Increased Interest In Voluntary Benefits

Lyndsey Barnett

I have seen a lot of articles lately on employers having an increased interest in providing voluntary benefits. I have also had more questions from clients on strategies and implementation of providing voluntary benefits. A voluntary benefit is an insurance arrangement under which employees pay the full premium and the employer has minimal involvement. Common voluntary benefits include critical illness policies, dental, vision and supplemental life. Likely this increased interest is at least partially tied to the fact that many employers feel their employees are receiving a cutback on their medical plan coverage either because they can’t afford to provide as rich of a plan as they used to offer or because the same plan they have offered for years now costs employees significantly more. Offering a variety of voluntary benefits is a way to offer additional benefits to employees without additional costs to the employer. An article I read this morning did a nice job of summarizing the various types of benefits and the general trend towards offering voluntary benefits. One caution to employers is that you want to ensure that your involvement in offering these voluntary benefits doesn’t become so great that the benefits are no longer “voluntary” and exempt from ERISA. If you want more details on how to keep a benefit “voluntary,” please contact me.