Guardian Launches Educational Campaign, Website and Enhanced Enrollment Services for the Fall Open Enrollment Season
NEW YORK, October 29, 2009 — The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), one of the largest mutual life insurance companies and a leading provider of employee benefits to midsize and small companies, offers employees and employers tips for leveraging their employee benefits in one of the worst economic environments since the Great Depression.
Guardian's employee benefits experts compiled these money saving tips and educational resources just in time for the fall open enrollment season when millions of employees make important decisions about their benefits for the coming year. Additionally, Guardian recently launched an educational campaign including a dedicated Website and enhanced enrollment services to make it easier for employers to manage and employees, to understand and select their benefits.
Open Enrollment Tips:
Sign-up for voluntary benefits
Consider taking advantage of voluntary benefits (sponsored by the employer, paid by the employee). They give you greater choices and discounted access to benefits to help ensure protection needs meet your specific lifestyle. They are usually more affordable than individual coverage and require limited or no medical underwriting.
Sign up for voluntary benefits earlier rather than later. Some voluntary benefits like life insurance plans may automatically increase coverage amounts each year, building up greater coverage than what you initially signed up for. These increases have no impact to premiums so it pays to enroll early.
Look for the freebies or perks
Use your health insurance plan to get a discount on your gym membership. Health insurance plans with a wellness focus often offer these discounts to encourage employees to stay fit, keeping your long-term costs of care lower.
Need estate planning or will preparation advice? Check your life insurance coverage to see if free or low cost legal services are available. For example, Guardian has WillPrep Services* that give plan members access to online planning documents and professional assistance with advanced health care directives, estate taxes, financial and healthcare power of attorney, guardianship and conservatorship, trusts and wills.
Keep more money in your pockets
If a high deductible health plan is one of your medical plan options, consider opening a health savings account if available. Money in HSA funds build tax-free and you keep it even if you change jobs. You can use the money to pay for qualified health expenses if necessary and if no health care needs arise, you are building your money up on a tax-advantaged basis.
All high-deductible plans are not created equally. Look for a plan that doesn't require you to pay out-of-pocket for common preventative screenings. Critical illness insurance can be bundled with your health plan to provide greater coverage when serious illnesses strike. A new industry feature on critical illness insurance is a hospital rider where if you face an extended hospital stay, you can receive a check of up to $500 for each day you're in the hospital -- up to ten days. You can use the money any way you want, but many employees choose to use this extra cash to cover high deductibles, co-payments, or even child care.
Use it, don't lose it
Look for a dental plan that has an annual maximum rollover -- these newer plans became popular in the past three years and allow you to roll over a portion of your unused benefits to the next year. These plans are doing for the dental industry what rollover minutes did for the mobile phone industry.
Consider signing up for a flexible spending account which allows you to pay for qualified healthcare, dependent care and even transportation expenses with before-tax dollars. It's a use it, or lose it account so don't forget to use the money before the year-end deadline. Qualifying purchases may include: medical and dental deductibles and copayments, over the counter medications, eye glasses, child care, and transportation related to your employment.
Don't give up on your 401(k)
Open Enrollment is a really good time to take a look at your company retirement plan contributions. With only a few short months left in the year, you have time to make adjustments, if necessary, to ensure you reach your contribution goal.
Now is the time to start up contributions again, if you stopped contributing during the market turmoil earlier this year. Saving through your employer-sponsored retirement plan helps you automatically follow one of the wisest investment strategies--dollar- cost averaging, putting the same amount of money in the same investment consistently, regardless of market movement. Over time, this can reduce the overall cost of your investments.
If you lose your job, keep your benefits
If you lose your job, some of your benefits may be portable. Make sure you ask your HR executive about the ability to maintain key benefits at affordable group rates in the event of job loss.
Guardian Educational Campaign and More Tips
Guardian's Web page www.guardianenrollmenttips.com, offers free online tips, an interactive benefits quiz and resources for employers and their employees. The company is also sponsoring a radio awareness campaign this fall to encourage employees to spend more time learning about their benefits.
"In the midst of economic downturn employers are looking to effectively deliver competitive benefits programs that fit their budgets and meet the diverse needs of their employees," said Elena Wu, Group Marketing Officer, Guardian. "Voluntary benefits and plan designs that offer value for the benefits buck are increasingly becoming important vehicles for helping employers to strike that delicate balance between controlling expenses and keeping their employees motivated and happy with quality employee benefits. Guardian is committed to giving midsize and small employers and their workforce greater access to not only benefits, but also education that will help them to make better decisions and be more competitive with larger companies."
Guardian's services designed to relieve the administrative burden for employers and improve employee understanding and management of their benefits include:
*WillPrep Services are provided by Integrated Behavioral Health, Inc., and its contractors.
A mutual insurer founded nearly 150 years ago, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting individuals, business owners and their employees with life, long term care insurance, disability income, group medical and dental insurance products, and offer 401(k), annuities and other financial products. Guardian operates one of the largest dental networks in the United States, and protects more than six million employees and their families at 120,000 companies. The company has more than 5,400 employees in the United States and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 80 agencies nationwide.
For more information about Guardian, please visit: www.GuardianLife.com.
SOURCE:The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Web site: http://www.guardianlife.com/