A Spouse’s Right to SGLI Benefits: Q&A

Q:        I am the surviving spouse of a deceased servicemember. Am I automatically entitled to the proceeds under his SGLI policy?

A:         No. You are entitled the proceeds of his SGLI policy is you are the beneficiary.

Q:        The insured servicemember and I married after his SGLI policy took effect. I was never named the beneficiary on the policy. Should the insurance company have informed me that someone else was designated beneficiary on my husband’s policy?

A:         No, the insurance company does not have the duty to inform you of the beneficiary designation if you had never been listed as a beneficiary on this SGLI.

Q:        After my husband and I got married, he named me the sole beneficiary on his SGLI policy. He later changed the beneficiary and made his mother the sole primary beneficiary. Should I have been notified of the change?

A:         Yes. Generally, a servicemember may change the designated beneficiary at any time and without the knowledge or consent of the previous beneficiary. However, if a married servicemember adds someone other than his spouse or child as a beneficiary, then the spouse must be notified of the change, unless the spouse was not previously listed as a beneficiary on the policy in question.

Q:        I am the surviving spouse of a deceased SGLI insured. My SGLI claim was denied. The insurance company said that my husband’s ex-wife was still the beneficiary on his policy. We lived in a state that has a statute that automatically revokes a former spouse as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. Does my husband’s ex-wife have any rights to the proceeds of his SGLI policy?

A:         Probably yes. Usually, state laws have no power to divert the proceeds of an SGLI policy away from the named beneficiary. Other factors, such as whether you were listed as a beneficiary in the past and their divorce decree may play a role. Please speak with an SGLI attorney regarding your particular case.

Q:        My SGLI claim is being delayed because of beneficiary dispute. What should I do?

A:         Your SGLI claim may be delayed for a number of reasons. If it is delayed due to a beneficiary dispute, you need to have an SGLI lawyer who will guide you through the process of beneficiary contest.

Q:        My husband had SGLI coverage at the time of his death. We lived in a community property state. His mother was always his designated beneficiary. Can I receive one-half of life insurance proceeds through the state community-property statute?

A:         Most likely no. Even though some state community-property statutes would ordinarily entitle widow to one-half of the life insurance death benefit, SGLI designation trumps any conflicting state laws. Please consult with an SGLI lawyer regarding the situation in your case.

Q:        The servicemember and I divorced in 2010. Our divorce decree obligated him to keep his SGLI coverage for the benefit of our minor daughter. He changed the beneficiary in 2013 and named his brother the only beneficiary. He died a year later. Does our daughter have a right to the SGLI benefits under the divorce decree?

A:         It depends on the language in the divorce decree. Usually, a state-law divorce decree has no power to divert the proceeds of SGLI policy away from the named beneficiary.

Here’s how we successfully handled a case where the insurer wrongfully denied our client the total amount of his SGLI claim.

If you or someone you know has issues with a denied or delayed SGLI claim, call us at 888-510-2212 for a free consultation.

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About the author

Attorney Tatiana Kadetskaya has over 10 years of experience in life insurance law representing beneficiaries and policy owners. She is best known for successfully collecting denied and delayed claims and settling complex beneficiary disputes and interpleader lawsuits.

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