NU Online News Service, April 8, 2004, 6:05 p.m. EDT, Washington – Members of Congress want to know if soldiers are going into combat underinsured because of life application processing delays.[@@]

In a letter to the U.S. General Accounting Office, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., along with 2 colleagues, are asking for an examination of Defense Department policies and procedures for processing supplemental life applications.

The letter lists several concerns regarding the issue of supplemental life insurance.

“Specifically,” the letter says, “we have learned that hundreds of military personnel who purchased supplemental life insurance policies are, in fact, not covered by these policies because the Army allegedly failed to process the required paperwork.”

The letter says the problem appears to be most evident at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Lewis in Washington.

“We further understand that some of the servicemen and women who purchased these policies, believing they have insurance coverage, have been deployed to ?hot spots’ around the world,” the letter says.

In addition to Hunter and Davis, those signing the letter include Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.

Heather Eilers-Bowser, director of federal relations for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va., notes that a proposal has been pending at the Defense Department that would prevent insurance agents from doing business on military bases.

NAIFA has fought that proposal, arguing that it would not only set a dangerous precedent for the insurance industry but also would interfere with the rights of men and women in uniform to make informed personal financial decisions, Eilers-Bowser says.

Although the Defense Department has not taken any actions to implement the proposal, Eilers-Bowser says, there appear to be efforts by the military to prevent hundreds of commercial life insurance policies purchased by soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from being processed.

Some commanding officers, she says, seem to be putting themselves in the place of financial advisors even though they have a complete misunderstanding of financial services.

Some soldiers may have been forced to drop their supplement life insurance, Eilers-Bowser says. If that is true, she says, that is unconscionable.