Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

What Is Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)?

Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is for former members of the armed forces who wish to continue the group life coverage they had while in active military service. A renewable term policy, this insurance pays cash to the beneficiaries of the veteran upon death.

Key Takeaways

  • Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is a term policy for ex-members of the military that continues the group coverage they had while in active service.
  • Veterans have one year and 120 days from the date they leave the service to exercise this option.
  • VGLI offers $10,000 to $400,000 in life insurance benefits, based on the amount of coverage the veteran had upon leaving the military.
  • Other benefits of VGLI include low premiums and no need for a qualifying health exam (if coverage is elected within a certain time frame).

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Understanding Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

By opting for Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI), an ex-service person is technically carrying over their Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) policy, a type of term life insurance offered to members of the military during active service. They have one year and 120 days from the date they become veterans to exercise this option.

Veterans Group Life Insurance offers many benefits not available in the private life insurance market. Premium rates are age-based only and do not consider gender, tobacco use, job, or recreational activities—all factors that can increase premiums with private insurance policies. In addition, the policy does not terminate at a certain age (such as 65); it remains in force for as long as the policyholder pays the premiums.

VGLI offers $10,000 to $400,000 in life insurance benefits, based on the amount of SGLI coverage the veteran had upon leaving the military. The maximum amount of coverage a veteran may initially qualify for is the same amount of coverage they had under their Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.

Veterans may opt for lower levels of coverage, reducing them in $10,000 increments. Coverage can also be increased after enrollment by $25,000 every five years. However, the maximum benefit is capped at $400,000 until the veteran reaches 60.

Eligibility for Veterans Group Life Insurance

There are certain eligibility requirements for veterans who want to apply for VGLI. Along with holding an SGLI policy, the applicant must be within one year and 120 days from:

  • Being released from active duty, training, or order to duty in a period of 31 days or less
  • Being separated, by retirement or release, from an assignment from the Ready Reserves or the National Guard
  • Having an assignment of the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) or to the Inactive National Guard (ING) (Members of the United States Public Health Service Inactive Reserve Corps (IRC) are also included in this section.)
  • Being placed on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL)

Veterans are also able to apply for VGLI coverage even if they had part-time Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (as a member of the National Guard or Reserves) and they suffered an injury or disability while on duty—including direct traveling to and from duty—that disqualified them for standard premium insurance rates.

Health Requirements for VGLI

Veterans who apply to convert their SGLI to VGLI within the first 240 days after completing their service are not subject to any sort of health review or exam. Approval of the policy is not contingent upon being in good physical or mental health, in other words. If they sign up after the initial 240-day period, they need to submit evidence that they're in good health.

Special Considerations

VGLI offers numerous benefits—chief among them being its relatively low premiums rates (which were lowered even further as of April 1, 2021). Still, as is the case with most types of life insurance, it's important for each veteran to compare potential plans in order to determine what is the best life insurance policy for their unique circumstances.

Within 120 days of leaving service, you have the option to convert your current SGLI policy into a civilian one. Several commercial insurance carriers have special policies for ex-members of the armed forces.

You can also convert a VGLI policy to a commercial individual policy. However, the conversion policy must be a permanent policy, such as a whole life policy, and offered by a select group of carriers.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. "Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)." Accessed Nov. 15, 2021.

  2. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. "Chapter 7. Election of Method of Payment for Proceeds." Accessed Nov. 15, 2021.

  3. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. "Chapter 12. Veterans' Group Life Insurance." Accessed Nov. 15, 2021.