5 things to check before making your annual benefits enrollment selections

Every year, your company gives you the chance to participate in employee benefits enrollment. While 25% of employees usually just “check the box,”1 this year you can be more educated.

You can make more informed choices to help assure your benefits are helping meet your financial goals. This list can help you do that.

1. Know what’s available in your company’s benefits package

First, see if your company options have changed. This could include coverage levels, pricing, and whether the products you have are still being offered. Also, find out if there are new providers for existing products or if new products have been added. If you're married or have a partner, do the same with your spouse’s package so that you can get the most out of your employee benefits.

2. Understand how deductibles and/or premiums may have changed

Is your company changing its share of its medical plan contribution? Is it moving to a high deductible health plan (HDHP)? That could affect your out-of-pocket medical costs, the products you choose, and whether to go with a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to help with deductibles. You may want to think about adding DentalVision, or supplemental health products such as Accident and Critical Illness.

3. Assess any life changes that would call for more or less coverage

Recently married? Having a baby? Moving to a bigger house? Congratulations, you now have more day-to-day expenses and future income to protect. This is a good time to consider more Life or Disability insurance. And if you’re expecting a child - or planning to have one soon -- Disability or supplemental health could help cover some maternity expenses.

4. Check your latest income and bonus plan

You may be able to allocate a little more money each month. That could be contributing more to a retirement plan, increasing your Life insurance level, or getting more Disability insurance. Or you could pay down your debt or mortgage. Sure, another flat-screen TV would be nice, but improving your family’s financial picture will look a lot better.

5. Review your family’s health history

Is there a likelihood of cancer in your family, or other illnesses such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or stroke? Does your active lifestyle (or that of your children) put you at greater risk for an accident or injury? Supplemental health insurance could provide payments to cover costs your medical plan doesn’t. Of course, it’s best to get coverage before you need it — especially while you’re young enough to have lower premiums.

In addition to reviewing this checklist, be sure to attend in-house benefits fairs and education seminars where you can learn more about the details of each product. And ask a benefits administrator or product representative for advice or help confirming your product choices.

Changing your benefits during the year

There are times and situations in life that allow you to change your employee benefits outside of the standard enrollment period. Generally you can change your benefit selections if:

  • You change employers
  • Your status with your employer changes to full time
  • Your marital status changes
  • You have or adopt a child
  • Your spouse passes away

If any of these life events happen, it is recommended that you make changes in your benefits within 30 days. Check with your employer about eligibility.

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Disclaimer

1

The Guardian Workplace Benefits Studysm, Third Annual, 2015