Deployment is hard enough without having to worry about your insurance coverage back home. If you're deploying soon, make sure that all of your insurance policies are up to date so that you won't come back to any surprises. You need to see your on-base counselor to determine if you have the right amount and right type of coverage.
In order to help you sort out your insurance needs before your deployment, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) issued the following tips to ensure that you and your military family members are protected while you're protecting the nation.
- If you've got a long stretch of deployment ahead of you and you know no one will drive your car during that time, try to suspend some of your auto insurance coverage to save on premium payments. Check to see if your state or auto insurer offers this option.
- If your state and insurer offer auto insurance suspension, double check your policy limitations and laws applicable in your state. Also, check to see if the following types of coverage can be suspended as well: liability, collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist, medical payments and personal injury protection.
- The NAIC advises that you file an affidavit of non-use with your state's department of motor vehicles to avoid being fined for failure to maintain insurance.
- Check to see if your homeowners policy has a 'vacancy clause.' This clause may not pay claims if your house is vacant for 60 days or more. It's best to consult your insurance company to see how they define the terms of this policy.
- Review your policy with your agent before you leave for your deployment, and make sure your policy limits are sufficient to cover your home and your personal property at today's costs. You may also want to consider increasing your coverage if you have made additions or improvements to your property.
- Many reservists and National Guard members have health coverage for themselves and their families through employer-sponsored health plans. Some may wish to continue that coverage, particularly for their dependents, during their active-duty period. Speak with your benefits administrator to learn what will happen with your health coverage when called to active duty.
- If you're on active duty for more than 30 days, you and your dependents should be covered by military health care. Dependents have medical and dental services provided through uniformed services facilities subject to availability and are eligible for health benefits from civilian sources through the federally funded TRICARE program, the triple option benefit plan available for military families, formerly known as CHAMPUS (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services).
- Your right to continue health coverage under an employment-based group health plan is covered by federal laws. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides health coverage continuation rights to employees and their families after an event such as reduction in employment hours. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is intended to minimize the disadvantages that occur when a person needs to be absent from civilian employment to serve in the uniformed services. Both COBRA and USERRA generally allow individuals called for active duty to continue coverage for themselves and their dependents under an employment-based group health plan for up to 24 months.
- Anyone who sells life insurance at military installations is required to obtain permission from the Department of Defense (DoD) to be an authorized solicitor. When dealing with an agent, ask to see permits and licenses to be sure you are dealing with a legitimate agent.
- Currently, many private insurance carriers do not offer coverage for Acts of War. Military personnel are provided some death benefits, but may purchase a limited amount of additional coverage through the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI), a low-cost group life insurance program that includes benefits for death resulting from Acts of War. Be sure you understand the benefits paid by the policy if you were to die in a war zone or were to be killed through an act of war. If you purchase an individual military-focused policy, check with your agent to make sure it does not duplicate coverage for your family that could be obtained elsewhere.
- Servicemembers can contact their Flight, Payroll or Finance Office for further details on premium payment and refund issues. Service members and their beneficiaries should contact the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (OSGLI) for pending claims.