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Open Enrollment

Building Open Enrollment

The Zenefits renewals management tool allows benefits administrators to create plans, contributions, and launch renewals in Zenefits to employees in order to gather election and participation data for delivery to benefits carriers.  Customers and/or their broker are responsible for building Open Enrollment in Zenefits; customers should work with their broker to verify who will build Open Enrollment in Zenefits.


Benefits Renewals Guide

Training Videos:

Benefits Administration

Where to Access: Brokers, Benefits Admins, and/or Group Admins can access the Open Enrollment flow in Zenefits by

  • Navigate to the Benefits Administration app
  • Click the "Start Renewals" or "Continue Renewals" button

If you do not see either of these buttons, please contact the Main Company Admin for your company.  You must have the "Edit employee and company benefits data and manage benefits renewals" permission in order to process Open Enrollment.  If you are working with a Certified Broker Partner, please contact your broker for more information on Open Enrollment.

Who can access the renewals management tool?

Main company administrators & benefits administrators with permissions to manage renewals. Alternatively, if your company is utilizing a Certified Broker Partner (CBP), CBP users will be able to access and manage your group’s renewal data.

When should I build out plans in the renewals flow?

Best practice is typically to begin building out plans so employees can make elections at least 45 days from the effective date of your Open Enrollment or Initial Enrollment if switching carriers.  This allows for time to collect all enrollment information and submit it to the carrier in question for processing.

What do I need to process Open Enrollment?

In order to process Open Enrollment you will need the following information:

  • Summary of Benefits and Coverage (where applicable)
  • Plan Summaries (where applicable)
  • Rate sheets
  • Contribution scheme
  • Underwriting guidelines for your policy (ies) (waiting periods, termination settings, effective dates, et al)

As a best practice, Zenefits recommends you work with your benefits broker when processing Open Enrollment.  If you are looking for a broker to help you with your benefits, Zenefits' has a number of Broker Partners who can help.

Processing a Passive Renewal

Overview: In Zenefits, a "Passive Renewal" is when you intend to have employees automatically enrolled into their carrier mapped plan(s) and do not offer employees a period wherin they select their benefits in the insurance enrollment flow.  Passive renewals should only be utilized when you do not want employees to elect their plans for renewal.   

How to Process a Passive Renewal: Once you've completed the "Plans & Carriers" step in the Open Enrollment flow, complete the "Open Enrollment."  Zenefits will ask you if you want to invite your employees to Open Enrollment:

  • By selecting "No" your Open Enrollment will be processed as a "Passive Renewal"


  • When processing a Passive Renewal you must configure plan mapping otherwise employees will not be auto-enrolled into their carrier mapped plan(s).
  • You are able to process a Passive Renewal without configuring any Plan Mapping for your Open Enrollment.  Generally, it is not recommended that you process your Open Enrollment this way as you will need to manually edit employee benefits details

Plan Mapping

When insurance carriers process renewals, if no changes are made, they will assume that the employee is continuing to enroll in the the most similar plan with the same dependents.  In this step, you will indicate which plans the carrier will automatically enroll employees onto, if no changes are made within Zenefits.  The new plan details and rates will apply to the employee's profile, but a task will not generate to process with the carrier, as it is assumed they will process this automatically on their end.  Similarly, employees who are auto-enrolled based on the plan mapping will not show up on the Open Enrollment Change Report.

Renewing with the same carrier:

  • As a best practice, we recommend aligning plan mapping in Zenefits with your benefits carriers'  plan mapping guidelines, per your renewal packet.

Switching to a new carrier:

  • As a best practice, this should typically be set to "Do not auto-renew."

If plan mapping is set to “Do not auto-renew”, we will not roll over the previous year's elections and employees will be required to participate in Open Enrollment to enroll in coverage.


Cigna  PPO   A -> Cigna PPO B

In this example, the  PPO plan from the previous plan year maps to the new plan year’s  PPO  plan .  All employees that do not make elections for the new plan year that were enrolled for the previous plan year, will be automatically enrolled for the new plan, unless they decline coverage.

Benefits carriers will provide what your carrier plan mapping should look like in your renewal packet; if you are unsure what your plan mapping is, please verify with your benefits carrier.

Renewals Review Tool

The Renewals Review tool is intended to help Benefits Administrators ensure plan details, eligibility information, company contributions, and employee costs are loaded correctly prior to inviting employees to participate in an enrollment period.  This tool allows you to review the projected total costs for your employees as well as review the company cost, based on your unique contribution scheme.  Additionally, this tool allows you to share the review with users who do not have Renewals Permissions, so they can review your benefits data prior to launching Open Enrollment or New Group Enrollment.

How To Access & General Usage:

  • The Review Tool is the last step in the Renewals/New Group Enrollment flow.
  • Users are able to skip this step if they so choose.
    • To skip this step, click on the Review step from the Open Enrollment/New Group Enrollment flow.
    • A dialogue box will pop-up with the options “Skip” and “See Preview”
  • As a best practice, it is recommended that you review your plan and cost information with the review tool prior to launching plans to employees.

Step 1.  Review Renewal Coverage and Plans. **

  • The Review Renewal Coverage and Plans step is intended to provide you with an overview of the plan and carrier data that you input into the system.
  • Users are able to verify information such as rates, plan type, plan name, waiting period, termination setting, and state availability in the Renewals Coverage & Plans section of the Review tool.
  • Users must navigate back to the Renewals Flow in order to make changes to plan information. You are not able to make changes within the Review Tool.
    • If you were invited to complete a review and do not have access to the renewals management flow, you can leave comments from the main review page to send to the user building your Open Enrollment when you complete the review.

Step 2. Review Company Contribution Policy. **

  • Users are able to verify the pending contribution setup within the contribution step in the review tool.

Step 3. Review Employee Costs. **

  • When reviewing employee and company costs, the user is able to filter by the number of dependents and resident state, in order to verify costs.
  • Zenefits will populate the total premium, company cost, and worker cost based on the company's contribution setup and plan rate/premium.
  • Users are able to toggle on and off dependents for an employee to verify costs are correct with dependents enrolled.
  • If the company has employees set in different tiers or classes, an employee class filter will appear, so you can check the contributions are correctly applied for them.
  • How do I use the Review Employee Costs feature?
    • Choose your filters on the left hand side of your screen (work locations, departments, eligibility).
    • Select the employee you would like to review costs for.
    • Add dependent costs to the calculation by “checking” off a dependent’s name.

Step 4. Send for Review.

  • This step allows users to share the review with colleagues and other Benefits Administrators and choose when to receive notifications when those users complete their reviews.
  • To share a review with a user, you must either be a Benefits Administrator on a company account or have an active Partner Dashboard account with the broker in question.
  • The Send for Review step is only available to users with renewals management permissions.  For all other users, the final step in the review step will be “Finish Review.”
  • To share a review with others, use the “paper airplane icon” next to the Benefits Administrators’ name.
  • Invite Column/Paper Airplane Icon: This button allows you to send an email to the Benefits Administrator you've selected, asking them to review your plan and rate information.
  • Remove Column: Allows users to remove Benefits Administrators from the “Send for Review” page.  Use the “Trash Can” icon to remove one of the Benefits Administrators listed on this page.
  • Notification Column: Click this checkbox to send notifications to the associated user, when any other invited user completes their review.  Once the review is complete, users with notifications enabled will receive an email including any comments provided in the review process.

Key: **denotes steps that both Admin users with renewals management permissions and Benefits Administrators without renewals management will see.

Review Tool for Invited Users:

Reviewers will receive a system-generated email as follows:

Hi [Admin],

We wanted to let you know that Zenefits has shared a draft of [Company Name ]'s benefits renewal package with you so that you can review it to ensure that any problems get fixed prior to the start of Open Enrollment on [OE Start Date].

It is important that you complete your review as soon as possible so that Open Enrollment will be a smooth experience for the Lender's employees.
To get started click on this link.

Zenefits Client Support
For more information or assistance, please visit

To access the review flow, click on the link contained in the body of the email.
Users with the “Benefits Renewals” permission set will also be able to access the review flow directly through their dashboard by following these steps:

  1. Navigate to the group’s Benefits Administration Overview page
  2. Click Start Renewals
  3. The Review tool is the last step in the renewals flow.
  • You must complete all preceding steps before you are able to access the tool.

Important to Note:

  • The Review tool is only available within the Renewals flow.
  • Only users with access to the Renewals flow are currently able to access the tool.
  • When reviewing employees’ volumes for voluntary life, the review tool will calculate the volume and premium based on their max allowed benefit and not their current selected benefit amount.

Example: If the voluntary life plan has a benefit of 5x their salary up $300,000 in $10, 000 increments and the employee's salary is $75k, the review tool will show his volume as $300k and calculate the premium based on that volume.
Employees will still be able to select their preferred benefit volume when going through open enrollment.

Monitoring Open Enrollment

Once Open Enrollment is launched, you can view employee progress by clicking on View Progress from the Benefits Administration app.

From here, the following tools are also available:

  • If you need to resend open enrollment invitations, click on Invite Employees and select the employee to send the invitation.
  • You can remind employees to participate in open enrollment by clicking on Send Reminders
  • If you need to change the open enrollment deadline, click on Change Enrollment Deadline

Required Permissions

  • Main company admin and/or benefits admin users are able to use the Send Reminders & Invite Employees features.
  • Only  Adminstrators with the Benefits Renewals permission are able to use the Change Enrollment Deadline feature.


Handling Off Cycle Renewals

What is an off cycle renewal?

An off cycle renewal is when you have two or more lines of coverage with different renewal dates with your benefits carrier(s).

For example, if you have medical coverage with Kaiser that it renews on 01/01/ 2021 , and dental & vision coverage with Guardian that renews on 04/01/ 2021 , you have off cycle renewal dates.

How should we process Open Enrollment when we have off cycle renewal dates?

When processing Open Enrollment for your off cycle renewal, you can process your Open Enrollment for all lines of coverage and effective dates, with the following exceptions:

  • You want renewal handled differently for different lines of coverage.
    E.g. you would like a passive renewal for one line of coverage and an active renewal for another line of coverage.
  • You have dual medical carriers with off cycle renewal dates.
    E.g. you have medical coverage with Kaiser renewing 01/01/2021 and medical coverage with Blue Cross Blue Shield renewing 03/01/2021.

So if you are processing Open Enrollment for your lines of coverage with off cycle renewal dates, you can process these together as long as you want all lines of coverage processed as active/passive.  For example, you can process your 01/01/ 2021 medical renewal and your 04/01/ 2021 dental renewal at the same time, as long as you want to process all lines of coverage as active/passive renewals with the same enrollment window.

What if we miss processing Open Enrollment in Zenefits for a line of coverage?

If you do not process Open Enrollment for one of your lines of coverage and handle your Open Enrollment changes outside of Zenefits, you will need to process those respective lines of coverage as a Passive Enrollment.  You should renew these lines of coverage separately from any other lines of coverage you would like to process as an active enrollment (wherein employees make elections).

Open Enrollment Reminders

Zenefits automatically generates and sends Open Enrollment reminders 90days prior to your renewal date as listed in the system.  Reminders are sent via email 90 days from the renewal date for your benefits.  If you have multiple lines of coverage with disparate renewal dates, Zenefits will send separate reminders for those unique renewal dates.   

Zenefits sends reminders to the Benefits Administrators & Full Company Administrators.

Custom OE Emails

When inviting employees to participate in Open Enrollment, you can now create your own custom emails and add attachments to launch Open Enrollment and when sending reminders to enroll.  To make sure employees know who to contact with questions, we will continue to add the Benefits Contact to all emails and, for the employee's convenience, we will continue to include a login link to the Zenefits site.


How do I change the Benefits Contact listed in the email? 

Can I create templates to be used in the future?

  • Yes, templates can be created and used for future Open Enrollments for a particular company (managed in the Company tab in the Benefits Administration App)
  • For CBP users, templates can also be used across companies in your book of business (managed in Partner Settings tab in Partner Dashboard)
  • When drafting an email in the renewals step, you can also choose to save the email you created as a template by clicking Save as Template in the lower left corner

Can I preview the email before sending it?

  • Yes, click Preview in the bottom right corner to see what will be sent out to your employees

Can I send a different emails to groups of employees?

  • Yes! Choose the initial employees to receive the email by clicking Recipients at the top of the email creation page in the renewals step.  You can filter the employees you select by Work Location, State of Residence, Contribution Tier, Department, or PT vs FT employment.  Open Enrollment will be launched only to those initially selected
  • Once OE has launched, you can invite additional groups of employees by clicking View Progress on the Overview tab in the Benefits Administration app, selecting Invite Employees on the left side and choosing the Recipients at the top of the email creation page. You will not be able to send initial invitations to employees who have already been invited

How do I use the auto-text feature?

  • In the top right corner of your email body, you will see an auto-text drop down field.  This will insert the applicable information we have on file for the employee or company.  To see an example of the type of information displayed, click the Preview button in the bottom right corner

How do I send reminders?

  • Click View Progress on the Overview page in the Benefits Administration app, select Send Reminders, and follow the steps to select recipients and create your email or select a saved draft.  You will not be able to send reminders to anyone who has completed Open Enrollment
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