As the statutory insurance industry prepares for July 1 renewals, it’s a good time for insurance brokers to help them identify gaps in coverage that may be filled by ancillary benefits.
The introduction of paid family and medical leave programs in a growing number of states opens new markets to statutory brokers. DBL Center brokers who specialize in short-term disability in New York and New Jersey understand what it’s like to roll out a new benefit program based on experience with New York PFL.
As such, you are uniquely qualified to help your clients with these new benefits in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and beyond. Plus, you have the advantage of the DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to keep your clients aware of renewals and pending cancellations.
As you’re reviewing benefits for third quarter DBL and TDB renewals in July, take some time to ask your clients about their other employee benefits to identify holes in their coverage or areas – especially in regard to executive benefits packages, ancillary benefits, and long-term disability insurance (DI).
You can list some of the most common ancillary benefits and ask your clients if they offer these options to their employees. But it’s better to start a dialogue that discusses their needs.
You might start by asking about the demographics of their employees.
Then, move on to the specifics of today’s economy:
Finally, look to the upper level of employees and the business, itself:
Once you’ve determined the make-up of the workforce and the business owner’s biggest concerns regarding the future of their business, you can make the best recommendations.
Of course, budgets are always a consideration when you’re optimizing employee benefits packages. It helps to remind clients that many benefits can be offered as completely voluntary and employee funded, funded by the employer, or on a cost-shared basis.
Having these options allows business owners to deliver competitive benefits without a dent in their bottom line. Even executive packages for life insurance and long-term disability can be written as buy-up coverage, fully funded by the executive with no cost to the company.
Every quarter also brings new opportunities to write new business and expand your reach as an insurance broker. There is no easier way to get your foot in the door than with statutory benefits that every business owner needs to provide, by law.
DBL in New York and TDB in New Jersey have been on the books for decades. There are always new businesses entering the market in need of coverage. Plus, opportunities to privatize these benefits along with Family Leave Insurance in New Jersey and Paid Family Leave in New York opens doors for brokers.
It all starts with education about the products and presenting your insurance brokerage as an authoritative resource for statutory benefits. That’s where the DBL Center comes in as your back-office staff with the knowledge and experience to write Paid Family Leave in NY and other states now offering family and medical leave benefits.
From there, you can continue to ask the right questions to help benefits supervisors, HR directors and company owners develop the best benefits package to achieve their business goals. Disability insurance is just the beginning. Today’s workforce needs so much more in the way of insurance coverage.
When you pinpoint the holes in your clients’ coverage packages and show them ways they can affordably recruit and retain talent through the benefits today’s businesses and employees need most, they will rely on you as a trusted resource. The time to start is today.
by Dawn Allcot
Add Maryland to the growing list of states offering paid family and medical leave to many workers. As the federal government continues to discuss a U.S.-wide mandated paid family leave program, more state legislatures are introducing their own programs.
On April 9, 2022, the Maryland General Assembly voted to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a broad-reaching PFML bill. The reasons an employee can take leave mirror New York’s legislation, which represented some of the broadest and best coverage in the country when it was introduced in 2017. Massachusetts and Connecticut then followed in New York’s footsteps.
The New York PFL plan was introduced in stages of increased benefits until 2021 saw the benefits fully phased in up to the maximum amount of $1068.36 per week for up to 12 weeks.
Maryland’s PFML benefits will become available January 1, 2025, but the state will begin collecting premiums on October 1, 2023. Benefits will begin at a $50 per week minimum, with a maximum of $1,000 weekly for up to 12 weeks in the first year. From there, maximum benefits will rise based on the state’s average weekly wage, with benefit caps announced for each year on September 1 of the prior year.
Maryland patterned its eligibility requirements after states like New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. It is likely that a federal PFML program will also follow these requirements. Under the Maryland PFML law, employees can take leave to:
Family members include children, parents, in-laws, spouses, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents. Maryland excludes domestic partners from coverage.
Every business, individual or government entity that employs at least one individual in Maryland must provide PFML benefits to all employees who have worked at least 680 hours in the 12-month period preceding their leave. That means part-time employees who clock at least 17 hours per week are eligible for leave.
Self-employed Maryland residents can elect to participate in PFML but must opt in for an initial minimum time of three years and can then choose to renew annually.
While all the details haven’t yet been outlined regarding employee and employer contributions, according to a report issued by insurance carrier SunLife, employers with more than 15 employees will be required to contribute to premiums.
Covered employees will be responsible for 75% of the premiums, although employers can elect to cover a portion of the employee’s premiums as an added benefit. In smaller organizations, employees will be responsible for 100% of the premium costs, as are self-employed program participants.
Employers will need to begin submitting premium payments, deducted from payroll, beginning in October 2023.
Employers have the option of establishing a private plan, either through a qualified carrier or on a self-insured basis. Private plans must provide the same or better benefits, rights, and protections with comparable or lower premiums and must be filed with and approved by the Maryland Department of Labor.
As PFML programs expand across the country, insurance brokers have more opportunities than ever before to build relationships and increase revenue with this statutory benefit. While PFML programs have not been the most profitable by themselves, statutory benefits represent a foot in the door to share knowledge and build trust.
Insurance brokers licensed in Maryland can help guide business owners through the process of establishing a PFML plan. Then, they can save those clients money by bundling ancillary benefits written through top insurance carriers.
The DBL Center has 45+ years of experience in the statutory market and has been on the cutting edge of New York PFL and other PFML programs from coast-to-coast since their inception. As your back office team, we can guide you to the best benefits packages for your clients, while the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app helps you stay on top of renewals, cancellations and commissions with just a few clicks.
Are you ready for Maryland PFML? We can help.
As major tech companies, including Twitter, Airbnb, DoorDash, and Reddit, advocate for federal paid family leave programs, more states are enacting legislation of their own.
Colorado recently joined New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California with a paid family and medical leave program. Called Colorado FAMLI (Family and Medical Leave Insurance), the program will provide benefits to employees to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one who meets certain criteria.
In line with programs in other states, Colorado workers can file for FAMLI to:
Eligible employees can claim up to 12 weeks of leave per year, according to the website famli.colorado.gov. Parents who experience pregnancy or childbirth complications may qualify for an additional four weeks of recovery time.
The state of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment provides a benefits and premium calculator for employers and employees here.
Benefits range from 37% to 90% of an employee’s weekly wage, depending on the employee’s income. Benefits max out at $1,100 weekly or $13,200 annually for employees in the top tier, who normally gross $2,000 or more per week.
According to a Fact Sheet issued by the CDLE, every employer must offer the benefit to their workers. Organizations with their own paid leave program in place can apply for an exemption.
Premiums equal 0.9% of an employee’s wage. Employers with 10 or more employees must pay at least half the premium due, or 0.45%, with the other half coming from employee payroll deductions. Employers will also have the option of paying the full amount of the benefit as an added perk and employee retention tool.
Employers with fewer than 10 employees do not have to contribute to the program but are responsible for remitting the employee’s share (0.45%) quarterly with money collected through payroll deductions.
The legislation goes into full effect on January 1, 2024, when employees can make claims and begin collecting benefits. Employers will need to begin submitted premiums to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment by January 1, 2023.
Specific details regarding carriers and self-insured options are not yet available.
Insurance brokers who already provide private DBL, TDB, or FMLA coverage in other states may want to start thinking about covering Colorado businesses and their employees, as well. Colorado business owners will be looking for brokers with knowledge, expertise, and a network of carriers who understand these complex benefits.
The CDLE recommends that Colorado business owners begin communicating with employees in Fall 2022 to prepare them for the payroll deductions and upcoming benefits. Internal communications such as employee handbooks should be updated with relevant information as it becomes available. By Fall 2023, the CDLE says Colorado business owners should have “clear guidance and communications to employees around FAMLI benefits.”
Insurance brokers who have helped employers implement successful PFL and FMLA programs in other states by providing them with affordable benefits and packages that bundle ancillary benefits with paid family leave have unique opportunities in Colorado. To set the stage for success, you can:
Finally, stay tuned to The DBL Center news section to read about breaking developments in Colorado FAMLI.
New York broke ground and made waves when it introduced the nation’s most generous Paid Family Leave legislation in 2016. By 2021, benefits had been fully phased in to provide up to 67% of an employee’s average weekly wage for up to 12 weeks. And, on January 1, 2023, PFL coverage will be expanded to include paid time off to care for siblings.
Under the law, most private employers are required to provide PFL coverage to full-time employees after they have put in at least 26 consecutive weeks of 20 or more hours per week and part-time employees who have worked at least 175 days.
Until now, PFL has been written as a rider to NYS DBL coverage. But the State of New York recently made it possible to write stand-alone PFL coverage through select insurance carriers. This makes PFL coverage available on a voluntary basis to public employees, self-employed workers, and independent contractors, as well as union employees as part of a collective bargaining agreement.
Stand-alone PFL provides access to this important benefit for employers who are not required – and don’t desire – to offer short-term disability benefits to their workers. Employees who opt in will receive the same benefits as other workers who have access to statutory PFL as a rider to their DBL coverage.
Union employees can gain access to stand-alone PFL benefits only as part of a collective bargaining agreement. Employers with union workers should understand that they must file an opt-in notice with the Worker’s Compensation Board and then provide 90 days notice any non-represented employees. They must also identify employees who qualify for a waiver for the benefits.
PFL insurance premiums are employee-funded through payroll deductions established by the employer.
PFL is an important benefit, especially with so many members of the “sandwich generation” caring for aging parents or even siblings as well as young children at the same time. But short-term disability benefits are equally important.
The pandemic taught many of us important lessons about strength and resilience and our own mortality. If you get ill or injured, how will you provide for your family? This is the question New York insurance brokers need to be asking their clients – especially in an inflationary period, where borrowing money from investments could be a losing proposition.
Enriched DBL coverage protects all the employees in a company – not just those with older adults or younger children in their care.
A recent survey from the Bipartisan Policy Center found that, on average across income levels, 30% of employed American adults do not have an emergency savings account available to cover unexpected expenses or job loss. Those calculations include 12% of Americans with household income exceeding $100,000 annually, and 26% with income between $50,000 and $100,000. Even workers in upper management positions can benefit from enriched DBL to help them make ends meet if they become ill or suffer an injury off the job.
Today’s employees need better, more robust benefits than ever before to fight the economic uncertainty so prevalent in the U.S. Enriched DBL, coupled with Group Life / AD&D and other ancillary benefits, can give workers the peace-of-mind they need to remain at their most productive.
Stand-alone PFL represents a new market for DBL Center insurance brokers. As your insurance wholesaler in New York, the DBL Center has the carrier relationships to help you write stand-alone PFL or bundle it with Enriched DBL and ancillary benefits for even greater savings.
Let The DBL Center help you increase your profits for the second half of 2022 while creating satisfied customers who trust you for their insurance needs.
When we write group benefits, including statutory disability and ancillary benefits, we often showcase how insurance coverage like enriched DBL in New York can aid in recruiting and retaining new employees and middle management. But are your clients focused on their high performers, top-tier employees – and themselves, as the company owners? Individual life insurance, fully funded by the employer, and executive carve-outs for disability insurance, can give employers and top executive the coverage they need.
Are you helping your clients explore ways you can enhance their insurance coverage to benefit company owners and high-performing executives?
College graduates are earning more than previous generations, and the salaries they command in this tight labor market may not seem commensurate with their experience in any given professional field. The National Association of Colleges and Employers survey lists starting salaries for 2022 college graduates at roughly $55,000, which is 2.5% higher than last year.
Think about this: Undergrads are leaving school expecting a starting salary of $85,000. And if they are going into petroleum engineering or another technical field, that expectation would not be wrong. Technical majors average $80,000 annually, in their first year of work, while petroleum engineers can pull in close to $88,000, according to statistics from ThinkImpact.com.
While salaries for executives and upper management have also increased, these upper-level employees are not receiving raises that put them in line with new graduate salaries. ZipRecruiter.com reports that the average corporate executive salary for 2022 is $82,180 a year.
Insurance coverage like individual life and disability carve-outs for top-level executives and company owners can aid in employee retention and deliver peace-of-mind to a company’s highest performers.
By reducing monetary worries and stress, the right employee benefits can help foster a positive company culture and a more productive workforce – starting from the top, down.
As most insurance brokers know, typical group life / AD&D coverage delivers a term life policy for up to $50,000, either funded by the employer, paid for by the employee with pre-tax dollars, or offered on a cost-shared basis. The coverage is usually not portable, which means the policy ends if the employee leaves or retires. Any additional coverage beyond the $50,000, funded by the employer, is typically considered a taxable benefit.
However, employers can opt for an EE (executive employee) carve-out to cover high performing individuals, c-suite executives, and owners or partners in a company. These EE carve-out policies are fully funded by the employer and may also generate tax incentives and deductions for the employer. Your clients may not be aware of how this incentive can help them and top-tier employees in their company, while reducing their tax liability.
A universal or whole-life carve-out is typically portable, which means executives hold the policy after the leave. The policy will accumulate cash value, which means it can be part of an executive’s retirement strategy.
Long-term disability carve-outs function in the same way, delivering enhanced, portable benefits to top executives.
Another option to offer your clients is Buy-Up coverage. Like EE carve-outs, buy-up coverage for life insurance can be offered as an incentive to top performers or a reward to employees who have stayed with your company for years. It can help long-time employees feel valued amidst an incoming workforce that is demanding higher salaries and better benefits can past generations.
Buy-up coverage is offered on a voluntary basis, however, and doesn’t cost the employer any money out-of-pocket. It’s typically reserved for executives and high-performers, and can help incentivize longevity within a company.
Finally, New York business owners should consider enriching DBL benefits up to 60% of an executive’s salary. Especially in the face of an uncertain investing environment, where many experts are predicting a bear market on the horizon, executives want to know they can tap into other resources to replace their income in an emergency.
Having enriched short-term disability coverage in the event of a non-work-related accident or illness means they can let their investments sit, rather than selling in a down market, when it may be harder to recoup losses later.
Finding the right insurance coverage for your clients requires asking the right questions and honing in on the challenges they may face recruiting or retaining c-suite executives and top-level managers. What are the company executives’ biggest financial fears? How can the right insurance coverage give them peace-of-mind and potential tax savings?
The DBL Center team can work with you to pinpoint the insurance coverage your clients want, from universal life to enriched DBL. Plus, we have the technology, through our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, to help you track renewals and cancellations and stay on top of your clients’ evolving needs. It’s never too late – or too early – to help your clients enhance coverage to retain employees and boost productivity.
Our brokers have come to trust us for the lowest premium rates and white glove service when it comes to statutory benefits, including DBL in New York, TDB in New Jersey, TDI in Hawaii and, now, Paid Family and Medical Leave in the New England states.
But, through our long-term relationships with top-rated carriers, we also provide a variety of other benefits to assist not just employees, but executive employees and business owners. After all, when accident, illness, or injury strikes, financial hardship does not just affect middle management or hourly wage workers. The pandemic taught us a stark lesson. Financial misfortune can strike anyone, at any time.
For many executive level employees, the right group benefits and disability insurance can help them avoid tapping into retirement investments or high-yield investments for day-to-day expenses. Instead, they can pay low premiums over time and receive the money they need to maintain their standard of living or, in the case of business owners, meet overhead costs to stay in business.
Bundling these executive benefits with ancillary benefits for all workers is often an easy sell. The ones who benefit most from executive carve-outs for life and disability, key person insurance, and enhanced dental and vision benefits are also the decision makers when it comes to employee benefits. They will want to take advantage of the products that not only increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention, but also benefit themselves.
Take a look at seven areas The DBL Center can help you serve your customers with group life, enhanced disability, long-term disability and other ancillary benefits. Then give us a call so we can help you quote the lowest rates and appropriate coverage levels for your clients.
Carve-Outs for Individual Life and Disability
Hiring employees at any level is difficult right now. But your clients recognize that their most important employees are their moneymakers – the high-earners who bring in the business, generate the profitable ideas, and contribute to the DNA of the company and its brand.
Carve-out plans enable businesses to provide individual life insurance and disability coverage beyond what the organization’s group benefits provide. These benefits can help entice top talent to remain within your organization. There may also be tax advantages to executive carve-out plans.
Disability or Life Insurance to Fund Buy-Sell Agreements for Partnerships
Partners and co-owners within a business often have buy-sell agreements that stipulate terms in case one partner dies. But if a person should suffer a long-term disability, the buy-sell agreement may not cover that contingency.
A disability insurance policy that includes a buy-sell agreement can provide the funds for salary replacement in the case of short-term or long-term disability. It can also be used to buy out the business if the disability is deemed permanent. Executive partners and co-owners should consider enhancing their policy with these benefits to protect themselves, their family, and their income in the event of accident or illness.
Buy Up Coverage for Long Term Disability or Life Insurance
Buy-up coverage is similar to executive carve-outs, but can be offered on a voluntary basis to any high-income earners or executives. It is not for an elite group that the company owners may deem “irreplaceable,” but to any executive employee who wants to pay for the additional coverage.
Buy-up coverage could deliver as much as 66.67% of an employee’s earnings, up to a maximum benefit of $10,000 in some cases. Depending on the carrier and plan, these numbers may vary. Your DBL Center representative can help you find the plans that are best for your top employees, and they can be provided on a cost-share or completely voluntary (employee-funded) basis.
Business Overhead Insurance
Sole proprietors and small business owners face unique needs and challenges when it comes to their own health and mortality. Business overhead insurance, written as a rider to long-term disability benefits, can help pay a business owner’s expenses to keep the business running even if they are unable to work or an extended time period due to disability.
Key Person Insurance
Similar to executive carve-outs for the individuals who are most valuable to a company’s bottom line, key person insurance covers the business if something should happen to an owner, key executive, or top moneymaker.
If a business could not run, or would not be successful, without a certain individual, key person insurance protects the company if that person dies or becomes disabled. The company is named as the beneficiary of the insurance. Sometimes, this product is called “business life insurance,” as it protects your business in the event of the death of key personnel.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is becoming more popular than ever as people recognize the value of not having to rely on family members to care for them as they age. Long-term care insurance protects the employee or executive’s assets, and provides a daily amount of money for care should they become ill or disabled.
LTC can be offered as a group benefit, bundled with other ancillary benefits to keep premiums low. Like other benefits, it can be fully funded by the employer, funded by the employee on a voluntary basis, or the premium costs can be shared.
Individual Dental and Vision Coverage with No Waiting Period
When employers shop for dental and vision coverage, they want to know that they can work with their choice of providers locally. They want low deductibles, coverage for most services (including preventative treatments and regular check-ups) and no waiting period for new employees.
If you’d like to offer your clients these advantages with dental and vision coverage, The DBL Center can help. Thanks to our decades of carrier relationships and the ability to bundle ancillary benefits with short-term disability and other statutory benefits, we can help you write the policies that deliver what your clients want in today’s competitive business environment.
Reach out today for more information.
As the economy continues to recover from the shutdowns forced by the pandemic, the U.S. is facing inflation rates like those we haven’t seen since the late 1970s. At last report, the inflation rate was 7.5%, with increases this monthly largely driven by oil and fuel prices. Higher energy costs affect the price of virtually everything else, as it costs more to move goods through the country. Whether you follow the news closely or not, you’ll probably seen the increases not just at gas pumps but at grocery stores and other retailers.
But for New York business owners and their employees, one number has not gone up in recent years: The amount you’ll receive if you have to claim short-term NYS disability benefits. The rate that claimants with an off-the-job illness or injury can receive in NYS disability benefits tops out at just $170 per week for 26 weeks. That rate has not increased since 1989, when Governor Mario Cuomo was in office.
It’s worth noting that 1989 followed an inflationary era in the U.S.
Cuomo’s NYS disability benefits increase may have been “too little, too late,” even then. New Yorkers at the time were struggling with high prices and high interest rates. Those high interest rates made it painful – or impossible – for New Yorkers who lost income due to illness or injury to make ends meet by tapping into investments or by borrowing money. They would have been forced to cash out or borrow against high-yield investments, which could put them behind when it came to saving for retirement. Or they could have borrowed money at high interest rates, also putting them financially behind.
Of course, this is not the 1980s or early ‘90s. But that $170 per week doesn’t even stretch as far as it did back then. And while interest rates remain low right now, that could change in the next quarter of 2022. That makes it even more critical for employers and employees to review their finances now.
If they should become ill or injured, how will they pay their bills and provide for their family?
Certainly not on $170 per week, when the average price of gas (as an example) in New York metro areas is $4.43 / gallon, according to AAA.com figures.
As a New York disability insurance broker, you are probably experiencing many of the same cost challenges your clients have in New York. But, as an educated broker working with The DBL Center, you also have a solution for these concerns: Enriched DBL coverage.
By enriching DBL insurance coverage for your clients with over 50 lives, you can provide peace-of-mind that they can maintain their standard of living in New York, even if they suffer a non-work-related illness or injury.
Enriched DBL benefits packages written through The DBL Center can provide weekly maximum payouts of $200 to $850, offering between 50% to 60% of salary replacement for workers.
Enriched DBL is especially critical with today’s high costs of living in New York State. It’s also important to provide this benefit to your workers in light of the recent increases in Paid Family Leave coverage. New York State-mandated PFL benefits reached their maximum rates in 2021, providing 67% of an employee’s annual average weekly wage, up to a maximum benefit of $74,509.
That means you receive more money if you have to take time off to care for a child or a disabled or ill dependent than you would receive if you were injured or ill yourself and could not work.
PFL is undoubtedly an important benefit that helps with workplace equity and helps bridge the gap of income inequality often experienced by working women, who are often the primary caregivers in a household.
But enriched DBL is a benefit that can provide every person in your organization – up to the c-level executives and owners – with peace-of-mind that they can access partial income replacement if they are ill or injured.
Maybe someday New York leaders will see that disability benefits must also keep pace with increasing costs in our state. In the meantime, savvy insurance brokers in New York can do the right thing for their clients by quoting them packages that include enriched DBL and voluntary worksite benefits like accident insurance that can help.
Along with employee retention and finding the right employee benefits to keep and retain workers, absence management has become one of the biggest challenges for business owners and human resource departments in 2022.
Paid time off becomes more difficult to manage as employees work from home or request flex-time. Managers deal with employees taking time off due to COVID, quarantines following exposure, and childcare issues if children are forced to stay home from school in quarantine.
Amidst all of these challenges, workers are suffering burnout at increasing rates, leaving managers unsure of how to improve company morale and retain high-quality talent.
One study from Indeed.com, reported by Forbes, found that 52% of survey respondents said they were experiencing burn-out in 2021, compared to 43% in a pre-pandemic survey.
Managing employee absences becomes a big part of the puzzle to improving morale. Having the right systems in place can ensure employees are receiving the time off they need and deserve, being compensated for that time, and also returning to work in a timely manner once their leave is done. This helps ensure financial security for workers, while making it easier for managers to ensure that duties are fulfilled and jobs are completed in the workplace.
The DBL Center recently partnered with a top absence management firm to deliver absent management services to our broker’s clients. Your brokerage can become a one-stop shop for paid family and medical leave, short-term and long-term disability, ancillary benefits, and – now – absence management services. Best of all, you don’t have to administer the services, since The DBL Center and our partners are your back-office staff.
You may not have considered selling absence management services to your insurance clients in the past. But generous employee benefits combined with absence management services can help improve retention rates and make it easier to recruit employees in today’s tight labor market. Your clients need these services now more than ever.
While some companies will not write ancillary benefits on a stand-alone basis, The DBL Center can. We can provide short-term disability, vision, dental, and Group Life / AD&D down to 50 lives. With the money your clients save, you can present them with absence management and leave administration services to save additional time, money and resources.
Companies who outsource absence management do not have to struggle to keep up with ever-changing federal, state, and local laws. They might experience less employee abuse of paid time off and sick leave policies. They can be certain they are maintaining adequate records of sick leave and absenteeism. Most importantly, they can be confident they are in compliance with regulations related to the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Consistent, well-managed sick leave and paid time off policies can help boost morale by ensuring adequate coverage for employees who are off and ensuring employees do not abuse time off.
If you can provide your clients with these services – at substantial discounts – you will continue to build their trust and grow your book of business through easy renewals and expanded benefits packages.
The DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard software can help track leave administration, as well as your commissions, renewals, and cancellations for short-term disability policies.
You have probably seen the need for solid, professional, outsourced absence management services in your own organization, as well as for your clients.
Give us a call to discuss new absence management services provided through The DBL Center.
The data of more than 100 million Americans was hacked due to cyberattacks on the insurance industry in the past two years. As the keepers of our customers’ important personal and financial data, insurance brokers have an obligation to keep that data safe. Otherwise, you could be opening yourself and your company up to fines, lawsuits, and costly ransomware incidents – where a cybercriminal locks your systems so you can’t access data and requests a large sum of money to free it. Also, a data breach, if publicized, could lead to lack of trust for your brand, a scenario that has immeasurable hidden costs.
We aren’t saying this to scare you. Data breaches are part of the world we live in. They’ve happened to companies as large as Target and Twitter. It’s quite possible to recover from a cyberattack – but if you can reduce the risk of an attack, you’ll have greater peace-of-mind.
Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate all risks. But it’s critical that brokers who deal in employee benefits, including DBL and ancillary benefits, take steps to protect their clients’ information. What do you need to know about cybersecurity and how can you work to make sure your company is as protected as possible against threats in 2022?
Two-factor authentication, which requires two logins for users to access your company network or specific software systems, has been shown to reduce the risk of cyberattacks. Even if a password is stolen, the account cannot be accessed without a second means of authorization, such as a code sent to a user’s phone or email.
Legacy software systems often don’t have the security technology available to provide the highest level of protection. Moving to cloud-based systems, where data is housed on servers removed from your location, can help prevent the theft of data if someone breaches your network.
Hackers cannot steal sensitive data if that data is not available. Delete unnecessary client data, including outdated information or that of former customers, and lock down other data so that only professionals in your organization who need to access it have the capability.
Many insurance brokers do not think about cybersecurity. But it’s important to keep it at the forefront of your mind with regular audits of your system security. Even if you have an in-house IT team, you’ll want to bring in an outside firm to perform the audit, identify weaknesses in your systems, and make recommendations to close those gaps.
Cybersecurity professionals should assess your company’s security at every level, including your employees’ processes and best practices; the security of the software, apps, and services you use; and your overall network security.
Cybersecurity experts agree that the “weak link” in the security chain for most organizations – including insurance brokers – are the internal end users: the company employees. Train both in-house and remote employees about best practices. Show them the importance of taking an active role in preventing data breaches. After all, it’s their data stored in your network systems, as well as their clients’. Next month we’ll cover more about end-user best practices and training, which includes how to establish and protect passwords and how to maintain network security wherever they might be working from.
DBL Center President and CEO Michael S. Cohen recently appeared as a guest on the Poza podcast The Risk Taker, hosted by Chaim Berkovic, founder and president of Skyscraper Insurance. The podcast focuses on business leaders who take on unusual challenges, step outside their comfort zones, and achieve success.
During the 40-minute interview, Berkovic and Cohen discussed how DBL Center was founded more than 45 years ago by David Cohen and how he brought privatized short-term disability benefits to Hawaii. You’ll learn how Michael Cohen got into the family business, and the many lanes Cohen has now expanded into as The DBL Center leads the charge in terms of technology in the statutory disability industry.
Below, we share a few highlights from their conversation. But it’s worth tuning into the full podcast here.
You’ll hear the two business leaders talk about connecting with clients of different cultures, taking risks in sales, and treating every account as if it’s a $1 million deal.
As risks go, selling DBL is one not many insurance brokers take on. Cohen told Berkovic, “They don’t think there’s enough money in it. They don’t know what to ask. They’re not asking the right questions. I know how to help brokers like you get in the door to ask the right questions about disability insurance. Everybody asks about major medical, worker’s comp, or personal lines, but right in the middle between that is the state-mandated short-term disability. The introduction of paid family leave has just blown that door wide open and raised awareness about statutory benefits.”
Although his father David Cohen, laid the groundwork decades ago, Michael Cohen never wanted to be viewed as just “the owners’ son.” In the past several years since taking over the company, Cohen catapulted The DBL Center not just to the top of Google rankings through his team’s marketing efforts, but to rapid growth and expansion across the New England states.
Today, The DBL Center services not just New York, New Jersey and Hawaii but also Connecticut and Massachusetts, which recently implemented statutory paid family and medical leave policies. Cohen helps brokers tap into markets they may not have considered by hiring experts in those regions, and offering a streamlined process for selling and managing statutory benefits.
“I keep it simple,” he told Berkovic. Through the Broker Dashboard, The DBL Center can show brokers the direct-billed DBL and ancillary policies and help them track renewals, cancellations, and commissions. While DBL and PFL may not be what most brokers think of as “big-ticket sales,” these products provide a foot in the door for larger policies. “The DBL Center – and our proprietary Broker Dashboard – are the conduits to helping brokers’ retention,” Cohen said.
Recently, Cohen further expanded The DBL Center to offer absence management solutions to brokers’ clients. “We are offering solutions for when workers are taking intermittent leave on a standalone basis, especially in companies with over 50 lives. Most places require you have another plan, like LTD. We can do standalone policies and tie it into DBL,” he said on the podcast.
Adding yet another responsibility to his list wasn’t easy – and it wasn’t a decision Cohen took lightly. But he knew it was necessary to scale The DBL Center to the next level and provide the best service to his clients. “One of the toughest things about my job is that I feel like the brokers are my children. How do I hug all of them at one time? I don’t feel like there’s enough of me to consult and teach everybody. So, I hire people who are experts in their region or their field. I stay in my lane. And the lane has become filled – it’s now one lane, two lane, three lane, and HOV.”
Listen to the full podcast here: The Risk Taker: Skyscraper Insurance with Michael S. Cohen of The DBL Center