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WASHINGTON — Troops will see their Servicemembers Group Life Insurance coverage and their premium costs increased on their next paycheck, even if they weren’t participating in the program before.

As of Sept. 1, the maximum coverage under the insurance plan rose from $250,000 to $400,000, under legislation passed by Congress in May. The increase is designed to give families a larger financial safety net if a servicemember is killed.

Rates for the coverage will remain at 6.5 cents per $1,000 of coverage, so troops already maxed out on coverage will see their monthly bill jump from $16.25 to $26.

Steve Burghardt, spokesman for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, said troops who want the extra coverage and accept the extra deductions do not need to fill out any paperwork for the change to go into effect.

But troops who want to reduce their coverage or opt out of the program altogether must fill out an SGLV 8286 form, available at: [BOLDFACE]www.insurance.va.gov/ChooseForms.htm[/BOLDFACE]. All troops will participate in the plan at the new $400,000 level unless they submit that paperwork.

Servicemembers must submit that form before Oct. 1 to receive a refund on their September premium payment, Burghardt said. After that, servicemembers can reduce or cancel the policy whenever they wish, but will not receive a premium refund.

And regardless of that decision, all servicemembers will be covered by the SGLI policy in September, and will be covered by the insurance payout in case of death, Burghardt said.

Under new regulations, troops’ spouses will be notified if SGLI coverage is reduced, or if someone other than the spouse is named as a beneficiary.

A separate, new insurance program to cover troops in case of serious injuries won’t be available in December. And the supplemental budget passed by Congress earlier this year covers premium costs up to $150,000 for troops serving in combat zones, reducing their costs by $9.75 a month.

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