VA Insurance to Cover Disaster Deaths

From: "\"Doc\" Melson" <docmelson@docmelson.com>

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Friday June 8, 2:00 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Insurance to Cover Disaster Deaths

WASHINGTON, June 8 /PRNewswire/ -- A rollback in certain life insurance rules means dozens of families who have recently lost military service members will receive extra financial assistance.

``Under legislation signed June 5 by President Bush, the government can cover the untimely deaths of the brave men and women serving on the USS Cole and victims of other recent tragedies at higher amounts of life insurance,'' Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi said.

The new law, the Veterans' Survival Benefits Improvement Act, applies to deaths in direct military ``performance of duty.'' It is intended by Congress and the administration to cover the Oct. 12 terrorist bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 sailors, the accidental bomb dropping by a Navy Hornet in a U.S.-Kuwaiti air exercise March 12 resulting in five deaths, and a Georgia plane crash on March 3 that killed 21 National Guardsmen.

Under an earlier increase effective April 1, top life insurance coverage under the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program was raised from $200,000 to $250,000. The latest law rolls back to October 1, 2000 the effective date of that increase for certain deaths.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimated as many as 75 deaths may be covered by the change, which applies to all deaths of SGLI-insured service members in combat or military accidents in the performance of duty from Oct. 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001 where the service member had chosen the maximum amount of SGLI coverage of $200,000.

Checks for $50,000 are being sent immediately to survivors in about 50 cases that were developed as the legislation advanced. Within the next few weeks, as the Defense Department provides certification of additional job- performance deaths, the government will send checks along with letters of explanation to the families of those service members.

The new rules for that time period do not apply to deaths due to disease or off-duty accidents, although these deaths are covered at regular levels of SGLI insurance. Similarly, the latest amendment does not affect veterans who have insurance under federal or private policies in their civilian lives.

When a uniformed military member dies today, the maximum coverage will be effective unless the service member has opted for coverage in a lower amount. SGLI coverage currently is available in $10,000 increments up to $250,000 at a cost of 8 cents a month per $1,000 coverage.

When released from active duty or the Reserves, people with full-time SGLI coverage can convert it to another VA-supervised program, Veterans Group Life Insurance, or to a commercial policy with any one of 91 participating commercial insurance companies.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

 

 

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