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FAQ

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 year's earnings.

Can I get coverage for my spouse and children?

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 is required.

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 I have?

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 have decreased.

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 insurance.

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 jobs?

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 in 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:

  1. 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;

    and

  2. 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 employment.

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 age 65?

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:

Age Percent of Basic Coverage Continuing
Before age 65 100%
While age 65 75%
While age 66 50%
While age 67 and after 25%*

*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 I have?

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 is:
Basic 23 x $ 0.04 = $ .92
Supplemental 23 x 0.04 = .92
Additional - Unit 1 23 x 0.06 = 1.38
Additional - Unit 2 23 x 0.06 = 1.38
Additional - Unit 3 23 x 0.06 = 1.38
Spouse and Dependent         5.00
Total Employee Premium         $10.98

Her employer pays:
Basic 65.25% x $.92 = $ 0.60
Supplemental 37.25% x .92 = 0.34
Total Employer Premium         $ .94

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 Dismemberment benefit?

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 apply.

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 as follows:

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 Dependent coverage?

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 beneficiaries.

 

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