Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, also known as SGLI, is a term life insurance policy offered to:
- Active-duty military
- National Guard
- Members of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Members of the Public Health Service
- Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) members
SGLI is offered to most as full-time coverage, except for Reserve members, who qualify for part-time coverage instead. SGLI monthly premiums are automatically taken out of the service member’s basic pay.
In 2021, the basic SGLI premium rate was 6 cents per $1,000 of insurance coverage. Payment rates are subject to change each year due to inflation, cost-of-living adjustments, federal law and program changes.
Premiums are based on the amount of coverage chosen rather than by the insured’s health or age.
You can customize your SGLI coverage. The system allows you to adjust levels of coverage and your beneficiaries. Most will make these changes via the MilConnect portal (see below).
SGLI Coverage Amounts
You can purchase SGLI in $50,000 increments, up to a maximum of $400,000. When service members are deployed to a combat zone, their SGLI will automatically increase to the maximum coverage amount of $400,000.
The Supporting Families of the Fallen Act, introduced in Sept. 2021, would increase the maximum coverage amount to $500,000. The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) voted favorably on this legislation Dec. 15, 2021, and it can now be considered before the full Senate.
SGLI Premium RatesEffective July 1, 2019:
|Coverage amount (in U.S. $)||Monthly premium rate (in U.S. $)||TSGLI premium (in U.S. $)||Total monthly premium deduction (in U.S. $)|
You are automatically enrolled in and covered under full-time SGLI if you are any of the following:
- Active-duty member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Marines or Coast Guard
- Commissioned member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)
- Cadet or midshipman of the U.S. military academies
- Member, cadet or midshipman of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) engaged in authorized training and practice cruises
- Member of the Ready Reserve or National Guard and scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year
- A service member who volunteers for a mobilization category in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)
SGLI for Those Retiring or Separating
Those covered by SGLI who are retiring or separating from the military have an additional 120 days of free SGLI effective from their retirement or separation date. SGLI extensions are offered to those retiring or separating who are considered totally disabled at the time they leave military service. Such extensions can run as long as 24 months. After that, the retired or separated service member will need to find an alternative life insurance solution.
Part-time coverage is offered to Reserve members who do not qualify for full-time coverage, with the caveat that part-time coverage does not permit the 120 days of free coverage once the Reservist leaves military service.
SGLI Coverage for Ready Reserve or National Guard Members in Non-Pay Status
Those in the Ready Reserve or National Guard who are drilling for points, not pay, may still be covered by SGLI if they are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year.Your branch of service will determine how you will pay your premiums during the non-pay period.
Converting SGLI to a Commercial Policy
Those leaving military service may be able to convert their SGLI coverage to an individual insurance policy within 120 days from separation. See the VA website for participating service providers.
The SGLI Online Enrollment System
The SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES) allows service members to view and customize their SGLI coverage. This applies to most SGLI policyholders, including members of the Armed Forces and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Those who work in the Public Health Service must submit SGLI changes by submitting Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate (SGLV 8286) to your unit’s personnel officer.
Those who use MilConnect are required to have or obtain a DS Login. You must either have a common access card or be one of the following:
- Current or previous service member (active duty, Guard, Reservist, retiree or veteran)
- Spouse or former spouse who receives Department of Defense benefits
- Eligible family member over 18 years old receiving DoD benefits
- DoD civilian
- DoD contractor
There are only a few instances where Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage would be forfeited.
According to the VA, these include cases “when an insured member is guilty of mutiny, treason, spying or desertion.”
SGLI coverage or dividends may also be forfeited in cases where the service member “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.”
VA.gov adds that SGLI is not 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.”
SGLI Options: Traumatic Injury Protection Program (TSGLI)
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection is an automatic traumatic injury coverage program offered to those already covered under the SGLI program. TSGLI offers “short-term financial assistance to severely injured service members and veterans to assist them in their recovery from traumatic injuries,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This type of coverage is for combat injuries but is not limited to them. TSGLI also covers service members for injuries incurred on or off duty.
SGLI Options: Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance offers term life insurance to qualifying military spouses and dependents of those eligible for coverage under SGLI. Spouses require a premium, but dependent children are covered at no charge to the service member.
SGLI Options: Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance allows veterans to continue life insurance coverage as long as the premiums are paid. Veterans are eligible to apply for the same maximum coverage offered under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance that they carried when they separated from the military.
Other Options: Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance
The Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) program was established in 1951 to assist those with VA-rated service-connected disabilities. S-DVI is available in a variety of plans that include term insurance options. S-DVI has a maximum coverage amount of $10,000.
VA Assistance With Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance and Online Will Preparation
Beneficiaries of the Servicemembers’ Life Insurance options, including veterans and service members who receive TSGLI, can receive free financial counseling. Services available include online will preparation and financial plan creation..
Financial counseling services are offered through FinancialPoint and can be accessed through their website.
Service members who do not receive TGSLI may be able to access financial counseling through command financial specialists or financial readiness counselors.
SGLI Facts You Should Know
There are plenty of half-truths and myths about SGLI coverage. For example, some mistakenly believed that SGLI will not pay in cases where the service member was killed on duty while wearing privately obtained body armor.
The VA official site states, “SGLI claims are paid regardless of body armor or helmet type. Wearing body armor or a helmet is not a requirement for an SGLI claim to be paid.”
Another SGLI myth is that the policy won’t pay surviving beneficiaries if the service member dies in an accident while not wearing a seat belt. This is false SGLI will still pay the claim.
Some mistakenly believe there are war exclusions or terrorism exclusions that would prevent payment of SGLI to a beneficiary, but there are no such exclusions. SGLI claims are also paid no matter where the service member dies. There are no blackout areas or no-go zones.
There are also myths about SGLI coverage for Reservists and members of the National Guard — some aren’t sure whether their SGLI coverage applies only to drill periods and active duty or not.
According to the VA, “If you are a Reservist or a National Guard member and have been assigned to a unit in which you are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive duty that is creditable for retirement purposes, full-time SGLI coverage is in effect 365 days of the year. You are also covered for 120 days following separation or release from duty.”
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News