Real Life

Make Your Benefits Work For You

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You know the drill. Every fall you get a reminder from your company’s HR department to re-enroll in your benefits. But before open enrollment starts, it’s a good idea to take some time to reevaluate your coverage, from health insurance and retirement plans to other offerings like voluntary benefits. This will ensure that your benefits and insurance coverages are doing what you need them to do – and covering what you need protected.

First, ask, “What’s changed since last year?”

Reevaluating your benefit needs is important every time your family makeup has been altered or your lifestyle changes. For example, are you considering what life changes you’ve gone through this year to make a better choice for the next? Maybe this is the year you finally buy a house, or there’s a baby on the way and you need to get your will in order. These life events not only change your family’s benefit needs, but it also determines what kind of coverage changes are in order.

For example, paying into a health or flexible savings account might be something to consider adding or adjusting on your benefits to help pay for medical bills and things like daycare expenses and orthodontic needs. And upping your contributions to a retirement plan will help you position your financial future in a more favorable light. Other things to investigate could be voluntary benefits like life insurance, financial counseling or pet insurance.

Second, make sure your insurance is keeping you covered.

While you’re at it, why not take the time to make sure your other insurance requirements are also keeping you properly protected? You may review your coverage annually when renewal comes up, but unless you look everything over thoroughly, you may be missing some of the finer points. For example:

  • If you live in an area that’s at risk for natural disasters, consider flood or earthquake insurance in addition to your main homeowner’s insurance.
  • Did you splurge on new computer equipment or buy a designer handbag? Does your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance cover expensive purchases if they are stolen or your home is damaged?
  • Is there a different or new driver making use of your vehicle? Double check that your auto insurance premium will cover all users of your car.
  • If you find yourself in needing care or provide care for an elderly family member, look into long-term care insurance, which could help lessen your financial burden. Other benefits, like a legal insurance plan, often have supplemental coverages that provide help with caregiving referrals and estate planning assistance for a loved one, like a parent or grandparent.

Third, review the value of your benefits.

Now is also a good time to proactively review all the “benefits within the benefits” of your employer’s current offering. For example, maybe a retirement savings plan offers financial counseling or online investment tools to help you feel more comfortable in an uncertain economic climate. Also, many medical insurance providers now offer telehealth options, which can be a convenient way to address health matters. Here’s an added bonus tip: look into how an employee discount program can offer savings on things like insurance, memberships and subscriptions. 

Remember that behind the monthly premiums and co-payments, it is important to understand your coverage options and your needs before signing on the dotted line. Now is the perfect time of year to reassess your insurance options so everything is protected and in order as you begin another year. You’ll be thankful you took the time now, instead of waiting until later and ending up under or wrongly insured.


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