Additionally, Barfels encourages you to ask yourself the following four questions before you complete the benefits enrollment process this year. Doing so can ensure you are not leaving money on the table.
1. What changed from last year?
Your employer should review any benefits changes before new plans are instituted. If you haven't received the necessary information, or are having trouble understanding everything that's changed, ask your human resources department.
2. Maximize your 401(k) match.
When it comes to investing in your retirement, it's hard to find a better option than an employer offering a full or partial match to your own savings. In most programs, your employer will offer to match your contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. This could be a full or partial match, and could vary depending on the amount of time you've been with the company. All of this can be confusing, so it's important to obtain the policy in writing so you can make fully informed investment decisions.
3. Do you have access to a legal plan, financial planning resources or any other voluntary benefits?
In order to attract and retain the best employees, many leading companies offer additional types of insurance beyond health insurance. One common type of voluntary benefit is legal insurance. According to a recent study by ARAG, people with legal insurance feel their legal plan saved them an average of 8.5 hours1 when dealing with a legal issue and $3,550 in attorney fees.2 Additionally, 90 percent of plan members say legal insurance reduced their stress overall.1 Enrolling in voluntary benefits such as legal and financial solutions can help you solve personal problems more efficiently to minimize the impact on your work, as well as reduce stress and increase financial wellness.
4. What health care plan makes sense for you?
For families, choosing the right health insurance plan requires a lengthy review process. Therefore, it's helpful for both you and your spouse or domestic partner to understand the plan options and review them together. If possible, evaluate all medical expenses over the past year to see which plan might work best for you. Take into account any upcoming life changes like having a child or new health issues you've developed since you last enrolled in benefits. It pays to examine other fringe benefits of health plans, such as discounts to health clubs or other healthy living incentives. You may also decide it makes more sense for each of you to remain on your respective employer's plans as individuals, so it's important to consider all options.
While it may seem overwhelming to thoroughly review your options, it's important to know what benefits you are entitled to and how they work. And remember, if you get confused, your human resources department is there to answer your questions. There's no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to your benefits, as that question could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
ARAG® (www.araglegal.com) is a leader in legal insurance. It provides people with affordable and reliable legal counsel for everyday life matters. The company has an international premium base of more than $2 billion and protects 15.5 million individuals and their families – worldwide. We give you the freedom and control to embrace life's opportunities.
ARAG's North American headquarters are based in Des Moines, Iowa. We've earned the prestigious Center of Excellence Award for nine consecutive years (2007-2015) and have been named a Top 100 Call Center by BenchMark Portal for six consecutive years (2011-2016), continuing our track record of industry-leading customer service. ARAG team members voted ARAG a Best Places to Work in Insurance (2009-2014).
Jen Harken, Corporate Communications Manager
12016 ARAG Plan Member Satisfaction Survey.
2Average attorney rate in the United States of $347 per hour for attorneys with 11 to 15 years of experience, The Survey of Law Firm Economics: 2015 Edition, The National Law Journal and ALM Legal Intelligence, September 2015. Average amount saved based upon top ARAG claims.
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