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Life Insurance Basics

Understanding the types of employer-sponsored benefits

If an employer offers work related benefits, it's important to understand the type of life insurance coverage available in order to prevent any insurance gaps or misunderstandings.

It is expected for employers to offer their employees some form of work related benefits. And while a few types of insurance coverages are mandatory for certain employers, others are not. Regardless, it could be in your best interest to understand the more common types of insurance that may be available through your employer. Why? Because by knowing what you do and don't have allows you to fill in any insurance gaps in your overall coverage. Plus, you'll be informed enough to seek the benefits you need, when you need them.

Healthcare insurance

Many employers offer some type of group healthcare insurance coverage to their employees. Plans will differ, and can be anything from basic coverage to a more comprehensive plan. Typically, employers will provide different plan options, allowing employees to select the type of insurance that best meets their needs. Getting to know your plan includes understanding what is and isn't covered, whether you can select your own physician, and what your out-of-pocket deductible and other costs may be.

Workers' compensation

Workers' compensation requirements for employers can vary from state to state. Some states never require coverage, some make it mandatory, and for others, the requirement for coverage depends on the number of employees. If you're hurt while on the job, this type of insurance should pay for necessary medical expenses, and compensate you for a portion of your lost wages until you are able to return to work.* It's important to note that because workers' compensation benefits act as a type of insurance, it generally precludes an employee from suing the employer for the covered injury.

Life insurance

Group life insurance through an employer is typically considered voluntary coverage. If your employer offers coverage, it's important that you know exactly what type of policy you have and what the death benefit is. Often, these types of life insurance group plans are just small term or accidental death policies that are just enough to cover final expenses, or come with death benefits that are equal to just one year of your salary - and that's it. Having some form of life insurance is better than nothing at all, and group life insurance could be an affordable way to get a policy established, often without having to undergo a medical exam. However, check your limits and policy type to be certain you have enough coverage.

Disability insurance

If you were to become injured or suffer a serious illness and were unable to return to work, disability insurance can help replace your regular income under a covered illness/injury as outlined in your plan until you are able to return to work. Policies can differ, so find out what type of disability policy you may already have. For example, a short-term disability policy may cover you for a shorter time period compared to a long-term disability policy. You'll also want to know how long you would have to wait before you could begin to receive your benefits. This waiting time is called the elimination period, and it can be anywhere between one week to several months.

If your employer offers you free or low cost benefits at work, you should take the time to review your coverages. If you discover that you may need more coverage in addition to what you have through your employer, speak to an insurance agent or insurance company representative who can help you find the right insurance to cover your needs.

For more information on employer-sponsored benefits or what happens to your coverage when you leave a job, visit the Protective Learning Center.


*Workers' compensation benefits vary from state to state. Check your state's guidelines for more information.




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