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Published: Sep 14, 2023 21 min read

After retiring from active duty in the military, veterans and former military personnel must decide if and how to replace the life insurance coverage they get from the government during active service.

You’ll have the option to retain the active-duty coverage you received through the government’s Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI, up to a maximum of $500,000, provided you take over paying the premiums on the policy.

Alternatively, instead of that coverage, which is provided by the government Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI), you can opt to buy life insurance from a private insurer. Compared with extending your government plan, this option may offer better coverage and flexibility – including the ability to purchase a death benefit of more than half-a-million dollars.

When it comes to choosing the best life insurance, then, veterans need to educate themselves on their options and then choose the one that best serves their needs. Begin that education by reading our explainer on life insurance for beginners.

Then consider the picks below, our choices for the best life insurance for veterans. Which one is optimal for you will depend on factors including your age, your disabilities (if any) and the type of coverage you want – term life insurance or permanent life insurance (including whole life policies). Our selections reflect those factors..

Our Top Picks for Best Life Insurance for Veterans

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Best Life Insurance for Veterans Reviews

  • Life insurance coverage options tailored to disabled veterans
  • Can convert a term policy to a permanent one at any point
  • No charge to lock in the ability to expand coverage
  • Limited options for no-exam policies
  • Not all permanent life insurance types offered

Why we chose it: As a provider that serves only military families, USAA offers insurance tailored to those who are serving or have served. For example, the company’s Military Protection Plus level term life policy includes an injury benefit, which even covers outcomes like dismemberment and loss of limb function. There's also the option to easily increase coverage upon separation from the military, which may be particularly useful for a disabled veteran once they're out of active duty and receiving less government support.

USAA is known for its competitive pricing in products such as auto insurance, and it could prove significantly less expensive than the norm for life insurance, too –not only compared with the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) but with other private insurers, as well.

Also, where some insurers impose a charge in order to have the option to step up your coverage after such life events as having a child, USAA offers such expandability at no charge with some policies, of both term and whole life types.

In business since the 1920s, USAA holds the highest possible rating (A++) for financial stability by A.M. Best Company and the second-highest rating from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

That said, some other insurers offer a broader choice than USAA in life insurance that requires no medical exams. And while it offers whole life insurance – the most popular type of permanent life insurance – it does not offer universal life insurance, another (somewhat controversial) variation on permanent coverage.

USAA has some ease-of-use strengths, like being able to manage your policy through an app. Applying for a quote online is also relatively simple, unlike with some other insurers.

  • Potential for earning dividends
  • Multiple permanent life insurance options
  • Optional riders to meet the needs of older people
  • Term insurance policies capped at 20 years
  • You can't buy or price policies online
  • Policies must be purchased through an agent

Why we chose it: Some life insurance companies sell few or no riders – the additional (and usually extra cost) features that expand coverage, including for older people. New York Life has an ample selection of such add-ons. The list includes a number of riders that could be especially useful to older veterans, including those that cover the cost of chronic care and waive the payment of premiums in the event you become disabled.

Also, as a mutual insurance company – that is, one owned by its policyholders – New York Life often offers dividend payments on its whole life insurance policies. For example, the company declared a dividend of $1.9 billion in 2022, which it distributed to eligible policyowners.

The company’s offerings are broad. As noted, some of our other picks offer only certain types of permanent life insurance. New York Life sells the policy gamut: whole, universal and variable universal. Across those categories, New York Life makes available eight different plans.

New York Life’s solid financial rating also helps make it a dependable insurance provider. The company has the highest A++ financial strength rating from AM Best, and earns similarly positive ratings from other agencies. New York Life has had fewer complaints than with most insurers lodged against it with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, according to the NAIC Complaint Index Report. The company ranks about average in satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2022 survey of U.S. life insurance for individuals.

If you’re a young veteran seeking insurance with the longest term, you may want to look elsewhere than New York Life. Where many other life insurers offer the option of a 30-year term, New York Life’s policies max out at 20 years.

New York Life isn’t the most tech-forward insurance company. Most life insurance companies allow you to get a premium quote online for at least one policy option. New York Life, alas, has no online quote tool. Neither is there much if any indication on its site of what its rates are. Instead, you must contact an agent to get details on premiums.

Indeed, the company maintains an old-school business model when it comes to selling its policies. Coverage can only purchase policies through one of the company’s agents, and they are paid on commission.

  • Programs for military members up to age 80
  • May be more affordable than VGLI for non-smokers
  • Offers no-medical-exam policies
  • Available in only 16 states
  • No-medical exam policies a $25,000 maximum benefit

Why we chose it: AAFMAA, founded in 1879, is another military-focused provider whose policies are geared to the needs of veterans and service members. Its offerings include coverage up to age 80, a high maximum age, and Guaranteed Acceptance+ and Final Expense+ programs that offer veterans a whole life insurance plan without requiring a medical exam. (However, the maximum coverage offered under the no-medical exam policies is $25,000, which may be lower than many applicants require.)

Its policies tend to be well-priced, as well. In particular, they may cost less than those veterans could get from VGLI or some private insurers, especially if you’re a non-smoker.

The company has healthy financials, making it a reliable insurance provider. AAFMAA also has positive customer feedback on online review platforms, with several users pointing out the company’s efficient customer service.

However, prospective customers should keep in mind that the lender is not licensed for all states Its services are only available in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

  • Offers flexible term insurance coverage
  • Insures veterans of up to 90 years old
  • Also offers home and auto insurance at discounts
  • Benefits may reduce after age 70
  • Some term plans have increasing rates

Why we chose it: The Military Benefit Association (MBA) offers competitively priced term life coverage products specially catering to veterans and active service members and their families. It offers considerable benefits over Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI), including higher coverage, more payment options and no rise in premiums post-retirement.

MBA’s Term 90 Plus life insurance plans offer up to $1 million in coverage to policyholders who are up to 90 years of age, an extraordinarily high age limit. However, there’s a catch: unlike standard term insurance policies, premiums under this plan increase every five years. Benefits are also reduced once the holder turns 70 and again when they turn 80. The company also offers traditional (that is, level-term) life insurance policies with 10 and 20 year terms with up to $600,000 in coverage and fixed premiums.

MBA also offers several benefits to its members, including access to special auto and home insurance rates, academic scholarship for spouse and family, and even discounted hotel bookings. Will preparation and estate resolution services are also included.

Term life insurance – the type of coverage MBA offers – is the most popular life insurance option, and often the best choice. You’ll need to look elsewhere than MBA, though, if you do happen to be looking for permanent life insurance that accumulates a cash value you can borrow against.

While not included in the likes of the JD Power ranking of life insurance companies, MBA has an A+ accreditation by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which gauges how a business may deal with customers and whether it responds to complaints in an appropriate and timely manner.

  • 2-for-1 term life coverage for couples
  • Special life coverage programs for families
  • Membership required
  • Some coverage options not available in some states
  • Fixed premiums not guaranteed for some term insurance

Why we chose it: It’s pricey for a couple to pay for two life-insurance premiums in order that the surviving spouse is compensated. Among the distinctions to USBA is its Two For One Level Term Life Insurance policy, under which the policyholder and their spouse are equally covered without having to pay double premiums. This means that the policy pays if either one passes away, and the surviving spouse gets the option to continue coverage.

Coverage offered by USBA for veterans children is comprehensive. Policy riders are reasonably priced, meaning coverage can be modified to suit your family’s needs

There is also whole-life coverage up to $25,000 available for children of policyholders, as well as regular 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-year term plans. Note, however, that as with some other of our picks, there is no guarantee that term premiums will stay level; they may rise, requiring you to pay higher premiums.

That said, USBA’s policies are competitively priced, at least to start, and are available in all 50 states, albeit with some variations in coverage depending on where you live. You also need to be a member of the USBA in order to purchase a policy from the insurer – and members must either serve in or be a veteran of one of the armed services. Signing up for a policy (and subsequently getting a quote for coverage) can be completed online, and there is no charge for membership. There’s also a USBA app, which makes managing your policy much easier.

While USBA is not accredited by the BBB, its policies are underwritten by New York Life, which is highly rated by agencies like Standard & Poor’s (AA+), A.M. Best (A++), Moody’s (Aaa) and Fitch (AAA).

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Other life insurance for veterans we considered

In addition to the standout providers above, the following insurance companies also did well in our evaluations. They simply fell short of our picks in the ways we identify below..


Prudential is the official administrator of the Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) but also offers private life insurance policies. It has several term and whole-life policies on offer at very competitive rates and coverage amounts of over $10 million. It is also easy to get online quotes for your chosen coverage.

However, apart from the VGLI offerings it administers, the company doesn’t offer any other specialized life insurance options for those associated with the military – and so did not make it into our shortlist.

Mass Mutual

Mass Mutual offers term, whole and universal life insurance policies, giving buyers the freedom to choose between low premium rates or building cash value. The coverage provider has a network of almost 8,000 agents across all 50 states. The company also offers good service, and potential customers are encouraged to get advice from company representatives who can help with financial planning.

Mass Mutual did not make it onto our list of best veteran life insurance companies because it doesn't offer any specific life insurance policies or features for veterans. However, it does allow former and current service members enrolled in government life insurance programs like SGLI, VGLI and FSGLI to easily transition to private Mass Mutual life coverage.

Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole and universal life insurance policies as well as the ability to switch from existing government life insurance programs like SGLI, VGLI and FSGLI to one of its policies. If eligible, you may also avail of the company’s exclusive data-driven underwriting process that eliminates the need for medical records and can potentially approve your life insurance application on the same day.

Some of Northwestern Mutual’s policy riders, like the premium waiver in case of disability and the ability to use part of your death benefit for long-term care expenses, can be particularly useful for veterans with a service-related disability. However, since there are no additional life coverage programs offered that take into account veterans’ spouses or children, we did not include Northwestern Mutual in our final picks for the best veterans' life insurance company.

Life Insurance for Veterans Guide

How does life insurance work for veterans?

Active service members are covered under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Once you retire or are discharged, you may apply for the Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) at the same amount in death benefit as your SGLI coverage. If you apply within 240 days of leaving the military and qualify for VGLI, you will not have to undergo a military medical exam.

VGLI is a term life insurance policy, and veterans have the option of switching their life insurance policy to another provider, carrying over the coverage they have already paid for through their premiums. However, a VGLI policy can only be converted to a permanent life insurance policy and not a term, variable life or universal life policy.

There are also other insurance options available for veterans like the Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife), Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) and Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI). We take a closer look at some of these in the following section.

Common types of life insurance for veterans

Depending on their circumstances and date of separation from the military, a few different life insurance options are options for veterans. All of these choices are backed by the government and are open only to former service members. However, eligibility criteria can vary among these programs, and not all former military personnel may be eligible. Naturally, before you buy any policy, you should determine how much life insurance you need.

Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife)

VALife provides up to $40,000 in whole-life coverage to veterans who are under 80 when they apply. This life insurance program works like most others and requires the veteran policyholder to make regular premium payments according to their age and coverage amount. The program guarantees that the premium rate will remain the same for the duration of the policy.

This program is based on eligibility and doesn’t require applicants to undergo a medical exam. However, there is a two-year waiting period for VALife applicants. If they pass away during the period, their beneficiaries will only receive the accumulated premiums plus interest. Once the waiting period is over, beneficiaries are eligible to receive the entire coverage amount. There are no premium waivers or loans against benefits applicable for VALife coverage.

Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

VGLI is a term life policy offering benefits of between $10,000 and $500,000. Veterans must enroll for VGLI within one year, and no more than 120 days after their retirement from the military, to be eligible and continue their SGLI coverage through VGLI. They also have the option to increase their VGLI coverage by $25,000 every five years.

Unlike other term life insurance policies, VGLI has no end date and will continue as long as the premiums are being paid. However, premium rates do increase with age. Since this is a term policy, there is no cash value benefit. However, terminally ill veterans may be allowed to withdraw up to 50% of the policy’s face value before their death.

Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI)

S-DVI is the original veterans' life insurance policy offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for those with service-related disabilities. However, this program stopped accepting new applicants on December 31, 2022, and has since been replaced by VALife.

Veterans already enrolled in S-DVI have the option to remain on the program; alternatively, they can switch to VALife. It is worth noting, however, that the latter doesn’t have premium waivers, so S-DVI policyholders who currently have premium waivers will not get them if they choose to move to VALife.

Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

VMLI offers mortgage protection for veterans with service-related disabilities who have had to make structural changes to their homes to fit their needs. Changes might include adding ramps and widening doorways.

Under VMLI, such veterans can get up to $200,000 in mortgage life insurance that’s paid directly to their lender or mortgage holder. It’s worth noting that this policy doesn’t give the policyholder access to the funds, instead directly transferring them towards the mortgage.

The premiums for VMLI depend on the veteran’s age as well as the mortgage amount and term payment structure. In order to be eligible, the veteran should be a recipient of a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant, be under 70 years old, and own the title to the home in question.

Life Insurance for Veterans FAQs

Do veterans get free life insurance?

No, veterans do not get free life insurance. However, they can avail themselves of better rates and special terms under such government-sponsored life insurance programs as VGLI and VALife. Several private insurers also offer special terms for veterans. However, neither private nor government providers offer free life insurance for veterans.

What is the best life insurance for veterans?

The optimal life insurance type for a veteran depends on factors like their financial status, family arrangement, age and disability status. As with non-veterans, there are two basic types of coverage.

Permanent life insurance has an investment component, but it costs far more than term coverage. Term life insurance coverage is valid for a specific period of time. Once it expires, you stop paying premiums, get a payout and your coverage ends. Because of its time-limited coverage, term life insurance usually costs less than whole life insurance.

How much life insurance do veterans get?

VALife offers whole-life coverage up to $40,0000 with fixed premiums, while VGLI offers term-life insurance up to $500,000 with premiums that will rise with age. Veterans have access to these two programs as soon as they retire. However, they are also free to enroll with other life insurance providers, which may offer advantages such as much higher coverage values.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance for Veterans

To pick the best life insurance companies for veterans, we measured each provider listed here against several factors, including:

  • Veteran-focused offerings: We looked for life insurance products that offer veterans life insurance rates lower than what’s available to civilians or have features that might be especially useful to veterans.
  • Ease of use: We studied how simple and accessible the application and claims processes are of various life insurance providers.
  • Life insurance costs vis-à-vis government programs: We looked at whether applicants can get better value for their money with private providers as compared to government life insurance programs like VGLI and VALife.
  • Financial stability: We examined the financial robustness and reliability of the insurance providers as judged by credit rating agencies like AM Best.
  • Customer experience: We looked at what customers like and what they don't about the insurance providers. Opinions were sourced from various online review platforms like BBB.
  • Geographical network: We took into consideration how many states each life insurance provider was present in and whether their services were available across the entire country.

Although every effort is made to keep the information in this list accurate and up to date, offerings of insurance providers are bound to change from time to time. Before buying a policy, then, we recommend that you carry out your own research to verify the company distinctions we’ve highlighted, and of course to compare policies in other respects, including in premiums.

Summary of Money’s Best Life Insurance for Veterans

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