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Our firm recovered $400,000 for an SGLI beneficiary whose claim was denied by the insurance company based on an alleged failure of an insured servicemember to pay premiums on his SGLI policy. Our SGLI attorneys fought relentlessly for the beneficiary’s right to receive the denied SGLI benefits.

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The SGLI and VGLI insurance programs are governed by a federal statute.[1] They are federal programs, but the United States government is the policyholder, not the insurer. Prudential Insurance Company of America now serves as the primary insurer. Servicemembers and their dependents are automatically granted SGLI life insurance while in active military service, unless the servicemember opts out of coverage.


Ordinarily, SGLI coverage terminates automatically 120 days after the servicemember's separation from the military. However, the insured is entitled to convert his SGLI coverage into VGLI coverage, by submitting an application and the first premium payment within 120 days after the end of active service. If the veteran fails to apply within that 120-day window, he may still obtain VGLI coverage by submitting the application, initial premium payment, and proof of insurability within a year after the 120-day period ends.


Beneficiary Designation Under SGLI and VGLI


Beneficiary elections for SGLI and VGLI policies must be made in writing. For SGLI policies, the written beneficiary election must be received by the appropriate branch of the military prior to the servicemember's death; and for VGLI policies it must be received by the insurance program's administrative office prior to the veteran's death. Changes of beneficiary must also be made in writing and received by the appropriate office before the insured's death. These statutory beneficiary designation provisions are interpreted strictly. Under the law, strict compliance with these provisions is necessary to avoid the placement of undue administrative burdens upon private insurance carriers resulting from disputes concerning the actual donative intent of insured servicemen.


Federal law and federal regulations grant the service member an absolute right to designate the policy beneficiary. That right is personal to the member alone. Thus, a state law claim will be preempted by the laws governing denied SGLI claims and denied VGLI claims.


Distribution of SGLI and VGLI Policy Proceeds


The statutory scheme establishes a specific order of precedence for the distribution of the proceeds of a SGLI or VGLI policy. The proceeds of a policy are paid:


First, to the beneficiary or beneficiaries as the member or former member may have designated by a writing received prior to death (1) in the uniformed services if insured under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, or (2) in the administrative office, if separated or released from service, or if assigned to the Retired Reserve, and insured under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, or if insured under Veterans' Group Life Insurance;


Second, if there be no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower of such member or former member;


Third, if none of the above, to the child or children of such member or former member and descendants of deceased children by representation;


Fourth, if none of the above, to the parents of such member or former member or the survivor of them;


Fifth, if none of the above, to the duly appointed executor or administrator of the estate of such member or former member;


Sixth, if none of the above, to other next of kin of such member or former member entitled under the laws of domicile of such member or former member at the time of the insured s death.


Prudential may deny an SGLI claim for various reasons. If your SGLI claim has been denied, call our SGLI attorneys for a free consultation. Our SGLI lawyers are here to help. Call (888) 510-2212 now.



Call (888) 510-2212 for a free SGLI consultation.


[1] 38 U.S.C. Pt. II Ch. 19, §§ 1965 et seq.