Securing the Legacy: Navigating SGLI and VGLI Denials with Trief & Olk’s Experience

The experienced life insurance attorneys at Trief & Olk are here to help you navigate the difficulties of denied claims in trying times. Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) are special forms of life insurance.Securing the Legacy Navigating SGLI and VGLI Denials with Trief & Olk's Experience

SGLI and VGLI serve as vital lifelines for our brave men and women in uniform and their families, providing financial security in times of profound loss. However, despite the ostensibly straightforward nature of these policies, claim denials remain a distressing reality for many beneficiaries. Behind every denial lies a myriad of factors, from administrative errors to complex legal intricacies, all of which demand meticulous attention and expertise to address.

What is SGLI?

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) is a group term life insurance program for active duty and reserve members of the United States uniformed services, offering low-cost coverage and financial protection for their families in case of their untimely death. Upon entering active duty or reserve status, eligible servicemembers are automatically enrolled in SGLI, which starts at $500,000 in coverage. They can adjust their policy value in $50,000 increments to suit their needs. The premiums are affordable and deducted directly from the servicemember’s pay, simplifying payment processes. Additionally, SGLI includes an Accelerated Benefits Option for terminally ill servicemembers to access part of their coverage early for end-of-life expenses. This program is crucial for the financial security of servicemembers and their families, offering a sense of security and demonstrating the nation’s support for its military personnel.


We contacted Trief & Olk to help us with a life insurance issue and Shelly Friedland was the attorney assigned to our case. Before Shelly took our case she explained to us that the likelihood of our success without going to court was possible but not likely. Unfortunately we did not get the outcome we had hoped for but it was our decision to not move forward and have our case litigated. Shelly is very knowledgeable and was very straight-forward in her assessment of our case as we moved forward. She was very patient and thorough in answering our questions. She always responded in a timely manner and listened to our concerns. We would certainly recommend Shelly and would use her firm again in the future.”

- John Ramig


If there is any possibility of winning your life insurance case – this is the place to do it for you. They are efficient, honest and will achieve the best possible outcome.

Shelly Friedland worked on my case where a life insurance policy had lapsed and was even a few days beyond the grace period. Farmers had rejected my claim twice and was unwilling to take a second look. Shelly was able to get them to pay the entire claim without going to court, and the full amount was deposited in my account within a couple months. Highest recommendation.”

- Kathleen Brown


Trief & Olk is a superior law firm. Their attorneys and other legal professionals have a brilliant understanding of the law and the litigation process. They diligently perform their work in an efficient, strategic and cost-effective manner to ensure the best possible outcomes for their clients.

- Christopher Hughes

What is VGLI?

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is a program managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), providing life insurance coverage to veterans previously covered under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) during their service time. Veterans can convert their SGLI to VGLI within one year and 120 days of military service separation, allowing them to maintain life insurance coverage and financial security post-military. VGLI features renewable term life insurance, which can be renewed every five years irrespective of health or age changes, provided premiums are paid. The coverage amount equals the veteran’s SGLI coverage at separation, up to $500,000, and can be reduced at any time. Unlike SGLI, where premiums were deducted from military pay, VGLI premiums are paid directly to the VA and vary based on age and coverage amount. The conversion period is limited to one year and 120 days post-separation, with no medical underwriting required, but applying for VGLI after this period may necessitate medical exams and result in higher premiums. Veterans can designate beneficiaries for their VGLI, ensuring their loved ones are financially secure. VGLI is crucial for veterans transitioning to civilian life, offering affordable life insurance coverage and financial well-being peace of mind.

Ted Treif (Partner)

Life insurance attorney since 1976

Barbara Olk (Retired)

Life insurance attorney since 1976

Shelly L. Friedland (Partner)

Life insurance attorney since 1997

Eyal Dror (Associate)

Life Insurance Attorney since 2007

What’s the Difference Between VGLI and SGLI?

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) and Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) are both integral components of the benefits package offered to those who serve or have served in the United States armed forces, each tailored to different phases of a military career. SGLI caters to the needs of active duty and reserve members of the U.S. uniformed services, including select National Guard members. This insurance kicks in automatically when one begins military service, providing a safety net during active duty or reserve assignments.

On the other hand, VGLI is designed for those transitioning from military to civilian life, available to veterans who had SGLI coverage. The program allows a conversion from SGLI to VGLI within a grace period of one year and 120 days post-military service, facilitating continued life insurance coverage for veterans. This transition period is crucial as it provides a safety net without the need for immediate medical underwriting.

Coverage under SGLI can be chosen in $50,000 increments, maxing out at $500,000, offering flexibility to service members to decide the extent of coverage they prefer. VGLI’s coverage mirrors the amount the service member had under SGLI, also capping at $500,000. However, it introduces the option for veterans to decrease their coverage if desired, reflecting the possible changes in their insurance needs post-service.

Premiums for SGLI are notably affordable and are automatically deducted from the service member’s pay, making it an accessible and hassle-free insurance option during service. In contrast, VGLI premiums are age-dependent and vary with the chosen coverage amount, necessitating direct payment to the Veterans Affairs (VA) by the veterans, which marks a shift in financial responsibility from the military to the individual.

While SGLI coverage starts automatically and requires no conversion, VGLI necessitates a proactive approach to convert within the specified period after service, free from medical underwriting. Post this period, obtaining VGLI can still be possible but may involve medical examinations and potentially higher premiums, indicating a more stringent process as time progresses.

Both SGLI and VGLI allow for the designation of beneficiaries, ensuring that service members and veterans can secure financial protection for their loved ones. This feature underscores the programs’ roles in providing peace of mind and stability for military families, ensuring that the legacy of service is honored with financial security and protection.

Settlements & Verdicts

$3 Million Policy

William Penn Life Insurance

$1.2 Million Policy


$1.5 Million Policy

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

$1 Million Policy

Protective Life Insurance

$675,000 Settlement

Confidential Settlement

$4.3 Million Policy

State Farm, Primerica, Farmers, BrightHouse

Why Might My SGLI or VGLI Claim Be Denied?

There are a few common reasons that SGLI or VGLI life insurance claims may be denied. 

Lapsed Premium Payments

One of the most frequent reasons for VGLI and SGLI claim denials is the failure to maintain premium payments. Both programs require timely payment of premiums to keep the coverage active. If premiums are not paid within the specified grace period, the policy may lapse, resulting in a denial of any subsequent claims.

Misrepresentation or Fraud

Misrepresentation or fraud on the part of the policyholder or beneficiary can lead to claim denials. This may include providing false information on the insurance application or attempting to conceal material facts related to the claim. Insurance companies have stringent policies in place to detect and investigate instances of fraud, and any evidence of deception can result in a denial of the claim.

Life Insurance Denial Statistics


The annual average number of life insurance claims denied.

$50 Million

The yearly average dollar amount of claims denied by life insurance companies.


The number of claims appealed annually by consumers.

Exclusions and Limitations

VGLI and SGLI policies may contain exclusions and limitations that restrict coverage under certain circumstances. For example, coverage may be limited or denied for deaths resulting from self-inflicted injuries, illegal activities, or acts of war. It is essential for beneficiaries to carefully review the terms and conditions of the policy to understand any exclusions that may apply.

Disputes Over Beneficiary Designation

Disputes over beneficiary designation can arise if there is ambiguity or conflicting claims regarding who is entitled to receive the insurance proceeds. In the absence of clear and undisputed beneficiary designations, insurance companies may withhold payment until the dispute is resolved through legal means.

Failure to Meet Eligibility Requirements

VGLI and SGLI claim denials may occur if the deceased servicemember or veteran did not meet the eligibility requirements for coverage. For example, if a veteran failed to convert their SGLI coverage to VGLI within the specified time frame after leaving the service, their beneficiaries may be ineligible to receive VGLI benefits.

Incomplete Documentation

Incomplete or inaccurate documentation can also result in claim denials. Insurance companies require thorough documentation to process claims efficiently, and any missing or incomplete information may delay or jeopardize the claim approval process.

They Fought for Us — Let Us Fight For You

While Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) and Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) offer valuable financial protection to servicemembers and veterans, claim denials can occur for various reasons. It is essential for beneficiaries to be aware of the common pitfalls and challenges that may lead to claim denials and to take proactive measures to mitigate these risks. By understanding the reasons for claim denials and seeking guidance when necessary, beneficiaries can navigate the claims process with confidence, ensuring that their loved ones receive the support they deserve in their time of need.

If you are facing a denial of your SGLI or VGLI claims, contact Trief & Olk today. Our experienced life insurance attorneys are ready to battle for the benefits you deserve, with the professionalism and passion your loved showed while the served.

Contact us today — let us fight for you.