Does your organization offer a robust voluntary benefits program? Such a program enhances and fills gaps in benefits offered to employees. Voluntary benefits are designed to be paid and paid out directly to the employee for use in ways they deem necessary.
Voluntary benefits could include coverages for specific life events such as cancer, heart attack/stroke/coma/paralysis, accidents, legal situations, identity theft situations, short- and long-term disability and vision. Deductibles, co-pays, lost wages or retirement are a few ways that benefits can be paid out after the recipient files a claim.
Identifying gaps in current employee benefit plans
Reviewing employer sponsored benefits is one of the first steps in finding possible gaps in current employee benefit plans. Employer sponsored benefits usually include health, dental and vision insurance; employer paid life; and retirement plans.
When reviewing employer sponsored benefits, consider areas that could be enhanced with voluntary benefits, such as:
- how high deductibles and co-pays are for health insurance;
- dental insurance annual benefits and percentages toward different procedures, such as crowns;
- vision insurance total maximum paid out for exam and materials, such as glasses and contacts;
- whether voluntary coverage is available for the spouse and dependents within the employer paid life insurance; and
- reviewing the retirement plans offered (whether it is a 401(k), 457 or some other program), the fees charged and when the last plan was reviewed.
Benefiting employers and employees through voluntary benefits
Offering a robust voluntary benefits program enhances the existing employer-sponsored benefits plan, which has many advantages for employers and employees. Some of the many benefits include the following items:
- Employee retention: Employees want additional ways to protect themselves and their families from possible catastrophic life events. Offering a variety of voluntary benefits retains employees and meets their personal needs.
- Tax savings: FICA tax savings benefits both the employer and employee. The voluntary benefits are usually taken out of the employee’s check before taxes.
- Short-term disability: Offering a voluntary short-term disability plan that protects the employees’ wages due to accidents, illness or pregnancy allows employers to step out of the lending business.
- Voluntary accident plan: Reduce Monday morning workers compensation claims by offering a voluntary accident plan that proves when and where an accident occurred by providing a physician statement in order to receive payment after a claim.
- Voluntary life products: Offering employer paid life insurance to employees is an inexpensive way to help the employee’s family in the event of the death of the employee. An employee may be able to cover his spouse and children for a low cost when the employer allows voluntary group term life insurance to be added to the employer paid life insurance program.
- Retirement plans: Employees feel that employers are responsible for their income after they retire. A voluntary retirement program helps an employee take responsibility of their own future. This can also provide possible tax savings to both the employer and employee.
- Legal and ID protection: Most people do not have a lawyer on retainer. Voluntary benefits are available that may help with legal situations, as well as identification theft.
- Cancer and critical illness policies: These voluntary benefits include features that help with early detection, transportation, lodging and money to make ends meet during treatment. The products may also help with deductibles and co-pays.