Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How do I know if I have the best benefit plan for my company?


Let us help you find out by Requesting A Plan Review - by completing this form we can compare benefit plan options that are suitable for your company and see how your current plan stacks up.




How do I login to submit my myHSA claims?


Please click on the green login button at the top right corner of our website. Alternatively, this link will direct you there as well. You may also like to use the mobile app for iPhone or Android. It's free and makes submitting claims a snap.




If I run a 2-person start-up, can I still offer a benefits plan?


Yes, we can tailor a benefits plan for as few as two employees. To quickly determine which benefits plan may be best suited to your unique needs, try our Find A Plan feature. This short quesionnaire (5 min) will give you a better idea of your options and then someone from our office will follow up to help customize a plan just for you.




What is the difference between benefits and insurance?


Benefits [ben-uh-fits] as defined by Vital Partners A collection of tangible and intangible perks offered to employees and/or owners. Examples include Health, Dental, Disability, Life, Critical Illness and Wellness benefits. Insurance [inˈSHo͝orəns] as defined by Vital Partners Insurance is a contract which provides compensation for a specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium. Insurance can be purchased to hedge against financial losses and with specific goals in mind for individuals, families, or businesses.




What does a typical Group Benefits plan look like?


Group Benefits plans can vary based on an organization's budget, benefits philosophy, industry, and size. A typical plan includes Life and Disability Insurance, Dental, and Extended Health coverage (including prescription drugs, massage and travel). Other benefits may include wellness, fitness, or health spending accounts, which can be added according to your budget.




What is the difference between group and individual benefits?


Group benefits are purchased by companies with 2 or more employees to benefit the “group” of employees. There are several advantages to group plans:

  • no medical questions required

  • tax effective

  • generally lower premiums

  • attraction and retention of employees

Individual insurance plans are generally purchased by people who do not have a group benefits plan or wish to 'top-up' group coverage. Individual benefits plans offer:

  • budgeting assistance through regular monthly premiums

  • protection (insurance) for unexpected events such as accidental dental, ambulance, or private duty nursing, for example

  • protection against changes in your health that may make it difficult to obtain coverage in the future




Why would an individual need insurance?


An unexpected health problem can affect many areas of your life. For many people, insurance can help replace lost income, provide an immediate cash injection in the event of a loss, and mean the difference between surviving and thriving. Insurance solutions may include:

  • critical illness insurance
  • life insurance
  • disability insurance





Employer Questions

Why offer employee benefits?


There are several reasons to offer an employee benefits plan:

  • Attraction and retention - organizations of all kinds compete for talent. Building the right team and then keeping them engaged sets you up for success.

  • Tax-effective compensation - instead of employees purchasing their own individual health and dental plans with after-tax money, most elements of a benefits plan are received tax-free. At the same time, it's a tax-deduction for your organization.

  • Protection for employees - life happens, and when illness, injury, or day-to-day wellness expenses arise, employees can face financial and emotional hardship. Having the right plan in place can build resilience for employees who are dealing with life's challenges.

  • Creating a culture of caring - when employees understand that their employer supports them, their commitment helps your business thrive.




Is my business too small for a benefits plan? What is the minimum number of employees that I need to start a plan?


We can offer benefits for companies with as few as two employees.




Do I have to offer the same coverage to all employees?


No, but you must offer the same benefits to all employees within the same “class or designation.” For example, you may have an “employee class” or an “executive class.”

Whether all employees receive the same benefits forms a part of every organization's benefits philosophy.




It seems like our insurance premiums go up every year, but we don’t really understand why?


Insurers calculate benefit premiums based on a number of different factors such as employee demographics, age, gender, industry, utilization of benefits, etc.

If you don’t understand why your benefit premiums are changing, please contact us. Our proprietary renewal process includes reporting, independent renewal analysis, and negotiation with the insurer.




Is there a better way to pay for benefits so that the insurance company makes less off of every claim?


Yes! There are funding options for benefits that help you reduce your plan expenses. There are a number of tools that we can use to limit the amount of money that the insurer makes. That reduces premiums for you and keeps more money in your pockets and those of those employees.




How can I help employees understand the value of the investment the company is making towards the cost of benefits?


Your benefits form part of your values statement, part of employees' total compensation, and your brand.

Your organization's investment in benefits must be translated to employees in a way that creates value for them and their families. We help you do this in a number of ways:

  • easy-to-use branded benefits summaries for employees and their families

  • employee education sessions to review benefits in detail, explain how employees can become active benefit plan consumers

  • our high-touch service model ensures that employees have access to help to help when they need it




I haven’t really looked at my benefits in three years or so. What should I be looking at to make sure that I’m doing the best I can for the money we’re spending?


You might want to Request a Plan Review. Ahead of that, here are some general questions and answers:

  1. Can you get more bang for your buck? Typically, yes. By doing an analysis of the plan, we can look at your current coverage and what employees are spending (ie: claims history) and determine if the rates are fair. We will also discuss your goals and objectives to make sure that your current plan aligns with what you want to accomplish. If there is a chance that you could be doing better, shouldn’t you find out?

  2. Can this be easier? Yes! When you have the right plan design, the right insurer, the most efficient funding model, and an advisory firm that sticks with you through thick and thin, your benefits can feel like part of the family.

  3. Can we get more support from our benefits advisory firm? Does your advisory firm help you communicate and manage your benefits. To be a sounding board, to lend a hand when you need it.




Are you able to help our employees understand everything about their Benefits Plan?


Yes, we conduct training and educational sessions for each of our client companies. We cover everything they need to know to get the most from their plan including: what their benefits include, how to save money, make a claim, onboarding, addressing the concerns of various age groups, etc.




Not all of my employees are on the benefits plan. Do they need to be?


Every organization's contract with the insurer describes the eligibility requirements for your plan.

Often, the insurer stipulates that all eligible employees as defined as working a certain number of hours per week must be included on the plan. Sometimes the contract stipulates that a given percentage of employees are included on the plan.

Let us help you understand the contract that you have with your insurance carrier to ensure that you fulfilling your obligations.




What about dealing with maternity leaves, disability, declined claims, lost cards, etc.?


These are issues that many employers face every day. Vital Partners is one of the few brokerages that encourages direct calls with plan members. We can usually solve your problem within a matter of minutes. We also train your plan adminstrator so that they have the information they need to keep employees happy and healthy.




REVISIT I don't think I have a benefits broker. Why should I talk to one now?


Almost every organization, unless it is very, very large, is supposed to be represented by someone, i.e. a broker or firm that is supposed to be on their side, providing updates, and delivering service when required.

Sad but true, some advisors disappear into the woodwork after they sell a plan. But they are still be compensated to deal with your benefits.

Why not work with someone who delivers service?




I feel like I’m always being “sold” to. I would love to talk to someone who is on my side.


At Vital Partners, our commitment to partnering with clients is in our name.

All of our recommendations are designed for cost and time efficiencies and to help you deliver value for money to your employees.

Our on-your-side and by-your-side service model is our promise to you as long as we manage your plans.




My renewal reports include a lot of numbers and insurance terminology that I don’t understand. I would like help understanding the story that my benefits data is showing?


There is definitely a lot of terminology in the benefits world. Incurred but not reported, target loss ratio, experience, credibility, and pooling limits can be difficult to understand.

We simplify and clarify so that you can understand the cost drivers behind your plan, usage patterns, and how plan design can be tweaked to ensure that you are funding your program in the most efficient way possible.

Check out our Glossary too!




Are benefits affordable?


They certainly can be. We can work with any budget to deliver cost-effective solutions for your team.




What’s new in the benefits world? Is there anything new that I should consider?


The benefits world is constantly changing and we stay on top of trends to make sure that we are delivering the best possible solutions. Check out our Newsletters for the latest information.




How do I find out what other businesses similar to mine are offering?


Benefits benchmarking based on your industry, company size, or postal code can be a helpful tool in understanding whether you are offering a plan that is aligned with your philosophy or company strategy.




How do I find out what my employees want and value in their benefits program?


We can help with an employee survey. We have found that when a third party collects and analyzes the data, only reporting aggregate responses, you can be assured that responses are more reflective of attitudes toward your benefit plan.





Health and Wellness Spending Accounts

Employees keep asking whether our benefits cover gym memberships. How does that work? Why would I do that?


Wellness accounts can be included in your benefit plan.




I don’t really use benefits / I don’t take prescription drugs or see the chiropractor or anything. Why should I set up a plan?


Why not? It doesn’t cost anything to set up, and there are no ongoing fees. Having a plan in place gives you flexibility.




When I look at our benefits reporting, it seems like our use is really low. Is there a better way to pay for benefits so that we’re not wasting money?


If your team is not accessing your insured benefit plan, you could consider using a health spending account instead of an insured program.

That means that you only pay for what people use. Sometimes if your team has low needs for traditional benefits, a health spending account can be a very cost-effective way of allowing people to access what they need while not spending money on benefits they don’t.




I really like the idea of a health spending account for my incorporated business but what about travel and catastrophic coverage?


We offer a travel and catastrophic insurance program and can certainly add that to your account.




Can I set this up as a sole proprietor without any employees?


Yes.




What kind of expenses can be submitted through a health spending account? Wellness Spending account?


Any expenses approved by the Canadian Revenue Agency. For an allowable list go to xxx. **Wellness expenses?





Individual Insurance: Individual life, disability, critical illness

I have coverage through work so I'm covered appropriately, right?


Group benefits coverage offers affordable life insurance, disability, and critical illness insurance while you are employed with your company.

There are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. If you have to leave your employer, either voluntarily or due to other factors, group benefits aren’t always portable. Conversion options tend to be costly and limited.
  2. When you have group insurance coverage, your employer controls it. The amount can be changed, the coverage can be cancelled.
A change in insurability can stem from a number of factors including health changes (even if they aren’t life threatening), lifestyle changes, etc.




How much life insurance should I have?


We can help with a needs analysis tool that will help determine the ideal amount of coverage for your unique situation. We can help you balance your needs and your budget while sourcing the most practical type of coverage and most affordable insurer.




Will you give me the best rates?


We’re brokers, so we can obtain rates from any Canadian insurer based on your age, gender, and smoking status.

Our goal is to help reduce the confusion surrounding insurance options and to help source the best fit for you.





Individual Benefits

I recently left my job. Can I replicate my group benefits plan with a plan for just me and my family?


Generally, group benefits cannot be replicated on an individual basis, however there are several insurers who offer individual plans like GreenShield, Alberta Blue Cross, Sun Life, Great West Life, Manulife.

We determine your best options by understanding your goals and objectives and what you have previously claimed. Visit our Find a Plan page to review some options that might work for you.




I am self-employed. What are some benefits options for me and my family?

I have heard of Blue Cross, but are there other programs I should be looking at?


Self-employed individuals (operating as sole proprietors or corporations) should consider using a health spending account, an individual health and dental plan, or both.

Please visit our Health Spending Account page for more information about how Health Spending Accounts work to save you money.