DBL Center Expands into Critical Illness Insurance with Larry Estridge

PFL can help you increase DBL revenue

The DBL Center, known for more than 40 years as a provider of statutory benefits in New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and now Connecticut and Massachusetts, is expanding to provide critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, and accident insurance plans. Insurance industry veteran Larry Estridge joins the insurance wholesaler as the Regional Vice President for Group Voluntary Worksite benefits.

See more: Meet our Team

Estridge comes to The DBL Center directly from OneShare Health, where he helped agents and brokers in the Northeast Region find affordable healthcare solutions for their clients. With more than a decade of experience in the insurance industry, Larry Estridge has previously worked at Union Central, where he provided training for agents and recruited, developed and managed independent distribution of Brokerage General Agencies. He has also worked as Regional VP, Director of Agencies for Ameritas Life Insurance and as District Development Manager at Colonial Life.

Larry Estridge, Regional Vice President of Group Worksite Benefits

In his new role at The DBL Center, Estridge will spearhead the wholesale general agency’s Voluntary Worksite Development department, providing brokers with options for critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, and accident insurance. He will also work to help grow the ancillary benefits division of DBL Center, which provides:

  • Group Life / AD&D
  • Long-term disability insurance (LTD)
  • Dental
  • Vision

Cultivating Relationships Across States and Industries

Estridge’s relationships in the insurance industry, his passion for employee benefits, and his consultative selling approach to voluntary worksite benefits will set him up for success as part of the growing DBL Center team. His focus on cultivating relationships with individual producers and agencies, as well as financial advisors, will help him construct the best solutions to help their clients protect their savings and lifestyle even in the event of an unthinkable accident or illness.

“I consistently utilize a balanced approach of product knowledge, discipline, creativity and sales support, which allows me to provide insurance solutions quickly, competitively, and accurately,” Estridge says. “Combining my knowledge and relationships with The DBL Center’s existing network and state-of-the-art technology will help us grow quickly and strategically in the voluntary worksite benefits and critical illness insurance space.”

About Critical Illness Insurance, Hospital Indemnity Insurance, and Accident Insurance Plans

Several major carriers and DBL Center partners provide critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance and accident insurance plans. plans. As the newest addition to our company spearheading this growing division, Estridge will seek to provide insurance brokers across the U.S., including NY, NJ, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Florida, with these in-demand benefits for their clients.

Hospital indemnity insurance is a voluntary benefit, paid for by employees who opt in. It helps alleviate some of the financial burden of hospital stays for workers who have suffered an accident or serious illness off the job.

Similarly, critical illness insurance and accident insurance plans help protect employee’s savings with partial income replacement in the event of an on-the-job or off-the-job accident or illness, depending on the specific insurance plan. Coverage can be:

  • 100% employer-paid
  • 100% employee-paid as a voluntary benefits
  • Written as a shared-cost plan

Specific coverage levels, premiums, and the number of lives required to write this group benefit vary depending on the type of insurance. Estridge and The DBL Center team will help brokers find the right plan for their clients and help them save money by bundling critical illness insurance and other voluntary and ancillary benefits with statutory disability and paid family leave coverage in states where it applies.

“A lot has changed since the pandemic,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “From workers to company owners, people began to face their own mortality and think hard about what might happen if they should become critically ill or injured and unable to work. There’s more demand than ever before for benefits like hospital indemnity insurance, critical illness insurance, and accident insurance plans. Larry’s experience and relationships will help The DBL Center stand out as a leader in helping our brokers give their clients more of the benefits they need and want. More than ever, I’m excited about our future as a company and the white-glove service we continue to offer to our brokers. There’s never been a better time to join our team.”



Record Numbers of Small Businesses Launched in 2020

Here’s how your insurance brokerage can benefit

P&C insurance brokers specializing in statutory and employee benefits may have been dismayed by the number of companies – especially in the hospitality sector – that went out of business in 2020. Insurance cancellations may have caused a loss in revenue at a time when it was harder to generate new business when you couldn’t meet with clients face to face during the pandemic.

Our proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker allows us to track and monitor details like this to help brokers retain clients and grow their book of business.

Also see: Selling NY State Disability Insurance: Getting Creative in the Time of Covid-19

However, new research shows that new business opportunities may not be as scarce as the insurance community had perceived. In fact, research from the University of Maryland economist John Haltiwanger showed that more new businesses opened in 2020 than they have at other times, Axios reported.

The Wall Street Journal reported that, during the pandemic, for every five stores that closed permanently in one Chicago neighborhood, 10 opened. While many of the new small businesses are e-commerce websites or “non-store retailers,” other sectors showing growth are restaurants, laundromats, and trucking companies, Axios reported.

How Does This Affect Statutory Insurance Brokers?

Currently, five U.S. states plus Puerto Rico mandate statutory disability benefits for employees. Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York offer options to privatize these employee benefits.

Read more: Opportunities Grow for Statutory Insurance Brokers

New business owners may not be aware that every full-time and many part-time employees require short-term disability coverage in accordance with the legislation for their state – even if the employee works out-of-state.

For instance, if a Wisconsin resident works remotely as a W-2 employee (not in independent contractor) for an e-commerce site based in New Jersey, the employer would be responsible for providing statutory disability and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits to that worker.

Although many digital companies opt to work with independent contractors to simplify payroll and avoid these benefits, along with gaining flexibility and scalability in their workforce, some will hire full-time employees in key roles. Chief marketing officers, content managers, web developers, and accountants often hold full-time roles in e-commerce companies.

Additionally, new brick-and-mortar business owners will need to be informed about their state’s laws for statutory disability and family leave benefits. They will need to work with insurance brokers they can trust to educate them on the laws and offer options to get white-glove, specialized service. Small business owners may not recognize the importance of ancillary benefits for recruiting and retention. In today’s tight labor market, employee benefits such as Group Life / AD&D, vision, dental, and long-term disability can set new businesses apart.

For brokers, it’s a matter of connecting with new business owners and becoming their trusted advisor when it comes to employee benefits.

Where to Find New Businesses

Statutory insurance is unique – and can be uniquely profitable – because you are selling business owners a benefit they need. However, they may not know where to find it or how to get the lowest rates. They may not know they can bundle ancillary benefits with disability insurance for lower rates. If they have already started writing their benefits through their state, they might be unhappy with the service but unaware that they have alternatives.

The first step toward growing your book of business is to find small business owners who need your help. Local networking groups remain a key source of leads, especially now that people are attending in-person business meetings and networking events again.

Here are a few other places to uncover leads:

  • Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, which may provide business lists to their members.
  • Connect with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State for their online directory of registered corporations
  • Search on Google for new businesses in specific industries

You can also use inbound marketing to attract new leads to you, by posting content on LinkedIn to connect with new business owners in your state.

Look Ahead, Reach Out, Deliver the Service Business Owners Expect

As we recover collectively from the effects of the past year and a half, it’s time to start looking ahead. The DBL Center makes it easy for you to deliver white-glove, personalized service and the lowest rates to your clients.

Reach out to find out how we can help you grow your book of business right now.



DBL Center Equips Brokers to Brace for the Storm

Summer is in full swing, the country is re-opening, and many New York, New Jersey, and New England residents are flocking to the beaches.

But brace yourself, because the employee benefits space is about to face a major financial storm front. This includes long- and short-term disability insurance, dental and vision, group life/AD&D, plus state-mandated short-term disability and paid family leave. If you sell insurance in any of these niches, read on for important information regarding what we can expect through 2022.

Winter may be challenging for P&C insurance brokers, and the time to prepare is now.

DBL Center President Michael Cohen shares his thoughts on inflation, the P&C insurance industry, and statutory benefits.

Storm Front Coming

Inflation is no joke. The cost of virtually everything is going up right now. But most statutory and group ancillary insurance carriers have kept rates flat. Rates are bound to increase. And it’s likely to happen just as small to mid-size business owners, including restaurants, bars, and other non-essential shops, are just starting to get back on their feet and show a profit after what was one of their worst financial years in recent history.

When DBL Center President Michael Cohen says a storm is brewing, he’s referring to a financial storm that will, in many ways, rival Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Of course, the superstorm was a weather event, but it impacted P&C insurance brokers in an irrevocable way.

Similarly, the coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented in modern history. But with proper preparation, DBL Center brokers can position themselves for success amidst tumultuous change.

We chatted with DBL Center President Michael Cohen about how to take this summer to prepare for the coming months and what changes might be on the horizon.

Let’s cut right to the chase. We are seeing prices go up everywhere. Have the major statutory disability and group ancillary insurance carriers raised rates yet to keep up with inflation?

That’s a great question. After 15 to 18 months of rate passes from many preferred insurance carriers in the marketplace, we are beginning to see an uptick in activity.  At the DBL Center, we have always requested our Group Ancillary Benefit renewals 120 days in advance to give our sub producers ample leeway time if they plan on marketing the risk.

What is a broker’s best move in this inflationary economy? What selling techniques will be most effective and what products should they emphasize? 

Sell tiny increases. Each industry has a trend. If you can be at or slightly below that trend, you can generate additional revenue coming off the heels of a year when new business was slow and premiums dropped due to decreased payroll and headcounts.

If you own a brokerage firm and had a tough sales year, you can always rely on your residual income generated from renewals.  I’m not saying to sell astronomical rates but as long as it’s around or less than trend it should be able to be sold – especially when everything around us in our lives is also going up in price. Just look at the costs of meat and lumber as two examples!

Can you explain how DBL Center gets brokers the best rates for their clients’ statutory disability and ancillary benefits plans?

By leveraging block size. We have 46 years of compounded organic growth and several acquisitions, which have enabled us to maintain strength with the preferred carriers that we continue to represent and partner with.

Plus, our method for tracking revenue through our Broker Dashboard, which is a free added resource for any retail agent, makes it easier for brokers to stay on top of renewals and minimize cancellations while tracking what they net on a monthly basis.

We’re obviously in an inflationary period. Why is it smart for managers, owners, and company executives, to increase their spend in enriched DBL? 

Mainly to keep up with the new Paid Family Leave benefit law which is growing throughout the country.

I personally find it unusual that an individual claimant can receive more money to help a significant other than if they become personally sick or injured. Therefore, I feel it is in best practice to advertise the importance of enriching New York State’s mandated DBL Benefit. It has not increased since 1989 when our governor’s father was in office, Mario Cuomo.

Since you brought up PFL, let’s talk about that! Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York all introduced some form of Paid Family and Medical Leave in recent years. What do you see for the future?

It’s definitely the shiny object in the room and the point of discussion. Multiple states threw their hat in the ring last election to offer paid family leave on a fully insured basis. Currently Colorado and Oregon are next on the docket. New Hampshire and Delaware are in talks, too.  Excited to see who’s next!

As long as more states implement this into their legislation, we will continue to use this benefit to scale The DBL Center into the future.

How can brokers best prepare themselves for this future growth? 

Call The DBL Center their Insurance Wholesaler and let us help open the door for other product lines that they may specialize in and help monitor your book’s retention for free!

Michael Cohen Talks Past, Present, Future on Principal Insurance Podcast


Michael Cohen and Lance Hennesay

DBL Center president and CEO Michael Cohen was recently invited to speak on the Principal Insurance You Belong in Business podcast, discussing “how business valuation and succession planning go hand in hand” with host Kyle Munson and Principal advanced solution director Lance Hennesay.

Appropriately, Munson started off the podcast with a “dad joke” style pun (we will spare you the details – you’ll have to listen to the podcast), which led Michael to lead off with an anecdote about his father, DBL Center founder David Cohen. Michael and David met famous comedian Don Rickles at the legendary New York Friar’s Club when Michael was a member.

Mike shares:

My dad tells Don Rickles, “I loved watching you growing up…” and Don looks right at my father and asks, “What do you do for a living?”

My dad says, “I sell insurance.”

And Don Rickles says to my dad, “Show business is my life. When I was a kid I sold insurance, but nobody laughed.”

Leaving Entertainment for Insurance

Unlike Rickles, Michael Cohen left his own stand-up comedy career behind – except for the occasional December appearances on-stage during DBL Center holiday parties – to follow in his father’s footsteps as DBL Center CEO.

Since 2017, Cohen has made great strides to:

  • Modernize DBL Center’s operations and streamline renewals with The Broker Dashboard
  • Build business value and ramp up marketing efforts through a top-ranking website, featuring resource centers, news pages, and informative blog posts
  • Expand offerings across multiple states with the growth of Paid Family and Medical Leave in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut

However, Cohen wasn’t always so dedicated to the statutory insurance business. “I used to tell my father, ‘The more you ask, the less I want to do it.’ I told him, if you’re such a good salesperson, why don’t you give me a pitch on why I should get into it?”

Cohen continues: “I was graduating high school, prior to entering Boston University, where I wanted to pursue film and television. In the beginning I didn’t know specifically what I wanted to be, but I was very struck by [the film] Jerry Maguire and I thought maybe I’d be an agent.

My dad kept asking me, ‘If God Forbid something happens to me, your mother wants nothing to do with the business. So why don’t we keep the money in the family?’

From a financial planning perspective, he wanted me to be involved.”

Cohen says, “After doing a stint in the entertainment business for six or seven years, I found a way to parlay my passion into helping him make money in his business. Now I’ve been doing this 17 years come July 1, 2021.”

Michael Cohen Discusses Business Sales in Today’s Environment

The podcast continued with Cohen and Hennesay sharing ideas on selling a business in today’s market, where 2020 will always stand as an exception to all rules or trends on profitability and valuations.

Hennesay noted that many valuation specialists will downplay the significance of 2020 numbers in a weighted average scenario, but that business owners looking to sell at their peak may choose to wait until 2020 moves further into the rearview mirror.

Munson pointed out that only 31% of business owners said they feel confident selling their business right now, while 72% are confident about their ability to adjust to shifting demands, even in the last year.

Cohen falls into this second category, pointing out one of his father’s favorite adages: “Stick to sewing” or “stay in your lane.”

“I never knew what that meant, growing up, but it’s just a simple way of saying don’t be a jack-of-all-trades,” Cohen said. “I sell plenty of lines of disability here – in a good economy you’ve got New Jersey TDI / NJ TDB, New York DBL, Hawaii TDI, enriched DBL in NY, FMLA, STD, ancillary benefits… that’s plenty on my plate. I don’t need to take on major medical. I’ve got enough going on for people to take me seriously as a consultant in the niche that I’m in.”

Modernizing and Growing the Business

Since founder David Cohen’s passing, technology has become a driving force behind The DBL Center’s success. With the 2017 launch of The Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, The DBL Center disrupted the niche insurance sector with cutting edge technology.

“I didn’t know, back then, that the Broker Dashboard would expand into apps in The App Store and the Google Play store, for both iOS and Android mobile devices,” Cohen said. “It’s a revenue tracking system, essentially, and that’s what most business owners care about – the bottom line.”

Full Circle

Today, Cohen keeps his eye on the bottom line and satisfies his urge to entertain through podcasts, including his Rep Roundtable discussions and “On the Mic with Mike” sessions where he interviews DBL Center employees and brokers.

To hear more, including more David Cohen wisdom shared by Michael Cohen, listen to the full Principal podcast here. You can also view more DBL Center interviews in our News section.

Paid Family Leave in Connecticut: DBL Center Opens New England Office

In the past several years, Paid Family Medical Leave legislation has been sweeping across the Northeast. The DBL Center has been at the forefront of guiding brokers to make the most of this new revenue stream, which can be bundled with ancillary benefits to provide business owners with cost savings while brokers enjoy increased commissions.

As we increase our services in Connecticut and Massachusetts, especially, we’ve been expanding our base into New England with a physical presence in Connecticut. This allows us to service our New England brokers better with a local presence.

Brokers in Connecticut and Massachusetts have turned to The DBL Center in the past year to navigate Paid Family and Medical Leave in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We’ve been helping brokers manage PFL in NY since 2017, so we’re familiar with the transition. Most importantly, we can help brokers use statutory coverage as a springboard to sell highly profitable group ancillary benefits, including dental, vision, and group life / AD&D.

Statutory Insurance Experts in New York, New Jersey, and New England

However, as Connecticut and Massachusetts solidify their Paid Family and Medical leave legislation, there are bound to be nuances in the laws that make them different from New York. Already, Connecticut has different paperwork to fill out to privatize PFML in CT. And the definition of a “family member” that someone can take leave to care for hasn’t been fully defined, but it may be less restrictive than New York’s laws.

Learn more about Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave here in our resource center.

Having local insurance experts in New England that can focus exclusively on our New England brokers will allow The DBL Center to provide the same level of expert, personalized service across Massachusetts and Connecticut as we have been doing for 45+ years in New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii.

DBL Center Hires New Group Sales Rep to Support Paid Family Leave in Connecticut and New England

As we focus on customer service and PFML in Connecticut and Massachusetts, we’ve brought on an industry expert with an office in Trumbull, Connecticut. Brian Dewey, the newest DBL Center Group Sales Representative, comes to us from major carriers Sun Life and Ameritas and has been a staple in Connecticut insurance for nearly a decade.

A Massachusetts native and Stonehill graduate with degrees in Economics and Finance, Dewey specializes in group ancillary benefits and will stay on top of the ever-evolving statutory benefits legislation in Connecticut, where he currently resides, and in his home state of Massachusetts.

The DBL Center: On the Cutting Edge of Statutory Benefits and Technology

With our extensive knowledge of Paid Family and Medical Leave coverage, The DBL Center is here to support New England brokers through the confusion of the first year of this new benefit and beyond. Brokers who take advantage of our white-glove, personalized service also gain access to our state-of-the-art Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, helping you track renewals, cancellations, and commissions easily from any internet-enabled device.

Reach out to The DBL Center and Brian Dewey to learn more about how to help your customers save money by privatizing PFML in Connecticut today.



DBL Center Helps Brokers Privatize Connecticut Paid Family Medical Leave

As Connecticut employers prepare to make their first contributions to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority for Paid Family Medical Leave in Connecticut, many business owners are wondering if it pays to privatize PFML through a top-rated insurance carrier. Since the program was first announced last year, Connecticut insurance brokers have been wondering the same thing. Is there profit in privatizing PFML in Connecticut?

Cathy Brown, Vice President of Employee Benefits at Brown & Brown of Connecticut, Inc., a publicly-held insurance carrier in Rocky Hill, CT, shares her thoughts on navigating the introduction of PFML, the challenges, pitfalls, and opportunities Connecticut brokers face.

“Since the end of last year, we’ve been exploring opportunities with different carriers to see if it pays to privatize this paid leave and write the policy through a trusted carrier rather than the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority,” she said.

Paid Family Medical Leave Premiums May Vary by Industry

In some cases, the choice looks like a no-brainer. The DBL Center has secured quotes for businesses in certain low-risk industries that save employees money on the 0.5% standard premium charged by the state. “We’ve had some quotes come in at 0.4%,” Brown says, “so automatically we are saving employees money by privatizing the plan.”

That 0.1% point can add up over time, especially for high-earners. But in other cases, the quotes may come in the same. Brown points out that premium prices often depend on the industry, as certain industries are deemed higher risk for employees to take paid family leave or paid medical leave for illnesses not covered by workers’ compensation.

For instance, healthcare workers may have a higher risk of catching a communicable disease in their workplace, but since it can’t be traced back to a specific workday incident, it would not qualify for workers’ compensation and the employee would file for short-term medical leave, instead.

Similarly, healthcare workers may be more likely to take paid leave to care for family members. “The definition of who constitutes a ‘family member’ here in Connecticut is very broad,” Brown says. “It hasn’t been fully defined by the department of labor. But if your line of work is in the healthcare field, you might be more likely to be the one to take a leave of absence to care for someone in your family, because you’re the one who knows how to do that.”

Industries dominated by women of child-bearing age may also have a higher incidence of paid family leave claims. A 2019 report from the University of Chicago found that 48% of new fathers and 55% of new mothers have taken time off to care for a newborn. When it comes to taking leave to care for a family member, the margin gets even slimmer: 28% of working men and 31% of working women took time off to care for a family member.

However, working with an experienced insurance wholesaler like The DBL Center can help brokers get the lowest rates for their clients regardless of the industry. “We’ve been able to work through Michael Cohen and his team at The DBL Center to find out which insurance companies are best for which industries. He’s been able to help us navigate through our choices to get the best plans for our clients,” Brown says.

She adds that The DBL Center has helped her write plans without requiring her clients to add additional lines of coverage, such as long-term disability or other ancillary benefits. Not every employer is ready, financially or from a staffing standpoint, to add other employee benefits as they are just beginning to adapt to the challenges and costs of paid family medical leave.

Additional Benefits to Privatizing PFML for Connecticut Business Owners

Even if the premiums for privatizing PFML end up equal in cost to the state plan, Connecticut business owners can reap other rewards by privatizing paid family medical leave in Connecticut.

“It’s about our clients’ comfort level when it comes to helping their employees file a claim,” Brown says. “You can go it alone and let your employees work directly with the state or you can privatize and work directly with a top carrier, while having your broker to help you.”

Brown points out that The DBL Center’s knowledge has been invaluable in guiding her clients. Cohen’s experience in helping brokers roll out Paid Family Leave in New York, where it is written as a rider to short-term disability policies, is helping The DBL Center stay ahead of the curve as Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation ripples across the northeast states. “We’ve been able to reach out to Michael and his team as a resource. He’s help us interpret some of the legislation for us and even gotten on the phone with our clients to explain it to them in better laymen’s terms than we can, because of our lack of boots on the ground to this point,” Brown says.



Find All The DBL Center’s News and Videos In One Spot

We’re all busy and it’s not always easy to stay up on the latest statutory and ancillary employee benefit insurance industry news – or to get the helpful tips you need to grow your book of business. The DBL Center understands, which is why we’ve launched our In The News section.

See Your Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker in Action

Watch an overview of how to use your Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to easily track renewals, cancellations and commissions from any internet-enabled device. You can also schedule a demo of this cloud-based app using the easy-to-access chat feature directly on the page.
If you’re not already using the Broker Dashboard, you’re missing out on a key benefit of working with The DBL Center as your wholesale general agency. The Broker Dashboard provides up-to-the-minute information on all the accounts you write with us, so you can gain better control of your business and track your direct billed policies.

Read More: Six Steps Insurance Brokers Should Take Today to Start 2021 Right

Meet The DBL Center Team

Get to know the people behind our wholesale general agency better in our one-on-one video series. DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen puts his years of stage experience and his passion for film to work as he interviews The DBL Center team, revealing their motivations, goals, and a few fun facts.

Stay Up to Date on Industry Insights with Rep Roundtable

Our Rep Roundtable series achieved industry-wide recognition. These short-form video podcasts launched in 2019, bringing together reps from our top insurance carriers to discuss industry trends and offer tips for brokers.

If you want to learn more about Paid Family Leave’s expansion into New England and beyond, examine the implications of technology on the statutory insurance industry, or find out how top carriers got their start in the field, this is the place to look.

Read More: New York Paid Family Leave Resource Center

Take a look, too, as The DBL Center marketing team “turns the tables” on Michael Cohen to interview him in a virtual series produced during the pandemic. Cohen discusses how the industry changed dramatically in 2020 and what brokers can do to network successfully and grow their business through enriched DBL and ancillary benefits, including Group Life / AD&D, which has seen increased demand in the past year.

Find Out What’s New with The DBL Center and Statutory Benefits

Of course, scroll down to our Press Release section to see the latest breaking news, from the Broker Dashboard app release on the iPhone App Store to PFL expansion across New England and, soon, into the western states of Colorado and Oregon. We’ll release more information about these new Paid Family Leave programs as it becomes available, and you can find it here in our press release section first.

Since our website’s revamp four years ago, we have aimed to give you the information and resources you need to run your insurance business. Our In The News section brings together some of our most valuable media in one place, so you can browse easily during short spurts of down time. We hope you’ll discover information, inspiration, and maybe even a laugh or two.

Are You Making Money Off THIS In-Demand Employee Benefit?

As insurance brokers, it’s your job to deliver the benefits your customers and their employees need, including packages that will help employers recruit and retain top workers. With remote work on the rise, employers have an endless talent pool to draw from as geographic location now matters less than it used to. And employee benefits have become more important than ever when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

A survey from Prudential Insurance revealed that 52% of employees would leave their job for one with what they deemed the “right” benefits. And 77% said benefits represent a “key part” of a compensation package.

But what benefits do employees want most during a pandemic?

The Ancillary Benefits Employees Want Most

Health insurance remains important, of course, with 86% of employees calling it a “must have.” But dental, vision, and disability coverage now rank in top spots, as well. Respectively, 69%, 41%, and 41% of survey respondents said they require these ancillary benefits.

But there’s another benefit that’s also topping many lists: Group Life / AD&D coverage. “Here in The DBL Center office,” says The DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen, “we’re getting more calls than we ever have to bundle Group Life / AD&D with other lines of coverage. The pandemic has put everybody in touch with their own mortality and they want to make sure their loved ones are taken care of if something happens.”

Insurance companies across the country noticed a spike in life insurance policy sales in the beginning of the second quarter of 2020, that hasn’t waned as we entered 2021. Haven Life Insurance Agency, a company owned by carrier MassMutual, reported a 34% increase in term life policies sold in the second and third quarters of 2020 versus the same time frame in 2019. Northwestern Mutual reported a 15% increase in policies sold between April and September 2020 versus the same time period in 2019. LIMRA, a financial industry organization, saw a 2% increase in policies sold industrywide, according to CNBC.

Industry experts told CNBC that the last time they saw a spike like this was in the days and weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Why Group Life / AD&D Policies Represent Tremendous Value for Your Customers

Insurance industry reps told CNBC they saw the largest spike in term life insurance policies, especially for younger workers. But for many employees, group policies can provide affordable coverage without a medical exam.

Insurers cannot deny claims due to COVID, although premiums may rise in the future as an effect of low interest rates and high claims – much like they did in the P&C insurance industry after claims rose due to Hurricane Sandy.

Your smartest customers will want to offer their employees a voluntary or shared-cost Group Life / AD&D policy now, rather than waiting until rates rise. Only 60% of businesses currently offer Group Life / AD&D, so there is a tremendous market to tap.

Adding Group Life / AD&D to existing customers’ policies can help offset the losses insurance brokers experienced with so many small business owners closing permanently due to the pandemic. Employers can opt to share premiums costs with employees or choose a 100% employee-funded voluntary group plan.

Tiered Plans that Provide the Best Coverage for Top Level Employees

Like enriched DBL coverage in New York, Group Life /AD&D coverage favors high-level executives and business owners when you choose a tiered plan. Executives in the top tier enjoy reasonable premiums, while coverage is based on basic annual earnings, so your top earners have a higher coverage cap.

You can read more about Group Life / AD&D and see a sample tiered plan here.

“It’s been a challenging year for brokers, and I don’t want to look at this as a silver lining,” Cohen says. “But it took a pandemic for people to realize how important life insurance coverage is for preserving their legacy and making life a little easier for their loved ones in case the unthinkable happens.”

It’s now the insurance broker’s role to point employers and their workers in the right direction to coverage that will meet their needs, scale as their family or standard-of-living grows and give them the peace-of-mind to focus on what really matters today.

Opportunities Grow for Statutory Insurance Brokers

Map of United States

The past year has brought shake-ups for statutory insurance brokers.

  • Record-high rate hikes for temporary disability benefits (TDB) in New Jersey
  • New Family Leave Insurance benefits for New Jersey
  • Increased benefits for Paid Family Leave in New York
  • The introduction of family and medical leave coverage in two more New England states

Smart insurance brokers can easily find a silver lining in much of the new legislation. Opportunities exist for statutory insurance brokers to expand into new regions, upsell enriched coverage, and guide business owners toward the benefits of a private plan rather than writing their insurance through their state’s fund.

In fact, 37 states threw their hats in the ring this past election to pass Paid Family Leave acts on a state level. As more states embrace paid family leave legislation, it could ultimately become federal, where it would work in conjunction with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers unpaid job protection for those who are out of work due to illness or to care for family members.”

Statutory Disability Coverage Across the U.S.

Moving into 2021, nine states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico offer statutory disability plans to employees. Of those states, only Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York provide options to privatize statutory disability through an independent insurance carrier.

Take a look at this chart to see which states offer self-funding options in lieu of the state plan, and also which states permit private coverage through an insurance company.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Plans Across the U.S. at a Glance

California, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island offer Paid Family Leave as subsets of statutory disability plans. For instance, PFL in New York is written as a rider to DBL coverage.

In New Jersey, Family Leave Insurance is included automatically with TDB premiums. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act covers both family leave and medical leave. It can be written through the state fund or through a private insurance carrier.

It is important to note that workers cannot collect statutory disability or paid family leave concurrently with unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation benefits.

2020 Brought Changes to Statutory Disability and Paid Family and Medical Leave

Let’s take a look at the year in review and some of the changes that were instituted for statutory disability and family medical leave coverage across the U.S.

After Waiving the Signature Requirement to Privatize TDB, New Jersey Increased Premiums and Benefits

In 2019, New Jersey waived the signature requirement for employers to obtain temporary disability benefits coverage through a private carrier. In the past, employers needed to obtain signature consent from 50% + 1 of employees to privatize TDB in New Jersey.

This presented opportunities for brokers, since it became easier than ever to convince business owners to switch to a private carrier for superior service, more flexible benefits, and up to 20% cost savings.

In 2020, New Jersey increased TDB insurance premiums, but also expanded disability coverage up 85% of a worker’s average weekly wage, up to $881 per week. The state also expanded its Family Leave Insurance benefits and eliminated the 7-day waiting period to begin collecting FLI benefits.

The increased premiums give business owners more reasons than ever to write their TDB coverage through a private insurance broker.

New York Increased PFL Coverage as Per Initial Plans

New York State made headlines in 2017 when it introduced one of the most robust Paid Family Leave plans in all 50 states, rivaling California’s generous policy.

Benefits continued to increase through 2021, when they will reach a high of 67% of the current statewide average weekly wage (AWW). Workers can collect up to $971.61 per week in 2021.

With PFL benefits at their maximum, it’s more important than ever for New York business owners to consider enriching DBL coverage so it is in line with PFL.

Massachusetts Signed the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

Massachusetts announced the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act, PFML, in the middle of the year, with coverage beginning January 1, 2021. These benefits cover paid leave to care for infants, or children newly adopted or fostered within the past 12 months. Additional benefits will roll out July 1, 2021, with time off to care for any family member with a serious health condition.

Connecticut Introduced Family and Medical Leave Insurance

Following in the steps of neighboring New York and Massachusetts, Connecticut also introduced a Paid Family Medical Leave Act that goes into effect January 1, 2022, but employers must register with the CT Paid Leave Authority by December 31, 2020. Payroll deductions for PFML begin on January 1, 2021 for the state plan.

Private Plans Create Happy Customers

As more states add paid family leave benefits to their statutory disability programs, it’s important to understand the opportunities insurance brokers have to give their customers top-notch service, flexible claims, and potentially lower premiums through private coverage.

Reference the PDF here for clarity on the states currently offering PFL, FMLA and statutory disability or rolling out programs in the new year so you can be prepared to provide your customers with the best statutory disability benefits for their money.

To provide quotes for statutory disability for new customers, you’ll need a census containing the ages, genders, and salaries of all the owners and employees of the corporation. Reach out to The DBL Center through our chat box or call us at 631.293.5100 to get started.




In Addition to NJ Disability Insurance Rate Hike, New Jersey Expands Family Leave Insurance Coverage

Insurance brokers in the tri-state area know that New Jersey recently expanded its NJ disability insurance (TDB) to create one of the most competitive disability coverage packages in the country. The new TDB coverage provides income replacement of up to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary, capped at $903 per week for 2021.

As of January 1, 2021, New Jersey employees must contribute .47% on the first $138,200 of earnings (capped at $649.54 annually). Meanwhile, employers contribute based on employee earnings, capped at $35,500 total annually.

While the NJ disability insurance premium increase may not have made New Jersey business owners happy, it represented an opportunity for brokers to present the advantages of privatizing TDB coverage for better service, expanded benefits, and cost savings of up to 25%.

As you approach New Jersey businesses to make the transition to a private plan for temporary disability benefits insurance, business owners may have questions about other changes to statutory benefits legislation in New Jersey.

Knowledge is power, and can help you build trust with your customers and prospects when you can answer their questions not just about TDB coverage, but about Family Leave Insurance (NJFLI) and changes to the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act. The SAFE Act protects victims of domestic violence or violent sexual attacks with 12 weeks of job-protected leave.

What Brokers Need to Know About FLI

Previously, New Jersey business owners with more than 50 employees (living in any state) were required to provide 12 weeks paid leave and job protection to their New Jersey employees to care for an ill or injured family member or to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child.

Changes to NJFLI legislation have expanded the definition of a family member to virtually anyone with a “close association equivalent to a family member.” In addition, employers with 30 or more employees (not 50) must provide FLI coverage to their employees who live in New Jersey. The state has also waived the 7-day waiting period to begin collecting FLI benefits. Finally, NJ employees do not have to use two weeks of PTO before filing an FLI claim; they can collect benefits and PTO concurrently or wait until their FLI has run out to use their PTO.

The SAFE ACT and NJ Family Leave Insurance

Employees who file for leave under the SAFE Act now also qualify for FLI benefits, without having to use their PTO first. Again, they can use PTO concurrently or after FLI benefits run out. The SAFE Act applies to any New Jersey employer with 25 or more employees in the organization. 

Why It Pays for Business Owners to Privatize NJ Disability Insurance

The new FLI legislation isn’t putting any money in brokers’ pockets. But it’s important to know how it works to guide your customers toward the right benefits for their employees

Privatizing NJ disability insurance (TDB) does not affect FLI coverage, but does provide New Jersey business owners with the white-glove service they deserve, a chance to bundle ancillary benefits for added savings, and benefits that match or exceed the state plan at an equal or lower cost.

Contact The DBL Center to learn more about how benefits have changed for New Jersey business owners – and how you can use this knowledge to expand your book of business.