Are You Afraid of What Lurks in the Deep Water of Your ERISA Plan?

Published: August 9, 2018

Fear of creatures that lurk in deep water is pretty universal – for confirmation, look no further than the numerous summer movies featuring unexpected attacks by fierce underwater predators with sharp teeth. Inevitably, none of the victims seem to have any tools that will actually save them.  One after another, their tools break, and their escape attempts fail pitifully. Unfortunately, such movies give the impression that the only protection from these predators is staying out of the water altogether. 

If sponsoring and administering ERISA employee benefit plans seems as dangerous to you as swimming in deep water, be assured that there are tools and approaches that can be vital to risk management. Amending your ERISA plan document and summary plan description to include appropriate plan provisions, for instance, can minimize your exposure as a plan administrator.  For example:

When it comes to health and welfare plans, note that, if you do not yet have a plan document and summary plan description, now is the time to get one. Benefit summaries provided by your insurer are helpful and important documents, but they may not contain all the elements required by ERISA.  Moreover, by adopting a plan document and summary plan description, you will have a document to include provisions like those highlighted above.

Having an ERISA attorney review (or draft) your plan document and summary plan description can save you money and headaches down the line. After all, a lawsuit may not be quite as scary as staring into a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark’s open jaws – but do you really want to find out through personal experience?

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