Top Benefit Enrollment Mistakes Made by Employees

October 3, 2013 ( – Employees need to learn more about their benefit options and coverage gaps, says a new survey.

South Carolina-based Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company recently surveyed nearly 400 employee benefits counselors, most with five or more years of experience, about the top mistakes employees make during their annual benefits enrollment. Topping the list was employees assuming they don’t need the benefits being offered, without first talking with a benefits counselor, at 81%.

One survey respondent wrote, “You don’t go to court without your lawyer’s advice or invest in the stock market without an adviser’s input, so why go to enroll in your benefits without a professional’s advice?”

    Mistakes number two through five also related to lack of information:
    • Not reading the benefits information before the enrollment (69%);
    • Not knowing what benefits they currently have and what they cost (69%);
    • Forgetting to talk with their spouse about their family’s needs before the enrollment (67%); and
    • Assuming the cost of a new benefit is unaffordable without seeing any prices (66%).

    One survey respondent advised, “This is the one time you have to take control of how you want to provide for your family and yourself. Take time to talk with your spouse and understand how the benefits can really help your family.”

    The most commonly cited enrollment errors rounding out the top seven also involved poor preparation and not taking advantage of educational resources:

    • Not attending the group informational meeting (58%); and
    • Not taking time to understand the upcoming changes in their benefits plan (50%).

    The survey found many employers give employees the opportunity to meet individually a benefits expert for a personalized counseling session, and employees who do so are positive about them. Research by Colonial Life showed 98% of employees who participated in a one-to-one session said it was important, and 97% said the session improved understanding of their benefits.

    Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a provider of financial protection benefits through the workplace including disability, life, accident, cancer, critical illness and supplemental health insurance.