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Many public sector organizations have a Conversion and/or Portability option on their group life insurance plan. When an employee’s group term life insurance protection ends, this allows employees the opportunity to continue their life insurance by “converting” to an individual whole life insurance policy or “porting” to another term life insurance policy.
Employees usually have a 31-day window to apply for a new policy after their coverage ends. Therefore, when an employee loses coverage, employers should provide timely notice of the timeframes and limitations of their Conversion/Portability options.
With Portability, an employee would be eligible to convert their group term life insurance policy into a personal term life insurance policy.
An employee is eligible for Portability (regardless of their health status) as long as they apply within the stated time frame (listed in the certificate of insurance or policy). It is usually 31 days after loss of coverage. Portability is more intended to provide coverage during a gap in insurance (for example – a change between jobs). Portability is normally not allowed for disabled employees or retirees.
- Ported coverage usually costs less than converted coverage
- Premiums are often submitted directly to the carrier
- Coverage is provided for a certain period of time or “term” and expires when the term is up
- No cash value or benefit at the end of the term
- Benefit is paid to the beneficiaries if the employee passes away during the term
With Conversion, an employee can convert their policy into a whole life policy, regardless of their state of health. Again, they must apply within the allotted time frame.
A whole life insurance policy (as opposed to a term life insurance policy) has a guaranteed cash value that builds over time and employees can take loans against the balance. Loans that are not repaid before the employee’s death will simply lower the death benefit payout. The policy also includes a cash surrender value which means if the employee decides to give up the policy, they can receive cash or continue the coverage without further premium payment.
- Premium payments may be a lot higher than the group rates
- Converted coverage can continue with premium payments until the scheduled maturity date (date varies per insurance carrier) at which time the cash surrender value is paid to the employee
- Some policies allow conversion for coverage due to age reductions
NIS customers can find their Conversion/Portability forms in their administration kit. For questions, contact your NIS Representative.