Open season is around the corner and now is the time to prepare. Also known as annual enrollment, open season is an important and often overlooked period of time during which workers can make modifications to their fringe employee benefits.

Insurance benefits provider Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company released a list of seven mistakes to avoid during annual enrollment to help consumers make smart decisions regarding benefits choices. Based off of the Colonial Life press release here is a list of five things to keep in mind when you are preparing for your annual enrollment.

Pay Attention to the Details

It is easy to let your enrollment date come and go, taking with it potential upgrades to your benefits package. You should become familiar with the benefits you already have and which ones for which you are eligible. It is also helpful to evaluate what your family needs in terms of coverage by talking to your spouse and reviewing the changes that the new plan would bring. In a survey conducted by Colonial Life, the company found employees spend twice as much time researching the best television to buy than they do considering benefits packages.

Know Your Current Benefits

If you do not know the price of your current benefits and what you receive, it is impossible to negotiate a better deal. Your employer should provide you with a benefits statement that you should review to recognize which benefits you have and address any gaps in coverage. By going over your current benefits you will become aware of how much you can spend on additional needed benefits.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of reviewing your benefits package. It may seem simple to just sign the dotted line and roll over your current benefits plan, but there may be parts of it that are no longer helpful to you. Life changes such as a salary increase, an addition to the family or a divorce could affect the benefits you need.

Look into Flexible Benefit Plans and Pre-Tax Premiums

Colonial Life suggests looking into flexible benefit plans, which “allow you to pay for certain qualified benefits on a pretax basis, which reduces your taxes and increases your spendable income.” These types of plans are important consider because they can help tailor benefit plans to your budget as well as your other needs plus the added perk of tax savings.

Use Your Company as a Resource

Larger corporations will offer group meetings before the enrollment date to go over changes that the new benefits packages will bring. These meetings provide you the opportunity to overview new plans and also ask questions you might have. Attending these meetings will help you prepare and decrease the likelihood you will forget your enrollment date.

Meet With a Benefits Counselor

If your company has the option to meet with a benefits counselor you should definitely take advantage of their expertise. Some companies offer online enrollment which is not only impersonal, but could potentially steer you towards the wrong decision. Meeting with a professional will make sure you cover all the needed details and get the plan that is best for you and your dependents.

Have you ever had problems with enrolling for employee benefits? Let us know in the comments box below:

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