The August 11, 2016, chat with GEHA President Julie Browne about GEHAtotal products has concluded. The transcript is available below and will remain online for several weeks.

Click here to be the first to know when GEHA’s Life Insurance, Short-Term Income Protection or Accident Expense Protection products are available.

Please keep in mind that the answers provided during this chat were based on general information. More precise information related to your individual situation will be provided when you complete your application. The Plan Description is the authority for all questions about the coverages being offered by GEHA. You will be able to review the entire Plan Description once gehatotal.com is live.


Davis, California I would like to start by saying that I am very interested in a product like GEHAtotal short-term income protection regardless of the answer to this question because as a new employee, I feel vulnerable without any accrued sick-leave and no short-term disability insurance. My question is, would the GEHAtotal short-term income protection cover maternity leave and/or problems that might arise during pregnancy? If so, would there be a waiting period? And how long would someone need to be enrolled before using a pregnancy related benefit? Finally, how long do you think it will be, before the GEHAtotal products becomes available to federal employees?
Julie Browne:

GEHAtotal Short-Term Income Protection provides complete coverage for pregnancy, the same as any other illness. There is no waiting period for eligibility for this or any GEHAtotal benefit; once you are approved for coverage, your coverage takes effect immediately. The plan does have a limitation if your disabling condition is pre-existing. "Pre-existing" means that you were treated for that condition in the six months before coverage was effective. If you have a claim for a pre-existing condition in the first year you are covered, the plan limits the benefit payout to a maximum of four weeks.

All income protection (also known as "disability") plans also have what is called an "elimination period." The "elimination period" is like a deductible, but instead of being measured in dollars, it's measured in days. So, if you choose a plan with a 30-day elimination period, that means that no benefits are payable during the first 30 days you are unable to work.

GEHAtotal offers you many different elimination period options; choose the one that best fits your personal situation (for example, consider how much sick or annual leave you have accumulated, and how far your savings would take you.)


Chicago, Illinois (GEHA High Option): What are the limits on life insurance as far as coverage amounts, age requirements and term years?
Julie Browne: The coverage limit for our Life plan is the lesser of seven times your annual salary or $600,000.  You can continue coverage up to age 100 but it must initially be purchased while you are an active federal employee.   

Question: If I’m in a car accident and my auto insurance covers everything, will you still pay?
Julie Browne: Yes. None of these plans are affected by other insurance, such as auto insurance.

Annapolis, Maryland (Connection Dental Plus, Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) Standard): Will these new services be available to DOD civilians at the Naval Academy? What is the cost associated with the Short-Term Income Protection and Accident Expense Protection? How can we find more information on these services?
Julie Browne: Yes, DOD civilians are eligible to purchase all GEHAtotal products. You can find out more about these products, and sign-up for an email to let you know when they are available on our website.  When the GEHAtotal website goes live, we'll walk you through some questions to help you determine how much insurance (if any) you might want to consider, and then we adjust our costs to your specific personal needs and circumstances.  It only takes a few minutes; there is no obligation; and nobody will call you or pressure you to buy anything.   

Canton, Ohio (GEHA Standard Option): I think GEHA should concentrate on keeping medical/dental/eye care rates low and also adding more services rather than delving into new "products". There are enough insurance agencies out there.
Julie Browne:

We are as committed as ever to providing you with the best value in medical and dental coverage. We will never lose our focus on that part of our mission. To that end, the staff members who will provide service for GEHAtotal products is separate from our medical and dental operations.

We couldn't agree more: There are enough insurance agencies out there! That's why we built GEHAtotal the way we did. We cut out the insurance agent, which not only saves big money, but also takes the pressure off.

You can purchase these insurance products directly from us online, which keeps our costs down. We are not-for-profit, so we don't have to charge extra to cover that cost, and it also means we are not interested in "overselling" products -- if you don't need it, we won't push it on you.

Finally, launching these insurance products further fulfills GEHA's mission to provide "products and services that help members protect their families." GEHA exists solely to meet the needs of civilian federal employees, and we designed these products and services to meet your specific needs. All this adds up to a unique value that doesn't exist today in the insurance marketplace.


St. Louis, Missouri Is there a minimum period of time the life insurance must be carried prior to retirement?
Julie Browne: No. 

Boston, Massachusetts (GEHA Standard Option, Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) Standard): Is the Life Insurance guaranteed coverage or must you be a new employee?
Julie Browne: Federal employees in their first 60 days of employment are eligible for up to $100,000 in guaranteed issue Life coverage.  All other Life coverage will require completion of our online enrollment questions.  However, these generally take no more than 15 minutes to complete and you'll receive an immediate decision.   

Mandan, North Dakota (GEHA Standard Option): How does your short-term income protection rates and coverage compare to the Fed Advantage product?
Julie Browne: You should expect to find our rates very competitive.  Additionally, we don't include typical offsets in our plan such as reducing for sick pay, state disability or social security benefits.  We also offer four elimination period options that allow you to customize your coverage. 

Idaho Falls, Idaho On the short term disability will it matter if the person is using sick leave or advanced sick leave and still getting paid?
Julie Browne: Sick leave does not affect the benefit received through our Short-Term Income Protection plan.  However, you may want to take your available sick leave into account when selecting among the elimination period options that are available as this will allow you to customize your coverage to meet your needs and potentially lower your premium.     

Question: What are the circumstances for making a claim for short-term income protection? What hoops will I have to jump through?
Julie Browne: We make this easy, too. First, you just call the toll-free number and talk to a claims representative, who will ask you some questions, and then provide you with further instructions on how to complete your claim.

One thing we will require at claim time is a form SF-50, signed by your HR representative. Also, for most claims, you will need to have your attending physician complete a claim statement. The claims representative will give you those instructions and the necessary form when you call.

Once your claim is approved, we may ask you or your doctor to provide updates from time to time.

Question: I don’t know how much life insurance or income protection I should buy. Are there any resources that would help me with that?
Julie Browne: As described earlier, our website will have a great tool to help you determine your life insurance and income protection needs. It’s personalized, based on your specific financial and life situation. You can do the needs assessment anonymously, and you don’t even have to buy from us to get that helpful information. (Click here to be the first to know when GEHAtotal products are available.)

Harker Heights, Texas (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) Standard): How long does the Life policy lasts. ......10 years or life of the policy
Julie Browne: GEHAtotal Life insurance operates like other group-based term life insurance. In this case, the "term" is not a set period of time, but is the term of your federal civilian employment. If you leave federal civilian employment, coverage ends at that time. The one exception is if you leave federal employment as an annuitant, in which case you can carry your coverage into retirement.

Question: I have GEHA medical insurance. Will my claims history affect my ability to get these new products?
Julie Browne:
No. We do not look at your medical claims when determining whether to offer coverage for these products.

Question: Are these products approved or sponsored by OPM?
Julie Browne:
These products are not sponsored by OPM or endorsed or approved by the federal government.

Question: Is Open Season for these products the same as Open Season for health and dental?
Julie Browne:
There is no Open Season for these products. You can sign up any time!


Question: My agency allows us to donate sick leave to others. Why should I buy short-term income protection?
Julie Browne: Short-term income protection (STIP) provides a level of assurance that you will be able to keep income flowing while you are disabled. Every agency has their own policy regarding sick leave banks, so we cannot comment on whether your agency’s bank would be sufficient to cover your needs. But if you have GEHA STIP, you can rest assured that you have the right coverage and not have to count on the kindness of others.

Question: FEGLI has an Open Season coming in September. Why shouldn’t I just wait for that?
Julie Browne: Great question! FEGLI Open Seasons are extremely rare – the last one was 14 years ago. FEGLI Open Season means you don’t have to submit proof of good health to sign up for more coverage. That’s a great thing.

The downside is that you will have to wait an entire year before your new coverage takes effect. If you sign up for GEHAtotal life insurance today, you won’t have to wait. As soon as your application is approved, you are covered.

Our application is really quite painless! You can do it all online, and you never have to go through a medical exam, or lab tests, or even ask your doctor to provide a medical statement.

Another reason to consider GEHAtotal life insurance is that FEGLI Option B has a cap of five times your annual salary. For many people, maxing out your FEGLI still doesn’t provide enough life insurance protection. GEHAtotal can supplement this and help you close that gap.

Location: Why should I buy these products from GEHA instead of another insurance company?
Julie Browne:

You’ve learned to trust GEHA for your health and dental benefits. We will bring the same level of care to life, accident and income protection. GEHA is not-for-profit. We don’t pay agent commissions. And our entire process to apply for and receive coverage can be done online. Add all of this up, and those cost savings offer a tremendous value for our members. Taking care of our members and their families is, and always has been, our chief priority.

Click here to learn more about these products.


Charleston, South Carolina (GEHA Standard Option): What is the difference between Short Term Income Protection and Short Term Disability Insurance?
Julie Browne: Short-Term Income Protection and Short-Term Disability are two names for the same thing.  We chose to call it "income protection" because we think that better describes the purpose of the coverage.  But there's more to coverage than just the name; be sure you look at what the coverage does (and doesn't) do.  One big difference between GEHAtotal Short-Term Income Protection and many other group-based short-term disability policies is that we don't have "offsets" for other sources of income, such as Social Security, pension benefits, other disability policies, or cash sickness benefits.

Question: I don’t understand the "elimination period" on short-term income protection? What is that, and how do I choose the right one for me?
Julie Browne:
We get that question a lot.  The "elimination period" (EP) is the amount of time that you wait after your become disabled before your benefits start to accrue. So if you have a 30 day EP, your benefits will begin accruing on the 31st day you are disabled. It’s like a deductible, but instead of being dollars, it’s measured in days.

To select the right EP, first look at how much sick leave you have available to you. If you’ve got 60 days of sick leave, you might choose a 60 day EP, so that when your sick leave runs out, your income replacement benefit kicks in. Of course, if you’ve got additional savings that you could tap into, you could extend the EP further – maybe you could get by without a paycheck for 90 days. On the other hand, if you don’t want to use up all your sick leave, you might choose a 30 day EP. That way, when you get back to work, you’ve still got some sick leave in the "bank."

Chula Vista, California (GEHA High Option, Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Can I add my live-in girlfriend, based on domestic partnership coverage?  We've been together for 7 years and have a child together who is also on my coverage.
Julie Browne: Yes, we cover domestic partners the same as spouses. You must either (a) provide an affidavit establishing that you and your partner are domestic partners, or (b) provide proof that you have registered as domestic partners with the applicable government agency or office, if such registration is available.

Question: Are you going to sell long-term disability insurance?
Julie Browne: Although we are not currently offering long-term disability (LTD) coverage, we are planning to offer it in the future.

Pollock Pines, California (GEHA Standard Option): Why is GEHA branching out into life insurance and accident insurance? I fear the distraction from your core health insurance will result in a lowering of the excellent customer service and great products you now offer.
Julie Browne:

GEHA's mission includes providing "products and services that help members protect their families." These new products help us grow into that mission. Earning the trust our members put in us to protect their medical and dental health is, and will continue to be, our primary focus. Below GEHA's executive management level, GEHAtotal services are staffed separately from our medical and dental services.


Detroit, Michigan (GEHA HDHP Option): Will short term income protection be pretax?
Julie Browne: Premiums are paid with after-tax dollars. However, any benefits you receive are not taxable. 

Olalla, Washington (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): I am a retired Government worker. Will I be eligible for any of your options?
Julie Browne:
No. Eligibility for these products requires that the member be an active federal employee at the time of initial purchase.  

Please note, however, that for Life Insurance a member can extend coverage into retirement up to age 100.  For Short-Term Income Protection and Accident Expense, coverage ends at age 70 or retirement -- whichever comes first.

Albia, Iowa (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Will the life insurance be available for spouses or children of the federal employee?
Julie Browne:

Yes, life insurance protection can be purchased for spouses and/or children.  As a federal civilian employee, you must first purchase life coverage on yourself.  During Open Season, we are making spouse and/or child coverage available to anyone who enrolls.  After Open Season ends (December 12, 2016), you can only purchase spouse and/or child coverage if you have a covered "life event", such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, etc. 

Coverage amounts available to spouses are either $25,000 or $50,000 (but not more than you elect for yourself).  If you elect child coverage, every child in your family will have $15,000 in coverage.  You pay one rate for child coverage no matter how many children you have.


Question: I’d like to do some research on these before I buy. What’s the best way to do that?
Julie Browne:
When our website goes live, you'll see it's chock-full of good information about these products in general, and our products in particular. One of the cool features of our website is a needs-assessment tool that helps you determine how much insurance you really need. For more information about these products and to get an email so you can be among the first to know when these products are available, sign-up for an email alert at GEHA's website

Because we are not-for-profit, we won’t push you to buy more coverage than you need. We just give you our best recommendation, based on your personal situation, following guidelines from experts in the field.

If you want to learn even more about life or disability insurance, without having to sit through a sales pitch from an agent or broker, lifehappens.org is a great, independent source of information.

Essevilee, Michigan Is there a waiting period? Will it come out of our paychecks like a deduction ?
Julie Browne: There is no waiting period...once you have signed up and paid your first premium, you are covered. Premiums can be paid automatically by direct bank account deductions or credit card, or manually by check.  In the future, we expect to also offer you the ability to use an allotment if you would like to have premiums payroll deducted.

Question: Life insurance seems simple – if I die, you pay the benefit. Is there more to it than that?
Julie Browne:
Yes, much more! We have added several important benefits, which are on top of – in addition to – the basic life benefit:
  • Accidental death benefit – also called “double indemnity” – which pays an additional death benefit, equal to your face amount, if you die as the result of an accident.
  • Other serious loss from an accident – such as loss of a limb, or paraplegia, or loss of sight.
  • Seat belt: if you die in a car accident while wearing a seat belt.
  • Air bag: if you die in a car accident, are properly buckled in, and the air bag deploys.
  • Rehabilitation: reimburses you for these expenses relating to a covered loss.
  • Therapeutic counseling: reimbursement for these expenses following a covered loss.
  • Adaptive equipment: reimbursement for these modifications to your home or vehicle relating to a covered loss.
  • Repatriation: this helps to offset the cost of returning your remains in the event you die while out of your home state or even out of the country.
While not an additional benefit, we also include an Accelerated death benefit: if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, we pay up to the lesser of $250,000 or 80% of the face amount, in advance, while you are still alive.

Question: How much life insurance can I buy?
Julie Browne: As a federal employee, you can buy any amount from $25,000 to $600,000, in increments of $25,000, to a maximum of 7 times your annual salary.

You can also purchase coverage for your spouse/domestic partner and/or children. Spouse/partner coverage options are $25,000 or $50,000, not to exceed the amount you selected for yourself. The benefit for children is $15,000 per child.

You can purchase spouse or child coverage only during our initial enrollment period (which ends December 12, 2016), or within 31 days of a major life event.

Cincinnati, Ohio (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Can you get this insurance for family members but non-GEHA members?
Julie Browne: Life coverage is available to members, their partners and children while short-term income protection is available to members only. Accident coverage can be purchased for yourself and your family. 

Question: This is sold over the internet. Is there any way I can talk to a person?
Julie Browne:
Absolutely! We will have friendly and helpful representatives ready and able to answer questions and provide assistance. To be among the first to know when these products are available, you can sign-up for an email alert at GEHA's website.


Question: How does short-term income protection work?
Julie Browne: The basic purpose of short-term income protection (STIP) is to insure your most important asset: your ability to earn a paycheck. It pays you in the event that you are unable to work due to a disability.

You choose the amount of coverage you want, in increments of $100 (weekly benefit). The minimum benefit is $300, and the maximum is $1,500 per week, but not more than 60% of your salary.

The benefit is non-taxable – you keep every penny – and we don’t reduce your benefit for things like Social Security, FERS disability annuity, or other disability coverage you might have.

Most group disability programs “offset” those benefits against your disability, which means you may not get the full amount you thought you paid for. With GEHA, if you have $500 in weekly benefit coverage, that’s the benefit you'll get. (There is one exception to this rule: If you go back to work on a partial basis after becoming disabled, but you still have some residual disability that prevents you from working full-time, we may reduce your benefit so that your total income – your part-time salary plus your disability benefit – doesn’t exceed your normal full-time salary.)

Redding, California (GEHA Standard Option): Two out of three of these new products, Life Insurance, Short-Term Income Protection and Accident Expense Protection, seem to be bad products for federal employees. ST Income protection is not needed by almost all employees who are covered by Sick Leave and Annual Leave that will provide ST income. Accident Expense protection is coverage for statistically unlikely event, and the employee has Leave as well as FEHB already. Why is GEHA risking reputation to move into these profitable products that are known to be poor choices for customers?
Julie Browne:

We have no interest in "pushing" products on members that are not necessary for their personal financial protection.  As you correctly point out, Short-Term Income Protection and Accident Expense coverage may not be needed by many federal employees.  But everyone's situation is unique, and different people have different tolerances for financial risk.  Accumulated sick leave may or may not be enough to carry a person through a period of disability.  That depends on how long the disability lasts, and how much sick/annual leave he/she has to use.  Even long-tenured employees may have had prior periods of disability or absence from work, and have depleted their bank of leave.  Of course, new employees haven't built up sufficient leave time to carry them through an extended absence from work.  Regardless of the amount of sick/annual leave in your bank, you may want the additional protection that this coverage affords. 

Accident Expense coverage has value to different people.  If you or your family leads an active lifestyle, or you have a high deductible health plan, this coverage may be right for you.  Even with the excellent health coverage that federal employees have available to them, deductibles, coinsurance and copays can add up.  Also, there are many situations where accident expense coverage can fill gaps that are not part of a medical policy, such as lodging expenses, or where medical plan coverage is limited, like going out-of-network.  Accident Expense protection also includes a death benefit.

One of the key differences with GEHAtotal is that we help you through our on-line "needs analysis" to determine whether and to what extent you might benefit from these new coverage options, given your personal situation.  In the end, because we don't employ any pushy, commissioned sales agents, you decide after considering the coverage options, pricing and competitive offerings if any of these plans is right for you. 


Cincinnati, Ohio (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Why do other insurance companies have to know when a person has one or more insurance policies? When they find this out, they reduce their covered costs. I think this is totally wrong. when a person has two insurance providers, he pays premiums, too. They both should pay their covered cost, leaving the insurer with minimum costs.
Julie Browne: We can't answer for other insurance companies, but the reason we ask about other insurance you may have is to provide you with our best recommendation on the amount of coverage necessary to meet your personal needs.  We don't use your other insurance to lower the amount you can buy. 

Bowie, Maryland (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Do your life insurance policies cover acts of terrorism?
Julie Browne: Yes. Acts of terror are covered.

McDonough, Georgia (GEHA High Option, Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): I've been looking to obtain Short-Term Income Protection for a while, but I want to know if this is for when you're not able to work while still trying to maintain your mortgage and bills so you won't lose everything? 
Julie Browne:

Yes, you got it!  This is precisely what Short-Term Income Protection (also known as "disability" coverage) is designed to do: protect your paycheck in the event you can't work due to a physical or mental illness, an accident or pregnancy.  You choose the amount of protection you want, and the "elimination period" (kind of like a deductible, but expressed in days rather than dollars); and if you become disabled, once you have completed the elimination period, we pay you the benefit you chose. 

You can use that money however you see fit, but meeting the household expenses, like mortgage/rent, utilities, food, etc., is the primary purpose for this benefit.  The ability to earn an income is, for most people, our single most-important asset.  Losing that ability to earn a living - even for a relatively short period of time - would be financially devastating for most people.  Your sick leave and savings may not be enough to carry you through.  Short-Term Income Protection helps provide a bit of relief, giving you one less thing to worry about. 


Salt Lake City, Utah (GEHA HDHP Option): I'm a relatively new federal employee. How complicated will it be to change my Elimination Period in the future when I have a larger bank of Sick Leave to rely on? I need a short term now, but that won't always be the case.
Julie Browne: Great question!  Not complicated at all.  You can increase your Elimination Period at any time as your Sick Leave bank increases. 

Question: Will I be called by an agent, or will someone solicit me after I visit your website?
Julie Browne: Nope. But if you want to talk to someone, a friendly GEHA representative will be available by phone. They can answer your questions, and even guide you through our website step-by-step if you need any help. You can sign-up for an email alert to notify you when the products are ready at GEHA's website.

Colfax, North Carolina (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Life Insurance: At retirement, are you able to continue the life insurance and does the cost increase?
Julie Browne:

Yes, you may continue life insurance coverage into retirement (to age 100).  Two things to keep in mind:

1) The benefit reduces at by 50% at age 70, and by another 25% (i.e., 75% total reduction) at age 75.  So, if you start out with $100,000 in coverage, at age 70, the benefit reduces to $50,000, and at age 75, to $25,000.  There are no further reductions after age 75, but coverage ends at age 100.

2) The cost of coverage changes every five years, starting at age 25.  After you reach age 80, rates change annually.  All rate changes occur on the next anniversary of your coverage following those birthdays.  So if you bought coverage from us on 10/1/2016, and your birthday is 5/1/1960, your next rate change would be 10/1/2020, the rate anniversary following your 60th birthday.


Question: I have a pre-existing medical condition. Will that get in the way of me purchasing any of these products?
Julie Browne:
Accident expense coverage is guaranteed-issue, so your health history is not a factor in getting coverage, nor is there is a pre-existing condition exclusion or limitation. For life insurance and short-term income protection (STIP), we take your health history into account, based on the information we gather through your application. Once we have issued coverage, there is no pre-existing condition limitation or exclusion for life insurance.

STIP does have a pre-existing condition limitation for the first year you are covered, but we might still pay a benefit even if you have a pre-existing condition. Here’s how that works: Suppose you have a pre-existing condition – one that is not so severe that it would preclude you from getting coverage. Let’s say your coverage is effective 10/1/2016. On 12/16/2016, you become disabled, and your disability is related to your pre-existing condition. In that case, you could receive up to four weeks of benefits even though you had a pre-existing condition. The pre-existing condition limitation ends after you have been covered for a year under the plan, so any disability beginning after 10/1/2017 (in this example) would not be subject to that limitation.

St. Louis, Missouri (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Hi! I only have the Dental insurance and not the Health. Will the GEHAtotal financial health, Life insurance, Short-Term Income Protection and Accident Expense Protection be available for those who choose not to accept the Health benefits?
Julie Browne: Yes! Anyone who meets our simple eligibility requirements may purchase one of these new products.  You don't even have to be a current GEHA health or dental member.

Atlanta, Georgia (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Do you choose one product or is it all three? Does the life insurance end once you retire? Thank you.
Julie Browne: You can purchase one, two or all of the three new products we are offering.  Life insurance may be continued into retirement (to age 100).

Cincinnati, Ohio Is this benefit only for GEHA members?
Julie Browne: No, these products are available to all federal civilian employees, actively working at least 20 hours per week in the U.S.

Question: Can my spouse and/or kids get accident expense insurance?
Julie Browne:
Absolutely! Kids are one of the biggest reasons to buy accident expense coverage. I don’t know about your kids, but mine sure seem to get into more than their share of accidents.

Question: After I complete my application, how long before you make a decision?
Julie Browne:
We give you a decision immediately. The underwriting process is fully automated, and the system produces an answer as fast as those electrons can move!


Fort Wayne, Indiana (GEHA High Option, Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): I need life insurance for my family. I get confused on term vs. whole. Can you explain the difference?
Julie Browne:

Sure! GEHAtotal is offering term life.  The "term" of this coverage is the duration of your federal civilian employment, and if you later become a CSRS or FERS annuitant, on into retirement, up to age 100 (as long as you keep paying premiums).  Term insurance is also called "pure" insurance, since that's all it does - i.e., it provides a benefit in the event the insured person dies or has some other covered loss.

Whole life provides lifelong coverage.  With whole life, you are not only paying for insurance, but investing money with the insurance company.  That investment is the policy's "cash value", which grows slowly.  Cash value is tax-deferred, so you don't pay any tax on the gains while they accumulate.  You can borrow money against the policy's cash value, or surrender the policy for its cash value (minus a surrender charge).  If you borrow against your cash value and don't repay it, your death benefit is reduced.  If you surrender the policy, you lose coverage completely.  If you have cash value in a whole life policy, and then stop paying premiums, the insurance company will take your cash value and purchase a "paid up" policy for you.  While this lifelong protection and the accumulation of cash value is a significant advantage of whole life compared to term life, the premium cost is many times greater than term insurance for the same benefit.

GEHA is offering term life, as it is much simpler to understand, costs much less, and doesn't require a sales agent to explain.


Katy, Texas (GEHA High Option, Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): I would like to know if the life insurance will only cover employee or if we can get it for our family members also?
Julie Browne: Yes. Spouse and child(ren) coverage is available.

Question: What do I need to do to get a quote?
Julie Browne:
Just complete our online questionnaire, which will be available when gehatotal.com goes live sometime soon. (Click here to be the first to know when GEHAtotal products are available.)

You can get a quote without providing any personal information. It just takes a few minutes. The questions are easy (and the website is – dare we say it? – fun!)


Question: Will you increase my premiums or cancel my coverage if I file claims for disability or accident (the way car or home insurance does)?
Julie Browne: No. This is group coverage, so your rates and coverage are not based on your personal claims history.

Question: I have medical insurance. Why would I need accident expense coverage, too? Aren’t they the same?
Julie Browne: No. Medical insurance is a reimbursement of the fees charged by providers. Accident Expense Protection pays specified benefits for losses from accidents, unrelated to the expenses you may have incurred with various providers. The benefit is paid to you, not the medical providers, and you can use it however you see fit.

St louis, Missouri (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): Can I take this into retirement with me and how much would it cost. Since I will be at work how would I get information about what was said and any other questions that were asked?
Julie Browne: Yes, you can take Life coverage with you into retirement and continue up to age 100. Coverage for Short-Term Income Protection and Accident Expense Protection end at the earlier of age 70 or retirement. 

Herndon, Virginia Will the short term protection provide payment to employees after all leave time has been used up so employees do not have to rely on donated leave time from other employees?
Julie Browne: You don't have to rely on donated leave if you have Short-Term Income Protection. You choose the "elimination period" you want, and if you become disabled, after you have reached the end of the elimination period, the benefit begins, regardless of whether you have used all of your leave, or whether anyone has donated leave to you. While we suggest that you choose an elimination period that is close to the amount of leave you have available, you can choose any elimination period you want. Like a deductible, the longer the elimination period, the lower the cost of the plan (but, of course, the longer the elimination period, the longer you have to wait for the benefits to begin.)

Greenbelt, Maryland (GEHA Standard Option, Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) Standard): Hello, Is the short-term disability insurance similar to Aflac? Will it also provide money to ensure that your bills are paid while you are out of work?
Julie Browne:

Thanks for asking.  Yes, GEHAtotal's Short-Term Income Protection product is similar to Aflac. Our disability product will provide money to ensure your bills are paid, while you're out of work.  GEHAtotal's plan includes a 52-week duration and provides optional waiting periods.  We also believe our product is competitively priced, since we do not pay agent commission.


Question: Is there a difference between short-term disability and the short-term income protection that GEHA offers?
Julie Browne: Short-term disability and short-term income protection are one-in-the-same.

Question: What’s the difference between GEHA's life insurance and FEGLI?
Julie Browne:
Here are some of the key differences: The basic FEGLI benefit is partially subsidized by the government, and as such, is a good value. But the basic benefit is only slightly more than your annual salary, which for most individuals is simply not sufficient coverage. The other FEGLI options are voluntary, just like GEHA’s life insurance, which means there is no government subsidy.

One of the big reasons to choose FEGLI is that coverage is “guaranteed issue” (i.e., you don’t have to provide proof of good health) if you choose it within 60 days of becoming employed, or you have a significant "life event." However, if you miss that window of opportunity, FEGLI requires you to complete an application and submit proof of good health, which may require a medical examination or lab work. GEHA also has guaranteed issue coverage, up to $100,000, if you sign up during your first 60 days of federal employment.  Amounts above $100,000 are subject to the usual application and underwriting.  Of course, FEGLI is having an Open Season in September, which will allow you to enroll for coverage without having to prove you are in good health.  But if you choose to sign up during this Open Season, your FEGLI coverage will not take effect for another year, which means you would have no coverage until 10/1/2017.

The benefits are very similar – if you die while covered, both FEGLI and GEHA will pay the face amount of coverage that you elect.  But one of the key differences is that GEHA’s life insurance includes an accidental death benefit – also called “double indemnity” – which pays an additional death benefit, equal to your face amount, if you were to die as the result of an accident.  We also include "living benefits." For example, if you suffer a covered loss as a result of an accident, the plan pays additional benefits for those losses.  And, if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, the plan may pay your death benefit in advance of your death – up to the lesser of $250,000 or 80% of the face amount.  This is payable to you while you are still alive, but does reduce the amount payable to your beneficiaries upon your death.

FEGLI’s basic life insurance also includes an "Extra Benefit," which doubles the face amount for employees under age 35 (phasing out by age 45), and an accidental death provision.  FEGLI’s optional plan A includes a flat $10,000 accidental death benefit, but Options B & C do not provide any additional benefits beyond the face amount.

There are, of course, other differences between the plans, but these are some of the key distinctions.

Portland, Oregon (Connection Dental Federal (FEDVIP) High): This question is about the short term income protection. Does it only cover loss from accidents or would it cover things like maternity leave as well?
Julie Browne: Short-term income protection covers losses from injuries, illnesses, pregnancy and even mental or nervous illnesses.  The main exception is that it does not cover work-related disabilities (but those are covered by workers' compensation.) 

Question: Why is GEHA offering these new insurance products?
Julie Browne:
The number one reason is that we want to live up to our mission of providing products and services that help members protect their families.  Although there are many insurance companies offering these types of products in the general marketplace, the number of plans that are designed for federal employees is very limited.

GEHA brings unique value to our members as a not-for-profit. We also save our members’ money because we don’t pay insurance agent commissions. Plus, we’ve built a purchase platform that enables members to buy this coverage directly online, without having to go through any medical exams or lab work.

Once you complete the application online, we give you a decision immediately, and if approved, your coverage begins right then. This is a unique model in the industry.