Life insurance for the military: how to get the best policy

Military personnel who want to apply for life insurance have a few extra considerations to make, but getting covered doesn't have to be difficult.

Colin Lalley 1600

Colin Lalley

Published June 16, 2020

Service in the military can be a test of strength and resolve for anyone. Outside of the obvious demands of combat, there’s also the strain that military service puts on families across the country.

That’s why life insurance is especially important for military personnel. They’re in a high risk profession and having a financial safety net to protect their families is crucial. Because of this high risk, many members of the military may think they don’t qualify for life insurance.

Luckily, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a few things that military personnel applying for life insurance have to keep in mind, but these key pieces of advice will allow any member of the military to apply for life insurance and start protecting their family today.

Primary questions life insurance carriers ask military personnel

Military personnel looking to apply for life insurance need to be aware of "knockout criteria" – that is, circumstances that will automatically disqualify them from coverage. Life insurance companies will want to know about the details of your military service, and each answer will lead to a different outcome.

The two primary questions a life insurance carrier will ask are:

Do you have orders for deployment?

  1. If deployed to an insurable country (more on that in the next section), the applicant can proceed with their application
  2. If the deployment is to a country with a State Department-issued warning, the applicant is declined

What is your job title, and can you describe job duties?

  1. If the applicant will be performing office work, recruiting, and other non-life threatening jobs, they can proceed with the application
  2. If applicant is likely to see dangerous activity (i.e., combat), they will be declined
  3. If the applicant is a member of Special Forces, Rangers, SEALS, Marine Force Recon, Marine Raiders, Delta Force, Air Force Pararescue, or a similar unit, they will be declined

Life insurance companies will do a thorough examination of your military status to determine your eligibility for coverage. Depending on your answers to the following questions, you can either be approved or rejected for a life insurance policy.

Military-Flow-Chart-Desktop

It’s important to keep in mind that, depending on the your answer, you may be automatically declined, but you won’t be automatically accepted. Clearing these knockout criteria just allows you to continue with the application process, and your rates and coverage limits will be decided by your rank and underwriting outcome.

How deployment location affects military life insurance eligibility

Having deployment orders doesn’t immediately disqualify a member of the military from getting life insurance coverage. However, where he or she is deployed can play a role in coverage availability.

Life insurance underwriters use guidelines set by the State Department to decide whether deploying to a foreign country will disqualify a military applicant from getting a life insurance policy. The State Department assigns countries one of two classifications: warnings and alerts. Warnings are generally longer-term, in places experiencing dangers such as unstable governments or civil wars. Alerts are more often short-term concerns, like elevated terror threats or health alerts.

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How rank affects military life insurance coverage

When an average citizen is applying for life insurance, it’s a simple matter of figuring out how much coverage they need, and the amount of coverage they can afford.

For military personnel, though, there’s an extra consideration. There will be coverage limits based on the applicant’s rank, regardless of military branch. The exact coverage limits will vary by carrier and individual situations, but every carrier will offer the same ballpark coverage amounts that will look similar to the following:

Sample life insurance coverage limits by military ranking

MILITARY RANKLIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE LIMIT
WO1 – WO2$1,000,000
O1 – O3$1,000,000
WO3– WO4$1,500,000
O4 – O6$1,500,000
E1 – E2$100,000
Academy or ROTC Cadet$250,000
E3 – E5$250,000
E6 – E7$500,000
E8 – E9$750,000
Officer Candidate SchoolBased on enlisted rank
New EnlisteeNone
WO5See income replacement scale

Note: Reserve or Guard members that are alerted or mobilized have the same by-rank coverage as listed above.

The reason for these coverage limits is based on the same logic life insurance carriers use for classifying citizens: the higher the risk of dying during the term of a life insurance policy, the more concerned the carrier is. Higher-ranking officials are less likely to see the same sort of combat dangers as lower enlisted servicemen and servicewomen, which puts them at a lower risk.

Like WO5 rank limits, coverage limits for ranks O7 and higher are based on income replacement multiples, for example:

Sample life insurance income replacement scale for military personnel

AgeMultiply income by:
40 and underx25
41-50x20
51-55x15
56-65x10
66-70x5

Note: Reserve or Guard members not alerted or mobilized follow the carrier’s same income replacement guidelines.

As mentioned above, Special Forces, Rangers, SEALS, Marine Force Recon, Marine Raiders, Delta Force, Air Force Pararescue, and other similar units will be immediately declined even if they don’t have active deployment orders.

The best companies for military life insurance

The best life insurance companies for military personnel to apply through will always be the ones that can provide the best rates and coverage amounts while accommodating your individual situation. The most highly rated life insurance companies for military personnel include Protective, Lincoln, and Prudential.

Getting life insurance coverage involves a few more considerations for military personnel than it does for the average citizen, but getting a policy is well within reach. The most important thing is for members of the military to not automatically assume that they’re uninsurable because of their profession.

Rather than writing it off entirely, military personnel should get a life insurance quote and talk to a licensed expert to get an idea of what their coverage options look like.

Still need help? Find the best life insurance company for you.