The United States has called more than 220,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves to active duty this year.
That figure means that more than 200,000 Americans have expanded term life benefits from the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program.
Even many financial advisors who work near military bases say they know little about the SGLI program, although participating in the program can lead to long-lasting changes in a clients life coverage.
“There probably is a need for [advisors] to be educated about these benefits,” says Charles Strang, director of the SGLI program.
Coming home from a long stint of reserve duty may not be as important a life event as getting married or having a baby, but it is a good reason to conduct a thorough review of life insurance needs and benefits, Strang says.
Congress established the SGLI program in 1965 to replace an older military life insurance program. The office that Strang runs, a Livingston, N.J.-based unit of Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J., collects about $500 million in premium revenue per year to insure the plan and administer it.
The SGLI program provides limited coverage for reservists who spend little time training with their units or serving on active duty.
Reservists who train regularly or go on active duty receive more comprehensive SGLI benefits.
“It doesnt really take a lot of energy” to get full coverage, says Willie Alexander, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “The active-duty folks are automatically enrolled unless they choose not to be.”