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United States Government Life Insurance
(World War I Program)
In 1917, America entered the war against Germany. Shortly thereafter, Congress approved issuance of Government life insurance to servicemembers under what was known as the War Risk Insurance program. Congress took this action because commercial life insurance companies either excluded protection against the hazards of war or charged premiums that were much higher than normal rates. During World War I, over 4 million policies were issued. In 1919, Congress established the United States Government Life Insurance (USGLI) program to manage World War I policies and new policies issued thereafter. The program was closed to all new issues on April 25, 1951. USGLI policies could be retained by the insured even after his or her military service ended. Today there are just under 8,000 policies still in force and the average age of policyholders is 88 years. Policies were issued in a variety of permanent plans and as renewable term insurance. The maximum face amount of a USGLI policy is $10,000. All USGLI policies were declared paid-up as of January 1, 1983 meaning that no further premium payments were due. Annual dividends continue to be paid on these policies.