Employee Benefits 101
Enrolling in your employee benefits plans may be one of the most important things you do for yourself and family as a new employee. Consider these questions during your benefits enrollment process and you’ll stay ahead of the game.
Are Benefits Offered to Me?
It might seem like a silly question, but it’s one you want to ask. Don’t leave the topic up to your HR department or Benefits Manager to bring up first. If you have any interest in benefits at all…or even if you don’t think that you’re interested…ask the question. You might be pleasantly surprised at some of the things you are eligible to participate in and it could make the job you’re working more fulfilling.
Benefits enrollment is a time-sensitive project, so don’t leave it in anyone else’s hands.
When Should I Enroll?
Your company will likely impose a waiting period before you can officially participate with benefits but ask for the benefits information and enrollment forms as soon as possible.
Allow yourself as much time as possible to make your decisions. Also, keep in mind that some companies require prepayment of benefits. The earlier you can get your enrollment forms in, the less “extra” premium you may owe.
Why Else Would Enrolling Early Be Important?
If you enroll early, your benefits personnel have more time to get your benefits set up with the insurance carriers. This ensures that your benefits are in place at the time of your effective date.
Benefit plan enrollment typically has a grace period to allow you to make changes. This is usually only 30 days from your eligibility date.
It’s good to enroll early so that you still potentially have time to make changes if you decide they are needed. Once your benefits grace period has ended, you normally are not allowed to make any changes until the next Open Enrollment period or if you experience a qualifying event.
What’s a Qualifying Event?
A qualifying event is a life event such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, and other specifically defined events. These events allow you to newly enroll with coverage, cancel coverage, or make coverage election changes.
It is important for you to report any such event to your HR department or Benefits Manager as soon as they occur. Most qualifying events can only be taken advantage of when reported within 30 days of the event date.
Anything Else to Think About for My Benefits?
Make sure you read the fine print on all benefit plans offered to you. Some carriers will allow you to enroll with no questions asked when you are first eligible. If you decline enrollment initially, though, they can impose a waiting period or require medical forms to be completed prior to coverage approval at Open Enrollment. Don’t be left empty-handed!
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