How to Be a Benefits Terms Trivia Champ

Ah, the good old days.

The International Foundation first published the Glossary of Employee Benefit Plan and Investment Terminology in 1973. That slimmer, trimmer first Glossary weighed in at 8.4 ounces and defined almost 600 benefit terms in 54 pages. It also featured a special section with 140 investment terms borrowed with permission from the New York Stock Exchange.

6-14_How-to-be-a-benefits-trivia-champ_Large 2
Jump ahead 43 years. The International Foundation’s new Employee Benefits Glossary, 13th Edition, weighs in at a beefy 22.8 ounces and explains more than 4,000 terms. Canadian, pharmaceutical, and dental terms and those in a new Affordable Care Act section make up the bulk of the 700 entries that are new since the 12th edition.

Glossary over time

Employee Benefits Glossary, 13th Edition

The new Glossary shows just how much times have changed in the pensions and benefits arena. The terms maternity leave, wellness program or pharmacy network aren’t in the 1973 edition, not to mention pet insurance.

Speaking of pharmacy, the new Glossary contains 14 terms with the word drug (i.e., drug test, drug formulary) and 12 pharma terms—all additions since 1973.

The new Glossary continues a tradition (beloved by those of us here at the Foundation) of unraveling a hearty alphabet soup of acronyms, a feature introduced in the fifth edition in 1984. The list of acronyms and abbreviations now exceeds 1,100.

For a quick taste, test yourself on a few terms from the Glossary.


[q] What is a clause in an insurance contract used to avoid the application of multiple sets of deductibles or limits to a single loss event? Such clauses are sometimes included in insurance policies covering exposures that may occur over long periods and trigger coverage under multiple policies. A clause stipulates that, in such an event, only one policy limit or one deductible (rather than the limit of deductible under each policy) applies to the occurrence.

[a] antistacking provision

[q] What term is short for market capitalization, a reference to companies with a market value under $50 million? This is the smallest of the cap classifications, and investment in these companies is generally considered high risk.

[a] nano cap

[q] What do you call the practice of one reinsurance company insuring another reinsurance company by accepting business that the other company had agreed to underwrite?

[a] retrocession

[q] What do you call the individual pay rate above the established range maximum assigned to the job grade? (When this occurs, the employee may not be eligible for further base pay increases until the range maximum surpasses the individual’s pay rate.)

[a] red circle rate

[q] How do you quickly refer to the term normal retirement date? (Also works well to describe your ability to win any benefits terminology trivia contests.)

[a] NRD, Benefits NeRD



Chris Vogel, CEBS
Senior Editor—Publications at the International Foundation