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 payout in the event that death occurs.  However, there are some key things that you should know about SGLI if you are planning to rely 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, your SGLI rate is $.07 per $1,000 of coverage.  A complete rate table is provided below.

Coverage AmountMonthly premium rateTSGLI PremiumTotal Monthly Premium Deduction


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?


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.


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 one 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 InsuranceAge
29 & Below
Age 30-34Age 35-39Age 40-44Age 45-49Age 50-54Age 55-59Age 60-64Age 65-69Age 70-74Age 75 & Over

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 bear 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.

Learn More