Open enrollment comes up annually, and this is the time to opt-in to group life insurance and supplemental insurance policies. Many large companies offer basic group life insurance to employees at no cost. While this is a great benefit, there are some possible downsides of group life that many don’t consider. Many large companies offer group life for free, but this type of policy often comes with a very low policy value. How far would $25,000 or $50,000 go for your family? Odds are you need quite a bit more coverage than what you get from work. Take the time to understand your life insurance needs today so you are best prepared for the next open enrollment season at your office.

How basic group life works

Basic group life insurance policies often come at no charge, or a very minimal charge, to employees at large companies. In some cases, employees are signed up automatically when they start their job. In others, you may have to check a box or select an option to opt-in for the free, basic coverage. If you missed out when you signed up for benefits at work, you can opt-in during the next open enrollment period

Open enrollment typically takes place around the end of the year for the following calendar year. If you have not heard from your human resources department by Thanksgiving, you may want to reach out to get more information on open enrollment. It is common to have to opt-in every year during open enrollment, as is the case with other insurance benefits like health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance.

These policies generally come with a fixed death benefit in the event any insured member of the group passes away. This benefit is usually small when compared to the insurance needs of most families, with a benefit around $25,000 to $50,000. This is a great benefit and something every employee should take, but what should you do when the small coverage included in a basic group life policy is not enough? That’s where supplemental life insurance comes in.

Why you should get a life insurance supplement

To round out your family’s coverage, it is best to get a supplement on top of your basic coverage at work. This can come in two forms. The first option is a supplement that comes through a group life insurance from your employer. The second option is to get your own supplement outside of work.

Supplements at work are great because you can typically get very good coverage at a lower rate than if you went out into the market as an individual. However, like the basic policy you get for free, the policy typically expires when you leave your employer. Last year the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average tenure with an employer is 4.6 years. You will probably still want life insurance when you leave your employer, and if you are like most people that will be in a few years, not a few decades.

While inexpensive, these policies typically come with limit caps around $500,000 or a certain multiple of your salary. It is a great addition to your insurance portfolio, but again likely not enough for your entire coverage needs.

Health conscious individual policies offer portability and peace of mind

To ensure you have insurance coverage for the long-term, you should get a life insurance policy that you own and control outside of your employer. This guarantees you can keep your policy as long as you’d like, or until the term expires 10, 20, or 30 years in the future.

This type of policy generally requires a medical exam, however these generally save you money. Compared to no exam policies like Guaranteed Issue, you save a bundle even if you have a minor medical condition or lifestyle risk. At HealthIQ, you can get a health conscious special rate that is only available for individual policies. With special rates for athletes, vegans, low carb dieters and relationships with more than ten top insurers, you know you will get a great rate if you choose a new individual policy at HealthIQ.

No one likes to think about it, but what would your family do if you were gone tomorrow? If your paychecks stopped coming in, would your family lose their home? Would they be able to afford tuition? Would they continue to live at the same standard of living as they do today? If the answer is no, you need life insurance.

Even if you get insurance through work, it may not be enough. Individual term life insurance policies are often cheaper than you may realize. Get a free quote today to find out just how affordable life insurance can be, then rest easy knowing your family is covered.