How Much Life Insurance Do Military Members Need?

Life insurance is one of the most important purchases you can make. You want to be able to provide for your family in the event that the unthinkable happens to you.

Why buy life insurance? Life insurance exists for one reason – to provide a source of income for your family or dependents if you are no longer alive to provide for them.

How much life insurance do military members need?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding how much life insurance you need. If you are the sole supporter of your family, then you would likely need more life insurance than if you were a single military member with no dependents or anyone else relying on your income for survival.

Where should military members buy life insurance?

how much life insurance should military members buy?For most military members, the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program is the best option because it is available to everyone and will pay out even when the policy holder dies from an act of war or similar event (many private insurance policies have a rider that excludes death from an act of war). The SGLI policy also includes a long term disability rider called the Traumatic Injury Protection coverage (TSGLI).

SGLI offers great military life insurance rates. The government supported company, the Service Member’s Group Life Insurance program offers troops insurance coverage of $400,000 for only $27 per month. Here are the rest of the SGLI rates.

No longer in the military? Check out Veterans’ Group Life Insurance, which is available to veterans. You can even convert your SGLI policy to VGLI.

Should Military Members Purchase Private Life Insurance?

For most people, the SGLI offers the best prices and features (payment for death due to act of war, automatic disability clause). However, if you do not think the SGLI offers enough coverage, then you should consider purchasing insurance from a private vendor.

Buying a private life insurance policy. Private policies should be considered for those who believe they will need more than a $400,000 policy. How much term life insurance should you buy? If you need an amount above and beyond the SGLI limits, then you should shop for policies through multiple providers to find the best deals. One of the best places to start is with USAA, which is an insurance and financial company which limits its membership to military members, veterans, and children of USAA members. Learn more about USAA membership, or read our USAA review.

The following websites can help you find multiple insurance quotes with relative ease:

These life insurance companies offer multiple quotes to make your shopping experience easier.

Caveats regarding private life insurance for military members. Many private life insurance policies have clauses that do not cover death caused by military actions or during an act of war. Military members need to read their policy carefully before signing the contract to ensure that they are covered at all times, including during an act of war. This is where the SGLI is often better than private life insurance policies – the SGLI covers deaths caused by acts of war and other causes.

Do single military members need life insurance?

When I was in the military I noticed many of my young squadron mates purchased the maximum amount of life insurance through the SGLI. The maximum coverage is $27 per month ($324/yr), which is a lot of money to spend when you don’t need much, if any, life insurance coverage. If you are single and do not have any dependents, you can get away without any insurance, or only the minimum. You can buy a $50,000 policy for $4.45 per month ($51/yr). A $50,000 policy should be enough to pay off most debts and cover any other expenses. Remember, military burials are free.

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Date published: July 22, 2009. Last updated: July 16, 2012.

Article by

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.


  1. Becky says

    your article fails to address one critical point: SGLI goes away when a military member retires or separates. You must get life insurance in place before you retire or separate. VGLI, the “after retirement SGLI” is much more expensive than SGLI and is usually only a good deal if you are leaving the service with a chronic illness or disability that will make life insurance more expensive on the economy. You also may want to look at purchasing private life insurance well before you retire, as it is always cheaper when you are younger. You may be overinsured for a time, but better to be overinsured than not insured at all. Take care of your dependents.

    • says

      Becky, excellent point! I think it would be a good idea for people to look into getting additional life insurance around the halfway point in their career (of an assumed 20 year career) as life insurance policies should still be relatively affordable at that age, and still give them time to prepare for their post military retirement financial future.

  2. JN says

    You made a slight error in one of your questions above… you wrote “Should Military Members Purchase Private health insurance?” but I think you meant … Life…

  3. David Vandevander / ILE student says


    I typed this response out prior to seeing Becky’s comment above, but whole heartedly agree. I thought your article was very comprehensive and user friendly, especially if you follow the links to “How to Convert an SGLI Policy to VGLI?” and “How Much Life Insurance Do Military Members Need?” The only point worth emphasizing more is not waiting until retirement to determine a life insurance game plan for the next 50+ years. You stated that life insurance is to make up the difference from the amount needed by your family to maintain a high quality of life and the personal assets currently held. Chances are at age 37-45, when most members of the military retire, it is highly unlikely that your personal investments have had enough time to accumulate. It is important to prepare for the day that SGLI is not longer available and as you mentioned, VGLI will become very expensive. USAA is a great company. I would also like to mention that the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) has “no war” cause plans that extend out to age 80; theoretically giving your investments time to accumulate and reducing the need for life insurance.

    • says

      Thanks for the tips, David. I agree, people shouldn’t wait until retirement to get life insurance – they should get it as soon as possible. It’s probably a good idea for service members to get more than one policy, as SGLI is often less expensive than private plans, but it expires when people leave the service. By getting a private life insurance policy, they can get a smaller cost-controlled policy, then get another one to replace the SGLI or VGLI after they leave the service.

      Thanks for recommending Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) as another quality option.

  4. says

    Hi Ryan,
    This is a great site and a great article. Yes, everyone should include life insurance as a key component of their estate planning and it is never too early to set this plan into action.

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