First Command News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — September 18, 2017

First Command Reports: Military families show sustained preference for permanent life insurance

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 73 percent of middle-class military families own a permanent life policy

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Members of America's career military continue to display a clear preference for permanent life insurance, according to the latest findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

First Command's annual life insurance survey reveals that 73 percent of middle–class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E–5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) own some form of permanent life coverage. And among survey respondents who don't own a permanent life policy, roughly half (49 percent) say they are likely to consider purchasing one for themselves or someone in their household. Those rates generally align with the demand recorded over the previous three years.

Interest in permanent life insurance is considerably stronger in military families than in the general population. The Index reveals that 45 percent of middle-class civilian families own some type of permanent coverage. Among non-owners, 31 percent say they are likely to consider purchasing a permanent life insurance product.

The most popular forms of permanent life insurance coverage include:

  • Whole life, which is owned by 36 percent of military respondents versus 27 percent of their civilian counterparts.
  • Universal life (30 percent versus 11 percent)
  • Variable life (17 percent versus 8 percent)

Service member demand for temporary life insurance coverage is down slightly this year. Thirty-nine percent of military families report owning term life products, down 7 points from last year. Civilian ownership of term life products is also at 39 percent, unchanged from last year.

Military families have turned to permanent insurance products as supplemental coverage to their government benefits. Active-duty personnel are eligible for up to $400,000 in Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, commonly known as SGLI. They may add optional spousal coverage of up to $100,000 and dependent coverage of up to $10,000. After leaving the service military personnel may convert SGLI to Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI); however, premiums may be higher and are based on the age of the insured. Supplemental commercial policies allow military families to increase their overall coverage now and provide longer-term protection for their post-military lives.

“Adding permanent life insurance to government-provided coverage allows America’s career military families to more fully and effectively confront their present and future needs,” said Scott Spiker, chairman/CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “This supplemental strategy allows families to address the current uncertainties of military life today – uncertainties that can include the risk of a service-related death – as well as pursue long-term financial security tomorrow.””

First Command conducts an annual life insurance survey of military families as part of its September observance of Life Insurance Awareness Month, which was created by the LIFE Foundation in response to growing concern about the large number of Americans who lack adequate life insurance protection.

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