The FSGLI is the acronym for family service member group life insurance. It is a plan that is a subset of the life insurance benefit provided to military members. I’ve put together another page that reviews life insurance for service members.
Family SGLI coverage can only be obtained if the service member maintains their military life insurance plan. As a military spouse, life insurance professional I’ve come to notice how confused many spouses are about this benefit. Life insurance, in general, can be confusing. It’s my goal to outline the details of military spouse life insurance in an easy to understand, digestible format.
Here is a description of the plan eligibility from the VA website.
Spouses and dependent children of the following are eligible for FSGLI:
- Active duty Servicemembers covered by full-time SGLI and
- members of the National Guard or Ready Reserve of a uniformed service covered by full-time SGLI.
Family coverage is available only to members insured under the SGLI program. It is not available to those insured under the VGLI program. If you are covered under full-time SGLI, you are eligible to insure your spouse, regardless of whether your spouse is on active duty, retired, or is a civilian.
Applying for the SGLI spouse coverage is a relatively easy process. Usually, it coincides with the time a service member is required to register their spouse in the DEERS system and meet at the unit’s personnel office. This is usually the only time spouses will see any paperwork regarding the benefit they have. If a spouse needs to update their FSGLI benefit they can use this Family Coverage Election form.
FSGLI coverage can be obtained after initially declining the benefit; however, does require a health review for approval. This is to ensure members take advantage of the benefit well before they develop a health issue that otherwise prevents them from obtaining coverage.
The SGLI family benefits are for dependent spouses and children. Spousal benefits are provided in increments of $10,000 up to a maximum of $100,000. Child coverage is available at no cost up for $10,000. While the FSGLI benefit may be a great one, it’s major pitfall is the fact that its maximum amount is so low.
Many military spouses are under the impression that “the military covers everything”. We sure get a lot of benefits as military families! Rightfully so as we make great sacrifices that are very taxing on our family life. That being said, $100,000 is not enough military spouse life insurance to protect your family.
It is very common for spouses to be stay at home moms. Some spouses happen to have part-time or full-time incomes. There is no perfect model for the military family. That is one of my favorite things that make up the history of our nation. Whether a spouse works or stays at home, it’s safe to say they need to supplement their FSGLI benefit with an outside life insurance plan!
Military spouses are significantly under insured at $100,000 in life insurance coverage. Experts recommend a minimum of $250,000 in supplemental coverage. The VA page offers some great examples of things to consider when doing a life insurance needs analysis. Make a list of your financial obligations, net income, and assets. It’s important to do a review of these needs every year or two. The key to knowing your loved ones will be ok without you is by proper planning. No one likes to think about dying early but the reality is no one knows when it’s their time to go.
Leaving your family exposed to financial hardship by ignoring your life insurance needs is just plain cruel. These are two reasons military spouses should supplement their life insurance FSGLI benefit:
The SGLI spouse life insurance is not free. The premiums are deducted from the service member’s pay. If a service member’s spouse is not registered in DEERS but becomes automatically insured under the FSGLI plan, they will owe back premiums once they become registered. The plan pricing is based on the spouse’s age and unlike the service member’s plan will increase as they get older. Children are insured at no cost. Although there is a cost to the FSGLI it is still a reasonably priced benefit.
While the military spouse life insurance offered by Prudential has conversion privileges, in my opinion, they are unfavorable. Spouses do not have the opportunity to opt into any kind of extension plan like service members can with the veteran plan.
Their only option to continue their coverage is by converting it into a commercial policy with a participating company. The major pitfall with this option is that it can only be a whole life insurance policy. Whole life insurance is one of the most expensive plans on the market. In most cases, it’s unnecessary.
Military spouses should be looking ahead in order to maintain life insurance benefits beyond their service member’s career in the military. This can be tricky as service members often are not sure if they will re-enlist each term. Even if a service member is certain they will stay in to retire, life can change and it’s important to be prepared for civilian life.
The best thing a military spouse can do to prepare is to purchase supplemental life insurance while their service member is in the military.