Annual Benefits Checklist: Refreshers and Reminders

28 Jul Annual Benefits Checklist: Refreshers and Reminders

Maintaining the health of your benefits plan is critical for both the protection of your employees and your organization as a plan sponsor. We could also call this blog post protecting ourselves from ourselves.

Employees waiving health and dental benefits: It is common for employees to be covered for benefits under their company’s plan as well as a spouse’s benefit plan. When those employees enroll in benefits, there is a temptation to miss completing dependent information on the insurer’s benefit form. After all, why would the company need to know about an employee’s children if they are not paying claims for those kids?

Consider this situation: Samantha joined her company’s benefit plan three years ago. Because her company asked employees to share in the cost of benefits, Samantha and her husband decided to waive benefits under Samantha’s plan. Consequently, when filling out her enrolment form, she neglected to include her two young sons.

Two years later, her husband lost his job and she wanted to add her sons onto her benefit plan within 31 days of losing his coverage. However, the sons were then considered late applicants and were asked to answer health questions. Moreover, if the children are not listed on the benefit plan, then dependent life claims would not be paid in the event one of them passed away.

As a rule, ask employees to include all eligible dependents on their benefits enrolment form. Remind employees regularly that if a lifestyle change occurs such as a spouse losing benefits, to notify your own insurer within 31 days.

Travel insurance reminders: Most group insurance benefits include travel insurance. It’s a very affordable way to cover a significant risk should an unexpected health event occur while an employee or their dependent is outside of their home province. However, to make the most of this benefit, employees need to be reminded about a couple of things:

  • Phone the toll-free number: Even the most minor treatment can become a thorn in an employee’s side if the insurer is not contacted in a timely manner. Because claims must be submitted through provincial coverage first, it can take 6 months or longer to reimburse a client for a claim incurred elsewhere. Phone the number as soon as humanly possible to ensure proper care and to avoid lengthy delays in claims paid.
  • Check Canadian Government’s website: The world can be a dangerous place, and travel to potentially risky areas may not be covered under your group travel insurance program. It is good practice to check the advisories listed on the Government of Canada website, and, if advisories are present, call the insurer to verify coverage.

Employee benefits refreshers: Companies make a significant investment in benefits each year, so it’s a good idea to remind employees that they are there. Some of the bells and whistles that seem to be chronically misunderstood include coverage under employee assistance programs, travel insurance, second opinion services for serious illnesses. Most major insurers now have mobile applications that allow plan members to submit claims, view their benefit card information, and review coverage. Helping employees understand the finer points of their plans can go a long way in making sure that they love their plan and their workplace.