What is COBRA?
A federal law known as COBRA guarantees that the employer of a public safety officer who dies
in the line of duty must make the same type of health insurance available to the spouse and
dependent children as was provided prior to the death.
Who is eligible?
In order for survivors to be eligible, the deceased firefighter and the survivors must have actually
been covered under that employee health plan at the time of death.
How long does this insurance continue?
Coverage is available for up to 36 month after the death.
Who pays for this coverage?
There is no provision in the law for the employer to pay for the health insurance unless state law
provides for this. However, in most cases, the survivors must pay for the insurance coverage.
Who initiates contact about the insurance?
The employer must notify the health plan administrator within 30 days after the employee’s death.
The plan administrator then has 14 days to contact the survivor and offer the COBRA coverage.
Upon receiving this information, the survivor has up to 60 days to decide whether or not to buy the
When will the coverage start?
If a survivor elects COBRA coverage, it will be retroactive to the date that benefits ended because
of the death. The first premium payment must be paid within 45 days.
Will this health insurance offer the same benefits?
Coverage under COBRA must be identical to the coverage the firefighter had prior to death.
However, employers can let survivors drop some incidental benefits to lower premium costs. If the
department changes its health plan, survivors will receive the benefits under the new plan.
What if a survivor moves out of the health plan coverage area?
A survivor will lose benefits since the employer is not required to offer a plan in a different area.
Who is eligible to receive COBRA?
- Dependent children and stepchildren (must be under age 18, a full-time student under age 23,
or dependent because of a permanent disability)