OPM starts first open season for federal group life insurance in 12 years

For the first time in 12 years, the Office of Personnel Management will hold an open season for eligible employees to sign up or choose from several types of co...

Starting Sept. 1, eligible federal employees will be able to sign up or choose from multiple types of coverage under the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program.

It’s the first time in 12 years that the Office of Personnel Management will hold a FEGLI open season.

The agency typically held a FEGLI open season once every five to eight years, Alan Spielman, assistant director for federal employee insurance operations at OPM, said during an Aug. 31 call with reporters. But OPM has been busy making major changes to some of its other insurance programs.

“The agency had to devote a lot of attention over the last few years to Self-Plus One enrollment category and changes to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, so we wanted to issue this open season this year as we’ve gotten over that priority,” Spielman said.

OPM had gotten several requests from agencies in the past to hold a FEGLI open season sooner, Spielman said. Eligible employees may notice that some FEGLI premiums are slightly different, he added, but the changes are not the reason for this year’s open season.

“We have wanted to do so for a while and haven’t had the wherewithal to make it happen,” Spielman said.

FEGLI open season runs from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30. Interested employees do not have to go through a medical exam or answer health questions to enroll in the program.

“This open season does provide an opportunity for those who had not taken advantage of any of those [coverage options] or did not want to go through the hassle of the medical underwriting or may not have been insurable under medical underwriting,” Spielman said. “We do think that employees should look hard at this, and if they haven’t reassessed their insurance before they should do so now.”

Eligible employees can work with their agency’s human resources office to make FEGLI elections. They can use the standard FEGLI election form 2817 or fill out an electronic version if their agency offers one.

An OPM spokesperson said it’s giving agency HR offices frequently asked questions, benefit administration letters and an informational video and flyer to help them manage this year’s open season.

Any elections that federal employees make during this open season won’t go into effect until the first pay period in October 2017.

“That’s necessary in a life insurance program to maintain the stability of the premium base,” Spielman said.

FEGLI participants thinking about retirement soon should also remember that they must hold their coverage for five years before they can carry it over to their retirement, OPM said.

Beneficiaries don’t need an open season to make some changes to their group life insurance coverage. They can cancel or cut back their insurance on their own, for example. Participants can also make changes at any time if they get married, go through a divorce or have a child.

The FEGLI program is one of OPM’s oldest benefit programs. It covers 4 million federal employees, annuitants and family members, 2.4 million of whom are active federal employees.

Roughly 146,000 people made an election for group life insurance during the last open season in 2004. OPM said it does not have an estimate as to how many eligible employees will sign up this year.

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