Life insurance: Yes you may elect to not have life insurance coverage. Your RSP coordinator has a form that you can fill out to decline coverage. In the event that you deploy, get married, have kids, or whatever and want coverage, you can always opt to change your coverage. I think it's a good idea to not have coverage if you don't have a spouse or kids.
Promotion: If you get your transcripts to your RSP coordinator then your promotion should take effect by the next drill weekend. Like you said, it may vary from state to state, but typically that's how it works.
SFC Anthony Fletcher
86th IBCT (MTN)