What’s the benefit to voluntary benefits?

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Whether you’re starting a new job or preparing for open enrollment, voluntary benefits through your employer can be a simple and cost-effective way to protect yourself and the people you are financially responsible for.

Article highlights

  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Life insurance

Without the right protections in place, an accident, illness or surgery can derail retirement savings, disturb one’s ability to provide for their family, or, propel someone into debt. Voluntary benefits can help shoulder the responsibility you and your loved ones need to ensure stability today while confidently saving for tomorrow. 

Explore some of the options you might be able to consider when starting a new job or preparing for your next open enrollment season at work.


Dental and vision insurance

Did you know oral wellness has a strong connection to overall health? In fact, more than 90 percent of systemic diseases, such as diabetes or even cancer, have oral signs and symptoms.1

If you have dental insurance, be sure to take the time to understand what’s covered so you can fully utilize your plan. With employer-sponsored dental insurance, employees are charged a dentist’s negotiated rate secured by their insurance company, since employers pay a portion of the premiums. Policies typically cover two annual (preventive) cleanings and exams, in addition to x-rays. They also cover a portion of larger, more expensive, unexpected procedures like cavity fillings or root canals, so that you may not need to pay as much out-of-pocket.

Vision care can also contribute to overall health, though it may not be covered by your health insurance plan. It will often cover your yearly eye exams, which can then offset the cost of eyeglasses or contacts. Eye exams can reveal important things about your overall health, including signs of glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, well before other symptoms of the illnesses become apparent.2

Talk to your employer bout getting these types of preventative insurance for you and you loved ones. 

Disability insurance

Without disability insurance coverage, a sudden injury or illness could keep you out of the office and out of a paycheck. This could also impact the people you are responsible for, causing them to have to take care of you and your expenses while you are out on leave. And it’s more common than you might think – the average 20-year-old has more than a one-in-four chance of having a disability before the age of 67 that prevents him or her from working.3

Basic disability insurance, often offered at the workplace and paid for by the employer, can help protect a portion of your income in the case of a disability that prevents you from working for a period of time. Both short-term and long-term disability insurance cover a portion of your paycheck so you can have confidence that while you recover you, and your loved ones, will still have access to some of your income.

Accident insurance

Health and disability insurance may cover some of the expenses associated with sustaining an accident, but there could be additional costs. You can get additional protection for your family if you opt in for accident insurance. Accident insurance can help pay for medical expenses above and beyond what’s covered by health insurance – such as high deductibles – or for other out-of-pocket costs associated with certain injuries, such as transportation, childcare, physical therapy, crutches and medication.

Unlike health insurance, these benefits go directly to the insured person, rather than to the healthcare providers, which may help create financial flexibility during a difficult time.

Critical illness insurance

Unexpected illnesses can not only take a toll on someone physically, but can also have a major impact financially. Critical illness insurance provides funds, in the form of a cash benefit, that can cover day-to-day expenses while someone is recovering from a covered illness – such as mortgage payments, childcare, food and more. Your loved ones will be taken care as your insurance replaces your income so you can focus on fighting the illness.

Life insurance

Many companies provide their employees with life insurance policies equal to their salary.4 That may be sufficient for a single person with no dependents. But for those who need more protection for their family, supplemental coverage through an employer-sponsored plan can help.

While health insurance, along with a retirement plan, forms the foundation of workplace benefits, voluntary benefits can provide important additional coverage that may not be available elsewhere. By enrolling in these benefits, you can help cover unexpected expenses without needing to tap into emergency funds or retirement savings. By doing this, you are covering the responsibility of taking care of your loved ones.

Get more information on some of the benefits your employer may provide and how they could help you maintain your financial goals.

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1“Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. September 2000. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/SurgeonGeneral/sgr/welcome.htm

2“Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/features/healthyvision/

3“Fact Sheet: Social Security.” Social Security Administration. 2016. https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/basicfact.html

4Couch, Christina. “Do you need supplemental life insurance?” Bankrate. http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/supplemental-life-insurance-1.aspx