Interview with Kelvin Joseph: Kool Kel Marketing To Help Brokers Profit from Massachusetts Family Leave Act

With news of the Massachusetts Family Leave Act and PFML benefits now mandated in Massachusetts, The DBL Center is seeking ways to scale our high-touch business model and give Massachusetts brokers selling PFML even better access to our personalized service, knowledge, insight, and relationships.

Kelvin Joseph, Founder and CEO of Kool Kel Marketing, has helped companies from new startups to Fortune 500s maximize their sales by executing a marketing strategy that communicates their “Kool.” By working with Kool Kel, The DBL Center seeks to duplicate President and CEO Michael Cohen to build a legacy.

Kelvin, a marketing strategist who has specialized in sports marketing and built relationships with C-level executives across both New York and Massachusetts, recently shared his thoughts with The DBL Center on marketing Massachusetts Family Leave Act benefits successfully.

Let’s get right to it: How do you plan to help Mike duplicate himself to build a legacy?

We’re in the relationship business. Short-term disability or PFL is mandated in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts [through the Massachusetts Family Leave Act] right now. I believe other states are going to start mandating it, too.

The DBL Center is going to have to learn how to expand into different states, where we can be as high-touch as we have been, especially here on Long Island, which is our strongest community.

What steps can The DBL Center take to bring that level of service we provide to Long Island brokers into Massachusetts and then other places?

We’re in the relationship business and Mike cannot be everywhere. It’s not possible to keep the same model we have in New York and New Jersey for every state. But this has been done before, and we have the strategic partners to help.

We’re building systems and situations to create warm leads without needing Mike to be everywhere.

How did you and Mike first meet and what made you decide to start working together?

I’ve known Mike since high school. We’re just two regular guys from Huntington who are CEOs of our own companies, and we’ve stayed friends.

We’re always talking business, but it was never the right moment [to collaborate.] What I was selling at the time was really kind of one-dimensional. My core business is sports marketing. Now, because of the pandemic, I can’t really have big events. So, I’ve been helping a lot of companies with their marketing strategy.

Can you share some of the details of the upcoming marketing strategy for The DBL Center?

I always feel like it’s better to be introduced [to someone] than to introduce yourself. That’s why referrals are so powerful. And a lot of the brokers reading this blog understand the power of referrals.

Instead of going in cold into a new market like Massachusetts, where we don’t know anybody, I actually do know about 800 people there. C-level executives.

It made sense to start with people I had some kind of relationship with and see what comes of that. We’re in the relationship business. If people already know me, and I introduce Mike, that’s a win. That’s the strategy we’re starting with – referral marketing and warm introductions.

Here’s the thing about Massachusetts: On June 15, most of the companies there are going to get a bill that they don’t understand [for Massachusetts Family Leave Act premiums]. The DBL Center knows how to help those companies save money by privatizing their state-mandated paid family leave plan in Massachusetts.

On your website and your LinkedIn, you describe a company’s “Kool” as the passion and unique value proposition that fuels consistent and reliable revenue growth. How will you help DBL Center communicate its “Kool?”

Mike not only has passion; he has a great value proposition. These benefits are mandated in New York, New Jersey, and now Massachusetts. And Mike has a way to save people money. Right now, businesses are looking to increase their revenue and reduce their expenses.

If we can reduce their expenses, we’re helping them. And it’s probably something they’re not going to be able to figure out on their own. We’re going to help them avoid that pain and get help from an expert who’s been doing this pretty much his whole life. It’s something with a lot of value.

I posted two teaser posts on Linked In over the last three days, and we already have 20,000 views on the two posts I made. I built up a strong LinkedIn base of c-level executives who also have a reach, so our message is going far. In two days to get 20,000 views is amazing. Because we know how important even one client can be.

It seems pretty obvious, but how will this benefit DBL Center brokers?

Mike knows his brokers are the lifeblood of his business. He asked me to figure out how we can help his brokers in this time. We hope they’re all using the Broker Dashboard they have. That’s a key.

A lot of brokers are entrepreneurial and driven, but don’t have the kind of marketing budget they want. I’m going to be available for consulting. When we can have events again, I’ll be able to invite some of the brokers to some of the things we’re doing together.

But the reality is, Mike knows how to take care of his people. And the more that’s on the table, the more there is to share.

What single tip would you have for brokers looking to reinvent their marketing strategy or approach this new market in Massachusetts?

I would advise brokers to make friends before you need anything. That’s super-important. How do we get people to know us, like us, and trust us?

There’s still some negativity associated with the insurance industry and insurance brokers. It’s almost a necessary evil to a certain extent.

So, if we know that our clients are trying to increase their revenue and eliminate their expenses, we have to be careful that we don’t look like an expense. Business owners are trying to eliminate expenses.

Sometimes, brokers go in and start talking about how this will be good for your employees. In these times, with something like 40 million people unemployed right now, just keeping your employees employed is the best some business owners can do.

If you’re a broker, you need to be talking about how you’re either increasing revenue by passing some business along to your clients and giving them referrals, or you’re reducing expenses. You better have something in your back pocket to save them money.

The approach is: “This is the business I can bring to you.” Because insurance brokers know other companies. They should be introducing their clients to one another and helping their clients make more money.

And the other thing they should be doing is making sure they’re talking in the language a CEO can understand: Either my revenue is going up, or my expenses are going down.

Thank you for all this information, Kelvin. In closing, do you have anything you’d like to add?

I would like to say that the reason I’m working with Mike Cohen is because he thinks big, he follows through on his promises, and his humility exceeds his ability.

I think he is going places, and I think any broker reading this should understand that you need to surround yourself with the right people. I challenge you to find a DBL guy better than Mike Cohen in the whole country. That’s why I’m with him and I think brokers around the country, specifically New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, should be happy to work with him as well.


DBL Center Helps Its Carriers with COVID-19 Pre-screening Software

Within the first few days of the coronavirus pandemic and the New York On Pause order, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen felt the same as many of those in the insurance business did.

“When I first got news of this being a reality in New York, which is now a hot spot, I felt like I was back up against a wall,” he recalls. “I was nervous.”

He sprung to action immediately, though. He took what he learned from his decades in the statutory insurance industry and his knowledge of what technology can accomplish to create a solution to slow the onslaught of PFL claims. “I felt I had to do something to mitigate the claims,” Cohen says.

Within days of schools and businesses closing across New York State, and shortly after, through Massachusetts and New Jersey, Cohen and The DBL Center launched the COVID-19 Pre-Screening Software for PFL Claims.

PFL or FFCRA? COVID-19 Pre-Screening App Pre-Qualifies Claims

A tool for insurance carriers to manage PFL claims that may not qualify, the COVID-19 pre-screening software requires employers to answer a series of questions to determine if their PFL claim is valid before requesting a claim form from the carrier. Many statutory PFL claims actually qualify for federal help under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was enacted April 2, 2020.

The DBL Center also created a document to help show when an employee may qualify for PFL and when an employee would qualify for FFCRA aid, instead.

“Even though the changes related to PFL and FMLA [in Massachusetts] have been clearly stated, you’re still going to have some confusion at the employer level in terms of what is a valid COVID claim and what is not a valid COVID claim,” says Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, one of DBL Center’s many preferred carriers. “I thought the software was perfect for that scenario.”

He added that he also sees it having long-term applications once the pandemic ends. “In general, it can help cut down on some of the administrative costs that we incur, and that others occur, taking in paper claims. I bet the industry still sees the majority of our claims in paper form, versus electronic, and this is a good first step to enter the electronic environment. It’s something the industry could use, because it pre-qualifies a lot of claims upfront.”

Following in the Footsteps of the Broker Dashboard Net Revenue Tracker

The Broker Dashboard Net Revenue Tracker was the first technological innovation from The DBL Center, an electronic version of the paper and pen ledger that Founder David Cohen brought to every meeting.

Designed specifically for DBL Center brokers, the Broker Dashboard helps agencies track cancellations and pending cancellations, new policies, and commissions, at a glance. A cloud-based app that gives brokers actionable insights to improve retention rates, the Broker Dashboard brings David Cohen’s paper ledger into the digital age and delivers it to the hands of every broker.

Michael Pellegrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative, reminisced about the way DBL Center tracked revenue when he first entered the industry. “I remember I’d come into your father’s office,” he tells Michael Cohen in the latest Rep Roundtable video. “He’d put down his pen and paper. He was keeping everything in order, but how time-consuming it must have been. “The fact that you took that pen and paper ledger and made that electronic is awesome!”

Watch the Video to Learn More

In addition to discussing the technology that sets The DBL Center apart, Cohen, Callery, and Pellegrino reminisce about summer get-togethers and talk about how the economy and the industry have changed in the past 20 years. Michael Cohen also reveals his secret to surviving the pandemic … all in the latest Rep Roundtable, brought to you by The DBL Center.


Insurance Wholesaler: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About DBL Center

Things are changing rapidly across the country with new legislation related to PFL for coronavirus. Besides maintaining our position as one of the top insurance wholesalers in New York (and beyond), we are striving to be your COVID-19 insurance resource center in New York and across the northeast U.S.

Even before COVID-19 hit the U.S., the DBL Center had been on top of changing paid family leave benefits in Massachusetts and Connecticut – leading to relationships with brokers in new regions.

Whether you’ve been part of the DBL Center family for decades or have recently started writing your policies through us, we compiled a list of 10 things we bet you didn’t know about DBL Center, one of the top insurance wholesalers in New York, serving the tri-state area, New England, and insurance brokers across the U.S.

1. DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard app makes it easy to remotely manage policies wherever you’re working.

By now, most insurance brokers in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have transitioned to remote work as part of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders from the governors in their states.

As a cloud-based app, DBL Center’s Broker Dashboard makes it easy for our brokers to log in from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection. We introduced our Broker Dashboard three years ago to make it easier for brokers to manage their policies in a world just beginning to embrace a mobile workforce.

Now, the Broker Dashboard has become an essential tool during the pandemic, enabling brokers to continue to bind policies and manage accounts while they practice social distancing and work from home.

2. When you bind DBL / PFL in real time, it is automatically linked to your personalized Broker Dashboard.

Even as we fight COVID-19, business continues. Brokers can bind DBL and PFL in real time through our website and new accounts are automatically linked to your personalized Broker Dashboard for easy remote management.

3. DBL Center brokers receive customized Broker Dashboard reports of renewals, cancellations and reinstated policies every two weeks, making it easier to track what you earn – and what you keep.

Reports are automatically emailed on the first and 15th of every month, enabling you to provide your customers with proactive service and also see where your book of business stands at a glance.

4. DBL Center’s chat feature makes it easy to reach a knowledgeable DBL Center rep to answer questions or write policies at any time.

Pandemic or not, we are here to answer your questions and help you bind new policies. You can start a chat with us any time, from any page of our website. Get answers to questions about new legislation related to coronavirus, insurance claims during the pandemic, or anything else related to PFL or DBL in your state.

5. In the past three years, DBL has expanded its offerings from NY, NJ and Hawaii into Massachusetts and Connecticut as a result of new Paid Family Leave policies.

Our home state of New York set the precedent for generous Paid Family Leave policies three years ago and DBL Center was at the forefront of helping brokers transition to DBL policies with PFL riders. Now, we are here to help Connecticut and Massachusetts brokers write Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage in their own states.

6. DBL Center is your go-to source for ever-changing COVID-19 legislation as it relates to paid leave and disability benefits.

We recently launched a COVID-19 resource center for brokers writing DBL and PFL in New York. We were one of the first in our industry to report on the federal Families First Act and how it will affect insurance claims. We are working virtually round-the-clock to provide updated news and information as it happens.

7. DBL Center’s COVID-19 Claim Pre-screening software can save brokers time by weeding out ineligible PFL or DBL Claims related to the coronavirus.

Many people are trying to make PFL claims due to the coronavirus. But the legislation is very specific as to who qualifies for PFL during the coronavirus. Our pre-screening software saves brokers time by enabling business owners, HR representatives, and individuals determine if they or their employees qualify for PFL as a result of coronavirus. In many cases, the answer is no and they should be applying for aid through the Families First Act or filing for unemployment.

8. DBL Center’s video series, Rep Roundtable, spotlights top insurance carriers discussing industry trends.
Our highly regarded video series helps you get to know the people behind the policies you write, follow emerging industry trends, and get ideas to improve your business.

9. DBL Center is a second-generation, family-owned business founded by David Cohen and now owned by his son Michael Cohen.

David Cohen launched the DBL Center in 1976. Michael Cohen took over as President and CEO after his father’s passing. Michael has expanded the business to provide FMLA coverage in Massachusetts. He has also introduced state-of-the-art technology making it even easier for brokers to “keep more of what they earn,” in the words of the late David Cohen.

10. DBL Center is your white-label, white-glove back office team to get your customers the lowest premiums and best service.

David Cohen started The DBL Center based on a business model that followed the boutique hotels he loved to visit on vacations, delivering white-glove, concierge-level service to brokers in a way that was unprecedented at the time.

David Cohen’s legacy lives on in the creativity, vibrancy, and innovation Michael brings to the company. DBL Center continues to deliver the same level of customer service as it always has, leveraging carrier relationships and cutting-edge technology to provide brokers with the lowest premiums available and the highest levels of service.


Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act Opens Doors for Brokers to Privatize Coverage

Massachusetts becomes the fourth state in the Northeast to mandate benefits under a paid family and medical leave act

DBL Center is ready to offer Massachusetts insurance brokers incredible savings on PFML plans under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

The MA Paid Family and Medical Leave Act applies to individuals who need time off:

• Due to a serious health condition
• To care for a newborn, newly adopted, or new foster child within the first year of the event
• To care for family while a spouse is deployed in the Armed Forces
• To care for a family member of any age with a serious health condition

Help Your Customers Privatize Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act Coverage

As in New York and New Jersey, states which have offered short-term disability and paid family leave for several years, business owners in Massachusetts have the option to privatize their FMLA policies for substantial cost reductions.

By law, private FMLA plans must offer benefits of the same amount and duration – or better – than plans underwritten and paid for by the state. That’s why it’s important for business owners to find a source they can trust to write their family and medical leave act coverage in Massachusetts. And that’s where DBL Center insurance brokers come in, offering stellar customer service and lower premiums thanks to the relationships their wholesale general agency has developed over five decades.
Bundle PFML to Save Even More

PFML is a stand-alone benefit, but not every carrier can write PFML as a stand-alone policy. DBL Center has the industry connections and the volume to help Massachusetts insurance brokers get the best deals for their customers.

DBL Center delivers white-glove service, low premiums, and superior benefits packages. Your clients can save even more by bundling FMLA coverage with group ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and group life / AD&D.


DBL Center Enhances Focus on Customer Service and Technology

As testament to the company’s dedication to customer service and education, DBL Center recently launched a Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Resource Center on its website.

DBL Center also recently introduced 24/7 live chat on its website. Simply type in the chat box and a knowledgeable representative will answer your questions about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Act, short- or long-term disability insurance, and group ancillary benefits.

“Massachusetts in the fourth state in our region to introduce paid family leave. As experts in short-term disability and paid family leave in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, DBL Center is poised to become the number one source for brokers to privatize PFML in Massachusetts for their customers,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “We’re looking forward to the profit potential the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act presents to our brokers.”


On the Mic with Mike: The Hartford’s John Puglisi Shares Thoughts on Massachusetts PFML, Technology, and More

With the introduction of Paid Family Medical Leave in Massachusetts, along with mergers, acquisitions, and the launch of robust software to help brokers manage it all, 2019 was an exciting year in statutory employee benefits and group ancillary products.

At the close of 2019, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen sat down the John Puglisi, sales rep for The Hartford, to talk about what to expect in 2020.  Be sure to watch the video, because our summary doesn’t catch every amazing moment.

Michael Cohen: What do you feel has changed the most in our industry since you started?
John Puglisi: One of the biggest changes is the introduction of technology. You’ve been ahead of the curve on that.

Voluntary worksite benefits are exploding right now. The right employers have less money to pay, so everybody wants critical illness, accident, hospital. But nobody has the resources to handle enrollments, so all of a sudden you have enrollment companies, technology vendors, and all this new stuff that you have to learn so you can re-enroll customers.

We were just talking about how you and I feel very comfortable standing in front of a group of people doing an enrollment meeting and walking away with 40% participation just on the basis of being able to tell the story in an entertaining way. Right now, everybody’s so focused on technology and having it be easily outsourced by an entire enrollment platform, resource, HRIS, etc. That’s been a huge change.

Cohen: Speak to me about what’s going on in Massachusetts.
Puglisi: What’s interesting about PFML in Massachusetts is the disability component to it, also. We’re dealing in statutory space, with New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts now joining the roster of states that are adding PFL. But they’re also adding a disability component to it.

Cohen: Which state do you favor? Most people are more excited about Massachusetts than New Jersey.
Puglisi: Okay, so Massachusetts is not a large part of my market because I deal mostly in central western NY except for you guys, who I insisted on [keeping] when I moved out of your area. So, I’ve heard the Massachusetts process is building with the Hartford.

Cohen: We’re growing in Massachusetts, as well. We have a group business there, we have LTD and life, and dental… I think Massachusetts is unique for a lot of brokers because they don’t understand if there’s no underlying statutory plan, How’s it gonna work? It’s almost being underwritten like STD. But there’s been a lot of changes. It’s been exciting. Someone once asked me would you ever want to sell health insurance? How do you feel about that?
Puglisi: Personally, I would not. There are very narrow players in the field, as far as carriers are concerned. Business is always bouncing from one of the four carriers every year. It sounds like a really intense business.

Cohen: How is it going with the AETNA merger? The takeover?
Puglisi: The Hartford purchased AETNA’s group ancillary block.

Cohen: That seems like a seamless transition.
Puglisi: The acquisition of CNA back in 2011 prepared Hartford. A lot of learning went on to make the AETNA transition much smoother. We’ve adapted. wWe’ve taken the best of their system, combined it with ours, and created a whole new Web portal that’s state of the art.

Cohen: So it’s all integrated, one system?
Puglisi: We’re converting the in-force business over to the AETNA system now. All new business effective January 1, 2019, started on the Hartford Ability Platform.

Cohen: If a broker of mine has the Broker Dashboard system and they want to look up both AETNA and Hartford business, they can go in now through my Broker Dashboard, go to the carrier portal, and they can see all their business all in one?
Puglisi: Right. It’s a very robust portal. [There are] 400 different kinds of reports, which is a huge advantage. [There is] a lot more self-service capability, which seems to be the direction it’s going. But one of the ways the system has helped us–the same way your system has helped you–is the ability to persist and retain. Once you continue adding lines onto that site, customers tend to stick. And the system provides such good functionality, people are inclined to stay. That, I think, is what you’ve built with the Broker Dashboard.


NY DBL Insurance Brokers: Are Your Clients Ready for Tax Time?

DBL Center brokers can make tax time easier for their customers

Happy New Year! As we get back to the grind after the holiday season, NY DBL insurance brokers may have taxes on their mind – as do their customers.

Tax forms, including W-2 forms and third-party Sick Pay statements, are due to employees by January 31, 2020 for benefits received and services selected for the 2019 tax year.

DBL Center brokers, including those who write their business with the carrier ShelterPoint, can give their NY DBL insurance clients a helping hand in prepping for the 2019 tax season.

DBL Center brokers can access information about benefits and payouts for their customers, in real time, on the Broker Dashboard. If you are new to DBL Center as a result of ShelterPoint’s acquisition of AmTrust Wesco, our Broker Dashboard is one of the many advantages you’ll gain working with us.

Here are a few tips and things you should know about the forms your clients will need in relation to NY DBL insurance and Paid Family Leave (PFL), courtesy of top-rated carrier ShelterPoint.

1. Advise your clients to ensure their information is up to date with their carrier.
All information on file, including mailing address, contact name, the legal name of the business, and the Tax Identification Number (TIN) should be accurate and current. Incorrect information can lead to delays in receiving forms or filing taxes. It’s easy to update information with a quick phone call to the carrier or by creating an online account.

2.  Remind your clients to look for their Informational Third Party Sick Pay statements prior to generating W-2 forms.

Any NY DBL insurance benefits received by your clients’ employees is reported on Third Party Sick Pay statements mailed out by the carrier quarterly. Companies should receive their annual Third Party Sick Pay statement from their carrier by mid-January. ShelterPoint mails these statements the week of January 6, 2020. The statements summarize benefit payments made and taxes withheld. Employers then report that information on employee W-2 forms.

3. Advise your ShelterPoint customers to be aware of forms mailed directly to employees.
Customers who use ShelterPoint’s FICA Remittance Service should be aware that employees will receive a separate W-2 form from ShelterPoint showing the total benefits received for the 2019 tax year. Employers will still receive a Third Party Sick Pay statement and brokers can also view the details in the Broker Dashboard. Employers should not double report the information received on W-2 forms they prepare. 

Similarly, employees who received PFL benefits totaling $600 or more in 2019 will receive Form 1099-MISC from ShelterPoint Life before January 31. These benefits are not reported on W-2 forms and are considered taxable non-wage income.

Businesses who use W-2 Preparatory Services from ShelterPoint should look for their employees’ W-2 forms to be mailed directly to the employer for review. It is the employers’ responsibility to file and distribute the tax forms before the January 31 deadline.

Moving into a Strong New Year with DBL Center and Our Top-Rated NY DBL Insurance Carriers

“The DBL Center family has grown rapidly as a result of ShelterPoint’s acquisition of AmTrust Wesco,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “We are excited about the opportunities our relationship with ShelterPoint brings our brokers and their customers. From our proprietary Broker Dashboard to services that help brokers grow their book of business, we are moving forward in 2020 prepared to meet the challenges of an ever-changing NY DBL insurance market.”

Legal Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. DBL Center does not provide tax advice. Readers should consult with a tax professional with any questions.


On the Mic with Mike: Personal Connections with The Hartford’s John Puglisi

Personal connections hold the insurance industry together – especially when it comes to Northeast statutory insurance. The theme arises time and again in our videos and Rep Roundtable discussions.

“I don’t ever feel like there’s a strong competition [between our carrier reps] to do well, because we know we will all succeed anyway,” says DBL Center CEO and President Michael Cohen. “It’s easy because it’s such a seamless relationship.”

The DBL Center’s annual Christmas party, held in the Founder’s Room VIP area of the famed Paramount Theater in Huntington Village, exemplifies this point. Employees from multiple carriers, colleagues, family, and friends gather every December to reminisce about the past year and celebrate The DBL Center’s bright future.

Directly before the 2019 party, John Puglisi, sales representative for The Hartford, met up with Michael Cohen and The DBL Center’s camera crew for the latest Rep Roundtable installment.

Reinforcing the theme of personal connections, Puglisi traces his friendship with Michael Cohen and, before that, his relationship with DBL Center Founder David Cohen.

In this must-see video, John and Michael discuss Bill Cosby, retention in the insurance industry, and the secret to more successful enrollment meetings.

Be sure to watch to the end because there are poignant moments you won’t find in our synopsis below.

Michael Cohen: Isn’t it funny that we’re recording this video here at the Paramount Theater, given our mutual love for comedy. Do you remember who we saw last time we were here together?
John: Yes. Last time we were here we saw Bill Cosby.

Mike: A lot of things have changed… Bill’s in jail… The end of Dr. Huxtable. And a lot has changed in our industry, as well. We were with your wife and my father. How did you meet us?
John: I’ve been thinking about this, actually. You were with another rep, and that other rep was leaving The Hartford. It’s as simple as that. I met your dad because we had classes in the city that your father participated in. That’s where I met Dave.

Mike: I remember you and my dad immediately hit it off. And it was funny because the connection has always been the comedy. Dave would always tell the-one liners. And your passion has always been in entertainment. You have an interesting past there. Tell us about it?  
John: I’ve done theater. I’ve done singing. I vocalized Sinatra acts. Performing was where I came from. It’s interesting – a lot of guys in this industry tend to come from athletics. They’re sports guys. You’re one of the guys I know who came from comedy, which was always a passion of mine.

Mike: Our backgrounds in comedy and entertainment enhance the enrollment meeting, which is half the battle.
John: Yes! When you’re presenting your case [directly] to the client, it’s very easy to be compelling. If you can do that in an entertaining way, with vitality and humor, I think you close a ton of business.

Mike: The turnover rate was so high when I first got into the business, and it’s gotten even worse. I feel like that revolving door hurts you. A big part of my success has been that my staff has been there a long time. There’s a long tenure.

The shortest person is three years, because we’ve made a lot of changes in the past three years. I’m starting to grow the business. Aside from that, it’s 10 years, 20, 30, 34.

And people have this common denominator of comfort when they know you’re not going anywhere.
John: What your father started, and what you’ve done, is that over the time I’ve worked with you guys, since 2010, you guys are a family.

I walk through the door and see Annette Sperandio and I think, “That’s my daughter in 20 years.” She’s just like her.

Have you ever had an experience where you meet somebody and you’re immediately comfortable with them because they remind you of somebody else? That’s the way I was with Annette. And Lisa reminds me of a younger aunt of mine.

Your dad – it would be five minutes of him with a Number 2 pencil doing Euclidian mathematic, and then 2 minutes of the most raucous jokes you could tell.

Mike: The last time you and I were here at the Paramount it was with my father. Is there anything you want to add? Memories of him?
John: Dave’s passing was – and continues to be — just a great shock. He’s a guy that I miss regularly, in the way that I miss my parents.

Obviously, as you get older, you lose people. It’s part of life. He represents somebody whose loss hurt when it happened, and I continue to feel his loss.

There were conversations Dave and I had, where he would make suggestions. I would ask him for career advice. I would ask him for mentoring. I remember very clearly – I get goosebumps thinking about it – he looked at me and he said, “I want you to think about this because you’re better than what you’re doing.” I absolutely remember him saying those words to me. You’re better than what you’re doing.

Mike: And that’s why you’re here. We love working with you and we love the Hartford. We consider you family, too.



Top Wholesale Insurance Broker: 7 Advantages of Working with The DBL Center

If you’re shopping around for a wholesale insurance broker for your statutory disability benefits and ancillary employee benefits — or if you’re already working with DBL Center — you may wonder what makes us different from other general agencies.

Brokers gain a number of advantages working with The DBL Center for DBL and PFL coverage in New York, TDB coverage in New Jersey, TDI in Hawaii, and other statutory benefits across the country.

In this season where we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and the eight days of Hanukkah, let’s look at seven reasons why you’ll love DBL Center.

1. Create Happier Customers
 
DBL Center can backdate policies more than a year, helping your clients avoid hefty fines or coverage gaps. Best of all, we do not charge for this process.
 
2. Earn Higher Commissions

You can earn more when you write your NYS DBL policies and NJ TDB with DBL Center as your wholesale insurance broker.

Our sub producing brokers receive Flat 22.5% commission directly from all our DBL carriers for risks between 1 and 50 lives. And you’ll have opportunities to earn even more when you bundle ancillary benefits for your customers.

In addition to our industry-high commissions, DBL Center hosts happy hour networking events to show our appreciation to our top brokers. We also provide cross-marketing opportunities, including the chance to appear on our highly regarded video series, On the Mic with Mike, or to be spotlighted as a top broker on our industry blog.

3. Build Trust and Support Your Brand with our White Label Service

DBL Center is a white-label wholesale insurance broker, which means your name goes on every application. We do the work; you get the credit and collect the commissions.

Having your name on every application proves you own your brokerage, which is important to build trust with your clients. It also helps build your brand, so that you are top of mind for your customers. We know many of our brokers sell other types of insurance, and your clients should think of you for any of their personal or business insurance needs.

4. Earn More Money Selling Ancillary Benefits

In addition to our role as a top wholesale insurance broker for DBL and TDB across the northeast, we also specialize in ancillary benefits, including Group Life AD&D, LTD, Dental and Vision coverage.

We will manage the marketing and account management for these niche products for you, enabling you to expand your book of business with clients who already know and trust your company.

You can even save your customers money while increasing your commissions by bundling ancillary benefits with statutory disability insurance.

5. Gain Important Business Insights with our Broker Dashboard

Since its launch, our broker dashboard has helped our clients gain crucial business insights that help them retain customers and earn more commissions. As DBL Center Founder David Cohen used to say, “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”

We’ve taken his philosophy and merged it with the latest technology to provide our brokers with an overview of all their accounts, commission history, and access plan documents. As a DBL center customer, you’ll be able to see clients who did not renew, clients who are pending cancellation, and clients who are paid, as well as how much you’ve earned from each customer.

This powerful tool aids in retaining customers, which will increase your bottom line with less work.

6. Save Time by Binding DBL Applications Conveniently Online

DBL Center has always been on the cutting edge of technology as a wholesale insurance broker. Even before we launched our state-of-the-art Broker Dashboard, we made it easy for brokers to bind DBL applications online.

Simply visit our “Get a Quick Quote” page to bind your applications under 50 lives online.

7. Relax with Unmatched, White Glove Customer Service

Since its founding in 1976, DBL Center has believed in providing top-notch customer service for its brokers. David Cohen modeled DBL Center’s expert, personalized service and family atmosphere after the service at the boutique hotels he loved to stay in while traveling. (For those who wonder, that is what the image on our home page represents.)

Having the DBL Center team by your side is like having a luxury hotel concierge at your service. We are not just a wholesale insurance broker. We are a general agency that acts as your full-service back office for your statutory disability needs, as well as ancillary benefits.

From our personalized service to your custom Broker Dashboard, DBL Center has the people, connections, and the technology to meet your needs as your wholesale insurance broker into 2020 and beyond.


Rep Roundtable, Part 3: Insurance Pros Talk about How They Fell Into the Business and More

“No one gets into the insurance business because they want to,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen in his trademark tongue-in-cheek fashion.

Cohen had aspirations of being an entertainment attorney and then honed his craft of writing and producing while attending Boston University, which led him to performing stand-up comedy. He now combines all these talents, and more, as the leader of the largest niche insurance wholesaler in the Northeast.

Mike’s father, DBL Center Founder David Cohen, was driving to his dental school interview at Stony Brook University when he got into a car accident with a life insurance representative, who coerced him into joining Canada Life as a salesman instead of going into dentistry.

Simon Klarides, one of ShelterPoint’s most familiar faces, thought he was applying for a job as a financial trader when he wound up in the Claims department at Prudential. A

And Louis Ortiz of Principal Financial Group turned down a job as a morning anchor at an ABC affiliate to work in insurance. He says, in part three of our Rep Roundtable, that when he realized what was in front of him, he was scared to life about what he was about to take on.

While all three men in this edition of our Rep Roundtable reminisce about “roads not taken,” none regret entering the insurance industry. The work merges their talents for entertainment, sales, and—perhaps most importantly—finding the stories amidst the data.

“If you like working with people, and you like the educational process, the solving-the-problem process, I think it’s a great business,” Klarides says.

Work-Life Balance in the Mobile Age

At the 3:30 mark of the video, Cohen, Klarides and Ortiz talk about the effects of mobile technology on work/life balance and the growth of the insurance industry. Like so many professionals today, they find it hard to shut down when they leave the office due to always-on mobile technology.

And although sales have increased with more ways than ever to connect with potential customers, they haven’t grown at the rate you may expect. In fact, Klarides attributes growth to the sale of ancillary benefits to statutory DBL customers. “That’s where a lot of our business has grown over the years – getting our brokers to shift gears and teach their clients about a new product – dental, vision.”

Ortiz adds that technology, such as DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard comes into play to increase efficiencies and workflow, giving brokers 24/7 access to the data that affects their business.

“You can access the broker dashboard from so many multiple points: laptop, desktop computer, your phone. Having that access facilitates positive change because you’re having these fluid, real-time conversations. It just helps you to have a better business discussion when you’re trying to grow your book of business.”

“The data tells a story,” Cohen agrees. “I say the biggest goal, and what the Broker Dashboard really highlights, is retention. At the end of the day, it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”

View more…

For more wisdom from Cohen, Klarides, and Ortiz, make sure to watch the video to the end. Cheers!

Missed Rep Roundtable Parts 1 and 2? Watch them here! And subscribe to our YouTube channel to see all our videos as they go live.



Rep Roundtable: Friendly Competition

Camaraderie and friendship drives success for DBL Center’s brokers and carriers

With countless DBL brokers in the New York tri-state area and several carriers for statutory benefits, there is tremendous competition for accounts. But that doesn’t stop top insurance reps on both the broker and carrier sides from becoming friends. Part 2 of DBL Center’s first-ever Rep Roundtable focuses on the spirit of friendly competition that drives the industry and sustains friendships.

We share some excerpts below, but you’ll have to watch the whole video to get all the goodies from ShelterPoint’s Director of Business Development Simon Klarides, Senior Sales Representative at Principal Financial Group Louis Ortiz, and DBL Center’s Michael Cohen.

4th Quarter Camaraderie

After talking about how the three insurance professionals met, the Rep Roundtable conversation shifted to the camaraderie and mutual respect that permeates the industry.

“We want to win all day long. But there’s enough meat on the bone where we can all eat,” Ortiz says. “It’s just a matter of being respectful and courteous to each other.”

Klarides adds, “At the end of the day, you don’t do anything to hurt each other. You do everything to support each other. You compete, but you don’t go over the line.”

This spirit of friendly competition is particularly evident at the DBL Center’s annual holiday party, now going on year three at The Founder’s Room VIP section of the famed Paramount in Huntington. Not only is it a great place for the DBL Center family to catch up with the people they haven’t seen in like an hour, Cohen says, but it’s the place for people who compete throughout the rest of the year to eat, drink, and be merry.

“Even though my brokers and carriers are all competing, they’re all friendly and work well with one another,” Cohen says.  

Changes in the Insurance Industry

The relationship-building that is so strong in the tri-state area insurance market hasn’t changed in the 45+ years since DBL Center was founded.  But virtually everything else about the industry has evolved dramatically.

“Like my father told me before he passed away, more has changed in 15 years than in my first 30 in the business,” Cohen says.

Listing just some of the changes, including Zurich exiting the market, the introduction of Paid Family Leave, and, most recently, AmTrust Wesco exiting the DBL market, Cohen points out that DBL Center is well-positioned to face the future of insurance in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, where Paid Family Medical Leave was recently introduced.

Note: Make sure to read last week’s post to learn more about AmTrust Wesco leaving the DBL market and watch Part 1 of our Rep Roundtable.

Nickels and Dimes Make Dollars

This fall, as DBL Center is prepared to shift statutory DBL policies with PFL riders from AmTrust Wesco to ShelterPoint, Cohen and Klarides agree that DBL Center’s state-of-the-art technology has made all the difference. It will be a smooth transition for brokers to write their DBL policies with ShelterPoint, and they will also gain the benefit of the DBL Center’s free Broker Dashboard.

While DBL Center introduced the Broker Dashboard technology less than a year ago, it was decades in the making. The Broker Dashboard exists as the culmination of Founder David Cohen’s emphasis on doing the math, tracking the numbers, and showing brokers exactly what they can expect from each deal. Cohen often espoused, “Nickels, dimes, and quarters make dollars.”

The Broker Dashboard brings David’s philosophy to life on the screen for brokers. But years before there was a Broker Dashboard, there was David Cohen with his calculator, pad, pen, and general ledger.

“Dave always had a calculator and a pad and a pen at every meeting,” Klarides recalls. “You knew you were having a good discussion with Dave when he started working the keys.”

“We talk about data,” Klarides continues. “That’s what you’re doing, Mike, with your Broker Dashboard. You’re telling brokers what they have, and where they want to get. There are a lot of brokers who do not line-item the DBL cases. Now you’re aggregating that data for them. And when they realize what they have, they realize it’s a pretty nice block.”

Share the Laughs and Lessons Here

Find out more about the camaraderie, technology, and people that make DBL Center a top insurance wholesaler in the New York Tri-state area for more than 45 years in Part 2 of our Rep Roundtable here.


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