Life Insurance

How to Prepare for Life Insurance Open Enrollment

mother and child sitting on the ground
Open enrollment is an annual opportunity to make adjustments to your employer-sponsored benefits, like health insurance and life insurance. It's also an ideal time to consider whether your job provides sufficient life insurance coverage or if you want an individual policy to help protect your family's financial stability.

If you're wondering how to prepare for open enrollment, don't worry. Here, we'll cover some tips to help you maximize your experience. It's important to note that changes can't be made after the benefits open enrollment period ends, so it's essential to prepare beforehand.

 Here's where to start when you're preparing for open enrollment:

  • Review the available benefits offered through your employer. These could include health insurance, group, and supplemental life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment (ADD) coverage, vision and dental insurance, retirement plans, and any other available fringe benefits.
  • Calculate how much coverage you want for life insurance and compare the amount to what your employer offers. Even though Ethos doesn't offer group life insurance, it does offer individual life insurance and our coverage calculator is a handy tool to help with this exercise.
  • If your employer offers voluntary or supplemental life insurance that expands your coverage beyond the group limits, study the details to determine whether it makes sense to buy it through your job or on your own, or both.

When is open enrollment for health insurance and life insurance?

Most benefits plans are tied to the calendar year and begin on January 1. Employers typically schedule open enrollment a month or two ahead of the start of the new plan year, which is why it tends to happen in November or December. Some companies even begin the process in September or October, so they have enough time to handle the administrative workload associated with finalizing enrollment. 

Don't be confused by messages about open enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), though. That happens from November 1 through January 15 and is entirely independent of open enrollment at your job.

The benefits enrollment period can last for a few days or several weeks. During this time, most companies require employees to review all available benefits and accept or decline each one offered. This is called active open enrollment. 

Some companies follow a passive enrollment health insurance and benefits strategy, where the previous year's benefits simply roll over automatically. Check with the benefits manager at your company to confirm what you need to do. Either way, think of open enrollment as an annual reminder to review your needs, including life insurance.   

Life insurance options

The amount of coverage provided by an employer-sponsored group life insurance plan is typically based on a multiple of your annual salary. If, for example, you make $50,000 per year and your company applies a 2x multiple, you'll have $100k in life insurance coverage. These plans are typically low-cost, and best of all, everyone usually automatically qualifies for certain levels of coverage with no health examinations.

Many employers may also allow you to buy a certain amount of voluntary or supplemental life insurance without a medical exam, and even more with a medical exam if you're healthy. 

When to buy an individual term life insurance policy

If you're young and healthy, buying an individual policy may a good choice instead of, or in addition to, adding supplemental insurance through your employer. With individual term life insurance, you'll lock in a rate for the term length of your policy, and you won't lose your coverage if you change jobs.

A term life insurance policy offers level premiums that will remain the same for the length of the term. In addition, buying an individual term life insurance policy through Ethos provides:

  • Coverage amounts up to $2 million
  • Term lengths from 10 to 30 years
  • Apply anytime—you're not subject to your employer's insurance open enrollment period
  • Security in the fact that your insurance coverage isn't dependent upon your continued employment

It's important to remember that the group and supplemental life insurance coverage your employer provides usually terminates if you leave your job. 

If your employer suspends or cancels its group life insurance, this will also cause any supplemental life insurance to lapse. While some policies may allow you to maintain employer-provided coverage after leaving your job, it can be cost-prohibitive to do so. 

If you're concerned about a voluntary or involuntary change in your employment status, you may want to consider getting a quote for life insurance online from Ethos.

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