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Life insurance if you have preexisting conditions

If you’re separating from the military and you have certain health problems (called preexisting conditions), it may be hard for you to get private life insurance. But you can get life insurance without having to prove good health if you act within 120 to 240 days of separation. Keep reading to learn about preexisting conditions and what to do right now to get insurance.

Why preexisting conditions make it hard for you to get life insurance

To get private life insurance, you usually need to prove you’re in good health. If you have a health problem when you apply, you may not be able to meet this requirement, and the insurance company may deny your application. Or they may charge you more for coverage.

Note: Preexisting conditions are health problems that exist before you apply for life insurance. They’re most often chronic (or long-term) health problems, like diabetes or heart disease.

Preexisting conditions that may affect your life insurance rates

Some preexisting conditions, like the ones listed below, can affect the rates insurance companies will offer you.

  • Autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Blood disorders, including aplastic and sickle cell anemia
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions, including those related to uncontrolled sleep apnea, a heart transplant, high blood pressure, bypass surgery, and heart failure
  • Mental health conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression
  • Neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Your options if you have a preexisting condition

You should take action right away. You have 4 options to get life insurance as you transition out of service, but they have time limits. Read about your options below.

Option 1: Apply for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) within the “240-day no health review” period

If you apply for VGLI within the first 240 days (about 8 months) after your separation date, we won’t consider any of your health conditions when we determine your eligibility. 

We recommend that you apply for VGLI right away—even if you know you want to apply for private insurance. If you wait and a private insurance company denies your application, you may miss the VGLI 240-day no health review period. At that point, we’d have to consider your health when you apply for VGLI, and you may not be eligible for coverage.

Note: VGLI insurance is a term life insurance policy. This means it offers coverage for set amounts of time (called terms) and only pays benefits at the time of death. Term policies are usually low in cost to start, but your costs increase as you age.

Option 2: Apply for a free extension of your Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

If your disabilities prevent you from working or if you have certain service-connected disabilities, you can apply for a 2-year free extension of your SGLI.

Find out how to apply for an SGLI Disability Extension

Option 3: Convert your SGLI coverage to a permanent private insurance policy

If you apply within 120 days (about 4 months) after your separation, you can convert your SGLI coverage to a permanent private insurance policy (like a whole life policy). You won’t need to prove you’re in good health to get standard premium rates.

Note: Unlike term policies, permanent policies offer coverage for as long as you pay your premium. These policies pay benefits at the time of death. They also earn cash and loan value that you can use or borrow against. Permanent policies usually cost more than term insurance, but your costs stay the same for as long as you have the policy.

Find out how to convert your SGLI coverage to a private plan

Review a list of participating private life insurance companies (PDF)

Option 4: Apply for both VGLI and a private insurance policy

If you believe you need more life insurance than what VGLI provides, you can apply for both VGLI and a private insurance policy. You should be aware that private insurance companies may charge you a higher rate or deny coverage. This will depend on their review of your health.

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