When most people think about what it takes to help protect their loved ones’ financial security, they tend to think about life insurance – and it makes sense. Owning insurance that pays out a lump sum benefit to your beneficiaries in the event of your untimely death is the most effective way to ensure that even when you’re no longer here to contribute to them financially, they’ll be looked after. When an individual wants or needs to purchase life insurance, he or she typically contacts a financial advisor or insurance representative who then conducts a needs analysis to determine the individual’s life insurance needs, applies to one or more insurance companies for it, and then if the individual’s insurance application is approved (including potentially a medical questionnaire and tests), begins paying insurance premiums to keep it in-force.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that as important as it is to purchase sufficient life insurance to protect their loved ones’ financial security after their gone, the group benefits plan you provide your employees likely includes a number of benefits that are also important in helping. Your company’s benefits plan, for example, likely includes a life insurance benefit that amounts to a flat amount or a multiple of each employee’s gross annual income, and that is partly or entirely guaranteed regardless of the employee’s health. This can amount to a relatively significant benefit, though for most people, it is not enough on its own to adequately look after their loved ones financially. A qualified advisor will want to include a person’s group life insurance benefit in a thorough analysis of how much insurance he or she has, and how much is still needed.
But beyond the life insurance you likely provide in your company’s group benefits plan are other benefits that directly or indirectly help care for your employees’ loved ones. Most plans, for example, include short and long-term disability insurance for employees that pay out a benefit each week (in the case of short term disability) or each month (in the case of long term disability) when an employee becomes disabled and is unable to work for an income. This is as beneficial for your employees as it is for their families, given that most families cannot sustain the loss of an income for even a short period of time. When you consider that group disability insurance – unlike Workers’ Compensation Insurance – covers disabilities sustained both on and off the job, the financial security it affords your employees and their families becomes even more apparent.
Most group benefit plans include more than just insurance, though, that benefits the employees’ families. Plans that include Health, Prescription Drug and/or Dental benefits, for example, almost always include coverage (or the option for coverage) for each employee’s dependent spouse and/or children. And in cases when an employee dies when he or she still has coverage under a group benefits plan, there is usually a survivor benefit that continues to afford the employee’s dependents with coverage for one or two years following the death with no insurance premiums required.
In order to really stand out as an employer who cares, you have options to take your benefits plan beyond what’s become standard and, in the process, help improve your competitive position in the war on talent. As just one example, you can supplement your company’s benefits plan with a Health Spending Account and/or Personal Spending Account as a means to providing your employees and their families with the flexibility to choose how to spend wellness dollars. You can add an Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EAFP) to provide a number of important services, including but not limited to counselling. You can add Critical Illness Insurance coverage to your plan – either as a mandatory or voluntary benefit – that provides a lump sum financial benefit to an insured person diagnosed with a covered critical illness. There are other benefit options too that your group benefits advisor should recommend or at least advise you about so you can make the most informed and impactful decision for your own team.
Really, then, by helping to take care of your employees with a group benefits plan, you’re helping take care of their families too. At a time when employees are in the position to choose who they want to work for, and when working for an employer who actively demonstrates care and concern for his or her employees is non-negotiable, it’s important that you make clear what you do for your team. To learn more, please speak with your benefits advisor.
Benefits Account Manager, Wiegers Financial and Insurance Planning Services Ltd.