Frequently Asked Questions
Group Life Insurance
Who is eligible for life insurance coverage?
Most permanent full-time and part-time employees who have participated
in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) for at least six months
are eligible for coverage. Employees of local governments who are
covered under a private retirement system and whose employer has
filed a resolution to offer coverage may also be covered.
When can I enroll?
You have an open enrollment opportunity if you complete and submit
an application to your employer within 30 days of the date you are
first eligible. For most employees, this is within 30 days following
the date that you have been covered under the WRS for six months.
You may also enroll for one level of coverage or increase your coverage
by one level if you gain a dependent. The event can be due to marriage,
establishment of a domestic partnership as defined Wis. Stats. 40.02(21d)
or the birth, adoption, placement for adoption, or award of legal
guardianship of a dependent child. An application must be submitted
to your employer within 30 days of the family status
change event. Enrollment is subject to the plan maximum (5 levels
of coverage) or, if employed by a local government, is subject to
the plans that are made available by your employer. If you do not
enroll during your open enrollment period, or within 30 days of
a family status change event, you must submit an Evidence
of Insurability form (ET-2305) to the insurer, Securian Financial Group.
How much coverage is available?
If you are a state employee, you may choose insurance
coverage of up to 5 times your prior year earnings. The Basic and
Supplemental insurance plans each provide coverage equal to 1 times
earnings rounded to the next higher $1,000. The Additional plan
provides coverage of 1, 2 or 3 times earnings.
If you are a local government employee, the amount
of coverage available depends on which plans (Basic, Supplemental,
Additional, Spouse and Dependent) your employer offers.
All employees must elect Basic coverage in order
to elect Supplemental, Additional, or Spouse and Dependent coverage.
Coverage on the life of the employee includes an Accidental Death,
Dismemberment and Loss of Use benefit.
If you are a newly hired employee, your amount of insurance for
each level of coverage will be based on an estimate of your earnings
for the next 12 months as determined by your employer. Estimated
insurance amounts remain in effect until you have been employed
for one full calendar year. Once you have been employed for a full
calendar year, the amount of insurance will be based upon your prior
Can I get coverage for my spouse and
Spouse and dependent coverage is available to state employees and
local government employees whose employer offers the coverage. “Spouse”
includes a domestic partner who meets the definition of domestic
partner in Wis. Stats. 40.02(21d) and for whom the employee has
submitted an Affidavit for
Domestic Partnership (ET-2371) with ETF. Employees may enroll
for 1 or 2 units of coverage. Each unit of Spouse and Dependent
coverage provides $10,000 of coverage for a spouse and $5,000 for
each dependent child. Your open enrollment opportunity occurs when
you are initially eligible to enroll for coverage on yourself, if
at that time you have a spouse, domestic partner, or dependent child
to insure. If you do not have qualified individuals at the time
you are initially eligible, you may later obtain spouse and dependent
coverage by filing an application within 30 days of the date you
first have a spouse, domestic partner or dependent. If you did not
enroll when you first had a spouse, domestic partner, or child to
insure, and want to add coverage at a later date, evidence of insurability
What are the requirements for coverage
to be in effect?
There are two requirements for coverage to be in effect: 1) a valid
application must be on file; and 2) premiums must be paid when due.
How can I find out how much coverage
If you are an active employee, your employer can tell you how much
coverage you have. You should also check your pay stubs and statements
of fringe benefits to be sure that appropriate premiums are being
deducted since coverage lapses after 60 days if premiums are not
paid. You may also contact ETF with questions regarding group life
insurance coverage at our local Madison phone number (608) 266-3285,
via our toll-free number (877) 533-5020 or by e-mail.
Can I decrease the amount of coverage
that I have?
The amount of coverage that you have is always based on your previous
year's earnings. When your earnings increase, the amount of coverage
that you have for each level will increase. However, you may decrease
coverage by canceling one or more levels of coverage. If you cancel
coverage, you may reenroll only by submitting an Evidence
of Insurability form (ET-2305). In limited circumstances, you
may reduce your coverage amount if your previous calendar year earnings
Does the policy build cash value?
No. This is term insurance with no cash or loan value. However,
if you have a serious medical condition, you may qualify for Living
Benefits. In addition, if you are retired and have an ETF-sponsored
health or long-term care insurance plan, you may convert your life
insurance coverage to pay premiums for health or long-term care
What if I take a leave of absence without
pay from my job?
You may continue your coverage during an approved leave of absence
by paying premiums to your employer in advance. Otherwise, coverage
will lapse, and you will only be eligible to reapply for coverage
if and when you return to work.
What if I become disabled?
If you go on unpaid medical leave or terminate employment due to
a disability which is total and permanent or of unknown
duration, your group coverage can be continued without any premium
payments. Contact your employer to obtain more information about
submitting a Request for Disability
Premium Waiver (ET-5306).
Can I keep this insurance if I change
If you move to a different participating Wisconsin public employer
who offers coverage through the Wisconsin Public Employers Group
Life Insurance program, you will be eligible to enroll for coverage
at your new job. If you change jobs within state service (state
service includes all UW campuses, state governmental
agencies and legislative offices, as well as the agencies listed
Wis. Stat. 40.02 (54)) the coverage that you had at your previous
job will transfer to your new employment.
What happens to my insurance when
I terminate employment or retire?
You may continue to pay for your Basic, Supplemental and Additional
coverage until you reach age 65 if you meet the following requirements:
- Your WRS coverage began before January 1, 1990, or you have
been covered by the group life insurance plan in five calendar
years beginning January 1, 1990;
- You qualify under one of the following situations:
- You are receiving an immediate WRS annuity or meet all of
the requirements for receiving an immediate WRS annuity except
the filing of an application; or
- The sum of the years of your creditable service in the WRS
on January 1, 1990 plus your years of group life insurance
coverage after 1989 equals 20 years; or
- You have 20 years of service on payroll with your last employer.
The amount of your insurance and your premiums will be the same
as prior to your termination. If you begin a WRS annuity within
31 days after your coverage terminates, your insurance will be continued
for you automatically and premiums will be deducted from your annuity.
If you do not begin an annuity, you must file a Continuation
Notice (ET-2154) with ETF within 31 days of the date coverage
terminates. If you continue your insurance until you reach age 65,
a reduced amount of Basic coverage will continue for your lifetime.
Spouse and Dependent coverage cannot be continued when you terminate
Even if you do not meet the requirements to continue group coverage,
you will be eligible to convert your coverage to an individual policy
with the insurer, Securian Financial Group, if you are insured for the six
full months before group coverage ends. Coverage for your spouse
or dependent child can also be converted.
How much insurance will I have after
A reduced amount of Basic coverage will continue for your lifetime
if you meet the service requirements. Spouse and Dependent coverage
cannot be continued when you retire. The amount of Basic insurance
after age 65 is as follows:
||Percent of Basic Coverage Continuing
|Before age 65
|While age 65
|While age 66
|While age 67 and after
*Applies only to employees of local government employers. Local
government employers, however, may elect a continuation of 50% of
the Basic coverage if they agree to make the increased employer
contributions. State employee coverage continues at the 50% rate
from age 66 and after.
I continued my life insurance coverage
when I retired, but now I'm returning to work. What coverage will
When you return to WRS-covered employment and elect to participate
in the WRS, you may choose between retaining your annuitant coverage
or enrolling for active coverage, based on your age and the plans
your employer offers.
How much does the insurance cost?
Your age on the renewal date of the plan determines the premium
rate used to calculate your monthly cost of insurance. The renewal
date of the plan is March 1 of each year if you are a state employee
and July 1 of each year if you are a local government employee.
If you are a state employee, your employer also contributes an
additional 65.25 percent of the employee Basic premium and an additional
37.25 percent of the employee Supplemental rate. There is no employer
contribution for Additional or Spouse and Dependent coverage.
Local government employers who elect to provide continued post
retirement coverage at the 50 percent-of-Basic level pay an additional
40 percent of the employee Basic rate. All other employers pay an
additional 20 percent of the employee Basic rate to provide post
retirement coverage at the 25 percent-of-Basic level. No employer
contribution is required of local government employers for Supplemental,
Additional, or Spouse and Dependent coverage.
Example: Alice, a state employee is age 36 and earned
$22,378 last year. She is enrolled for Basic, Supplemental and 3
units of Additional coverage, plus two units of Spouse and Dependent
coverage. Her coverage is $23,000 x 5 = $115,000.
|Her monthly premium
|Additional - Unit 1
|Additional - Unit 2
|Additional - Unit 3
|Spouse and Dependent
|Total Employee Premium
|Her employer pays:
|Total Employer Premium
When will the policy pay benefits?
Death benefits for Basic, Supplemental and Additional coverage
are payable to your beneficiary upon your death from any cause if
coverage is in force on the date of death.
Death benefits from Spouse and Dependent coverage are payable to
you upon the death of your spouse or dependent.
Benefits may also be paid during your lifetime under several different
policy provisions. If you have a serious medical condition, you
may qualify for Living Benefits that allow you to receive all or
part of the value of your life insurance while still living if you
meet certain requirements. In addition, if you are retired and have
an ETF-sponsored health or long-term care insurance plan, you may
convert your life insurance coverage to pay premiums for health
or long-term care insurance.
What are Living Benefits?
Insured persons, including employees, annuitants, spouses and dependents,
may apply to receive all or part of the value of their life insurance
coverage while still living if they meet certain conditions. The
minimum benefit that may be requested is $5,000 (or the whole value
of the insurance, if less). Any value remaining at death will be
paid to your beneficiary(ies), or to you if the coverage is the
Spouse and Dependent plan. For more information, see the Living
Benefits brochure (ET-2327).
What is the Accidental Death and
Accidental Death, Dismemberment and Loss of Use benefits are payable
upon accidental death or covered accidental injury provided the
coverage is in force on the date of death or injury. The amount
of coverage is equal to the total amount of your insurance under
the Basic, Supplemental and Additional coverages. Some exclusions
Who is my beneficiary?
You may designate a beneficiary or change your beneficiary at any
time by completing a Beneficiary
Designation (ET-2320). Separate Beneficiary Designation
forms may be filed for WRS retirement and life insurance benefits.
Benefits will be paid according to the last beneficiary designation
on file with ETF at the time of your death. If you do not designate
a beneficiary or if the designated beneficiaries are not living
at the time of your death, the sequence of beneficiaries will be
Group 1. Surviving spouse or domestic partner.
Group 2. Children (natural or legally adopted).
If one of your children dies before you, that child’s share
is divided between your deceased child’s children. The beneficiaries
in Group 2 will include all of your marital and non-marital children
(or grandchildren, when applicable) as long as any relevant paternity
is established, regardless of whether your child’s date
of birth is before or after your date of death.
Group 3. Grandchildren. If one of your grandchildren
dies before you, that grandchild’s share is divided between
your deceased grandchild’s children.
Group 4. Parent(s)
Group 5. Brother(s) and Sister(s). If one of
your siblings dies before you, that sibling’s share is divided
between your deceased sibling’s children.
Group 6. If there are no survivors in Groups
1 though 5, any death benefits will be paid to your estate.
Who is the beneficiary for my Spouse and
You (the insured employee) are the beneficiary in the event of
the death of your spouse/domestic partner or dependent child. In
the case of simultaneous death of you and your spouse/domestic partner
or dependent child, payment will be made to your estate.
My dependents are not named on the life
insurance application. How does the insurer know who's covered?
When a Notice of Death of
Spouse or Dependent Child (ET-6303) is received by ETF, it is
forwarded to the insurer, Securian Financial Group, who will contact the potential
beneficiary(ies) to obtain the necessary documentation to prove
dependent status and process the death claim.
How do I file an insurance claim?
If you are aware of an insured member's death, contact ETF with
the information. ETF will forward the information to Securian Financial Group,
the insurer, who will then send the appropriate forms to potential