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  • Writer's pictureMike Riska

There's Money Hiding in Plain Sight in Your Voluntary Benefits

For most of the insurance policies you own, if everything is going right you never have to make a claim. A claim happens when you're hurt, or sick, or crash your car. But some voluntary benefits have claim money that is meant to be paid out when you do something positive for your health, on your own time. They're called Wellness Benefits and you can get paid cash for them every year.

Many insurers build little incentives into their plans that will reduce their overall claims experience over time. This sounds self serving, and it is, but it helps you too. Think about the discount you get on your homeowner's plan for having an alarm system, or the benefit amounts you can roll over on some dental plans as long as you at least get your annual cleanings.

Most examples like this involve either a premium reduction, or some kind of additional payment to a provider for you. With voluntary benefits it works a little differently, since voluntary benefits pay claims differently. Since most voluntary plans pay a cash benefit directly to a policyholder, it works this way with their wellness benefits too: when you make a claim you get a check.

And the incentive is simple, thought the details are different from plan to plan. Let's say you have an Accident Plan. On most of these plans your wellness benefit will pay you once per year per policy, for a covered person to get a basic checkup. This can be a physical, a cancer screening, a dental or eye exam; the lists of qualifying checkups are usually pretty long and broad.

There is a long list of screenings that our doctors would like us to get...and this benefit is meant to give us one more reason to get them.

On Critical Illness Plans and Cancer Plans, the checkup requirements can get more specific. Cancer Plans, for example, focus their wellness benefits on cancer screenings. Critical Illness plans pay benefits for cancer screenings but also include many other screenings related to preventing heart attacks, strokes and other serious illnesses that would trigger a big claim on a CI plan. There is a long list of screenings that our doctors would like us to get, especially as we reach certain ages, and this benefit is meant to give us one more reason to get them. Many cancer and critical illness plans also increase the payment frequency from once per plan per year, to once per covered person per year.

The payouts aren't huge on these -- typically $50-$100 -- but these plans aren't very expensive either. So making sure you claim your wellness benefits every year means you're helping your health, your getting back a decent chunk of your premium, and getting some cash in hand that you didn't have before. If you've forgotten to claim your wellness benefits many carriers are good about letting you make claims for past years, for a least a couple years back. It's easy money and it's right there waiting for you.

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