“NO ONE TOLD ME!” or “I DIDN’T KNOW THAT!”

Employees spend less time reviewing their benefit options than they spend preparing for a Holiday dinner (survey results showed 1.6 hrs for Thanksgiving)

According to a research survey conducted by the Guardian Life Insurance company, almost one-half of working Americans spend either no time or less than 1 hour reviewing their benefits each year. This survey was conducted following the Fall workplace open-enrollment season. Some 71% of survey respondents said it is “easy” or “very easy” to select employee benefits while only 21% say it is “difficult” or “very difficult”.

What is extremely alarming is the lack of knowledge by the employee when questioned about the benefit selected during the enrollment process. 70% of employees surveyed said they know the difference between group and voluntary individual life insurance. Yet over 55% did not realize that upon termination of employment they would lose their group coverage. Over 48% did not realize employer-paid disability income benefits are taxable at time of claims payment. Over 68% did not know if their disability coverage was effective while on the job. Over 40% did not realize they had guaranteed issue only within a specified time period. 60% of employee respondents ranked “financial security if a wage earner can no longer work do to disability or a serious illness” as important. Only 21% felt their employers were addressing these concerns, despite the fact that more than two-thirds of all employers offer short or long term disability benefits. Apparently, employees simply do not make the connection.

The employer and the benefit broker need to understand that to make employee education effective, we need to keep it personal. We need to schedule “Time out for Benefits” not just once a year for a “herd them through open enrollment” but throughout the year with information provided by the broker and the employer. Education throughout the year allows the employee to feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about the benefits you the employer are providing. Also education, prior to open enrollment time, produces an employee who knows what they want or need for their families financial well-being.

Next issue: “Ideas to provide a solution to employee education of employer provided benefits”

Dan Oakland, Principal of Fringe Benefit Resources, is proud to be endorsed by MHA Ventures, Montana Automobile Association, Idaho Automobile Association, Northwest Montana Physicians Group and the Montana Health Network.

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