Deciding moments: Your guide to choosing benefits that support the life you want to create

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No matter what stage of life you’re in, you’ll face many “deciding moments” where you will chart a direction for your life. In those moments, having benefits that suit you is important, as they help to provide vital protection and security for whatever choices you make. And one of the most cost-effective ways to get them is through your employer, so it’s always good to know what's available to you at work.

But which benefits fit? The short answer: it depends. As time goes on, our needs change and grow. What's ideal for you now may be insufficient later on. To help make things simpler (and less intimidating), here's a simple guide to what you should consider as you take on all life has to offer.  

Deciding moment: Living independently

It's an exciting – and daunting – time, as well as a great opportunity to start investing in yourself, your future goals, and even retirement, while also looking out for your physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

  • First things first: You’re now able to get your own insurance! What’s more, you may no longer be able to use someone else’s medical, vision or dental plan, so even more reason to get your own. Make sure you understand what your employer offers, so you can take advantage of getting these benefits through work.

  • Try to fund your 401(k). Max it out if you can and learn to live without the extra money in your paycheck. The sooner you start, the larger your retirement nest egg will grow.

  • Don’t forget to help supplement your health insurance, especially if your medical plan option has a high deductible. No matter your age, serious illnesses or accidents are still a possibility, and you definitely want to be able to help pay the cost if your health insurance does not pay for it in full. Also, don’t forget to look into and take advantage of wellness incentives that will reward you - $$$ - for keeping up with preventive care.

Fast fact: 3 in 5 Americans would have to borrow to pay a $3,000 medical bill.¹

  • Next, get some life insurance. This benefit can protect anyone or anything you choose – a loved one, family members, or a charity or non-profit associated with a cause you care about – should something happen to you. The sooner you get it, the better – either through your employer or a financial representative. Either way, life insurance is easier to get when you’re younger and in good health.

Deciding moment: Expanding your home and your family

Perhaps you’re thinking about purchasing a house or condo for yourself, or with a partner – and even filling that space by having a family or fur babies. Carefully assess your benefit options and expand them to accommodate this new life stage.

  • Consider adding your partner and dependents to your vision and dental insurance. These types of insurance offer affordable ways to prevent longer-term issues down the road, particularly when they’re offered by an employer. And they're especially important for young children.

Fast fact: 92.4 million work or school hours are lost each year to emergency dental care in the US.²

  • If you have a family, don't forget life and disability insurance. Together with health insurance, they're the three essential components of an effective protection plan. And short term disability insurance can be used to help cover maternity leave.

  • With out-of-pocket medical costs continuing to rise, strongly consider supplemental health insurance. Coverage is available in case of serious illness, accidents, hospitalization, or cancer and provides a cash payment to help cover unexpected expenses your health insurance doesn't cover. You can use it any way you choose — to help pay deductibles, for transportation during treatment, even childcare. If you can, add any dependents to your coverage for greater protection.

Fast fact: More than 40% of adults go without medical care or delay it due to concerns over costs.³

  • Pet wellness may also be something you consider to cover the everyday expenses in keeping your fur family members healthy and well.

Fast fact: 47% of pet parents report having incurred pet-related debt.⁴

Deciding moment: Increasing support for who and what you love

As time progresses and life throws its curveballs, you may find the change is that you feel clearer and more confident in your path. You may now be looking to see how you can better support the things and people in your life you love. What's important now is staying ahead of the curve.

  • Saving for retirement, as well as keeping your health, life and disability insurance, remain your primary considerations.

  • You may also want to consider looking into long-term care insurance options.

  • Make sure you have coverage that can cover expenses that medical insurance might not, by exploring critical Illness and hospital indemnity (another way to say hospital stay)  coverage. Remember, these types of insurance help ensure your hard-earned savings don’t get wiped out by an unexpected health emergency and provide you with a direct cash payment you can use to help cover the cost of medical and non-medical related expenses, such as transportation and childcare.

Fast fact: The average cost of a three-day hospital stay in the United States is $30,000.⁵

Deciding moment: Reflecting on your legacy

There is still a lot of life to live – what do you want to experience? Maybe you are headed into retirement and plan to travel or shifting into consulting or part-time gigs. While it may be a time for reflection and recognition – applaud yourself for how far you’ve come – you may also want to reprioritize and look more closely at the legacy you’d like to leave.

  • Re-evaluate your budget and take stock of your retirement savings and whether you need to continue building your nest egg.

  • Confirm beneficiaries on your life insurance and 401(k) accounts, and if you haven't, draw up a will to identify how your assets would be distributed.

  • Social Security will become an option, and you have to decide when to start collecting. By waiting longer, you can maximize your monthly payments.

  • Review to make sure you have the right level of protection in place. Consider supplemental health coverages for out-of-pocket expenses and life insurance to leave a legacy to individuals or things your care about.

This guide can help you decide which insurance coverage options are most important for your personal situation. Find out which benefits your employer offers, so you can begin looking at options and feel ready when open enrollment begins. Take advantage of your workplace benefits today.

Disclaimer

1 2022 Benefits Optimization report, Guardian Workplace Benefits Study, 2022

2 “Hours Lost to Planned and Unplanned Dental Visits Among US Adults,” 2018, Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

3 Benefits Optimization Report, Guardian Workplace Benefits Study, 2022

4 LendingTree Pet Survey, 2020

5 Average Cost of Hospital Stay, all patients and uninsured, Consumer Health Ratings, 2022.

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Material discussed is meant for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as medical, tax, legal or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice.

Group Insurance products are underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.  Products are not available in all states.

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