The History of the University Insurance Association (UIA) Life Insurance Plan

Participation in the University Insurance Association (UIA) Life Insurance plan is a condition of employment for UW System Faculty/Academic Staff/Limited Appointment (FA/AS/LI) whose salary is more than 45% of the average instructor\'s salary for the previous year.

Each year when the annual $24 premium is deducted from October monthly earnings, generally paid on November 1, many participating employees question why their enrollment in the program is mandatory once they become eligible. There is a story behind the mandatory eligibility which dates back to 1938.

Excerpts from “The Story of the U.F.A.-U.I.A. Insurance Program” by Charles C. Center, March 1995

The University Insurance Association (UIA) insurance program plays a major role in providing financial security for faculty and staff and is a key part of the university’s financial program along with salaries, retirement benefits and health insurance. But the UFA-UIA program did not just drop from heaven as a gift. It has been self-funding and has received no money from the Legislature or the Board of Regents. The Regents, however, have consistently supported it in one critical respect, the “Condition of Employment” provision that makes membership in the UIA mandatory for all defined faculty and staff. This story will tell how the faculty (and academic staff) in the University of Wisconsin System happen to have this program.

More than half a century ago, in the academic year 1938-1939, a very promising and well-liked Assistant Professor in the Madison faculty died leaving a family with young children. He had not been on the faculty long enough to accumulate any significant credit in the retirement fund nor to have any personal savings. His family was virtually indigent – a tragedy and not the first one like it. What to do? The University in previous instances had provided employment for the widow, not a good solution for either party. Faculty friends also “passed the hat,” a kind gesture but an inadequate solution. Group Life insurance had come into being and seemed to offer the best solution.

An ad hoc faculty committee came together to investigate the availability of group life for faculty. It secured support from the University Committee, and faculty as a whole ... 

This plan continues to be self-funded and overseen by the UIA Board of Directors and still operates on the principles established by the original ad hoc committee. Securian, Inc. now manages the insurance claims and funds of the program. Even today we find that even with life insurance being a common option for employees, there still continue to be times when the UIA life insurance is the only plan available to young families employed by the University of Wisconsin. Sadly, there are still times the same situation happens that mirrors the tragedy that brought rise to the idea of this plan so many years ago.

Periodically employees question why should this continue? Why; because this is the legacy started so many years ago by employees of the University of Wisconsin to take care of our own in times of need.

Related portal article: UIA Life Insurance Annual $24 Premium Deduction
For more information about the plan, visit the UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

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