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VA may help more wounded veterans get insurance

Jun. 26, 2012 - 01:12PM   |   Last Updated: Jun. 26, 2012 - 01:12PM  |  
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The Veterans Affairs Department is proposing a rule change that may make it easier for more disabled veterans to get life insurance.

Currently, those leaving the military who want to convert their Servicemembers Group Life Insurance policy to a Veterans Group Life Insurance policy are given 120 days after separation to sign up for VGLI no questions asked and nothing further required.

But if they wait longer than 120 days, they can't get a VGLI policy without providing proof, such as a physical exam, that they are healthy enough to be insured. That can be a high hurdle for service-disabled veterans, many of whom can't get insured elsewhere if they're shut out of VGLI.

That could change soon. In Monday's Federal Register,">VA has proposed a rule change extending that 120-day window where vets can simply sign up, no proof of insurability required, to 240 days.

The total eligibility time would not increase veterans would still have 1 year and 120 days to apply for VGLI. The only thing that would be longer is the period when vets can sign up for VGLI and be automatically accepted.

Joe Violante, national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, described the proposal as a "great move on VA's part."

"Transferring from military [life] back into civilian life is difficult enough, especially finding a job, a home and just the readjustment," Violante said. "This will allow the veteran to re-establish him or herself before making the choice to convert their life insurance. Hopefully, VA will notify the veteran about the choice before the period to convert expires."

VA, which is responsible for the SGLI and VGLI programs, contends that in the initial 120 days after leaving active duty, many veterans haven't had enough time to assess their life insurance needs. More time before determining insurability would give VA Insurance outreach services more opportunity to discuss coverage with these veterans.

While VGLI may be more expensive than many other life insurance policies, it is especially helpful for veterans with service-connected disabilities who may have difficulty getting insurance elsewhere. For some of the most disabled veterans, other commercial coverage is not possible.

Formal comments about this proposed rule">can be submitted through July 25.

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