If you are called to active duty and are covered by the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program, you are entitled to continue that coverage for 12 months at no cost to yourself. Now, under the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2008, you will able to continue your coverage for an additional 12 months. However, if you want to continue that coverage, you’ll have to pay both your own and your agency’s share of those insurance premiums for Basic coverage, and all the premiums for any Optional insurance you may have.

It’s the responsibility of your agency to give you the opportunity to elect that coverage for an additional 12 months. If you decide to do so, you’ll have to indicate that on the notice they send you and return it to your employing office before the end of your first 12 months in a nonpay status. If you are still on active duty when the second 12 months expires, you will be given a 31-day extension of coverage at no charge to yourself. During that time you can, if you wish, convert to an individual policy.

That same 31-day extension of coverage will be given to those who wish to cancel their coverage before the 12 months are over, those who elect that coverage but fail to pay the premiums, and those who decide not to elect the 12-month extension of coverage in the first place.

If you elect to be covered during the second 12 months and then decide to either reduce or stop that coverage, you’ll have to notify your agency by sending them a completed copy of Standard Form 2817, Life Insurance Election. To download a copy, go to www.opm.gov and click on Forms.

I’m sure that those of you who were called to active duty and at the end of 12 months converted to an individual policy wonder if you are eligible for this new benefit. Unfortunately, the answer is no. The new provision isn’t retroactive. It applies only to someone called to active duty that is currently covered by FEGLI.