Time's Running Out for Mobilization Insurance
By Maj. Donna Miles, USAR
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 1996 Time is running out for reserve component members who want to sign up for mobilization insurance.
By law, Ready Reserve members have just 60 days after being notified about the insurance program to sign up during the initial enrollment window. That makes Dec. 30 the deadline for most people.
Participation in the program is optional, and reserve component members can sign up for different levels of coverage and pay the corresponding monthly insurance premium.
Premiums for the basic insurance level of $1,000 a month cost $12.20 per month. Guard and reserve members can lower their coverage to $500 a month or raise it in $500amonth increments at a cost of $6.10 per month for every additional $500 a month in coverage. The highest insurance level offered under the program is $5,000 per month, with a $61 monthly premium.
Reserve personnel who get their monthly drill pay through automatic deposit can have their premium payments automatically deducted. They can also make quarterly payments.
Army Lt. Col. Terry Jones, a Pentagon reserve affairs spokesman, said as of Oct. 1, new members of the Guard and Reserve are automatically insured at the basic benefit level of $1,000 a month coverage. They have 60 days after being notified of their options to change or drop their coverage.
Defense Department leaders stress the enrollment window is essentially a oneshot opportunity, with limited exceptions. The law that created the program does not allow members to increase their coverage level once they've signed up. They can, however, decrease or drop their coverage any time.
Deborah Lee, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said the program is designed to help members of the reserve components protect their income levels in the event they're ordered to active duty. She said the insurance won't necessarily match losses between a member's military and civilian earnings dollar for dollar. But it can help supplement the insured's military pay.
To collect insurance benefits, the members' orders must specify the duty supports war or a national emergency or augments active forces for an operational mission. Jones said the orders also must state the duty is involuntary.
When payable, insurance benefits are made for the duration of a deployment, up to one year. No more than 12 monthly payments can be made in any 18month period.
Lee said officials created the insurance program to prevent the financial losses many reserve component members faced during the Persian Gulf War. A survey of Guard and Reserve members who left their civilian jobs to participate in that operation showed twothirds experienced financial loss. Lee said many faced financial crises when they returned home.
Of those surveyed, two-thirds of the enlisted members and more than half the officers said they would buy mobilization insurance if it was available.
"The whole point was to make sure that a reservist could serve without the fear of losing his or her income, losing her or her business or having the family sustain a tremendous loss in income," Lee said.
The mobilization insurance program is not retroactive and does not cover past mobilizations for missions in Haiti and Bosnia. But Guard and Reserve members now being called to duty for Operation Joint Endeavor who signed up for the program before receiving orders will be the first to benefit from the new program, Lee said.