Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Division of Insurance - COBRA

Who provides notice to the plan that a qualifying event has occurred?

The group health plan must be notified of the qualifying event before it must offer continuation of coverage. The plan is not required to act until it receives appropriate notification. Who gives notice depends on the type of qualifying event.

The employer must notify the plan if the qualifying event is:

  • Termination or reduction in hours of employment of the covered employee;
  • Death of the covered employee;
  • Covered employee's becoming entitled to Medicare; or
  • Bankruptcy of a private-sector employer.

The employer must notify the plan within 30 days after the event occurs.

The covered employee or one of the qualified beneficiaries must notify the plan if the qualifying event is:

  • Divorce;
  • Legal separation; or
  • Loss of dependent status under the plan.

Group health plans are required to have procedures in place for how the covered employee or qualified beneficiaries can provide notice of these types of qualifying events. The plan can establish a time limit for notification, but the limit cannot be shorter than 60 days, starting from the latest of:

  • the date on which the qualifying event occurs;
  • the date on which the qualified beneficiary loses (or would lose) coverage under the plan as a result of the qualifying event; or
  • the date on which the qualified beneficiary is informed, through either the summary plan description or the COBRA general notice, of the responsibility to notify the plan and the procedures for doing so.

Notification procedures must describe:

  • how and to whom notice should be given;
  • what information must be included in the qualifying event notice.

If one person gives notice of a qualifying event, the notice covers all qualified beneficiaries affected by the event.

If the group health plan does not have reasonable procedures for how to provide these notices, qualified beneficiaries are permitted to give notice (either written or oral) to the person or unit that handles the employer's employee benefits matters. If the plan is a multi-employer plan, notice can be given to the joint board of trustees; and if the plan is administered by an insurance company (or the benefits are provided through insurance), notice can be given to the insurance company.

Return to COBRA frequently asked questions

**Resources used and quoted information for this webpage obtained from the FAQs on COBRA Continuation Health Coverage and An Employer's Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage Under COBRA as issued by the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

If you still have questions on COBRA:

Contact the Division of Insurance