SGLI System Upgrade Allows Troops to Make Changes at Home

U.S. sailors are now able to update their Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) information -- including beneficiaries and coverage amounts -- online, a major upgrade from the previous, old-fashioned method of working in person with their personnel office or through paper forms.

SGLI is a military-provided policy for active-duty troops and Guard and reservists. Service members are automatically enrolled for $400,000 in coverage, with a premium of $29 per month, or 7 cents per $1,000 of coverage. SGLI includes separate coverage, known as TSGLI, that provides a payout after a traumatic injury. The premium for that, $1 a month, is automatically added to the cost of SGLI. Service members can decline or decrease the coverage by filling out a form.

Troops can choose who will receive the payout if they are killed. If a married service member elects someone who is not their spouse or if they deny coverage altogether, the government is supposed to send a notification of the change to the spouse.

In the past, SGLI was updated only via a paper-based system or electronic records through troops' unit personnel offices. A hard copy form could be filled out and turned in, or the form could be electronically signed at the personnel office.

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The new Navy system, launched April 5, allows sailors to update SGLI on their own through a new Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Online Enrollment System (SOEC) using their DS login or a Common Access Card. The SGLI program is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Officials plan to open the online system to soldiers and airmen this summer and Marines in the fall. Members of the Coast Guard and commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Public Health Service will gain access by late 2017.

"Moving to an online, self-service system brings the SGLI program in line with current insurance industry best practices," Thomas Murphy, acting under secretary for benefits, said in a statement. "Now, the Navy and soon all of our nation's service members will be able to manage their coverage and beneficiaries online -- just like their private-sector counterparts."

The change does not affect how former troops enroll in Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI), which is managed through a different system, VA officials said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at