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Army Lawyer

ARTICLE: What Every Soldier and Legal Assistance Attorney Should Know about Servicemembers Group Life Insurance

November, 2006

2006 Army Law. 42


Captain Wojciech Z. Kornacki 1


President Abraham Lincoln promised servicemembers and veterans "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan." 2 Today, federal law mandates the uniformed services educate servicemembers about the benefits of Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). 3 Further, U.S. Department of Defense Directive 1341.3 establishes that the uniformed services must cooperate with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs regarding servicemembers' SGLI benefits. 4 This article describes what Soldiers and legal assistance attorneys (LAAs) should know about SGLI. The first part describes SGLI in the context of other types of life insurance policies available on the U.S. market. The second part examines SGLI's gradual expansion by analyzing its legislative history and addresses recent changes affecting SGLI. The third part focuses on counseling Soldiers on beneficiary designations and applies lessons learned from beneficiary designation caselaw to SGLI counseling for servicemembers. On 29 September 2005, SGLI celebrated its fortieth birthday. As SGLI continues to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of the servicemembers, it is essential that servicemembers and LAAs understand the new developments.

Part I. What Kind of Life Insurance Policy Is SGLI?

Servicemembers Group Life Insurance is a group life insurance policy. 5 A group life insurance policy is provided for certain populations of individuals who share similar characteristics. Modern examples of group policies include labor unions, professional associations, or trade groups. 6 Servicemembers Group Life Insurance automatically insures against death of any member of the uniformed services on active ...
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