May Question of the Month: What is the best method to mail a COBRA notice?

Dear Gina – 

I know COBRA notices have to be sent to employees and dependents with qualifying events within 44 days. I also know it is incumbent on the employer to be able to prove a notice was sent. What method do you recommend for mailing a COBRA notice to ensure you can prove it was sent?

An employer/plan administrator has 44 days to send a COBRA notice following a qualifying event. The critical piece here is that the employer/plan administrator can prove that the notice was, in fact, sent. To this end, first class mail and using the “Certificate of Mailing” service is the best method of sending COBRA Initial and Election notices to secure proof of postage.  This is a seldom-used service at the post office.  Most postal employees try to talk me out of using it until I emphasize that I only need to prove I mailed it, not that they received it.  It’s the little white slip of paper (Form 3817) neglected at the far end of the Post Office counter.  It is relatively inexpensive and if you mail more than three items you can get an even bigger discount by using “Firm Book.”  Ask your post office about it but don’t be surprised if the scratch their heads and don’t know how it works.  I keep a little cheat sheet handy in my mail bag to hand to a new teller, so they can follow correct steps on their computer to process my request.

– Gina



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