Returning troops should review insurance options

November 10, 2009

MID URGES RETURNING MILITARY PERSONNEL TO REVIEW INSURANCE OPTIONS

Service Personnel Should Ensure They, Their Families Maintain the Right
Coverage for Any Posting

Jackson, MS – As thousands of military personnel prepare to return from
deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming months, they should review
their insurance coverage to make certain that they and their families stay
protected no matter where they are, according to Mike Chaney, Mississippi
Commissioner of Insurance “With frequent moves and changes in deployment
status, members of the armed services face a unique situation when it comes
to insurance,” Chaney said. “By staying on top of their insurance options,
military personnel can make sure that they have the right coverage for any
situation, whether they are in Kabul, Afghanistan; Kirkuk, Iraq; or Jackson,
Mississippi.”
While broad insurance information can be found on the Mississippi Insurance
Department (MID) website, the department offers the following sample of tips
for those in the armed services to help with selecting their insurance
coverage.
Auto Insurance
· If you will be deployed for an extended period of time and no one
will be driving your vehicle, you may be able to suspend some of your auto
insurance coverage to save on premium payments. Not all states or insurance
companies allow for coverage to be suspended. Go to the MID Web site at
www.mid.state.ms.us for more information.
· If you want to suspend auto coverage, contact your agent and state
insurance department for the specific laws and policy limitations applicable
in your state. You may want to ask whether the following types of coverage
can be suspended while you are deployed: liability, collision,
uninsured/underinsured motorist, medical payments and personal injury
protection (PIP).
· Pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. §75-24-5 – An insurance company may
not issue a rate increase when reinstating an automobile policy if the
insured was called to active military service and cancelled or non-renewed
the policy due to activation. The vehicle must not have been used during the
time of cancellation/non-renewal for this provision to apply.
· In states that mandate automobile insurance coverage, you may need
to file an affidavit of non-use with your state’s department of motor
vehicles to avoid being fined for failure to maintain insurance.
Homeowners Insurance
· Many homeowners’ policies have a “vacancy clause” that may be
activated if you are deployed for an extended period of time and your family
has moved to a new location. Such policies might not pay claims if your
house is vacant for 60 days or more. Consult your insurance company to learn
how it defines “vacancy” and whether the claims for a vacant house will be
paid.
· To avoid future disputes, review your policy with your agent
before you leave for military duty. Also, make sure your policy limits are
sufficient to cover your home and your personal property at today’s costs.
Consider increasing your coverage if you have made additions or improvements
to your property.
Health Insurance
· Many reservists and National Guard members have health coverage
for themselves and their families through an employer-sponsored health plan.
Some may wish to continue that coverage, particularly for their dependents,
during their active duty period. Talk with your benefits administrator to
learn what will happen with your health coverage when called to active duty.

· If you are 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.
· Any person who is called to active military duty, upon
deactivation shall have their health insurance coverage resumed, including
any pre-existing condition covered, to that person and his or her dependents
pursuant to the provisions of Miss. Code Ann. §83-5-91.

Life Insurance
· Anyone who sells life insurance at military installations is
required to obtain permission from the Department of Defense 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 Service
members’ 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.
· Service members 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.
For more information about auto, home, life and health insurance options –
as well as tips for choosing the coverage that is right for military
personnel – visit the MID website at www.mid.state.ms.us. Consumers can also
visit www.InsureUonline.org or take the military insurance quiz at
www.insureuonline.org/quiz_military.htm .

Donna J. Cromeans
Public Relations Director
Mississippi Insurance Department