SGLI Benefit Increased to $200,000 (Corrected Version of
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 27, 1996 The starting benefit for Servicemen's Group Life Insurance increases from $100,000 to $200,000 beginning April 1.
The change will affect all members on active duty or in the qualified Reserve or the National Guard.
Thomas Tower, with DoD's Office of Compensation, said service members can still opt for the level of coverage they wish. "They can decrease the amount of coverage in $10,000 increments," said Tower. "They can even decline the coverage entirely. But the starting point is now $200,000."
Service members with less than $200,000 of coverage who don't want the automatic increase must file a SGLI Form 8286 in early April. This will keep their insurance level the same and avoid an automatic increase in their premiums.
Tower said DoD increased the starting benefit to properly cover all service members, even while attending basic training, and compensate families at the maximum level in case of an early training accident. Currently, recruits start at $100,000, then get the option of increasing the benefit shortly after reporting for duty.
"If service members were to die before they could complete the insurance paperwork, they [families] wouldn't get the full amount," said Tower. "When a person dies and the benefit is only $100,000, the family is often uncomfortable with this result. By changing this, families will know that they're getting the maximum amount allowable unless the member, not the government, chose another level of coverage."
The $200,000 benefit first became available in November 1992. Service members paying $9 a month for $100,000 Servicemen's Group Life Insurance coverage could double their benefit for an $18 deduction. Since 1992, nearly 70 percent of active duty forces and over half of the reserve component opted for the increased benefit.
Tower said the majority of $200,000 takers are married service members wishing the added coverage to take care of their families.
He added single service members often don't want or need the additional coverage, although many of them do take the maximum. "Not everybody is going to want the full amount," said Tower, "and SGLI insurance is designed for people to set up their own coverage based on their needs."
Still, Tower urged service members not to decrease their current benefits too much. "Once you've decreased the benefit, then decide later to increase the amount, you may have problems getting the extra coverage," said Tower. He said the insurance company handling Servicemen's Group Life Insurance requires a certificate of good health endorsed by the service member's commander before increasing the benefit. Such applications are subject to acceptance by the insurance company.
He said service members still wishing to decrease their benefit can complete and return an SGLI Form 8286 at their service personnel office. (3/25/96: 96144)