Open enrollment season is right around the corner. Here are three quick tips that can help you maximize the benefits that your employer makes available to you.
Group life insurance
While I wouldn't necessarily recommend using the group life insurance that your employer provides as your main source of life insurance, generally it is an inexpensive way to boost your total coverage amount. Check and see what your employer offers. You might be able to add coverage at a relatively low cost for your spouse or partner too.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
Whether you get your health insurance coverage through your employer or the exchange, when you have a high deductible high insurance plan, an HSA is a great way to save and pay for future medical expenses. You'll get a tax deduction on the money you contribute and you won't have to pay taxes on the money you take out of your HSA when you use it for qualified medical expenses.
Unlike most Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs), your HSA is not a “use it or lose it” account. And if you build up a balance in your account, many HSAs will allow you invest a portion of your account balance. As an added bonus, you don't pay taxes on any earnings you might have from your investments in your HSA provided you use those funds for qualified medical expenses in the future.
Group Short Term (STD) & Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance
Similar to life insurance, your employer's STD & LTD policies aren't necessarily better than individual disability insurance policies, but they are better than having no coverage. I'd encourage you to make sure you're not only enrolled in the STD & LTD plans through your employer, but see if you have a chance to buy additional coverage through your employer's plan.
As an example, your employer might provide a 90 day STD policy and a LTD policy that covers you up to 60% of your earnings. However, for a small additional cost per paycheck, you might be able to boost your LTD coverage to 65% or 70% of your earnings. That is money well spent.
These tips are a starting point, but your specific employer's benefits & your personal situation are unique.