CONSUMER ALERT: Insurance Protections for Service Members

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March 23, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Insurance can be confusing to navigate. However, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides some protections for military service members navigating health and life insurance.

Military members given active duty orders are automatically transferred to the military health care plan called TRICARE and often cancel their previous coverage. But under the SCRA, there is a 120-day window to request reinstatement after returning from active duty. In most instances the insurance can be reinstated without loss of benefits, waiting periods or penalties.

Life insurance is also protected under the SCRA. The Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program provides some coverage, but supplemental coverage by private providers may also be purchased. Private providers cannot terminate coverage or require payment of additional premiums for military service members, except for increases in premiums based on the individual’s age in individual term insurance. An insurer also cannot restrict coverage for any activity required by military service. Military members are protected against lapse, termination and forfeiture for nonpayment during service and for two additional years thereafter.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released today’s consumer alert to educate active duty service members and their families about these protections under the SCRA.

“The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act takes great strides in protecting those men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This law provides protections against financial hardships for active duty military service members, including reduced interest rates on loans, eviction prevention, lease cancellation and more. It is important that these brave men and women know their rights and the many resources that are available to them.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for military service members to consider when shopping for insurance:

  • Shop around. Get quotes from several companies to ensure a fair price, but make sure to compare offers at similar coverage levels. The price will increase as more options and benefits are added to a policy.
  • Ask each company how they handle issues that could come up during a deployment.
  • Research each company to make sure they are financially strong and provide a level of customer service that is comfortable for you.

The SCRA also allows military service members who are called to active duty to suspend any professional liability insurance by a written request to the insurance carrier. Premiums are not paid during active duty, and the service member has 30 days to request reinstatement.

Arkansas military service members, veterans and families should file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on Nov. 4, 2014, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office.

Rutledge, a native of Batesville, Arkansas, is a graduate of Southside High School, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She began her legal career as Clerk for Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Josephine Hart, now Associate Justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court. She was appointed Deputy Counsel for Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and later served as Legal Counsel on the Mike Huckabee for President Campaign. She served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and in subsequent service as Attorney for the State of Arkansas’s Division of Children and Family Services. She also served as Deputy Counsel at the National Republican Congressional Committee before joining the Republican National Committee as Counsel. Prior to her election as Attorney General, she founded and practiced law at The Rutledge Firm, PLLC. Rutledge lives in Little Rock.

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