If you are hired by a U.S. company, don't expect your benefits package to include a double-your-salary group life insurance policy. There's been a steady erosion in workers' benefits such as disability, 401k matches and group life insurance, according to numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and LIMRA, a research marketing organization.

This is a grim irony: Jobs are increasing nationwide, with more than 200,000 added each month this year. But all too often many of them are part-time or temporary jobs and lack the types of benefits workers traditionally received. And the decline in employee benefits parallels the loss in wages, which has fallen to a record low as a share of America's gross domestic product.

No life insurance fruit for your labor

There are two contributing factors to this decline. The first is corporate belt-tightening, which has been accelerating since the 2008 recession and forcing managers to find new ways to reduce costs.

"In the budget-cutting process you go for the low-hanging fruit first," says Bruce Elliott, manager of Compensation and Benefits at Washington, D.C.-based SHRM. "You are trying to get the most cost savings with the least amount of pain to the employee. So before I monkey with the medical plan I will look for options such as cutting life insurance, because you will only use that once."

The other factor is the increased cost of company health insurance plans.

"I'm not surprised that companies are backing out of group life and disability programs," says Chief Economist Steve Weisbart of the Insurance Information Institute, which represents the insurance industry. "The problem is the continued and growing cost of health insurance. And companies can't pass that along directly to employees."

Here are more trends, costs and laws for open enrollment for 2015 group health insurance plans.

Dwindling group life insurance options

The SHRM, which represents the Human Resource (HR) employees who actually do the hiring -- and firing -- for American business, says that 83 percent still offer company-paid life insurance. While it seems like a lot, that figure is down from 87 percent in 2010 and has dropped 3 percent since last year's report. This figure includes municipalities and schools, which normally have more inclusive benefits.

Your life insurance plan of action

If you want to keep group life insurance, as well as other benefits that may have been reduced or lost, here's what to do:
  • Investigate. Never assume you have a benefit unless it is verified. If group life insurance, disability or other benefits are not listed on the company website, then get a complete package from HR.
  • Know how much life insurance you need. Workplace life insurance might be woefully insufficient. Insure.com's life insurance calculator can help you find an appropriate coverage amount.
  • Negotiate. Many businesses are scaling back on benefits that are paid by the employer and substituting employee-paid benefits. This might irritate workers accustomed to having the company foot the bill. But at least as part of a group you invariably get a lower rate than an individual. "I once had a case of a husband who needed long-term care insurance, but couldn't get it on the open market," says Marvin Feldman, president of Life Happens, a non-profit group that helps people understand life and health insurance. "But his wife could through a group insurance program."
  • Mind the gap. "Most companies offer health insurance," says Feldman. "But you need to find the gaps in coverage and then ask, "'What will it cost me to protect my income, my assets and my family?' You may not be able to solve all your problems, but address the ones that are most urgent."
  • Buy your own insurance policies. Term life insurance is relatively cheap for most people. And while fewer companies provide long-term disability insurance, many employers still offer short-term disability.

Group life insurance plans that offer coverage for dependents (like spousal group life insurance) has also declined over the last four years, down from 58 to 54 percent.

LIMRA research shows that among private companies with more than 10 employees, only 52 percent offered group life insurance, down from 61 percent in 2009. It also saw reductions in other benefits, like medical insurance and short-term disability.

While full-time employees face cutbacks, their part-time and temporary counterparts often have few or no benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in July that only 14 percent of part-time workers in private industry had access to life insurance benefits and only about a quarter had any company medical benefits.

Employers don't see benefit

There is little reason to believe there will be any improvement. The pool of 7.5 million part-time workers, most of whom would like full-time employment, is likely to continue to grow, economists say.

And the over abundance of willing workers should keep both wages and benefits down, predicts SHRM's Elliott, with group life insurance and disability as the first to be either reduced or eliminated.

"Fewer employers are viewing life insurance as a necessary benefit for attracting or retaining purposes, and fewer employers are predicting that their workers value these benefits," says LIMRA research analyst Kim Landry. "Life insurance is viewed as something employees can obtain outside work."

But employers say the most persuasive argument for cutting group life insurance and disability benefits is that most workers aren't aware of them and therefore don't miss it.

Most companies provide a description of benefits in their hiring package and post it on their websites, but "few people understand how it works," says SHRM's Elliott. "It's not something employees pay attention to."

While group life insurance can be a bargain, it has a major downside: It doesn't go with you when you leave a job. Securing your own life insurance means that you can continue to protect your family no matter how your job situation changes. To learn about the types of life insurance available, read these life insurance basics.

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