Military Men and Women Eligible for Group Life Insurance

Several laws in Illinois are designed to protect service people called to duty and their families. The State of Illinois has made allowances in various rules and laws to ease immediate responsibilities for service men and women called to duty. The goal of these provisions is to prevent financial and other hardship that might result from active duty in the United States military.

Members of the military are covered by insurance under a program called the Servicemember's Group Life Insurance, more commonly known as SGLI. Available to those on active duty as well as in the reserves, it is purchased by the government from a private insurer and is partially subsidized by the government. Service members are automatically insured for up to $400,000 unless they opt out in writing. Otherwise, the servicemember's part of the premium is deducted from his or her paycheck. Insurability is guaranteed when first given the opportunity to elect SGLI. After that, military personnel who want to acquire coverage may be subject to insurability determinations.

As of  November 1, 2001, SGLI coverage was extended to insurable dependents, including spouses and all unmarried children under the age of 18, plus those over 18 but younger than 23 who attend an approved educational institution.

A spouse is eligible for up to $100,000 of coverage or for the same level as the military member's SGLI if coverage is less than $100,000. Every dependent child of the military member is eligible for $10,000 of coverage.

SGLI coverage extends 120 days following separation or release from duty. No premiums are required in the additional period, at the end of which veterans can elect to convert their policy to the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program.

Service members may lose entitlement to SGLI based on their duty status at the time of death (i.e., death occurs during extended absence without leave, better known as AWOL, or while serving a term of confinement) or other miscellaneous facts (i.e., following refusal to serve due to conscientious objector status or following the conviction of certain serious crimes).

Any area military base can provide assistance to service personnel and their families through the Legal Assistance Office.

This pamphlet is prepared and published by the Illinois State Bar Association as a public service. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication.

For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, call Illinois Lawyer Finder at (800) 922-8757 or online