Your group benefits plan provides significant value, but the terms can be complex. Understanding enrollment periods is crucial for securing the benefits you need. Knowing how these periods work can help you plan for your future, protect your family, and take full advantage of your options.

Open Enrollment Period

The open enrollment period is the most common time for you to select or modify your benefits for the upcoming year. The exact timing can vary depending on when your employer first established the group benefits plan.

During open enrollment, you can make the following changes to your plan:

  • Enroll in health, dental, and vision insurance plans
  • Add or remove dependents from your coverage
  • Choose or adjust optional benefits like life insurance, disability insurance, and flexible spending accounts (FSAs)

Your employer will usually notify you in advance about the specific dates for open enrollment, giving you plenty of time to review your options and make informed decisions.

Special Enrollment Periods

What happens if enrollment is closed, but you need to make changes to your coverage? That can be possible. Outside of the open enrollment period, you may qualify for a special enrollment period if you experience certain life events, such as:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Loss of other health coverage (e.g., through a spouse’s job)
  • Significant changes in income

Special enrollment periods generally give you 30 days from the event date to make changes to your benefits or add new dependents. This ensures you maintain coverage without having to wait for the next open enrollment period.

Late Enrollment

If you miss both the open and special enrollment periods, you may have to wait until the next open enrollment period to enroll or change your benefits. Some plans may allow for late enrollment, but often with restrictions or waiting periods for certain coverages.

Things to Know About Your Plan Year

Keep in mind that the plan year, or the 12-month period during which your benefits are active, might differ from the calendar year. Your employer should clearly communicate the plan year dates to you to avoid any confusion.

We Can Help

Navigating the complexities of enrollment periods can be challenging. For personalized assistance and more information on group benefits plans, contact our friendly insurance specialists. We experts are ready to help you understand your options and ensure you get the most out of your group benefits plan.