SGLI is a program of low cost group term life insurance automatically available to all servicemembers on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty for training and members of the Reserves. This policy is automatically activated for a coverage amount of $400,000, the maximum amount of coverage, unless the servicemember opts out in writing. In addition, designated beneficiaries now receive an additional payment of $100,000 if a servicemember dies while on active duty. A servicemember can elect lower coverage or no coverage by completing the VA Form SGLV-8286. Coverage is available for spouses; dependent children are automatically insured for $10,000. When released from active duty or the Reserve, members with full-time SGLI coverage can convert their coverage to Veterans Group Life Insurance or to an individual commercial life insurance. Click the link below to learn more about the SGLI and VGLI policies for military servicemembers.
For more information regarding SGLI and VGLI eligibility, benefits and premiums call toll free 1-800-419-1473 or visit the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site at http://www.insurance.va.gov/.
Members of the armed services may consider their life insurance needs throughout their military career. The need for life insurance will vary depending upon your age and responsibilities. It is a very important part of financial planning. There are several reasons to purchase life insurance. You may need to replace income that would be lost with the death of a wage earner. You may want to make sure your dependents do not incur significant debt if you die. Life insurance may allow them to keep assets versus selling them to pay outstanding bills or taxes. However, it is important to remember that most military servicemembers already receive the $400,000 of life insurance coverage automatically, unless specific requests to opt out have been submitted.
If you are a servicemember that has opted out of the SGLI plan or are looking for additional life insurance above the $400,000 amount, you should consider the following factors:
How Much Do I Need?
Questions to ask yourself:
There is also a life insurance needs calculation tool available on the SGLI web site: http://www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/calculator/LifeIns101.htm.
An important note to members of the armed forces involves a provision that is commonly included in life insurance policies. If you have opted out or decided to purchase additional life insurance outside of the SGLI/VGLI military offered life insurance plans, you should review the list of exclusions to the policies. Many life insurance policies include a “war exclusion” provision that specifically states benefits will not be payable if the death is a result of war or the action of a military force. The Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policies do not have this type of exclusion. In addition, many life insurance policies also contain exclusions about traveling on any non-commercial aircraft.
All life insurance policies are not the same. Some give coverage for your lifetime and others cover you for a specific number of years. Some build up cash values and others do not. Some policies combine different kinds of insurance, and others let you change from one kind of insurance to another. Some policies may offer other benefits while you are still living. There are two basic types of life insurance: term insurance and permanent insurance.
See the NAIC's Consumer Alert for other considerations for purchasing life insurance.
What happens if your home is vacant? Many homeowners policies have a "vacancy clause," and if you are gone for an extended period, you could trigger it. In this event, some or all of your coverage may not apply in the event of a loss. The precise definition of vacancy can vary from policy to policy. Some policies, for example, might not pay claims if your house is unoccupied for 60 days or more. However, many companies offer an endorsement that will provide coverage for a dwelling that is unoccupied for an extended period of time. You should consult with your insurance agent or company to learn how the company defines vacancy and whether the company will pay claims if a house is unoccupied.
Check your coverage. It is a good idea to review your homeowners policy with your agent before you leave - it could help you avoid a dispute or disagreement in the future. Make sure your policy limits are sufficient to cover your home and your personal property at today’s costs. You may want to increase your coverage if you have made additions or improvements to your property.
Personal property coverage. The military generally will not pay to repair or replace property that is damaged or lost in military housing or in a war zone. Homeowners insurance typically covers personal property that you take with you while traveling, but most policies exclude coverage for damage caused directly or indirectly from war. Talk to your agent about whether personal items that you take with you during your deployment will be covered if they are lost, stolen, or damaged.
If you rent property, you should consider renters insurance often referred to as personal property coverage. In many states, if you rent your home and have renters insurance, your policy will typically pay to repair or replace personal property you take with you while traveling. However in many states, most policies exclude coverage for damage caused directly or indirectly from war. Ask your agent or company whether your renters policy will pay to repair or replace any property you take with you during your deployment.
If you will be deployed for an extended period of time and no one will be driving your vehicle, you may be able to suspend some or all of your coverage to save on premium payments. Not all states allow for coverage to be suspended, nor do all insurance companies. You should contact your agent or company and state insurance department for the specific laws and policy limitations. You may want to ask if liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist, medical payments and personal injury protection coverage can be suspended while you are deployed.
Service and employer health plans. Active duty personnel have coverage through the military, as do reservists and National Guard members after 30 consecutive days of active service. Many reservists and National Guard members, however, have health coverage for themselves and their families through an employer-sponsored health plan, and some may wish to continue that coverage, particularly for their dependents, during their active duty period. Talk with your benefits administrator at work to learn what will happen with your health coverage if you are called to active duty. While employers are not required to pay the cost of health coverage for you and your dependents while you are on active duty, some employers may choose to continue benefits at their current level.
If your employer does not continue paying the cost of your health coverage, you are entitled to continue the coverage at your own cost under federal law. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) both allow you to continue coverage for yourself and your dependents for up to 18 months, however, you may be required to pay 102 percent of the full premium for coverage. Any person covered by the health plan may choose to continue coverage even if others who are covered do not. This means, for instance, that your spouse could continue coverage through USERRA and COBRA even if you do not.
If your employer discontinued your health coverage and you return to the company directly after your military deployment, federal law requires that you be allowed to resume plan membership without any type of waiting period.
It is important that you make arrangements to have your insurance premiums paid timely while you are deployed. If your insurance company cancels your policy for failure to pay your premium on time - or for any other legal reason – you will likely have trouble getting a new insurance policy and, when you do find a company willing to insure you, you may have to pay higher rates. Many companies will decline to insure drivers who have lapses in their insurance coverage. And if your coverage lapsed for more than 30 days, companies may be able to charge you a higher premium.
Power of attorney is a special legal designation that authorizes someone to act on your behalf in insurance, financial, personal, or legal matters. If you are deployed, you may want to consider assigning power of attorney to a spouse, family member, or trusted friend. To assign power of attorney, you and the individual you designate must sign a form before a notary public. Ask your base personnel office about where to find a notary. You may also consult the business listings in your local telephone directory to find notaries in your area.
You should contact a state insurance department if you believe you have encountered deceptive sales practices or you discover that the policy you purchased was misrepresented to you. The state you contact should be the state where you are currently listed as a resident, regardless of whether you are currently stationed in some other state or you are stationed outside of the United States . You may also contact your resident state insurance department if you have any general questions about insurance.
The U. S. Better Business Bureau system is working with the U.S. military to encourage servicemembers and their families to use the programs and materials of the BBB system for a variety of consumer-related issues. Visit the Better Business Bureau for Military at http://www.military.bbb.org .
For more information about your rights concerning health insurance coverage under USERRA and COBRA, call the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration at 1-866-444-EBSA (3272) or visit its Web site at www.dol.gov/ebsa/.
Please click the link below to view a resolution, which was presented by John W. Oxendine, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, to the NAIC membership during the NAIC’s 2005 Spring National Meeting. The resolution addresses the waiver of any occupancy requirement for Armed Services personnel who can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to maintain and protect such property. The NAIC membership unanimously adopted this resolution on March 13, 2005.
Click on the following links to obtain legal advice for your respective branch of the military services.
Military Sentinel is a project of the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Defense used to identify and target consumer protection issues that affect members of the United States Armed Forces and their families. Visit the Military Sentinel Web page at http://www.consumer.gov/military to access complaint forms specific to your branch of service.