Today marks an important milestone for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Life Insurance program. On this day 100 years ago, Congress passed the War Risk Insurance Act that later became the catalyst for what is now known as VA life insurance protection.
Most Servicemembers and Veterans are familiar with Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) which covers approximately 97 percent of active-duty Servicemembers, members of the National Guard, and Reservists. SGLI was created in 1965 to meet the need of our Vietnam-era Servicemembers, but it has expanded significantly since. In 1974, it added Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI); in1998, it provided an accelerated benefit option giving terminally-ill SGLI, Family Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) and VGLI policyholders access to the death benefits of their policies while they are still alive; in 2001, it provided Family Group Life Insurance (FSGLI), and in 2005, it expanded to include Traumatic Injury Protection Insurance (TSGLI).
While modeled after commercial insurance SGLI programs, several benefits were added to meet the unique needs of Servicemembers, Veterans, and their survivors. These include free beneficiary financial counseling and online will preparation.
The VGLI program was created to provide life insurance protection for recently separated Veterans who were covered by SGLI during their service. Now, Veterans have one year and 120 days to convert their SGLI to VGLI. But recently separated Veterans should consider converting in the first 240 days from the date of military separation or retirement because they can do it without having to show proof of good health.
Today, VA directly administers six life insurance programs and supervises the SGLI and the VGLI programs. These programs provide $1.3 trillion in insurance coverage to 7 million Veterans, Servicemembers and their families under 10 separate lines of insurance protection. Additionally, the Life Office Management Association (a private organization dealing with life and health insurance) compared VA and 28 other private companies. In their survey, VA life insurance had faster average response times in all 11 areas, including paying claims in less than 4.5 days. Independent customer surveys also show high marks for VA customer service
To learn more about VA’s history of protecting those who have served, take a look at this timeline depicting the last 100 years of VA’s life insurance program.
Have a question? Join us in the conversation. Follow us on VBA’s social media channels using the hashtag #VALifeINS100 or call us toll free at 1-800-419-1473.
Mr. Vincent Markey serves as the Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Insurance Center.