When Is the Best Time to Review Your Employee Benefit Plans? 

Posted by Brad Snitzer on Jan 19, 2018 7:00:00 AM
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Blog Heading 2 (13)-1.jpgDo you review your employee benefits plan during each renewal?

It’s a great practice to annually review which benefits are valued most by your employees and why, but by the time you’re approaching your renewal period, it’s too late.

The renewal period is when you secure the pricing for the year for your policies. For some lines of coverage, such as medical insurance, insurance companies aren’t required to release your renewal options until just 30 days prior to the renewal effective date.

That can be a short window of time for a company to evaluate all the available plan options, communicate the benefits to members, and enroll the group – especially if your renewal is January 1 and you’re competing with the holidays and the high volume of companies that renew at that time.   

In the end, I find that the new plans do not get a thorough evaluation, and quick decisions are made that may not be the most cost effective. And it makes sense. It can be difficult to introduce a new plan concept, such as a Health Savings Account, when you are short on time.

I recommend reviewing your plan designs and policies after the renewal date, when you do not have the pricing deadline looming. That way, when the time to renew your plan comes around, you already know what design of plan you’d like to implement, you will just need to secure the most competitive pricing.

Off-renewal evaluation allows you to take a closer look at the benefits that you offer and determine what type of benefit plan will be best for your employees. Most importantly, off-renewal evaluation allows you to do this without the pressure of a 30-day timeline.

Here are 3 best practices for an off-renewal evaluation:

  1. Survey your employees – Ask employees what benefits they’d like to see implemented. You may have an idea of what your employees value, but issuing an anonymous survey may give you insight you did not expect. One inexpensive and effective option is to use the online tool Survey Monkey, which allows you to be creative with questions and gives employees the opportunity to remain anonymous.
  1. Distribute educational materials – One benefit of off-renewal evaluation is that it gives your team a chance to learn more about new benefits. To help them become comfortable with the new benefits before you roll them out, distribute emails with details and post a sheet of Frequently Asked Questions in the break room. For example, if you will offer a Health Savings Account for the first time, start a campaign explaining HSAs months before enrollment. Once enrollment does come around, employees will be more likely to utilize the benefits you’re providing, upping participation in the plan and increasing the value of your offerings to employees.
  1. Don’t wait to talk to your consultant – If you decide to evaluate your benefits outside of your typical renewal cycle, you do not have to wait to make that change. You could make that change up to 60 days ahead of the new effective date. Start the process by discussing your options with your broker or insurance consultant.

It can be hard to jump into an evaluation of your benefit plan immediately after your renewal period – but it is so worth it. Your employees have benefits top-of-mind and will be able to give you fresh, honest feedback about the enrollment process.

By following these best practices, you will be more prepared entering your next renewal and your company will be able to create a tailored benefit plan that employees appreciate.

Topics: Benefits

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