Group life insurance is very similar to individual life insurance. The primary difference is there is usually less choice in the types of life insurance available in group policies. However, group life insurance is easier for people with health problems to get, much the same as group health insurance.
Contrary to popular belief, group life insurance is rarely less expensive than individual life insurance for a healthy person. This is because there is not much in the way of administrative cost to individual life insurance. Life insurance is in general a "lean" insurance product. Therefore, if you are healthy and want to get the best deal on life insurance you are best served to apply for an individual life policy and take the medical exam.
You can use simple rules of thumb, but a real evaluation of your needs should take your whole financial picture into account. Most advisors recommend an amount between 5 to 10 times your salary.
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There are hundreds of companies that underwrite group life insurance policies. Choosing between them is mostly a matter of price vs. financial stability, as well as what health rating you might qualify for with each.
It is important to know that purchasing life insurance is not a quick process. Insurers require that you take a para-medical exam above a certain policy size. Almost all providers will request medical records from your doctors, often pull driving records, and sometimes request financial information.
Term life insurance is the most common form of group life insurance sold in the USA. Term life requires paying a premium each year for a specified death benefit. The financial strength of the provider is quite important, as are some policy details.
Riders can be added to life insurance that change the death benefit, or even the nature of the insurance itself. Recently, riders have been added that pay in events other than death, like disability, specific diseases, or terminal illnesses preceding death. However, most of these newer riders are not available in group life policies.