Comparing Benefit Options
This is the time of year when those of us lucky enough to be eligible for benefits through our employer have the opportunity to choose benefit options for next year. The comparisons we do should extend beyond those options offered to what we could get on the open market.
In most cases, the prices and levels of service offered by your employer may be your best choice. Depending on the size of your company, the fact that they are buying benefits in bulk often allows them to offer benefits at significantly lower prices than you could hope to find on your own. For health insurance, this is almost always the case. Other benefits may not be so clear cut.
This issue came to my attention when I happened to get a life insurance quote through an online quote comparison site, Accuquote.com. I have traditionally purchased term life insurance through my employer to supplement the 2x salary coverage they offer employees free of charge. The weekly price I was paying for this added coverage seemed so inexpensive that I never thought twice about buying it in this way. Seeing the results from Accuquote quickly changed my mind. I was able to purchase twice the life insurance coverage through them for about two-thirds the price I had been paying through my employer. Getting much more for less is always something that I try to exploit.
I don’t believe that my employer was intentionally trying to overcharge me, but rather that by offering a benefit to all employees (with varying risks, etc.) this benefit isn’t tailored to my specific situation and needs. As a result of this discovery, I re-evaluated all of my benefits before choosing to pay for them through my employer. In the end, I still purchased many of my benefits through my employer, but went with third-party companies for many others. Before you blindly accept the benefits offered by your employer to you, the captive audience employee, shop around to ensure that those benefits offer the services you need at the best price possible.