Being in the military is highly rewarding, but with the reward comes a degree of risk. It’s an undeniably riskier profession, physically and mentally, than say working 9-5 in an office in the UK.
This is something insurers would no doubt take into account if you apply for life insurance as a serving or ex-member of the armed forces. You might assume that a career in the military would make you ineligible for life insurance altogether, but this won’t necessarily be the case. It shouldn’t be impossible to take out cover, but you might not be eligible with every insurer and you might be charged higher premiums to be insured, depending on your role.
Do military members need life insurance?
It depends on what your circumstances are outside of being in the armed forces. You only really need life insurance if you have financial dependents – i.e. other people who rely on your income, like a partner or children. Dependents are the people who’d be financially affected if you died, and who you take out life insurance to protect.
Do members of the military have life insurance?
Military members are usually covered by death-in-service as part of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme. This benefit is similar to life insurance in that it pays out a lump sum (usually 3x your salary on this scheme) if you die while you’re employed. However, it’s not the same as having life insurance.
Life insurance vs. death-in-service cover
Death-in-service is a valuable benefit to have, but it doesn’t always provide the level of cover your loved ones would really need if you died. With death-in-service, you can’t tweak the level of cover (it’s always 3x your annual income) – but with life insurance, you can choose your level of cover to make sure it’s adequate for your needs.
To work out whether you should also have some personal life insurance in place, ask yourself:
- Would 3x your salary be enough to pay off any debts you’d leave behind, like a mortgage?
- Would 3x your salary be enough to make sure your family could maintain their living standards without you?
- Do you risk leaving yourself and your family under-protected if you leave the military at some point in the future, and therefore lose your death-in-service cover?
Death-in-service certainly provides a financial cushion, but if you think it leaves you and your family under-protected, it’s definitely worth considering a personal life insurance policy too.
Can military members get life insurance?
Yes, most of the time serving and ex-members of the UK armed forces can get life insurance. Your profession shouldn’t make you ineligible for cover, though it might make it more expensive.
Don’t forget that there are many factors which affect your eligibility for life insurance and the price. Having a risky occupation is one factor that insurers will take into consideration, but there are others too – like your age and health, and the kind of cover you want to buy. This will all be considered during the underwriting process.
What is underwriting?
Underwriting is the process of an insurer deciding how risky you are to insure. Depending on what you disclose during the application process for life insurance, you’ll either be automatically or manually underwritten. Manual underwriting is usually used if something risky is disclosed during the application – like your occupation or something in your health history.
During underwriting you’ll be asked questions about your:
- Personal health history
- Family health history
- Height and weight (BMI)
- Smoking status
- Alcohol consumption
- Job and hobbies
- International travel
Disclosing that you’re a serving or ex-member of the military is likely to result in manual underwriting. Insurers will ask for specific details of your military service to determine how much of a risk you are and whether a loading should be added to the price of your premiums to account for any added risk.
What will insurers ask about being a military member?
Each insurer will have its own way of measuring the risks involved with being a member of the UK armed forces. The questions below are typical of the kind of questions you’ll be asked if you disclose you’re in the military during a life insurance application:
- What is your role and specific branch of the armed forces?
- What are your duties and your current/forthcoming deployments?
- Are you currently deployed outside of the UK or awaiting a new deployment outside of the UK?
- Are you currently serving with, seconded to, or due to serve with any special or elite force?
- Do your duties involve any of the following activities:
– Defusing explosive devices, bomb disposal, mine or ordnance clearance
– Pilot or air crew
– None of the above
What life insurance is best for military members?
It depends what your role in the military is and how risky insurers deem you. It also depends on your circumstances outside of being in the military. Namely: who you’d leave behind and what financial situation your death would leave them in. There are a few options to choose from, including:
- Term life insurance – which covers you for a set amount of time; ideal if your financial liabilities will eventually go away (e.g. your mortgage will be paid off or your children will become financially independent)
- Whole life insurance – which covers you for your whole life and pays out if you die (whenever that happens); ideal if you know your financial liabilities will never go away or you decide you always want to leave a lump sum behind
- Family income benefit – a type of term life insurance that pays out monthly if you die, instead of as a lump sum; ideal if the loved ones you leave behind would need a manageable way to support themselves financially
Read more about different types of life cover here.
How much does life insurance cost for military members?
It depends what information you provide about your role in the military during the underwriting process. Insurers may add a loading to your premium, making it more expensive to be insured.
And don’t forget: regardless of your occupation or hobbies, the price of life insurance is dependent on a number of other factors too, including your age, health and lifestyle, as well as the cover you’re buying.
Choosing the right life insurance if you’re in the military
Choosing the right life insurance to protect your loved ones in case you die is very important for anyone who needs it. As a member of the armed forces, you might have extra considerations to make when taking out cover.
Working out exactly what you need and choosing which policy to go with can be tricky on your own. This is exactly why Anorak exists. Our advisers are here to help you choose the most suitable cover for you, your life, and your loved ones – and to make sure you’ve considered everything you need to along the way.
This guide has been written by Anorak's life insurance experts as guidance. Anorak also provides regulated advice online and over the phone.