Voluntary benefits plans are various types of insurance and service benefits offered to members of an organization or employees of a company. The difference between voluntary benefits plans and regular benefits packages is that members or employees are not required to opt in to any of the services, but may do so at their own discretion. Plans are typically paid for through payroll deductions and may be offered in addition to or instead of regular benefits. Some of the different types of voluntary benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance, accidental death or life insurance, savings plans and retirement accounts, and services such as legal assistance or therapy.
Some companies that offer a basic medical insurance package to employees may not have the means to offer a full health care package which includes other services beyond basic medical care. Some of the most popular voluntary benefits plans include options for dental and vision coverage. Medical coverage for specialized issues, such as end-of-life care, cancer insurance, or catastrophic injury coverage are also sometimes given as voluntary options. This allows a member or employee to purchase as much coverage as he or she wishes, often at a discounted rate.
Life insurance may be one of the most popular forms of voluntary benefits. Not all employees need or want life insurance, thus making it sometimes impractical to offer it as a mandatory benefit. Life insurance can help surviving family members pay for funeral expenses and continue to survive financially in the event of the death of the insured party. Many benefits plans also allow the coverage to extend to a spouse, domestic partner, or even other family members.
Some voluntary benefits plans can help save money for a goal such as college or retirement. These can be very useful for people who have difficulty managing their funds, as the contribution is deducted directly from payroll. Some employers or organizations will even agree to match a certain level of contributions per year as part of this deal, though not all make that guarantee. Voluntary savings plans such as IRAs can help grow a nest egg quickly through interest rates that are generally well above those of regular savings accounts.
Employers and organizations may choose to offer a variety of other voluntary benefits that can assist their members and workers. Some offer discounted access to services such as gyms, health clubs, or even cell phone service plans. Services such as discounted legal assistance or health services not covered by traditional medical plans, such as chiropractic services or psychotherapy, may also sometimes be available for below market rate.