Getting married is a joyous life change, but it comes with extra planning factors when you are marrying someone in the military. Planning a wedding around deployment schedules, getting yourself enrolled in DEERS (the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System), and being granted power of attorney are considerations non-military spouses-to-be have to consider. And they don’t just end there.
While it is always a good idea to assess your life insurance policies when you have a big life change (like getting married or having a child), things deviate from the norm when your spouse is on active duty. Your military spouse’s Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) can cover a lot of things — and as a bonus, enrollment is automatic — but it may not be enough to fully cover you should you need it to.
When marrying someone in the military, make sure you know what additional coverage you might need to protect your family and your future in any event.
Read more: Transitioning to Civilian Life – Five Financial Recommendations
Top Three Things Military Spouses Should Know
1. Know how much life insurance you need.
Most single, active duty servicemembers without dependents would have little concern in this area since SGLI provides up to $500,000 worth of life insurance for their beneficiary. However, establishing a guarantee of future insurability through an additional insurance policy may be an important consideration to address future coverage needs or any potential change in health down the road.
If you are married, have children, or own property with a mortgage balance, $500,000 may not go as far as you think. Marriage means shared financial responsibility, and life insurance is critical to establishing the security that forms the base of any financial planning pyramid. Be sure to speak with your future spouse and ensure that your new family will be adequately covered in any situation.
You can estimate your life insurance needs by subtracting non-retirement assets from debts and then adding some portion of your future earnings. Our easy-to-use life insurance needs calculator can provide a more specific answer. If you decide that additional life insurance is needed or simply want to guarantee future insurability, check out Navy Mutual’s Life Insurance LookBook for a checklist to use when shopping for the best coverage.
2. Be wary of a joint life insurance policy.
Some life insurance companies offer joint life insurance policies for married couples. When looking into a joint policy, be sure to check the fine print for any war, terrorism, or aviation clauses that could apply to the servicemember. Also keep in mind that joint policies are often “second to die” products, which may be a cost-effective way to create an ultimate estate value for the couple, but do not provide any benefits to the surviving spouse. For this reason, individual life insurance, tailored to the specific needs of each insured as your new family ages, often results in a more efficient life insurance strategy.
Read more: Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Life Insurance
3. Stay-at-home spouses need life insurance too.
While roughly half of military spouses are not actively in the workforce, non-income-earning spouses still need life insurance coverage to compensate for the substantial support they provide at home. Military spouses can be covered through Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) with a death benefit of up to $100,000. However, this coverage is not convertible to any type of low-cost term life insurance after the servicemember exits military service so establishing additional protection for them would have many advantages.
When child care is involved, expenses can easily exceed many thousands of dollars per month, and the servicemember themselves would still have ongoing work to accomplish. Even if extended family members are available for support, the financial impacts of a stay-at-home spouse’s passing can be severe. Our life insurance needs calculator can help confirm your needs.
Happily ever after needs a game plan.
As much fun as weddings are to plan, what comes after is arguably more important. Ensuring that you and your spouse both have the right amount of life insurance will bring you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your family’s financial future is secure.
Discuss your needs with an insurance counselor or financial planner, a free service available to you as a married couple at Personal Finance Management Services. You can look up your nearest Financial Readiness Manager by clicking here and selecting “Personal Financial Management Services.”
When you’re done just thinking about marrying someone in the military, have had the conversations, and are ready to commit, we are here to help. To schedule an appointment with a representative, click here, or email us at email@example.com.