Do All Veterans Automatically Have Life Insurance for a Surviving Spouse?

Surviving spouses of veterans receive benefits upon the veteran's death, including surviving spouse life insurance benefits, according to the VA Loans website. However, the veteran must make arrangements to keep his life insurance prior to leaving military service. If he does not do so, his insurance may terminate before his death, leaving his spouse without any survivor's benefits.

Five-Year Plans

Most life insurance policies for veterans are five-year plans that renew automatically at the end of term if the veteran has made all premium payments. Life insurance premiums for veterans are based on the veteran's age at the time the policy renews, although National Service Life Insurance does not add additional premium amounts for veterans over the age of 70. If the veteran fails to pay premiums, he can reinstate the insurance by paying back premiums before the insurance policy expires.

Disabled Veterans

If a veteran becomes disabled before the age of 65, she may be entitled to premium waivers or to monthly payouts, depending on the type of insurance she has. National Service Life Insurance waives premiums for veterans who expect to be disabled for at least six months, while veterans who participate in the Serviceman's Group Life Insurance plan may receive monthly payouts if they become totally and permanently disabled. Surviving spouses still receive benefits from these insurance policies when the disabled veteran dies.

Dividends

Some policyholders receive dividends on an annual basis from their life insurance policies. These dividends are not taxable, and the veteran can use them to purchase additional insurance so their surviving spouses get a higher benefit amount after the veteran's death. Veterans who participate in the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance plan do not receive annual dividends and, therefore, cannot participate in purchasing additional life insurance.

Permanent Policies

Survivors are entitled to benefits if a veteran has a permanent life insurance policy instead of a term life insurance plan. If a veteran allows a permanent life insurance plan to lapse, it automatically converts to a term life insurance plan for a limited period based on the total value of the insurance policy. In this case, the veteran should contact his plan administrator to renew the policy.