Voluntary benefits—also called voluntary group insurance—are plans provided to employees at little to no cost to the employer. They allow employees to enroll in coverage at significantly lower rates than they would pay as individuals, and often help employees cover expenses that may not be paid for by other types of insurance.

Voluntary benefits allow employers to offer more extensive coverage without added costs, and help employers save on taxes. Since premiums are paid via automatic pre-tax payroll deductions, employers pay less payroll taxes—a win-win for you and your employees.

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Types of voluntary benefits

The most common voluntary insurance plans complement your healthcare offerings and help provide financial security for your employees when they’re sick or injured. The following basic employee benefits coverages are a good starting point for you to consider as you build your voluntary benefits plan:

Dental insurance

Dental insurance typically covers the cost of cavities and cleanings and helps cover some of the cost employees pay every time they visit the dentist, so workers don’t end up with expensive bills for extensive dental work or oral surgery.

Vision insurance

Vision insurance helps cover routine visits to the optometrist for eye exams, as well as the cost of glasses and contacts, which is not covered under a typical health insurance plan. Offering vision insurance helps your employees care for their vision without racking up huge bills.

Disability insurance

There are two main types of disability insurance: short-term and long-term. Both types of plans are intended to help replace a portion of an employee’s income in case they become too ill or injured to work. Short-term disability insurance typically covers benefits for a period of up to 3-6 months, and long-term disability insurance may pay benefits for a period of five, 10, or 20 years—or even until an employee reach retirement age, depending on the plan. As an employer, you can offer either type of coverage, or both, as a voluntary benefit.

Life insurance

There are several types of life insurance, but every policy is primarily intended to pay benefits to an employee’s beneficiaries in the event of their untimely death. Offering life insurance as a voluntary benefit can help provide financial confidence to employees whose loved ones depend on their income.

Surprise! Voluntary benefits cover that

The following voluntary benefits are also referred to as supplemental health insurance plans. These insurance plans can further complement your healthcare offerings by providing payouts to help offset unexpected and large expenses that medical insurance may not cover:

Accident insurance

Accident insurance helps cover any extra, out-of-pocket expenses not covered by health insurance that an employee might face if they’re injured in an accident.

Cancer insurance

Like accident insurance, cancer insurance helps cover out-of-pocket expenses that aren’t covered by health insurance. If an employee is diagnosed with cancer, this coverage can help ease the financial strain of treatment.

Critical illness insurance

Critical illness insurance offers similar coverage if an employee becomes very ill or suffers a serious medical problem, like a heart attack or stroke.

Hospital indemnity insurance

If an employee is hospitalized, hospital indemnity insurance can help cover the costs associated with the stay. It can be especially valuable for employee with high deductibles and copays, who may need assistance with childcare if hospitalized, or who might need to travel far from home to receive medical care.

Voluntary benefits for your business

If you’re running a company with as few as two people or as many as 10,000, you should consider offering voluntary benefits. Voluntary group insurance can be more affordable, has minimal participation requirements, and offers guarantee issue on some products. These benefits can help you attract and retain talent and stay competitive.

Voluntary benefits can be offered a few different ways:

  • Traditional voluntary plans
    These plans are 100% employee-paid. Employees select benefits that best meet their needs and budget, often at lower group rates.
  • Voluntary buy-up plans
    Employers pay for basic coverage, and employees are given the option to buy additional coverage.
  • Multi-coverage packages
    Products offering basic protection are bundled together for easy selection and rates. These packages offer employees both convenience and affordable rates.

Get the voluntary benefits your employees will love

The value that voluntary benefits can offer to your workforce is clear. Guardian can help you decide on the right mix for your business.

Let’s go!


Statistics cited in Simply Put advertising have been sourced from “Benefits Optimization: Upgrading the enrollment experience to help employers and their workers get the most value” from Guardian’s 9th Annual Workforce Benefits Study, 2020 and “Dental Benefits 2020: Maintaining oral health during COVID-19 and beyond”

[This advertising content is not currently intended for anyone in the state of New Mexico.] 

WY Cancer Insurance Disclosure:

Right to Return: If you are not satisfied, you may return the certificate within 30 days after receipt. The amount of premium you have paid will be refunded provided no claim has been incurred during the 30-day period. Your certificate will then be void, as though you had never applied for the insurance.

Proof of Insurability: If your plan requires proof of insurability, it will be shown in the schedule of insurance.  Your coverage may not become effective until you submit proof of insurability to us. 

Benefit Waiting Period: If your plan has a benefit waiting period, it will be shown in the schedule of insurance. This period starts on the date you are first covered by the plan. We do not pay benefits for cancer that is diagnosed during the benefit waiting period.

Pre-Existing Conditions: If your plan has a pre-existing condition limitation, it will be shown in your certificate.  A pre-existing condition is a cancer, whether diagnosed or misdiagnosed, for which in the 90 days before you become covered by this plan, you: (1) received advice or treatment from a doctor; (2) underwent diagnostic procedures; (3) were prescribed or took prescription drugs; or (4) received other medical care or treatment, including consultation with a doctor. This plan will not pay benefits for cancer that is caused by, or results from, a pre-existing condition if the cancer occurs during the first 12 months that you are covered by this plan.

Exclusions: This plan will not pay benefits for the following: services or treatment not included in the schedule of insurance; services or treatment provided by a family member; services or treatment provided primarily for cosmetic purposes; services or treatment for premalignant conditions; services or treatment for conditions with malignant potential; services or treatment for non-cancer sicknesses; cancer caused by, contributed to by, or resulting from: (1) participating in a felony, riot or insurrection; (2) intentionally causing a self-inflicted injury; (3) committing or attempting to commit suicide while sane or insane; (4) your mental or emotional disorder, alcoholism or drug addiction; or (5) engaging in any illegal activity; or (6) serving in the armed forces or any auxiliary unit of the armed forces of any country; cancer arising from war or act of war, even if war is not declared.

Benefits: Your plan may include the following benefits: air ambulance; alternative care (palliative care or Lifestyle benefits); ambulance; anesthesia; anti-nausea medication; attending doctor; blood, plasma and platelets; bone marrow and stem cells; cancer screening, cancer screening follow-up; experimental treatment; extended care facility/skilled nursing care; government or charity hospital; home health care; hormone therapy; hospital confinement; immunotherapy; intensive care unit confinement; inpatient special nursing; medical imaging; outpatient and family member lodging; outpatient or ambulatory surgical center; physical or speech therapy; prosthetic devices; radiation therapy and chemotherapy; reconstructive surgery; reproductive benefits; second surgical opinion; skin cancer; surgical benefits; and transportation/companion transportation.

The benefits, exclusions, and limitations listed above do not constitute a contract and are a summary. The full plan description, including the benefits and all terms, limitations and exclusions that apply will be contained in your certificate of coverage. The plan documents are the final arbiter of coverage. Coverage terms may vary by state and employer-sponsored plan.

Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.

Group Insurance coverages are underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.  Products are not available in all states.  Policy limitations and exclusions apply.  Optional riders and/or features may incur additional costs.  Plan documents are the final arbiter of coverage.

GUARDIAN® is a registered service mark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®

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