VA Insurance Program celebrates 100 years of protecting those who serve

Today marks an important milestone for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Life Insurance program. On this day 100 years ago, Congress passed the War Risk Insurance Act that later became the catalyst for what is now known as VA life insurance protection.

Most Servicemembers and Veterans are familiar with Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) which covers approximately 97 percent of active-duty Servicemembers, members of the National Guard, and Reservists.  SGLI was created in 1965 to meet the need of our Vietnam-era Servicemembers, but it has expanded significantly since.  In 1974, it added Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI); in1998, it provided an accelerated benefit option giving terminally-ill SGLI, Family Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) and VGLI policyholders access to the death benefits of their policies while they are still alive; in 2001, it provided Family Group Life Insurance (FSGLI), and in 2005, it expanded to include Traumatic Injury Protection Insurance (TSGLI).

timeline_100While modeled after commercial insurance SGLI programs, several benefits were added to meet the unique needs of Servicemembers, Veterans, and their survivors. These include free beneficiary financial counseling and online will preparation.

The VGLI program was created to provide life insurance protection for recently separated Veterans who were covered by SGLI during their service.  Now, Veterans have one year and 120 days to convert their SGLI to VGLI.  But recently separated Veterans should consider converting in the first 240 days from the date of military separation or retirement because they can do it without having to show proof of good health.

Today, VA directly administers six life insurance programs and supervises the SGLI and the VGLI programs.  These programs provide $1.3 trillion in insurance coverage to 7 million Veterans, Servicemembers and their families under 10 separate lines of insurance protection.  Additionally, the Life Office Management Association (a private organization dealing with life and health insurance) compared VA and 28 other private companies.  In their survey, VA life insurance had faster average response times in all 11 areas, including paying claims in less than 4.5 days.  Independent customer surveys also show high marks for VA customer service

To learn more about VA’s history of protecting those who have served, take a look at this timeline depicting the last 100 years of VA’s life insurance program.

Have a question?  Join us in the conversation.  Follow us on VBA’s social media channels using the hashtag #VALifeINS100 or call us toll free at 1-800-419-1473.

Mr. Vincent Markey serves as the Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Insurance Center.


Vincent Markey


  1. Jonathan Marschall    

    Does VA offer any whole life insurance programs for veterans (not term life)? I would be interested in a Whole Life Insurance policy in which you actually retain value while you are alive as in a normal commercial whole life insurance policy.

  2. Ken Heckathorn    

    I got my VGLI almost right after I retired but there is one major problem with it
    the rate almost double every 5 years and keeps going up , until it will take away all
    my retirement pension . That is not a deal

    1. Melodee Mercer (Insurance, Public Affairs Officer)    

      Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is group term insurance. Term insurance across the insurance industry, not just VGLI, is designed to provide substantial amounts of life insurance at younger ages at low cost with premiums increasing as the individual ages. This is based on the premise that older insureds do not need as much insurance coverage as when they were younger. At older ages, individuals generally have reduced their mortgages and child expenses have decreased lessening the need for insurance to replace income to pay these costs.

      We would recommend that if your VGLI insurance premiums are becoming too costly consider reducing your VGLI coverage. Reducing your coverage will reduce your premiums. You can reduce coverage in $10,000 increments. Before doing so, you may want to use our Life Insurance Needs Calculator to assess, based on your current financial circumstances, how much insurance you really need at this time in your life.
      Here’s a link to the calculator

  3. Gilbert Michael Payne Jr    

    I am a 100% rasted disabled vetersan of Vietnam and I have a hesart condition as well as COPD. Do I qualify for SGLI?

    1. Melodee Mercer (Insurance, Public Affairs Officer)    

      You must apply for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) within 1-year and 120 days of separation, so based on your statement that you are a Vietnam Veteran, you no longer qualify for SGLI. However, you may qualify for Service-Disabled Life Insurance (S-DVI) if you received a new rating for a service-connected disability within the past two years. Here are the other qualifications:

      • You were discharged from service after April 25, 1951 under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
      • VA granted service connection for any disability (even if evaluated at zero percent), AND
      • You are in good health, except for any service-connected conditions.

      An increase in an existing service-connected disability or the granting of individual unemployability of a previous rated condition does not qualify you to S-DVI. If you think you qualify, go to for information on how to apply.

  4. Ramona A. Cameron    

    My husband is a Korean War Vet. Can he still get insurance thru the government

    1. Melodee Mercer (Insurance, Public Affairs Officer)    

      The only VA insurance that is still open to Veterans of the Korean War is Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI). If your husband received a VA rating for a service-connected disability within the past two years, he may qualify. For more information about S-DVI, go to this link for qualifications and the application form:

  5. James A Vornsand    

    I am 100% total disable Veteran CA prostate Diabetes,Agent Orange,Hypertension

    WE have no life insurance at all..
    James A Vornsand
    2209 CR 248
    Schulenburg, Texas 78956

  6. Milan B. Lemmon    

    I do have question. I have been retired from the Army since 1987 and did not know that the VA had a time limit for Life Insurance. I’am too late for it?

  7. Kelley Visotski    

    When I received 100% disabled vet due to unemployment I was not given the chance ro sign up for the insurance. I actually didn’t realize that I was eligible. I have TBI which makes it difficult ro keep things straight. Am I still eligible? And if so what ia rhe highest amount that I can get? Thank you in advance for your help and cooperation!
    Kindest Regards,
    Kelley Visotski
    last 4: 0241
    Text & Calls:706*870*706870367474330l

  8. Melodee Mercer (Insurance, Public Affairs Officer)    

    Veterans’ Group Life Insurance is only issued as a group term policy. However, if you are a disabled Veteran who has received a rating for a new service-connected disability in the past two years, you may qualify for Service-Disabled Life Insurance (S-DVI). With S-DVI you can select from several permanent plans. You can find more information on S-DVI and the additional requirements for this insurance at

    1. Melodee Mercer (Insurance, Public Affairs Officer)    

      Unfortunately, Servicemembers Group Life Insurance must be converted to Veterans’ Group Life Insurance within one-year and 120 days from your time of separation in order to obtain coverage However, when you left the service, VGLI could only be retained for five years after separation from service. Today, VGLI provides lifetime renewable coverage to newly separating Servicemembers.. (Here’s a link to the timeline for application:

      You may still be eligible for another insurance program, Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance. If you received a rating for a new Service Connected disability within the past two years, you may be eligible for this coverage. For more information, go to the

  9. linda    

    life insurance should not be paid for by the veteran but by the government, the veterans is the one who is protecting us not the government

  10. Cupom desconto Americanas    

    I do have question. I have been retired from the Army since 1987 and did not know that the VA had a time limit for Life Insurance. I’am too late for it?

Comments are closed.