so it’s good for disabled veterans—you can get coverage in 10-minutes, and you don’t have to talk to anyone to get it. If that’s not easy, I don’t know what is. The downside, they give coverage based on age.

Pros

  1. Offers short-term coverage, as few as 2-years
  2. No medical examinations required and can get coverage within 10-minutes online

Cons

  1. Bestow’s policies have age restrictions
  2. They do not offer a 30-year policy

4. Haven Life

Haven Life claims to make covering your family’s need through life insurance easy. Of course, being able to select up to $3 million in coverage is a pretty big deal too. If you need big coverage, then Haven Life will have your back.

Pros

  1. They have competitive rates, meaning more people can afford life insurance
  2. Not all coverage requires a medical exam; veterans in poor health have a better chance of getting insured

Cons

  1. You’ll have to go through a rigorous underwriting process
  2. Finding information on their website is difficult, you’ll have to apply for a quote or call to get details

5. Ethos

If you have a lot of assets, say $10 million worth, Ethos is probably a good choice for you, because that’s how much coverage you can get. We couldn’t find any information specifically related to being a veteran, but we still think they’re a good choice for the veteran community—unless that community is in NY, because you aren’t covered there. Otherwise, unlike those pesky salesmen, Ethos isn’t one of them. They’ll sell you what you need and nothing more, which we like.

Pros

  1. Can purchase up to $10 million in coverage
  2. They don’t upsell since their employees are paid a salary

Cons

  1. Ethos is available in every state but New York
  2. You don’t actually talk to a person if you need support in filing a claim, it’s all done through email

What is VA Life Insurance?

Another option for veterans that you might not know about is life insurance through the VA. Now, before you start on your rampage, because we all know the VA sucks, we aren’t talking about your daily medical care. This is life insurance, it’s what your family gets after you’ve passed away. The entire point of getting life insurance is so your family can continue to survive, especially if you’re the breadwinner of the family, or you have a lot of debt your kids or spouse would have to take over as a result of your death. You’re doing this for them. If you’re still not trusting of the VA, at least keep reading before you make your decision.

VA Life Insurance vs. Private Life Insurance

Why Should I Consider VGLI

Have you sustained considerable health issues as a result of your service or are you in great health? Do you smoke, or no? Are you over 60? How you answer these questions can increase or decrease your monthly payment when it comes to life insurance, and sadly, it can increase your chances of not getting the coverage you need.

However, the VA can make things a little easier. Let’s say you did sustain considerable health issues while you were serving. With the VA, as long as you apply for their life insurance within 1 year and 120 days of separation from the military, and you were discharged with anything other than dishonorable, you qualify. This coverage is called term life insurance, meaning you can increase or decrease your coverage every 5 years. The only qualification is that you be a qualifying veteran, it doesn’t matter your health. Your age is also the only determining factor when it comes to your monthly premium, not your gender, not your health, not even if you’re a smoker.

Unlike some insurance companies, which require you to get a physical, provide medical documentation and then determine the price based on age, gender, medical history, smoking history, and your physical results, the VA won’t prod into your life near as much, at least not if you apply within 240 days of separation—after this, you’ll have to answer questions about your health.

VGLI: Is it Worth the Price

The price of life insurance can be a reasonable one, especially if you’re young and in good health. But, where you might see a bit of concern, is when you reach 60, at least under VGLI terms.

Depending on your age and health, the price of life insurance through the VA can be competitive. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t find insurance at a lower price, but the real advantage comes if you have health issues, you’re a smoker, or you can’t get insured elsewhere. Once you’re over 60 the prices raise considerably, and the competitive part goes out the window, especially if you’re over 75. Again, this is a good choice if you can’t get life insurance elsewhere because of your current health condition.

Life Insurances: Is it Necessary

Another thing to keep in mind is your need for life insurance. There may come a point in your life where you don’t need the coverage anymore.

Let’s say, you’re 65, all your bills are paid off and there’s no one depending on you for financial support, then life insurance may not be necessary. Remember, life insurance isn’t for you, it’s for your family. If you don’t want your family having to worry about paying off the rest of your house, your car, paying necessary bills, putting food on the table, your kid’s college getting paid off, etc., then having life insurance is for you.

Now, let’s say you’re in great health; you’re 65 but haven’t paid off all your bills. Using the VA might be a financial burden because it’s considerably more expensive than getting life insurance through someone else. If you’re 70 or older, your premium rate will also increase. However, if you don’t have any financial burdens, then life insurance probably isn’t necessary.

However, let’s say you did your 20 years (maybe more, maybe less) in the military, you got out, you’re 40 years old, have one kid in middle school, two kids in college, you just purchased a new home, and your spouse stays at home as a result of a physical handicap. In a scenario like this, you are the breadwinner, if you were to pass away, your living spouse would not be able to pay the mortgage, keep food on the table, keep your kids in college, or provide the essentials for him or herself and your kid who just started the 6th grade. This isn’t a scenario any of us wants to picture, but it is always a possibility. This is why life insurance is important. If you truly care to provide for your family, life insurance is there to make sure they’re still provided for even after you pass.

Why the cost of VGLI Increases Drastically at age 75

There are actually a few reasons VGLI increases so drastically, especially at age 75. The main answer is, the likelihood of you passing during your coverage has increased drastically as well. Just as bad health increases your chances of death, so does age. And if an insurance company is expecting to pay out, they’re going to raise the cost of coverage to help ease their own burden. A second reason is that the VA doesn’t require a physical exam. Because the VA doesn’t require you to get a physical exam, it means they are covering any and all qualifying veterans, and that means their chances of paying out, in general, are much higher.

Therefore, if you want a reasonable price on life insurance at an older age, your best option is to go with a provider who requires a physical exam—assuming you’re in good health. This is because they don’t insure just anyone. By ensuring only people who are in a higher bracket of health, they don’t have to worry about paying out as much in the event of a death, meaning they can afford to offer lower premium rates. So, if you don’t smoke (because smokers pay more) and you aren’t out there doing high-risk activities (because you’ll pay more there too), then an option outside of VGLI might be a better choice.

How much does life insurance cost?

Below is the list, per the VA of cost per amount of coverage, based on age:

Amount of Insurance Age
29 & Below
Age 30-34 Age 35-39 Age 40-44 Age 45-49 Age 50-54 Age 55-59 Age 60-64 Age 65-69 Age 70-74 Age 75 & Over
$400,000 $32.00 $40.00 $52.00 $68.00 $88.00 $144.00 $268.00 $432.00 $600.00 $920.00 $1,840.00
390,000 31.20 39.00 50.70 66.30 85.80 140.40 261.30 421.20 585.00 897.00 1,794.00
380,000 30.40 38.00 49.40 64.60 83.60 136.80 254.60 410.40 570.00 874.00 1,748.00
370,000 29.60 37.00 48.10 62.90 81.40 133.20 247.90 399.60 555.00 851.00 1,702.00
360,000 28.80 36.00 46.80 61.20 79.20 129.60 241.20 388.80 540.00 828.00 1,656.00
350,000 28.00 35.00 45.50 59.50 77.00 126.00 234.50 378.00 525.00 805.00 1,610.00
340,000 27.20 34.00 44.20 57.80 74.80 122.40 227.80 367.20 510.00 782.00 1,564.00
330,000 26.40 33.00 42.90 56.10 72.60 118.80 221.10 356.40 495.00 759.00 1,518.00
320,000 25.60 32.00 41.60 54.40 70.40 115.20 214.40 345.60 480.00 736.00 1,472.00
310,000 24.80 31.00 40.30 52.70 68.20 111.60 207.70 334.80 465.00 713.00 1,426.00
300,000 24.00 30.00 39.00 51.00 66.00 108.00 201.00 324.00 450.00 690.00 1,380.00
290,000 23.20 29.00 37.70 49.30 63.80 104.40 194.30 313.20 435.00 667.00 1,334.00
280,000 22.40 28.00 36.40 47.60 61.60 100.80 187.60 302.40 420.00 644.00 1,288.00
270,000 21.60 27.00 35.10 45.90 59.40 97.20 180.90 291.60 405.00 621.00 1,242.00
260,000 20.80 26.00 33.80 44.20 57.20 93.60 174.20 280.80 390.00 598.00 1,196.00
250,000 20.00 25.00 32.50 42.50 55.00 90.00 167.50 270.00 375.00 575.00 1,150.00
240,000 19.20 24.00 31.20 40.80 52.80 86.40 160.80 259.20 360.00 552.00 1,104.00
230,000 18.40 23.00 29.90 39.10 50.60 82.80 154.10 248.40 345.00 529.00 1,058.00
220,000 17.60 22.00 28.60 37.40 48.40 79.20 147.40 237.60 330.00 506.00 1,012.00
210,000 16.80 21.00 27.30 35.70 46.20 75.60 140.70 226.80 315.00 483.00 966.00
200,000 16.00 20.00 26.00 34.00 44.00 72.00 134.00 216.00 300.00 460.00 920.00
190,000 15.20 19.00 24.70 32.30 41.80 68.40 127.30 205.20 285.00 437.00 874.00
180,000 14.40 18.00 23.40 30.60 39.60 64.80 120.60 194.40 270.00 414.00 828.00
170,000 13.60 17.00 22.10 28.90 37.40 61.20 113.90 183.60 255.00 391.00 782.00
160,000 12.80 16.00 20.80 27.20 35.20 57.60 107.20 172.80 240.00 368.00 736.00
150,000 12.00 15.00 19.50 25.50 33.00 54.00 100.50 162.00 225.00 345.00 690.00
140,000 11.20 14.00 18.20 23.80 30.80 50.40 93.80 151.20 210.00 322.00 644.00
130,000 10.40 13.00 16.90 22.10 28.60 46.80 87.10 140.40 195.00 299.00 598.00
120,000 9.60 12.00 15.60 20.40 26.40 43.20 80.40 129.60 180.00 276.00 552.00
110,000 8.80 11.00 14.30 18.70 24.20 39.60 73.70 118.80 165.00 253.00 506.00
100,000 8.00 10.00 13.00 17.00 22.00 36.00 67.00 108.00 150.00 230.00 460.00
90,000 7.20 9.00 11.70 15.30 19.80 32.40 60.30 97.20 135.00 207.00 414.00
80,000 6.40 8.00 10.40 13.60 17.60 28.80 53.60 86.40 120.00 184.00 368.00
70,000 5.60 7.00 9.10 11.90 15.40 25.20 46.90 75.60 105.00 161.00 322.00
60,000 4.80 6.00 7.80 10.20 13.20 21.60 40.20 64.80 90.00 138.00 276.00
50,000 4.00 5.00 6.50 8.50 11.00 18.00 33.50 54.00 75.00 115.00 230.00
40,000 3.20 4.00 5.20 6.80 8.80 14.40 26.80 43.20 60.00 92.00 184.00
30,000 2.40 3.00 3.90 5.10 6.60 10.80 20.10 32.40 45.00 69.00 138.00
20,000 1.60 2.00 2.60 3.40 4.40 7.20 13.40 21.60 30.00 46.00 92.00
10,000 0.80 1.00 1.30 1.70 2.20 3.60 6.70 10.80 15.00 23.00 46.00

RE Factor Top Picks Summary

Best Life Insurance for Disabled Veterans

S-DVI is available to any veteran with a service-connected disability, even if you have a 0 percent rating. The only exception is you need to have good health, outside of anything service-connected. And like all benefits used with the VA, you have to be discharged under anything other than dishonorable.

Best Life Insurance for Veterans

To recap, the VA offers VGLI, for veterans of any health condition. Depending on what your current health looks like and how old you are, should determine if this is a good option for you. If you’re older and have poor health, the steep prices of VGLI might be your only reasonable offer, especially if you can’t get covered elsewhere. Simply remember, if you want to apply without having to answer questions about your health you must apply within 240daysy of separation from the military. And if you aren’t supporting anyone financially and all your bills are paid off, you might not need life insurance at all.

Pros

  • Cost effective for the younger generation of veterans, especially if in poor health
  • Older generations of veterans in poor health are eligible, even when most companies won’t provide coverage
  • No proof of good health required if applied for within 240 days of separation
  • You can increase your coverage by $25,000 every 5 years, up to $400,000

Cons

  • Expensive for the older generation of veterans in good health
  • Doesn’t require a physical exam, therefore lower prices can be found with other providers
  • Not always the best option if you’re in excellent health
  • You can only enroll up to the amount of life insurance you were covered for under SGLI (after 5 years you can increase the amount)

Best Life Insurance for Active Duty Service Members

The VA actually offers a variety of life insurance options. There’s the Service members’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection or (TSGLI), which is available to anyone who’s serving with the SGLI, who has also received a traumatic injury. This includes all traumatic injuries, including those as a result from combat. It is meant to help cover the service member while they recover from their injuries—this should be automatic coverage.

Veterans United Lighthouse Program

The American dream typically looks like this: buy a house, live happily ever after. Okay, maybe there’s more to it than that, but home buying is a pretty big deal to most of us. It’s a pretty standard dream to one day have your own place. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the military, this dream might feel a little bigger. You’ve spent your entire career moving between homes and states and it would feel nice to just settle down and not have to worry about moving again. Fortunately, for service members, there’s a VA Home Loan, which helps more veterans qualify for home loans. Unfortunately, being a veteran doesn’t automatically qualify you for a VA Home Loan, especially if you don’t meet your lender’s qualifications first. That’s where the Veterans United Lighthouse Program can help.

The Lighthouse Program is actually a pretty easy concept. You want to buy your first home, you’re serving or served in the United States Military, but you don’t have a qualifying credit score. Or, you do have a qualifying credit score, but it’s low and you’d like to raise it, in hopes of getting a better interest rate on your home. Because lower interest means lower payments.

If this is you, the Lighthouse Program, offered through Veterans United will help you work toward raising your score. They do this by looking over your credit report and seeing where you have room for improvement. Then, they give you advice on how to make those improvements.

For example, let’s say that you have a low credit score, and a derogatory mark saying that your credit usage is too high. To make this a little easier, you have three credit cards: A Visa, Master Card, and an American Express. Your visa has a credit limit of $10,000, your Master Card has a limit of $2,000, and finally, your American Express has a credit limit of $6,000. That’s a combined credit limit of $18,000. Of that $18,000, you’ve maxed out your Master Card, spent $4,000 on your American Express and your Visa, you’ve spent $5,000 of that. That’s a combined $11,000 out of your total $18,000 that you’re limited too.

Now, you might be thinking, okay, so I still have another $7,000 I can use! I make my monthly payments on time for each card, so there shouldn’t be a problem. Well, this is where someone from the Lighthouse Program might tell you-you’re wrong. Instead, they might tell you to start paying your credit cards down, until you’ve only spent 20% of your limit, instead of over half.

SEE CURRENT RATES

Who Benefits from the Lighthouse Program

The example above is a pretty common one, and chances are you already knew that you aren’t supposed to max out your limit. However, that might also leave you thinking that you don’t need the Lighthouse Program because you could technically find all the answers on how to improve your credit on the Internet.

It is true, you could probably find all the answers you’re looking for a few clicks away from this article. But, with something like the Lighthouse Program, you’re getting a professional’s opinion, and you’re getting it for free, as a thank you for your military service. That’s a lot different than free advice from your uncle Bob, who’s still living in his mom’s basement.

Really, at the end of the day, only you can decide if you need the program. If you don’t know a lot about credit scores, you’ve claimed bankruptcy, you’re not good with your finances, or maybe you just can’t figure out how to boost your credit those last few extra points, then maybe this is the program for you.

Veterans United Lighthouse Program Reviews

The Lighthouse Program, unfortunately, has mixed reviews—however, remember it’s a free service—if you do a quick search on Google you’ll see some reviews that aren’t so appealing. However, the complaints are from a few years ago. Complaints such as, they won’t let me out of my contract just isn’t true; they offer the service both at no cost and no obligation. If they aren’t holding up their end of the deal, then you have no obligation to stay with this company as your lender. At least, that’s what they tell us.

How the Lighthouse Program uses your FICO Credit Score

Now that you know what the Lighthouse Program is, you might be wondering, what are they are using to determine your credit score. The answer is your FICO credit score. Your credit score typically comes from three sources, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. In some cases, when you check your credit, you might only see one of those reports. However, your FICO credit score sees all three and combines them for an average. Meaning, if you have a credit score of 650, 675, 648, your FICO credit score would be the average of those: 657. So just think of your FICO score as your average.

How to Improve your Credit Score with the Lighthouse Program

Once your FICO score is determined, you can start looking at improving your credit score, maybe it’s above that 620 mark, there are still a lot of different routes you can take in order to improve that score, and the Lighthouse Program can help you do that.

Remember, just because you reach a 620 and can apply for a VA loan, it doesn’t mean you want to stop there. Typically, the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. Some places offer discounts or fee exemptions if your credit score is high enough. Meaning, keeping working to improve your score even after you hit 620.

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Check for Accuracy

The first step in reaching your 620 goal, or any credit goal is to check your credit report. Unfortunately, these reports aren’t perfect. More unfortunate, it’s not a rare thing to see derogatory stuff on your credit that isn’t true. Sites like Credit Karma, let you check your score for free without hurting your credit and then lets you dispute anything you don’t agree with. It’s actually a really easy process compared to what you might think. This is one of those things I know from personal experience, and I expected it to be a huge hassle, and it really wasn’t. The Veterans United Lighthouse Program can not only help you read your credit report, but they can help you understand it, and keep you on track to make improvements.

Collection Accounts

Once you’ve made all your disputes and corrections have been made, you’ll be left looking at your real credit report, and you’ll be able to accurately determine what you need to work on. For instance, do you have a lot of late payments, paying those off will help your score.

Fixing your late payments is a pretty big deal. When you’re late on a payment, this will get reported to collections. Once that happens, you’ll start to see your credit score drop, which isn’t something you want. So start making those payments, and as they fall off your report, you’ll start to see improvement.

Credit Age

Unfortunately, the Lighthouse Program can’t increase the age of your credit, but know that it is a determining factor in your credit score. The older your credit, the better it is for your credit score. If your credit is under 10 years, it’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not helping your credit. This is a reason why you shouldn’t just keep opening credit card accounts every year, it lowers your credit history’s average, which can lower or keep your credit score from rising. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can just go and fix, you have to wait it out. If you open a credit card today, you can’t just wave a wand and make it 10 years old. You have to wait until it matures a little before it makes your credit look good.

Credit Inquiries

Along these same lines, limiting your credit application is a good idea too. Of course, every time you open a new account it affects your credit age, but it also puts a ding in your credit score. Every time you have a hard inquiry, your credit score will drop. This is why companies like Credit Karma can show you your credit score anytime you want without hurting your score, because it’s not a hard inquiry. But, let’s say you want to go out and buy a new car. Unless you’re paying cash, you’re going to have a hard inquiry on your credit score. The more often you have credit checks like this, the more your credit score will drop. So, if you’re trying to raise your score to buy a home next year, you probably don’t want to go out and buy a new car or open a new credit card account.

Credit Utilization

This leads to the next topic of credit utilization. You might have grown up your entire life being told, don’t get a credit card. Unfortunately, you can’t build credit without going into a little debt. For example, the first major purchase a person makes is typically a car. You need to buy a car, but you can’t buy a car without credit, and you can’t get credit until you buy the car. Paying in cash isn’t smart either, because that doesn’t build credit. And unless you’re going to buy a house in cash, not building credit is a bad idea. So, sometimes the best option is to open a credit card first. The key, however, is to keep it paid off and never utilize 100% of your limit. This looks bad, even if you’re paying it off. Eventually, you’ll have a credit score, but it might not be very high. You can finally buy that car you wanted, but it might be at an 18% interest rate, but at least you’ll have the car. Unfortunately, you’ll also start putting yourself into debt—and who said being an adult wasn’t fun?

However, despite the debt, creditors like seeing you can pay stuff off, and that happens by putting yourself into debt. But, do this by having no more than 10-29% of your credit limit used up. If you have a credit card with a $1000 limit, never used more than $300 on it. At least, that’s a general idea. Of course, we don’t expect that you’ll never spend more than $300, but just try and keep it paid off so it’s not over that amount. Most credit lenders recommend, that you don’t use up more than 30% of your credit limit. However, the ideal limit is 10%. So, if you must use your credit cards, 20% is a good cushiony area to be in.

Depending on your personal circumstance, the Lighthouse Program can guide you in the direction that’s right for you. They can let you know if it would be wise to open a new account, or to hold off on that a little longer. They can let you know where you stand on your credit utilization, and help you set goals in getting yourself to that ideal percentage.

Other ways of Improving your Credit Score with the Lighthouse Program

  • Don’t Let Old Mistakes Unfairly Haunt You: The Lighthouse Program experts can look for this
  • Get a Credit Card: The Lighthouse Program experts will advise if this is the right step for you
  • Open a Secured Credit Card: The Lighthouse Program experts will advise if this is the right step for you
  • Limit Credit Applications: The Lighthouse Program experts can let you know what makes a hard inquiry
  • Fix Your Credit Utilization Ratio: The Lighthouse Program experts can let you know where you stand

How long to improve your credit with the Lighthouse Program

Raising your credit score doesn’t happen overnight, even with the Lighthouse Program. And while it may seem like your credit score drops overnight, that doesn’t happen either, well it does, but not overnight after opening a new credit card account or getting a loan, or not paying a bill. It takes time for these things to reach your account, but when they do, you’ll notice. Things like paying off your car will cause your credit score to drop, but it won’t happen the day after you pay off the loan. The same happens when you start building credit. Just because your credit card account matured to the recommended age today, does not mean you’ll check your score and it will be improved tomorrow. It can be frustrating, we know, especially if you’re right on the cusp of good or excellent credit or that 620 mark most lenders require for a VA Home Loan.

At the end of the day, whether you’re looking to improve your credit score through the Lighthouse Program, or you’re doing it on your own, these things take time. Be patient, it will move, just not within 24 hours.

Top VA Home Loan Lenders of 2019

  1. Veteran’s United
  2. JG Wentworth
  3. Quicken Loans
  4. Lending Tree 
  5. NASB
  6. Cross Country
  7. Rocket Mortgage

Everything You Need To Know About SGLI (Service Member’s Life Insurance)

Service Members Life Insurance (SGLI/VGLI/TSGLI)

If you’ve ever served in the military then you’ve probably heard of SGLI or Service Member’s Life Insurance.  Basically, this an optional life insurance policy offered by the US military to service members which will pay out in the event of death occurs.  However, there are some key things that you should know about SGLI if you are planning relying on it for your next of kin.

Should you enroll for SGLI?

The short answer is yes, yes you should.  If you qualify for SGLI, VGLI or TSGLI then you should absolutely take advantage of the program.  This is one of the least expensive life insurance policies offered you can get.  The military is typically very good about paying out the allotted $400,000 to your next of kin.  This money is can help pay for any unknown expenses that may arise following your death.  In short, you’re essentially getting a life insurance policy that is designed to help your loved ones and not you.  This is a great thing to do for those who you care about.

Who’s Eligible for SGLI?

SGLI is available for a wide number of individuals and isn’t just limited to active duty military personnel. Eligible members include:

  • Active Duty Military, Reserve, National Guard
  • Employees of the US Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Cadets of the US Military Academies
  • ROTC members
  • National Guard/Reserve- In order to be eligible for SGLI you must perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year.  You can also receive coverage if you’re drilling for points rather than pay.

SGLI Coverage

Most service members opt for a 400,000 dollar coverage.  However, anyone can choose any amount between $50,000 and $400,000, in increments of $50,000.  If you are separating from the military your SGLI coverage will extend 120 days from the date of separation.

SGLI for Disabled Veterans

If you’re separated from the military with total disability, you can extend your coverage for up to 2 years after the date of your separation under the SGLI disability extension.

2019 SGLI Rates

In general, you’re SGLI rate is $.07 per $1,000 of coverage.  A complete rate table is provided below.

Coverage Amount Monthly premium rate TSGLI Premium Total Monthly Premium Deduction
400,000 $28.00 $1.00 $29.00
350,000 $24.50 $1.00 $25.50
300,000 $21.00 $1.00 $22.00
250,000 $17.50 $1.00 $18.50
200,000 $14.00 $1.00 $15.00
150,000 $10.50 $1.00 $11.50
100,000 $7.00 $1.00 $8.00
50,000 $3.50 $1.00 $4.50

SGLI FAQs

If I die while wearing body armor not provided by the US military does that disqualify me from SGLI?

No, that is a myth.

If I die as a result of a car or airplane accident and am not wearing my seatbelt does that disqualify me from SGLI?

No, that is also a myth

If I die in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, does that disqualify me from SGLI?

No, that too is a myth.

If I am a National Guard Member or Reservist, does my SGLI/TSGLI only cover me while I am drilling or in active duty status?

No, as long as you meet the minimum requirements for SGLI you are covered regardless of whether you’re on drill status or not.

If I die as a result of a terrorist attack, am I covered?

Yes

Are there any other GWOT (Global War on Terror) exclusions that apply to SGLI?

No, there are no exclusions

If I die in a specific location will it prevent me from SGLI?

No, there are no location exclusions that could prevent you from qualifying for SGLI.  SGLI claims will be paid regardless of the location of death.

What would keep me from getting SGLI coverage?

From the VA Website:

The coverage provided by the SGLI program will be forfeited only when an insured member is found guilty of mutiny, treason, spying, or desertion, or refuses, because of conscientious objections, to perform service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or refuses to wear the uniform of such force.

GET A LIFE INSURANCE QUOTE

No insurance shall be payable for death inflicted as a lawful punishment for crime or for military or naval offense except when inflicted by an enemy of the United States.

Should You Get Life Insurance in Addition to VGLI/SGLI Coverage?

This is a tough on to answer.  As mentioned, SGLI/VGLI will cover a maximum of $400,000 in the event of death.  You should ask yourself if this will provide enough coverage to your next of kin.  Think about it this way, $400,000 spread over 5 years is $80,000/year, over 10 years this reduces to $40,000.  If you have a family, chances are this won’t be enough to cover them for a prolonged period.

It’s not a bad idea to look at additional life insurance companies for additional coverage.  In many cases, a life insurance company will provide additional coverage options such as coverage in the event of an extreme injury that occurs outside the line of duty.

If you are transitioning from the military it is highly recommended you seek additional life insurance coverage.

Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

Veteran’s Group Life Insurance is a program that offers you a low-cost life insurance option after you have separated from the military.  VGLI is more expensive than the traditional SGLI but is still an extremely affordable coverage plan.  In order to enroll in VGLI, you do not need to have a record of good health, something that can keep you from getting affordable life insurance later on in life.

Under VGLI you will also be afforded the maximum coverage amount fo $400,000. The cost of different coverages is listed below.

You have 1 year and 120 days from the date of separation to apply for VGLI.  It’s important to start your paperwork as soon as you are separated from the military to ensure you do not lose your coverage.

You can apply for VGLI through Prudential’s website.  They are the current policyholders, however, this could change in the future.  To ensure you are using the current company you can always visit the VA’s VGLI page that will provide you with the most up to date information.

Learn More

2019 VGLI Rates

Amount of Insurance Age
29 & Below
Age 30-34 Age 35-39 Age 40-44 Age 45-49 Age 50-54 Age 55-59 Age 60-64 Age 65-69 Age 70-74 Age 75 & Over
$400,000 $32.00 $40.00 $52.00 $68.00 $88.00 $144.00 $268.00 $432.00 $600.00 $920.00 $1,840.00
390,000 31.20 39.00 50.70 66.30 85.80 140.40 261.30 421.20 585.00 897.00 1,794.00
380,000 30.40 38.00 49.40 64.60 83.60 136.80 254.60 410.40 570.00 874.00 1,748.00
370,000 29.60 37.00 48.10 62.90 81.40 133.20 247.90 399.60 555.00 851.00 1,702.00
360,000 28.80 36.00 46.80 61.20 79.20 129.60 241.20 388.80 540.00 828.00 1,656.00
350,000 28.00 35.00 45.50 59.50 77.00 126.00 234.50 378.00 525.00 805.00 1,610.00
340,000 27.20 34.00 44.20 57.80 74.80 122.40 227.80 367.20 510.00 782.00 1,564.00
330,000 26.40 33.00 42.90 56.10 72.60 118.80 221.10 356.40 495.00 759.00 1,518.00
320,000 25.60 32.00 41.60 54.40 70.40 115.20 214.40 345.60 480.00 736.00 1,472.00
310,000 24.80 31.00 40.30 52.70 68.20 111.60 207.70 334.80 465.00 713.00 1,426.00
300,000 24.00 30.00 39.00 51.00 66.00 108.00 201.00 324.00 450.00 690.00 1,380.00
290,000 23.20 29.00 37.70 49.30 63.80 104.40 194.30 313.20 435.00 667.00 1,334.00
280,000 22.40 28.00 36.40 47.60 61.60 100.80 187.60 302.40 420.00 644.00 1,288.00
270,000 21.60 27.00 35.10 45.90 59.40 97.20 180.90 291.60 405.00 621.00 1,242.00
260,000 20.80 26.00 33.80 44.20 57.20 93.60 174.20 280.80 390.00 598.00 1,196.00
250,000 20.00 25.00 32.50 42.50 55.00 90.00 167.50 270.00 375.00 575.00 1,150.00
240,000 19.20 24.00 31.20 40.80 52.80 86.40 160.80 259.20 360.00 552.00 1,104.00
230,000 18.40 23.00 29.90 39.10 50.60 82.80 154.10 248.40 345.00 529.00 1,058.00
220,000 17.60 22.00 28.60 37.40 48.40 79.20 147.40 237.60 330.00 506.00 1,012.00
210,000 16.80 21.00 27.30 35.70 46.20 75.60 140.70 226.80 315.00 483.00 966.00
200,000 16.00 20.00 26.00 34.00 44.00 72.00 134.00 216.00 300.00 460.00 920.00
190,000 15.20 19.00 24.70 32.30 41.80 68.40 127.30 205.20 285.00 437.00 874.00
180,000 14.40 18.00 23.40 30.60 39.60 64.80 120.60 194.40 270.00 414.00 828.00
170,000 13.60 17.00 22.10 28.90 37.40 61.20 113.90 183.60 255.00 391.00 782.00
160,000 12.80 16.00 20.80 27.20 35.20 57.60 107.20 172.80 240.00 368.00 736.00
150,000 12.00 15.00 19.50 25.50 33.00 54.00 100.50 162.00 225.00 345.00 690.00
140,000 11.20 14.00 18.20 23.80 30.80 50.40 93.80 151.20 210.00 322.00 644.00
130,000 10.40 13.00 16.90 22.10 28.60 46.80 87.10 140.40 195.00 299.00 598.00
120,000 9.60 12.00 15.60 20.40 26.40 43.20 80.40 129.60 180.00 276.00 552.00
110,000 8.80 11.00 14.30 18.70 24.20 39.60 73.70 118.80 165.00 253.00 506.00
100,000 8.00 10.00 13.00 17.00 22.00 36.00 67.00 108.00 150.00 230.00 460.00
90,000 7.20 9.00 11.70 15.30 19.80 32.40 60.30 97.20 135.00 207.00 414.00
80,000 6.40 8.00 10.40 13.60 17.60 28.80 53.60 86.40 120.00 184.00 368.00
70,000 5.60 7.00 9.10 11.90 15.40 25.20 46.90 75.60 105.00 161.00 322.00
60,000 4.80 6.00 7.80 10.20 13.20 21.60 40.20 64.80 90.00 138.00 276.00
50,000 4.00 5.00 6.50 8.50 11.00 18.00 33.50 54.00 75.00 115.00 230.00
40,000 3.20 4.00 5.20 6.80 8.80 14.40 26.80 43.20 60.00 92.00 184.00
30,000 2.40 3.00 3.90 5.10 6.60 10.80 20.10 32.40 45.00 69.00 138.00
20,000 1.60 2.00 2.60 3.40 4.40 7.20 13.40 21.60 30.00 46.00 92.00
10,000 0.80 1.00 1.30 1.70 2.20 3.60 6.70 10.80 15.00 23.00 46.00

Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)

Traumatic Injury Protection or TSGLI is designed to offer prolonged care assistance to you and your loved ones following a traumatic event that requires long-term care.

Can I get TSGLI?

You may be able to get TSGLI if you were insured by SGLI when you experienced a traumatic injury. According to the VA website in order to be eligible for TSGLI you must meet the following:

All of these must be true:

  • You have a scheduled loss that is a direct result of the traumatic injury, and
  • You suffered the traumatic injury before midnight on the day that you left the military, and
  • You suffered a scheduled loss within 2 years (730 days) of the traumatic injury, and
  • You have survived for a period of not less than 7 full days from the date of the traumatic injury (the 7-day period begins on the date and time of the traumatic injury and ends 168 full hours later), and
  • You were an active-duty military member, a Reservist, a National Guard member, on funeral-honors duty, or on 1-day muster duty

Are any injuries excluded from TSGLI?

Yes. To qualify for TSGLI, none of the descriptions below can be true of your injury.

Your injury can’t:

  • Be self-inflicted on purpose or the result of an attempt at self-injury, or
  • Involve the use of an illegal drug or a controlled substance that was given or taken without the advice of a medical doctor, or
  • Be the result of medical or surgical treatment of an illness or disease, or
  • Occur while you’re committing or trying to commit a felony, or
  • Be the result of a physical or mental illness or disease (not including illness or disease caused by a wound infection; a chemical, biological, or radiological weapon; or accidentally swallowing a contaminated substance)

How Much Does TSGLI Cover?

TSGLI is paid out in a lump sum as a tax-free payment.  This payment ranges from $25,000 up to $100,000 and is dependent on the service member’s injuries.  You can submit a claim for TSGLI by going to the VA’s TSGLI webpage.

Will TSGLI Be Enough to Cover My Injuries?

This is a personal editorial note so please take it for what it’s worth…  Most people are unaware of how much extreme trauma can cost their family.  Even if you have Tricare or additional healthcare coverage you will almost always find yourself paying out of pocket if you don’t have the proper coverage.  As a kid, my dad was a helicopter pilot.  My family held two levels of life insurance coverage for my dad, one was if he died as a result of a helicopter accident, the other was if he died as a result of something other than a helicopter accident.  My dad ended up getting into a helicopter accident that left him severely disabled for three years.  He eventually died as a result of his injuries.  During his period of recovery, we managed to rack up over $1 million in medical bills.  Had my family not secured the proper life insurance coverage we would still be trying to pay those bills to this day.  In reality, $100,000 is a drop in the bucket when it comes to a traumatic injury or death.  If you want a personal recommendation, get ample coverage.  Most often, a good life insurance policy can be obtained at a very nominal amount but will offer huge dividends in the long run.  The reality is that if you don’t get insured, you won’t be the one that suffers.  If you’re in a traumatic accident, your family will bare the burden of your death or traumatic injuries.  Imagine your family having to care for you full time if you have a massive brain injury.  Would you want them to also have to pay your medical bills or try to work while trying to take care of you?  In short, life insurance is one of the best things you can do to support your loved ones.  Get coverage, they will thank you.

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An In Depth Look at Geico’s Military Discount

Geico Military

A little while back we did an in depth look at USAA and their comprehensive insurance policy for Veterans and Service Members.  After some great user feedback we decided to take another look at a Geico’s military programs and discounts.  

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Geico Auto Insurance

So before we go to into the weeds with Geico’s military program, let’s take a look at Geico’s track record as a whole.  Oddly enough Geico started in 1936 for Federal Employees and military officers.  Like USAA, the company began as a niche market servicing the military and quickly grew its customer base to the 24 million strong clientele it has today. 

Some of Geico’s key advantages include’s their exceptionally well built web platform that’s designed to make up for their smaller agent network than some of their competitors.  All in all Geico ranks fairly middle of the road for customer satisfaction according JD Power’s 2018 study.  However, they have made great strides to up their game in the past two years.  One thing we found interesting was how many people commented on our Facebook Post about USAA and their exceptional experience with Geico. 

One place where Geico tends to out-perform the rest is in their cost to value structure. All in all, Geico tends to offer some of the least expensive plans around while still maintaining some quality service.  Bottom line, if you’re after the least expensive insurance option available, this is probably your best bet.    

Geico’s Military Discount

So if you’re looking for the short answer, Geico offers up to 15% off your insurance plan if you’re an active duty, reserve, National Guard member or retired.  Given that Geico already has some pretty low rates this has the option of being a pretty solid saver for anyone looking to lower their monthly bills. While money is a great thing to be concerned about we were actually pleasantly surprised when researching Geico’s military program to find out that they actually have an awesome military support system.

First and foremost, Geico offers emergency deployment discounts which is important if you’re constantly being deployed and having to worry about your insurance plan.  Not only that, they have an awesome dedicated military team that is specifically trained to support their military customers.  This to us is incredibly important and something that puts them on par with USAA’s services.

One thing we really wanted to point out and commend Geico on is that their military team is made up of all military retirees. This is impressive since they not only have a team of experts that will be able to help you out when you need it the most, but they are also giving back to the veteran community which we really value.  So no matter what you think of Geico, at least commend them for that!

Another service offered by Geico is their insurance pause that can be applied to vehicles stored on base during your deployment as long as the vehicle is stored 30 days or longer.  As long as you’re deployed and your car is on base Geico can suspend your insurance or pause it until you return.  Again, big kudos to them. 

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USAA Vs Geico Military

Chances are you’re comparing USAA to Geico Military and looking at picking up a policy with one of these companies.  While in many ways both offer some great incentives they do have some pretty stark contrasts.

In general, Geico will be less expensive than USAA when it comes to overall price.  However, based on the research we did we found USAA to have better customer service ratings from various places around the internet. They also don’t fall too far behind Geico when it comes to pricing and in some cases might actually be cheaper.  USAA also specializes in supporting service members as a whole rather than just as a select group.  You could argue this as a positive or a negative attribute in the sense that a company that specializes in the military as a whole might have better service or a company that puts together a select group of people who’s only focus is the military might have better service since they have a much better dedicated core. 

USAA does have a larger agent network so if you find yourself in an accident you will be more likely to meet an agent face to face to take care of your needs than if you went with Geico.  However, Geico does an exceptional job utilizing their military team that is dedicated to answering your needs along side their award winning web platform that will help you process your claims quickly and efficiently.  In short, they make up for their lack of agents in the field with a dedicated team that can support your needs over the phone. 

One thing we should point out is that in general, Geico does tend have higher costs for drivers with an at-fault accident on their record as well as individuals with low credit score.  If you fit into either of those categories ensure you really shop around before making your final decision.

Geico’s Military Programs

One thing we did want to point out is Geico’s dedication to service members.  Again, after doing some research we found Geico does a phenomenal job of supporting the troops as well as the veteran community. In addition to only hiring veterans to their military team they have also offered jobs to service members in other areas of their company. 

In addition Geico helps give back to the military through a number of donation programs such as their Military Service Awards Program that offers $2500 and recognition to one member of each branch of service who has excelled by giving back to the military community. 

Geico’s Federal Employee Discount

In addition to their military discount, Geico also offers a discount for Federal Employees.  This discount is offered to employees who are GS-7 or above as well as employees who are the equivalent for GS-11 or above who are not on the GS pay scale.  For more information on the GS employee program we recommend reaching out to them directly.

Geico’s Veteran Discount

So we found that Geico does offer some Veteran discounts, however, they aren’t consistent.  While they guarantee an Active Duty/Reserve/National Guard/retiree discount, they do not state anything on their website about honorably discharged Veterans.  However, we did find a few resources that say they will divvy out some veteran discounts based on the state you’re living in.  Your best bet is to contact them directly to see if they offer any Veteran discounts in your local area.

GET A VETERAN DISCOUNT QUOTE

Geico Military Number

If you’re a Geico Military customer you can reach their team of dedicated experts by dialing 1-800-MILITARY (645-4827) or by reaching out to your local agent.

5 Pistol Drills to try next time you’re at the Range

If you aren’t getting some good quality trigger time in at the range, then what are you doing with your life? Seriously though, what are you doing? If you’re looking to improve your range day, look at these five pistol drills to try next time you’re ready to send some brass flying.

Weapon Safety

Before we get into the fun stuff, know that in all firing scenarios, safety is absolutely paramount. So, adhere to these safety standards at all times:

1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction—don’t aim at your cat, dog, sibling, anything that might have a person behind it, your pet turtle—only point at the things you intend to shoot, and nothing more.

2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot—you will not look cooler by having your finger in the trigger guard, even if there aren’t any rounds in the chamber. So always practice like you play, and don’t be an idiot.

3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use—if you aren’t planning to use the gun, don’t load the gun. Too many people get excited and the next thing you know, there’s a nice .45 caliber sized hole in the ceiling of the shooting range, which goes back to always keeping your gun pointed in a safe direction.

4. Always. Always. Always know what’s behind your target and beyond it. If you’re shooting at a target and don’t know what’s behind it, your chances of going to jail have increased drastically. For all you know, there’s a playground full of small children behind your target, so again, don’t be an idiot.

5 Pistol Drills

Again, with each of these drills, don’t be stupid and mind your weapon’s safety. Also, keep in mind, some of these drills can’t be done at every range. Make sure you speak with your range’s safety/range officer beforehand.

Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck Drills

These decks come in two forms, one for the rifle and one for the pistol. For the purpose of this particular post, we’re going to stick strictly to the pistol version—don’t get upset, we’ll give you some good rifle drills later on too—this is just the first step in making you an intelligent shooter, at least with the pistol.

What you need:

IQ Target (Pistol)

Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck (Pistol)

As many rounds as you can stand to shoot in one day

A few magazines (for reloads)

Between 3 and 25 yards of range

How it works:

Picture this, you’re at the range, it’s a beautiful sunny day, great for absolutely destroying some targets. But wait, you’re bored and think to yourself, “wouldn’t it be nice if I could be more creative with my range time?” Well lucky for you, we’ve created an awesome drill that brings creativity to an entirely new level.

First, go set up your IQ target, then take out your deck of cards—no, not the ones you played poker with last night— and either at random or based on your current skill level you’ll draw a card.

Be advised, this card game comes with every shooter’s skill level in mind. If you are in need of a warm-up or need to work on the fundamentals, only draw from the cards with a 2-7 on it. If you’re wanting to work on performance and speed, draw from the cards with 8s and 9s on them. If however, you’re ready to work on advanced marksmanship fundamentals, select the 10s. Now let’s say you want to get fancy, the Jacks are your cup of tea. With safety in mind—as always—jacks are facing movements combined with shooting. Finally, you have the cards meant for the more advanced shooters. Queens and Kinds are complex drills, Aces are complex drills incorporating movement. So, depending on what skill level you’re at, draw from that particular stack—or complete randomness—and do what the card says.

For example, if your card says, shoot at all the shapes with a number in it one time, that’s what you’ll do. You’ll be thinking, attempting to find your next shape with a number in it, and you’ll also be working on your precision—because you’re nothing if you’re hitting the triangle with a “1” in it when you’re supposed to be hitting the circle with a “2” in it.

General Marksmanship Drill

We’ve talked about targets to help increase your marksmanship in previous posts, now it’s time to start practicing with marksmanship drills.

What you’ll need:

Essentials Target

At least 6 rounds, more if you don’t’ completely suck

Between 3 and 7-yards of range

How it works:

This particular drill is to make you focus on the fundamentals, so in this case, the drill is not timed. Your goal is to make well-aimed hits with each and every shot. You’ll start by firing one round each at the circles labeled with a 1-6 from the 3-yard line. If you do that successfully—meaning you hit inside each circle—you’ll do it again, only this time with two rounds to each circle. You’ll continue this process until you finally miss. If however, this is too easy for you, you can move back to the 5 or 7-yard line and perform the same steps.

X’s and O’s

What you’ll need:

Essentials Target

45 rounds

5-yards of range

Timer

How it works:

From the 5-yard line, in the gun ready position, at the sound of the buzzer, you will fire one round each into target #13, followed by #8, #13, #9, #13, #10, #13, #11 and #13, in that order 5 times. The point of this drill is to help you work on your target transition skills by making you move to a different position between each shot.

In the end, record your time and attempt to improve your speed each time you conduct this drill.

Abbate Drill

What you’ll need:

Essentials Target

At least 18 rounds, more if you want more running-range fun

Between 3 and 25-yards of range 

Timer

How it works:

For this drill, you will start at the 3-yard line with your pistol holstered. When the buzzer goes off, you’ll fire one round each into targets 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, in that exact order. After, you’ll run—yes, you’re going to have to do a little exercise with this one—to the 25-yard line, do the same, and then run back to the 3-yard line and repeat. Continue this process, and reload as necessary. If you miss the target, do not move on to the next target until you are able to hit the same target with two rounds in a row.

The intention of this drill is to add a little physical stress to your shooting experience. As always, especially with a drill that requires movement, make sure you are practicing weapon’s safety. Also, ensure you talk with the range official about the drills you intend on running and make sure they’re okay with it. The last thing you want to do is start running up and downrange with a loaded pistol and freak someone out.

In the end, your time is your score. The lower your score (time), the better you did.

The 1-2-3 Drill

What you’ll need:

Hitman Target

At least 6 rounds, 54 if you want to take full advantage of this drill

3-yards of range

Timer

How it works:

For this drill, you’ll want to stand at the 3-yard line, at pistol ready. When the buzzer goes off you’ll place one round into the 1” square, 2 rounds into the 2” square and 3 rounds into the 3” square. Repeat until you’re out of target or rounds, in which case, you can work on your reloads.

The intention of this drill is to have you work on speed and accuracy. Continue this drill until you are able to hit every square without missing.

Importance of Pistol Drills

If you’re not sure, you might be asking what the importance of running pistol drills is. Well, the overarching answer here is clearly accuracy. What’s the point of owning a gun if you can’t actually hit your target? Let’s say you’re in a self-defense situation. You don’t want to be that guy or gal who shoots his or her own foot—that’s a real thing by the way. You also don’t want to be the one to try and save the day during an active shooter and end up missing and hitting the mom holding her crying baby in the background. That’s why practicing these drills are important. Because becoming a better shooter means becoming more accurate.

Proper Pistol Draw

One of the things most overlooked when it comes to weapons/range day is drawing from your holster. Now imagine, you’re out and about and someone pulls a gun on the gas station attendant. You, being the prepared citizen that you are, have a sidearm on, and thankfully you know how to use that sidearm because you’re at the range every Saturday—0800 sharp. However, there’s one thing standing in your way. It’s winter; you have on a big coat, a sweatshirt, and then your pistol. This might not be an issue, but you haven’t practiced, not even once, drawing your pistol from under all your garments inside the holster; the pistol gets caught up, the armed suspect notices you, and you’re the first person he ends up shooting.

This scenario could have gone much differently if you had practice. Unfortunately, not a lot of people practice, and when they do, it’s rarely from concealed carry. Next time you’re at the range, practice drawing your pistol at least 10 times, without a coat on and then 10 times with a coat on, or from concealed carry—do this unloaded—and make it a habit each time you’re at the range. Some of our drills, which you can find in the Essential Shooting Guide will help to improve your pistol draw

When it comes to actually drawing your pistol from its holster, do so with a firm grip. Place the webbing up as high on the grip as possible and pull directly up along your side. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t be looking at your holster—it’s not the one shooting at you—instead look at your target, it will increase your speed to target, and hopefully that means you can get the first shot off.

If you’re looking to speed up your pistol draw, check out this article here for a few tips.

Off-Hand Shooting

When it comes to actually shooting your pistol, there are several different techniques you can use. There’s the average shooter’s technique, where you use your strong shooting hand to pull the trigger and your weak hand as support, but then there’s also offhand shooting. Offhand shooting simply means you shoot without your support hand. This might be a little odd for some folks, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s good to practice shooting like this in case your support hand is ever out of commission, which doesn’t necessarily mean someone shot your hand off, it could just be occupied with a flashlight.

Weak Hand Shooting

Weak hand shooting can be a lot of fun, especially if you’ve never done it. Practice this by placing your strong hand behind your back or on your chest to help with the temptation. But, only use your weak hand when you make the shot. It’s a good idea to practice shooting this way in case your primary shooting hand is out of commission.

Rapid Reload

Most likely, if you’re in need of a rapid reload, you’re in the middle of a firefight and your pistol slide locks to the rear revealing you’re out of ammo. You need to reload because bullets are still flying, only not from your pistol. Therefore your goal is to reload as quickly as possible without the target figuring it out.

It’s important in this situation to stay on target. 1. It makes sure you’re able to get in back in the fight much quicker without having to reset everything again and 2. It prevents the target from realizing you’re out of ammo until you’re reloaded and sending bullet their way again.

Step 1: Release magazine with your firing hand—at the same time you’re reaching for a fresh magazine with your non-firing hand.

Step 2: Insert fresh magazine—no need to grab the empty mag off the ground when you’re in the heat of the battle.

Step 3: Release slide foward.

Step 4: Fire!

Tactical Reload

Unlike with a rapid reload, a tactical reload happens when you have rounds in the magazine, but you want to reload with a fresh magazine. This typically happens because there’s a lull in the action. You need to be prepared for something else to kick off, but not having a full mag isn’t exactly a smart idea. It’s also not smart to throw what rounds you have away either, so you’ll conduct a tactical reload.

Step 1: Remove your trigger finger from the trigger guard.

Step 2: Grasp your fresh magazine with your support/non-firing hand—between the thumb, index and middle finger.

Step 3: Bring the new magazine up to your pistol.

Step 4: Press—with your shooting hand—the magazine release button. The magazine should be dropped into your palm, between your pinky/ring finger and the meaty part of your hand beneath your thumb. *Steps 2 and 3 should be happening at the same time as step 4.

Step 5: While holding the old magazine—your magazines will look like they’re in the shape of a “V”—tilt your wrist toward your chest so that the new magazine is under the magazine well and insert (it might look like a backward “L” or “V” turned on its side).

Step 6: Place the old magazine into your pocket or waistband, this way it doesn’t get mixed up with any full mags you have in your magazine pouches.

*Yes, there are different ways of grabbing the old and replacing the new magazine—so before you get your panties in a bunch, we know that—the above is just one example.

Extra Pistol Drills

If you’re interested in our Human Resources target, why not try out this pistol shooting drill.

Once you feel confident about your drills, try the Small Big Small Drill, and see if you can beat our times. Just remember, if there’s no video, it didn’t happen.

You can find more drills to help improve your range day in our Essential Shooting Guide.

Best Red Dot Sights | The 2019 Buyer’s Guide

With the market being flooded with Red Dot Optics it’s hard to know which ones are actually decent anymore.  We set out to try and find the best red dot sights on the market to help make your job a bit easier.

So what makes a good red rot optic?  Well, for starters durability plays a huge factor when looking for something that you might potentially depend your life on at some point.  At first glance durability seems pretty straight forward but when it comes to optics, there are a lot of measured factors.  The first measure of durability for any rifle/pistol sight is the housing.  You’re pretty much guaranteed that any red dot optic or reflex sight that isn’t made from a metal body will have a shorter shelf life than one made from aluminum.  The second piece of durability comes in the actual waterproofing of the housing unit.  Many of the cheaper red dot optics will come with a slight weather sealing but will accumulate moisture in the rain or wet conditions.  Conversely, some of the top of the line red dot sights are designed to be submersible for naval operations and waterborne infiltration.   Another piece of durability comes in the overall quality of the glass used in the optic itself.  It’s safe to say that not all glass is created equal and in many cases the biggest driver of an optic’s cost comes from the quality of glass used.  A good glass is considered scratch resistant, crisp with low distortion meaning the image you see through the lens is true to what you would see in real life.  Finally, you want to ensure the red dot inside the optic wont move in the event of extreme weather change.  This is a hot topic at the moment due to some companies in the past who had that issue causing people to lose their zero if the weather went from one extreme to another.

Next to durability comes cost.  The bottom line is that any red dot scope, reflex sight, holographic sight or whatever else you want to call it will be priced pretty much according to their quality.  If an optic is priced ridiculously cheap, it’s probably because it’s pretty garbage.  However, most optics that come in at a higher price point tend to offer better quality.  In short, with this product line you do tend to get what you pay for.

So what are the different terms you should know?

Red Dot Optics tend to be a fairly large and broad category. So lets break down what a few of the key terms mean

Reflex Sight vs Prism Sight vs Holographic Sight

A red dot sight is not an actual sight, it just refers to an optic that uses a red dot as an aiming point.  There are several types of red dot sights to include a reflex sight, a prism sight and a holographic sight.

What is a Reflex sight?

A reflex sight is an optic that uses a lens that functions as a mirror.   Basically a red dot (in the form of an LED) is projected onto a semi reflecting lens that you can see through.  The biggest advantage of a reflex sight is that the point of aim of the red dot will not move as you move your eye’s location making it parallax free.  In other optics if you move your head/eye side to side you can actually change the aiming point of the optic.  In a flex sight the red dot shows the point of impact of the round (obviously not accounting for bullet drop).  This makes reflex sights an excellent CQB  optic.  Reflex sights can be battery powered or powered by light through a tritium tube.  Another advantage of the optic is that very little power is required to show the red dot so the optic’s batteries can last a lot longer than other types of red dot sights.

What is a Prism Sight?

Prism sights are a red dot optic contained in a tube that uses a prism to show the image you’re looking at.  Prism sights are often used with a slight magnification (usually up to 3 x power). Prism sights are great for both CQB and mid range engagements, however, in order to properly acquire a proper sight picture you need to have a closer eye relief than say a reflex sight.  In general, prism sights are more expensive that reflex sights but they are becoming more popular thus causing a more competitive price point.

What is a Holographic Sight?

A holographic sight is a sight that features a holographic image between two lenses.  Chances are you are most familiar with Eotech holographic sights, probably because Eotech has the patent on holographic sights so they are the only ones making them.  The biggest advantage of a holographic sight is like a reflex sight the sight picture doesn’t change based on the location of your head.  In general, holographic sights are very precise and accurate.  However, they do tend to be a lot more expensive. In addition, Eotech had a few issues over the years with the quality of their sights and reporting those issues to their end users.

Reflex Sight Vs Red Dot Sight

As mentioned, a reflex sight is pretty much a red dot sight.  A red dot sight can be a reflex sight in the sense that the reflex sight uses a red dot as an aiming point.  All the  reflex sights we recommend in this article feature a red dot as an aiming point.  It’s important to point out that with all of this terminology there are lots of grey areas and people tend to get wrapped up in the specifics.  But don’t worry, by the end you should have a decent idea of what a reflex sight offers and what to look for if you want to pick one up.

First focal plane vs second plane

In this red dot review we also take a look at low variable powered optics that have a red dot aiming point.  You could argue that these aren’t technically red dot optics but we figured we’d include them since they are starting to replace red dot sights in a lot of different areas. In any optic with two focal planes the reticle will be placed on either the first focal plane (FFP) or second focal plane (SFP).  The biggest difference between the two is how the reticle appears to the user as you zoom in or out.  With a first focal plane reticle the reticle will change in size as you zoom in or out.  On a second focal plane the reticle stays the same size no matter how the optic is zoomed in or out.  AmericanHunter.org offers an excellent article on the difference between FFP vs SFP along with the image below.

This is an excellent visual explanation for FFP vs SFP by AmericanHunter.org

In general, SFP has been popular among hunters and more traditional rifle scopes while FFP optics are becoming increasingly more popular with long range shooters and snipers.  The biggest reason FFP is becoming more popular for long range shooters is the fact that FFP is better for accuracy when calculating shots.  More specifically, your hold over and hold unders are going to remain the same no matter what the magnification setting of the optic while a SFP is only accurate for a hold over/under at one magnification.  In short, if you’re looking to get a red dot optic for long range shooting you will most likely want a FFP optic.

Now that we have a good idea of the particulars of a red dot optic, let’s take a look at our 2019 buyers guide of the best red dot optics.

Best Red Dot Sight

Here we are reviewing Red Dot Sights that offer no magnification.  These have been traditionally used by SWAT and military units operating within close quarters like cities.  These offer the user the ability to quickly engage close targets because you don’t need to have a specific eye relief or head placement.  These optics are typically lighter and less expensive than a variable powered red dot sight.  In addition they tend to have less moving parts making them less prone to have mechanical issues.

Disadvantages of Red Dot Sights

Because these optics have no magnification they are not ideal for mid to long range engagements.  As such, many units are moving away from these types of sights for use on standard service rifles because it keeps personnel from having the upper hand in longer range engagements.  If you’r looking for a basic optic to take to the range that won’t break the bank, this is probably your best bet.  But if you’re looking for something more versatile consider a variable power red dot optic.

Our Top Rated Red Dot Sights

 

  1. Aimpoint Micro T2– $730+ (Price increases with options)

 

The Aimpoint T2 is a long standing champion when it comes to red dot sights.  They’ve spent the past 10 years perfecting the sight to be a durable, accurate and reasonably priced product.  The T2 is arguably the most common red dot optic used by Special Operations and police SWAT alike.

AimPoint T2 Features:

The Aimpoint T2 features an enhanced light absorbing glass making it easier to use in low light conditions.  The optic includes a rear flip up cap that you can actually see through allowing you some added lens protection if needed.  The T2 is also one of the lightest optics on the market weighing in at just 3.7oz.  However, probably the best feature of the T2 is its zero parallax glass that allows you to not have to worry about eye relief when using the optic.  The T2 is also a great optic to use if you’re looking for something to use with night vision or in low light conditions.  Aimpoint created the T2 Micro to have 4 NVG settings and 8 daytime settings allowing you to have a wide variety of options for any condition.  The Aimpoint is also highly water resistant and can be submerged to depths up to 80 feet, making it a preferred optic of many naval/marine units.

Why you would buy the AimPoint T2 Micro

You should consider purchasing the T2 if you are looking for an extremely rugged optic that can be used for CQB, waterborne operations/heavy weather, with NVGs or in low light conditions.

Why you shouldn’t buy the AimPoint T2

If budget is a major factor in your decision you should consider something else.  This optic is designed and used for intense military operations and might not be ideal for hunting, basic marksmanship or in home protection.  As such, the T2 is priced a lot higher than its competitors.  The T2 starts at around $730 and can cost upwards of $970 for additional mounting solutions and colors.

Editorial note- We have personally run the Aimpoint T2 on our rifles in combat operations since 2009.  It’s an extremely well tested and well trusted optic.  It is not ideal if you are looking for something with magnification, however, if you purchase this optic you can be rest assured you are purchasing something that is of the highest quality on the market. 

2. Leupold LCO- $910

The Leupold LCO is a newer contender to the red dot market but is making big waves.  This red dot sight offers some incredible features that is getting the attention of SOCOM and a number of other well respected units and police departments.

Leupold LCO Features:

Leupold did an excellent job creating an optic with an incredibly large viewing area that isn’t also bulk or heavy.  They opted to place the dial settings on the back of the optic, rather than on the side.  This allows the optic to have a slim housing and a much larger viewing area… pretty genius.  They also include 8 red dot power settings allowing the user to see the red dot in all situations, to include NVGs.  We had a chance to use the LCO when it first came out and we were very impressed.  Our guess is this red dot optic will be a big contended moving forward. 

Why You Should Buy The Leupold LCO

If you’re looking for something that offers a wide viewing area for CQB operations, consider the LCO.  Leupold has been building high quality scopes for years and they know what they are doing when it comes to making optics.  

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Leupold LCO

Like the Aimpoint, the LCO is not cheap.  At $900+ it’s one of the more expensive red dot sights you can buy, but you will be getting what you pay for.  

3. Crimson Trace CTS-1000 – $299

Crimson Trace is brand new to the optics game in 2018 and we recently had a chance to get a first look.  CT did a great job with putting together an optic at a very competitive price point.  We are excited to see where these go in 2019.  We want to make this recommendation with the notion that this sight still has a lot of field testing needed, however it’s off to a great start.

 

CTS 1000 Features:

The Crimson Trace CTS 1000 is a simple yet reliable design. The optic comes with a 2.0 MOA red dot housed in a sturdy aluminum housing.  CT did a great job of making the red dot require a minimal amount of energy and the battery only needs to be recharged every 9 years.  If that doesn’t impress you the fact that CT will replace all your batteries for free, for life, should.  In addition, the CTS 1000 is built out of a durable aluminum housing with a robust water resistant design that ensures your sight can withstand wet conditions.

Why You Should Buy the Crimson Trace CTS 1000

This is a great sight to look at if you are on a tight budget.  It comes in at a very affordable price and for what you get it’s actually a great deal.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Crimson Trace CTS 1000

The CTS 1000 is a brand new optic and as such, it’s going to have some kinks.  Crimson Trace did a great job designing the optic but now they need some time to test it out.  Still, given the price point, you will have a hard time finding a better ratio of quality to cost on the market.

Best Variable Power Red Dot Sight

Ok, so before you go to the comment section and tell us a variable power scope isn’t technically a red dot sight let us say, yeah we know.  This section covers a list of variable power scopes that also happen to have a red dot as part of the aiming system.  We are including these because there are some excellent variable power scopes that could act as a replacement for a traditional red dot optic.  A variable powered red dot sight is any sight that offers a variable zoom, that has a red dot aiming feature.  You will want to use a variable powered optic if you believe you might be using the optic in a wide variety of environments.  A variable power zoom allows you to engage in close quarters battle situations as well as mid length engagements.  Most variable power optics for ARs and CQB will have a zoom range 1 – 5 with some going up to 1-8.  Many units are switching to variable power optics to operate in environments like Afghanistan where users engage in CQB as well as longer open engagements.   Because this type of optic is becoming so popular there are some great new options hitting the market.  These mini rifle scopes are becoming lighter, shorter and offering levels of optical clarity that’s never been produced before.

Disadvantages of using a variable power red dot sight

While there are some great advantages to using a variable power sight there are some key disadvantages as well.  First, variable power optics are more complex and consequently are more expensive.  In addition, they are longer than traditional reflex sights so if you are operating a shorter rifle with limited real estate the scope could become an issue.  Variable power scopes are also traditionally heavier (although they are becoming lighter) so if you’re concerned about weight this might not be the best options for you. Finally a variable powered scope can be difficult to acquire quickly, which is very important during fast, close up engagements like CQB.

Our Top Rated Variable Powered Red Dot Sights

1. Sig Sauer Tango6 1-6 x 24mm– $1,199

Let’s be honest, Sig’s optics up to this point haven’t been the best, however, this year they upped their optics quality… by a lot.  So much so that the US Army announced that they had awarded Sig with a contract to outfit the Designated Marksman program with the Tango 6 and they aren’t the only ones choosing the Tango 6 as a duty optic.  

Tango 6 Features:

The Tango 6 1 -6 is a variable powered optic with a 24mm objective lens.  One of Sig’s key features in the Tango6 is the HDX Optics extra low dispersion glass which allows for incredible optical clarity, especially in low light situations.  They also coat the lenses in LensArmor abrasion resistant film to help keep the optic from scratching.  One of the other key features is the optic’s Lockdown Zero System which ensures the user can rapidly return to zero and that the turret will stop at zero without moving past, something that is a common issue in other optics on the market.  One of the other cool features of the Tango 6 is the MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination) which powers up when it senses motion and powers down during times of inactivity, allowing for an increased battery life.   

Why You Should Buy The Tango 6

If you’re looking for a durable variable powered optic with incredible lens quality and all the bells and whistles.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy The Tango 6

If price is a variable this might not be the optic for you.  In addition, the optic can be submerged up to 1 meter but if you think you want to use for any sort of naval/marine operations it might not hold up.  

2. Night Force NX8 1-8 x 24mm F1– $1715

Night Force is a longtime contender in the optics market and has recently started making a bit of a comeback.  The NX8 is rapidly becoming a favorite for many units and is being looked at for use in several military contracts.  

Night Force NX8 Features:

The Night Force NX8 has some impressive features, most notably an overall length of 8.75″ while weighing in at only 17 ounces.  This makes the NX8 an excellent optics for AR-15 style SBRs.  The NX8 utilizes a first focal plane which is couple with an 8 powered zoom making it more suitable for long range engagements than some of the competitors on the market.  We are also fans of NF’s proprietary reticles that are designed to give the user rapid engagement capabilities along with the ability to dial in more precise shots if needed.  

Why You Should Buy the NX8

If space and weight are an issue, consider the NX8.  

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the NX8

The NX8 does use a proprietary reticle that may not jive with your sighting techniques.  If you have specific training on engaging using a different type of reticle this one could be tough to get used to. 

3. Steiner Optics M5Xi- $2200

Steiner Optics has been making optics since the  early 1900s and they have some of the best glass around.  They are one of the only companies that actually makes their own glass.  That paired with German engineering makes Steiner an incredibly elite optics company. 

Steiner M5Xi Features:

The Steiner M5Xi  is a great option for any duty rifle due to its compact and light weight design.  The optic features a true 1 power setting meaning that when the optic is used at a 1 power or lowest zoom it accurately depicts what you’re looking at.  Several other variable power optics often have a slight distortion even when set to a 1 power setting.  Steiner’s M5Xi is part of Steiner’s M series which is specifically built to meet and exceed all military standards.  The M5Xi is no exception to quality and it’s about as durable as they come.  Steiner is also well known for their optic’s low light gathering capabilities so this is a great option for anyone wanting to use it during night operations.

Why You Should Buy The Steiner M5Xi

If money is of no concern, consider the M5Xi.  This thing is built like a tank and has some of the most amazing glass you can find.  It also comes with Steiner’s award winning customer service.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Steiner M5Xi

If you’re not going to use it for military/duty operations this scope might be a little too good.  It’s built to the highest standards but it’s also priced accordingly and is one of the most expensive optics we could recommend.

The Best RMR Sights

RMRs sights are becoming increasingly more popular among both shooting enthusiasts, police and military personnel for use on pistols.  An RMR sight is essentially a reflex sight that mounts on a pistol and acts as a rapid aiming device.  In short, these are pistol red dot sights.

Advantages of an RMR Sight

Using an RMR sight can help you acquire your target quickly and accurately.  After some training you will most likely find it a lot easier to find than a traditional pistol sight.  The bright red dot is easy to find in the bright daylight and especially helps people with vision issues or if they have a hard time focusing on the front sight post.

Disadvantages of an RMR Sight

First and foremost, RMRs are not cheap.  A good RMR will run you around $400+ and the costs can go up from there if you have to change your holster for the updated optic.  In addition, RMRs can be hard to use if you haven’t trained on them.  You should not use an RMR as a duty optic until you’ve spend plenty of time at the range.  Finally, RMRs require a battery that can go out over time.  If your battery goes out while on mission there’s no backup sight available.

Our Top Rated RMR Sights:

1. Trijicon RMR RMO6 Type 2– $699

While RMRs are fairly new to the market, Trijicon probably has the most experience making them.  They also have some incredible quality and recently won a SOCOM solicitation.

Trijicon RMO6 Features:

The Trijicon RMO6 comes with a dependable electronic design with an adjustable LED.  Their battery conservation mode ensures a long battery life and a less likely chance that the optic will go out when you need it the most.  The optic also comes with easy use windage/elevation adjustments which is a common issue in other types of RMRs.  The RMR is naturally parallax-free which is extremely important when being used on a pistol.  Finally it’s waterproof up to 20 meters and features a very strong housing that ensures it can withstand any element you throw at it.

Why you should buy the Trijicon RMR RMO6

If you want the best RMR that money can buy, this is it.  This is a durable, long lasting optic that has been tested and approved by SOCOM for use in the field.

Why you shouldn’t buy the Trijicon RMR RMO6

If money is an issue, this isn’t the optic for you.  You can get less robust versions of the optic for around $400 but it’s still a lot more expensive than other options on the market.

2. Leupold DeltaPoint (DP) Pro- $519

The Leupold DP Pro is a very close second to the Trijicon RMO6 in just about every way.  Leupold is newer to the RMR market but put a lot of time and effort into ensuring the DP Pro offers top of the line quality.

Leupold DP Pro Features:

The DP Pro comes with some awesome features such as their proprietary MST (Motion Sensor Technology) that automatically turns off the optic after 5 min of inactivity and turns it back on as soon as movement is detected.  The DP features a 7.5 MOA red dot with over 120 MOA of windage and elevation travel adjustment which ensures you will be able to dial it to zero no matter what platform you place it on.  Once dialed in you can lock your adjustments to ensure the optic doesn’t wander during use.  If you have the cash to spend, this is an awesome option as an RMR.

Why You Should Buy The Leupold DP Pro RMR

Like the Aimpoint, you should consider this optic if you have the money to spend and if you’re after extreme quality.  Leupold’s over engineering of this optic will ensure it can withstand the elements and any other abuse you throw at it.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Leupold DP Pro RMR

Again, if budget is an issue, maybe look elsewhere.

3. Vortex Viper RMR- $329

The Vortex Viper is about as inexpensive as you can get with an RMR while still maintaining quality.  Because RMRs take a ton of abuse, you wont be able to get away with a really low-end optic.  The Viper is produced overseas to help keep the costs down but as such they are not able to be procured for government use.

Vortex Viper Features:

The Vortex Viper comes with 6 MOA red dot housed in a durable housing.  We like the easy touch illumination buttons on the side that help control the optic’s brightness levels.  Like the Leupold DP there’s 120 MOA of elevation/windage travel to ensure you can get your sight dialed to zero.

Why You Should Buy the Vortex Viper RMR

If you’re looking for something that is decent quality that wont break the bank, this is your optic.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Vortex Viper RMR

If you’re a government customer you won’t be able to buy this optic since it’s not Trade Act Compliant.

 

So What’s The Best Red Dot Sight For The Money?

This is a tough one to answer.  As mentioned there are a ton of different options on the market and the term red dot sight encompasses a lot of different optics.  At the end of the day you will first want to identify the kind of optic you need and then start looking at which of the optics above are going to best fit your needs.  So here are a few options to look at based on different budgets.

Under $500- Vortex Red Dot Sight

The Vortex Crossfire is an option if you’re really trying to keep your budget down.  Vortex has really upped their game in the past few years and are making some pretty nice optics. For $219 you’re not going to get a super high quality optic, but if you’re going for something low budget this is a good option.

Under $1000- AimPoint T2

We’d say the Aimpoint T2 is probably your best option under $1000.  It has a long standing history of success and a very safe bet.

Under $2000- Steiner or Vortex

If you’re willing to spend some cash, look at getting either the Vortex Razor, $1999, or the Steiner M5Xi.  Both of these are incredible optics that won’t let you down.