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Why Written Benefit Plan Documents Are a Must

06/18/2018  |  By: Terri Mangrum, Flexible Compensation & Compliance Manager

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Many employers may be unaware of the written document requirements when a welfare benefit plan is offered to employees. A welfare benefit plan is a certain type of insurance plan that an employer (or plan sponsor) offers to employees. In the complicated world of benefits compliance, getting the plan in writing is often the first step when offering benefits to employees. 

In addition to the benefits guides, summaries, certificates, and notices provided by insurance carriers related specifically to the insurance coverage, the employer must maintain written plan documents that satisfy the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Here are some key considerations for maintaining written benefits plan documents to stay in compliance with ERISA.

Write it Down

The written plan documents must contain the legally required terms and provide specific information about the plan, such as:

  • Who will manage the operation and administration of the plan
  • Listing the powers of the plan administrator
  • Procedures for managing the funding method
  • Procedures for benefit claims denials and reviews
  • HIPAA privacy and security provisions

Wrap it Up

It is wise to note that every plan is an island. Each ERISA plan offered by an employer must have its own written document. If medical, dental, vision, life, disability, AD&D, or other plans are offered to employees, each must have its own stand-alone written plan document. That can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that an employer can choose to write a Wrap Plan Document. The wrap document allows employers to “wrap” or bundle various ERISA benefit plans to create a single welfare benefit plan, thus requiring only one plan document.

How to Get It

LBMC Employment Partners can easily help you get it in writing. We can prepare stand-alone or wrap plan documents that you get your plans in compliance with ERISA requirements. Contact us today to learn more!

Posted in: Employee Benefits
Tagged with: benefit plan documents