Deployment presents a number of unique challenges for members of the military, impacting several financial decisions for you and your family. One of those areas is life insurance, which can be challenging to find depending on your deployment status.
Active members of the United States military have limited options when it comes to life insurance, options that grow even smaller with deployment orders. While most life insurance companies won’t touch this risk until your deployment is finished, you do have options.
In today’s post, we’ll walk you through those options and the factors that could influence them.
Factors that Will Impact Your Access to Life Insurance
You may have been told that life insurance during deployment is an impossibility. In actuality, you have a couple of options available to you. You can expect limitations to your access to coverage, though, because of the nature of your work.
Every time a life insurance company chooses whether or not to underwrite a life insurance policy for a customer, they seek to classify them in risk categories.
Factors that affect life insurance include health problems like hypertension, heart health, diabetes, and obesity. For most standard life insurance policies, you can expect to undergo a required medical exam to prove your physical condition.
Life insurance companies will also look at your family history during the underwriting process to assess your genetic tendency towards life-threatening conditions.
They’ll also look at your hobbies, and most importantly in your case, your profession. Fields that are considered dangerous might prevent you from coverage altogether, or limit the amount you can receive on a policy.
All of these questions are aimed towards one goal: assessing the risk of taking on your policy. In other words, they want to measure the likelihood of actually having to pay out your policy.
In your position, there are a few specific risk factors that will hinder your access to coverage beyond the ones mentioned above. Let’s take a quick look at each to give you a clearer idea of what you can expect as you begin shopping for life insurance.
Where You Are Deployed
One factor that will determine your insurability with all non-government providers is the location of your deployment. Once again, the insurance company will focus its decision on risk. Your life insurance company will turn to the State Department’s travel advisories and ratings of the safety of individual countries to determine your insurability.
If the US government has deemed a country worthy of a warning, which is a more long-standing and sustained threat than an alert, that country is going to be considered as a higher risk to life insurance companies as well, which will block your access to coverage altogether.
If you apply to a life insurance company and you are deployed to a country with a travel warning from the State Department, you can expect to be declined by life insurance providers.
Your Duties During Deployment
What duties you perform in your day-to-day work during deployment will play a significant role in determining your access to coverage.
This factor is as critical as the location of your deployment. In other words, you may be deployed to a country with no State Department-issued warnings, but if your role involves combat or any other dangerous activities, your access to coverage will be denied.
If you are deployed and serve in one of the following roles, you can count on your application being declined:
- Air Force Pararescue
- Marine Raiders
- Marine Force Recon
- Delta Force
- Special Forces
- Similarly dangerous positions
If on the other hand, you will be spending your deployment working behind a desk or in the U.S. recruiting soldiers, you might have a chance at coverage.
Your Options for Coverage
Those are the basic criterion that will immediately block your access to coverage. Even then, your likelihood of getting life insurance with most companies during deployment is unlikely.
Your best options, and the only ones where you can count on coverage, are outlined below.
SGLI, or Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, is provided by Prudential and overseen by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
This route to getting life insurance is your first and easiest option. Currently, you can buy up to $400,000 through SGLI. You don’t have to apply for a policy bere since it is guaranteed-issued. You’ll just fill out a form and set up payments, and you’re covered. It’s that simple.
And there are no exclusions, meaning you can secure coverage at any time. The only downside is that after you’ve finished your time on active duty, you will need to find other coverage.
SGLI won’t cover you anymore. You can convert your SGLI policy, but if you’re healthy, you’re better served to buy an individual life insurance policy. An individual policy will be less expensive and guarantee level payments for longer.
Many military families opt to purchase individual life insurance over SGLI because they need more than $400,000 and/or they understand the need to protect their insurability while deployed. Remember, you have to qualify medically for an individual policy, and tomorrow’s health is never guaranteed.
USAA is one company on the market known for its promise to cover active military, including those with deployment orders in hand. USAA life insurance will cover anyone with deployment orders from the Army, USMC, Navy, Air Force, USCG, and National Guard.
One factor this life insurance company looks at is the occupation in the military, specifically pilots and paratroopers. Most other occupations within the military are covered, including infantry. Both pilots and paratroopers can be covered, but the rates can be more expensive.
USAA’s policies could be beneficial to you for two reasons: first, because your SGLI coverage may be insufficient on its own, and second, because your SGLI will run out when you retire from the military.
USAA offers term and whole life policies to active duty military personnel, with up to $1,000,000 in coverage and no war exclusions, unless you fall into these categories mentioned in the fine print: “War exclusions do apply to coverage provided under accidental death benefit riders and policies. Coverage limits up to $300,000 for E1-E7, $400,000 for E8-03, $600,000 for 04-010 and up to $1,000,000 for some members 04 and above in select military career fields.”
Navy Mutual also offers some coverage options to active duty military personnel. Though USAA’s options are more robust, if you are looking for quick coverage or perhaps have some health issues that might drive up your premiums, Navy Mutual could be a viable option.
Navy Mutual’s Express Term Plus plan offers applicants a $250,000 10-year term policy without a medical exam, paperwork, or restrictions based on your deployment status.
As soon as you make your first payment, the policy takes effect, giving you peace of mind from day 1 of deployment. This policy is also worth considering because it, too, can be maintained after your military service ends.
If you’re in the reserves, we recommend getting your life insurance squared away before deployment as you could save money and increase your chances of coverage. But even if you are already deployed, you could find good coverage with the three options above.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the companies in this post, give us a shout to talk to an agent or start the work yourself by using the quote form to the right. You’ll be happy to hear these are household names with a strong financial rating.
We consider it an honor to help military families secure coverage and look forward to helping you.