Effective January 1, 2018, New York joins the progressive states of California, New Jersey and Rhode Island to require mandatory Paid Family Leave for all qualifying employees. This affects all business owners in New York State, not just those with 50+ employees.
If you’re an insurance broker already providing Disability Benefits Law (DBL) coverage or enhanced DBL, your clients may have questions about this new benefit. First, it’s important to understand that PFL is not the same as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA only secures an employee’s job and does not provide additional funds should an employee have to take a leave of absence due to childbirth, caring for a disabled child or caring for an older family member. A federal program, FMLA only applies to employers with 50+ employees.
Unlike FMLA, PFL mandates up to 12 weeks of job-protected, paid leave for all New York employees, regardless of the size of the company, for any of the following reasons:
-bonding with and caring for a newborn, adopted, or foster care child during the first 12 months
– caring for a seriously ill family member
– addressing important needs related to a family member’s military service.
To qualify for PFL benefits, a full-time employee must have worked 26 or more consecutive weeks. Part-time employees must have worked 175 days. PFL benefits will be phased in over time to reach the maximum paid leave, never exceeding a percentage of the state’s average weekly wage (AWW), beginning January 1, 2018. Benefit amounts are as follows:
Beginning January 2018: 50 percent of the employee’s AWW for 8 weeks
Beginning January 2019: 55 percent of the employee’s AWW for 10 weeks
Beginning January 2020: 60 percent of the employee’s AWW for up to 10 weeks
Beginning January 2021 and on: 67 percent of the employee’s AWW up to 12 weeks
Employees are permitted – but not required – to use their accrued vacation time or PTO in addition to PFL benefits, but cannot claim DBL and PFL at the same time. PFL benefits begin on the first full day the employee requires paid family leave. When possible, the employee should give 30 days’ notice, but if this isn’t possible, such as in the event of a family emergency, or a premature birth, they should let the employer know as soon as possible. In either case, benefits can start on the first day off. The PFL benefit is funded by a nominal employee contribution; employers are not required to fund any portion of the PFL benefit. However, employers must invest in a policy that covers both DBL and PFL benefits under the same policy, but, as of right now, New York State Disability Benefits Law will not change under this new legislation. This could be the first step in legislation that would increase the statutory benefit in phases. That’s why it’s a great opportunity to evaluate your customers’ DBL coverage now to prepare for what may come.
As you re-write your customers’ DBL policies to cover PFL in preparation for January 2018 and beyond, this represents an opportunity to employ consultative selling techniques to increase your customers’ DBL policies with Enhanced DBL coverage.
Keep in mind: Employers are not required to fund PFL coverage, so no money comes out of their pockets as their employees’ benefit coverage improves. This is a great time to re-evaluate your customers’ DBL coverage. Are they doing enough for their loyal employees? What if you could increase the employees’ nominal contributions just a bit more, beyond PFL coverage, and provide an enhanced DBL policy that offers expanded benefits and more flexibility in how employees collect those benefits? Employers might even be willing to match employee contributions for a more robust enhanced DBL policy.
These are pre-tax benefits, and with the 2016 presidential election coming up, the future remains uncertain. Will taxes go up for the working middle class to fund programs the new president may support? Employees and employers alike will be looking for additional ways to reduce their tax liability. Increasing insurance coverage for events that are likely to occur (and may even be planned), such as the birth of a child, a spouse’s military service, or the illness of an aging parent, provides a peace-of-mind that is hard for middle class, working Americans to find in today’s economic climate.
The new PFL requirements fill an important space today. These benefits affect every generation of worker, as “sandwich generation” or Generation X, and Baby Boomer employees face hardships caring for aging loved ones, and younger GenX and Millennial workers may plan to start families through childbirth or adoption.
Today’s insurance brokers are in a unique position to support a program that supports American families, while increasing their own commissions through consultative selling of PFL and enhanced DBL benefits in New York.
by Dawn Allcot
Approximately 75 percent of all adults use glasses or contacts for corrective vision, says a report from the Vision Council of America. With daily wear, disposable contact lenses costing more than $100 for a 6-month supply, and annual eye exams costing between $50 and $100, it’s no wonder 53 percent of employees want vision coverage, according to this infographic compiled by Namely, an all-in-one HR platform. Yet, just 35 percent of employers offer this ancillary benefit. Why is this figure so low?
The Perception of Vision Coverage
Quite simply, employers don’t see the value in offering vision coverage to their employees. Yet, there are many good reasons to provide vision coverage as part of ancillary benefits. Let’s look at five eye-opening reasons for your customers to offer vision coverage to their employees. Share this evidence with your customers and they are sure to see it clearly, too. The additional sales will result in greater customer loyalty and increased commission for your insurance agency.
Better Vision Improves Productivity
The glare of a computer screen and the lighting afforded by fluorescent bulbs are bad enough in an office environment. Eyestrain, headaches, and poor vision are exacerbated when employees are wearing old glasses that may not be the right prescription for their changing vision. They may not understand why they have headaches all the time or need more frequent breaks away from the computer, until they go for an eye exam and realize they’ve been using the wrong prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Hard-working employees should never have to put off an eye exam due to the high costs of vision care. When vision benefits include annual exams and discounted corrective lenses, employees will be more productive.
The Eyes are the Gateway to Holistic Health
Annual eye exams by an ophthalmologist are important even for employees who don’t need corrective lenses. Eye exams can help detect such conditions as Graves’ Disease and certain skin cancers. The condition of someone’s eyes can hint at high cholesterol, autoimmune diseases and a number of other disorders. Early detection of these diseases can improve outcomes and lower healthcare costs for everyone. Eye exams should be part of preventative care for everyone, but employees may shy away from an exam if it’s not covered by insurance.
Employers Can Fill Gaps in Healthcare Coverage with Vision as an Ancillary Benefit
The Affordable Care Act has forced many organizations to reduce their healthcare coverage. Vision and dental benefits were previously offered as part of a company’s healthcare plan. Employers can fill this gap by providing vision coverage as an ancillary benefit so that employees don’t feel the sting of having their benefits reduced.
Better Vision Benefits Give Employers a Recruiting Advantage
Because so few companies currently offer vision benefits, yet so many employees want it, firms
can give themselves a recruiting advantage with an ancillary benefits package that includes vision coverage.
Vision Benefits Increase Employee Loyalty
Eyeglass and contact lens wearers, as well as employees with conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, or diabetes, may hesitate to leave a company that offers good vision benefits. Vision care costs can add up to thousands, annually, especially for families with more than one corrective lens-wearer.
A good vision plan is a strong retention tool, especially for companies who employ many workers over 40 or people of any age with families.
Save Money on Vision Benefits with Multi-Line Discounts
You – and your customers – may be surprised by how affordable a good vision plan can be when you take advantage of multi-line discounts with The DBL Center Ltd. If your customers are already investing in enhanced disability coverage or dental with one of our premier carriers, they may as well enjoy the savings of a solid vision plan, as well.
As you know, here at DBL Center Ltd., we are proponents of consultative selling – digging deep to understand your client’s needs and then recommending the products that meet those needs. If you are currently selling enhanced disability coverage and want to expand your book of business to other ancillary benefits, dental insurance coverage is a logical next step.
Scientific evidence shows that gum disease (gingivitis), tooth decay and other oral problems may contribute to heart disease. Any dental insurance policy should include preventative care, including full coverage preventative and diagnostic care such as check-ups and X-rays, twice annual cleanings, sealants, and fluoride treatments.
What else should you look for in the best dental insurance for your customers? On the surface, it may look as if plans are comparable, but when you start reading the fine print, you’ll realize that coverage levels and out of pocket costs can vary widely.
That’s where the DBL Center Ltd. and our InsuranceWholesaler.net site can help. As your insurance concierge, offering white glove one-on-one service for our brokers, we can help you choose the best dental plans for your customers – along with disability coverage, vision, Group Life/AD&D and more.
To get you started, here are some of the features you should look for in dental coverage.
Low Out-of-Pocket Costs
If going to the dentist becomes a financial burden, employees are less likely to go regularly, which can ultimately lead to time off work for dental care and even oral surgery, pain, and – as we mentioned above – a host of other medical issues, too.
Your customers and employees will appreciate a plan that pays for most services without sharing the costs with the patient. Some dental insurance carriers offer balance-billing plans, which are just discounts on services. Ideally, the plan you offer will cover most services and the patient will only be responsible for an affordable co-pay.
Additionally, the covered parties should not have to meet a large deductible or out-of-pocket maximum expense before coverage kicks in. Your customers save money on dental benefits by choosing a plan with a higher deductible, but it’s a risky proposition if they need emergency services like a root canal and can’t cover the deductible.
Choice of Dentists
Many people are adamant – even passionate – about their dental provider of choice. Look for a plan with plenty of choices in providers; you may want to offer your customers a choice of a PPO and a more expensive Premier plan so they can decide.
A Vast Range of Coverage to Appeal to Employees at all Stages of Life
Just as not all dental insurance plans are the same, neither are all employees and their families. First, look at the demographics of your customer’s business. Is it stocked with Generation X-ers whose kids might need braces in the near future? Millennials who are primarily interested in preventative care? Or Boomers who may face extensive oral surgery and rely on preventative care to keep their teeth and bodies healthy?
If your customer employs a broad range of employees – as many companies today do – you’ll want to offer a comprehensive plan that covers all of these services with low out-of-pocket expenses and plenty of choices in providers, too.
It’s easy to find out – just ask. The owner or HR director may even want to offer their employees a survey to determine what kind of plan and coverage they would prefer and how much they are willing to spend for it, if the employer isn’t covering all premiums.
Working with the DBL Center Ltd. will help you offer the lowest rates in dental insurance to your customers. We can write a comprehensive plan for disability insurance, dental, vision, and more, so you can take advantage of multi-line discounts.
Consultative Selling for Dental Benefits
A good insurance agent making the most of his or her consultative selling skills will work with their customers to help them determine their employee’s dental health, possible future needs, and overall budget for dental insurance, including costs paid by the employer and by the employee as a pre-tax ancillary benefit.
By placing the emphasis on preventative care and emphasizing the importance of dental health as part of a person’s overall well-being, you’ll be in a good position to increase your profits by selling dental benefits and know you’re offering your customers an important insurance product that will increase productivity around the office and contribute to the employer and employees’ peace-of-mind.
Are you an insurance broker who has seen your commissions drop due to the Affordable Care Act and health insurance providers’ new policies? Struggling with falling commissions and uncertainty about the future of the industry, two years ago 49 percent of insurance brokers were thinking about leaving the industry, while 67 percent said they knew someone who had, according to the Aflac Workforces Report for Brokers.
Finding Profits in Ancillary Benefits
But for those who stayed the course,. Your customers will love ancillary benefits like vision, dental, life, and enhanced disability insurance because it gives them an “extra” to provide to their employees in the face of healthcare cuts. And you will like ancillary benefits for the added commissions and multi-line discounts that make it easier for you to purchase these products from one carrier, saving your customers money and streamlining paperwork and administrative costs for you.
Consultative Selling: The Key to Ancillary Benefits Sales
But it’s important to remember these benefits don’t sell themselves, and a consultative approach is a proven method to closing more deals. Rather than the traditional features-and-benefits approach, consultative selling is a more active sales technique. Initially, it may take some time to establish trust and get your customers onboard with your recommendations. But once you’ve established that relationship, it’s easy to sell them the ancillary benefits to meet their needs and budget and nurture the relationship through continued service.
How To Shift to Consultative Selling
Consultative selling focuses on identifying your client’s needs and choosing the solution that meets those needs best. “Consultative selling means brokers will need to show that they have a high level of knowledge about the product,” writes Jeff Kolesar in an article published at LifeHealthPro.com. “That knowledge will create a bond between the buyer and seller allowing brokers to recommend ancillary options once the big medical decision has been made.”
Although healthcare insurance has become difficult and complicated to sell, ancillary benefits haven’t changed in recent years. The options remain straightforward and profitable. It’s all a matter of learning about the different carrier choices and finding the bundled plan that appeals to each customer. With that difficult step done, the insurance sells itself because your client already trusts your recommendation. But how do you get to that point when you’re already strapped for time and trying to make bigger insurance sales, faster? That’s where your insurance wholesaler comes in.
It’s All About the Service
Consultative selling is all about the service you provide as a knowledgeable insurance consultant (hence the name…) for your customers. In his article on ancillary benefits, Kolesar writes, “I recommend leveraging your carrier expertise, where possible. If brokers are strapped for time, they should partner with a carrier that’s equipped to step in and answer questions.”
At DBL Center Ltd., we provide the knowledge of not just one, but multiple carriers, so you can give your customers more options and better prices. We serve as your back office, shopping the various carriers to find the best plans to offer your customers. We share our knowledge. You establish trust through that knowledge and then sell the products. We all win. Your customers get the ancillary benefits they want, we provide white-glove service, and you cash the big commission checks.
Start cashing larger commission checks right away with ancillary benefits:
Get the white glove service you deserve with DBL Center Ltd.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) saw many employers – especially small-to-medium size businesses, forced to reduce their company healthcare benefits in order to afford coverage. Healthcare insurance providers modified their plans to include higher premiums, larger deductibles, less coverage, and fewer options in healthcare providers. Additionally, ancillary benefits such as vision and dental care, which were previously part of a comprehensive health care package, are being dropped from healthcare plans.
Employees who still have basic medical coverage are counting their blessings: “Well, at least I still have coverage and I’m not being fined for not having healthcare at all.” Other Americans, who are self-employed or unemployed, face a scenario of healthcare options they can’t afford through the government marketplace, or paying fines for being uninsured.
If you look at it that way, employees are fortunate to still have coverage. But these hard-working Americans are doing the same work for their employer, working the same long hours, earning the same pay, but saw their take-home pay or their healthcare benefits reduced for no logical reason. Is that “lucky” or “fortunate?” We don’t think so.
Could you imagine joining a company with full dental coverage, expecting to have your children’s braces paid for or knowing you were covered if you needed oral surgery, only to find those benefits gone as a result of ACA? Maybe you have worn glasses your whole life and specifically requested a vision plan during salary negotiations to save you hundreds of dollars a year. Now, that benefit has been taken away and your employer isn’t sure how to make it up.
To be sure, changes in healthcare coverage place employers in a difficult spot, because they might face reduced company morale. They have to get creative with affordable perks or think outside the box in terms of benefits. (Continue reading and we’ll share more on how you, as their insurance broker, can help with this….)
Finally, insurance agents are seeing profit margins erode. Healthcare is more difficult to sell, while commissions have dropped. Your customers are unhappy, but the products aren’t available for you to provide them with a better deal.
Insurance agents are fleeing the business in droves. According to the AFLAC Workforces Report for Brokers, 49 percent of insurance agents are leaving the industry, while 67 percent say they know someone who has already left.
The upcoming 2016 election brings even more uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act, the future of health care in the U.S., and the profitability of a career as an insurance agent. But there’s no need to fear. Brokers across the U.S. are finding increased profits in selling ancillary benefits, including dental, vision, Group Life/AD&D, and enhanced disability benefits.
For employers, these ancillary benefits – which can be offered as 100 percent coverage or on a cost-sharing basis – can be the answer to reducing dis-satisfaction with current benefit plans and improving company morale. In some cases, they can replace benefits – like vision and dental – that were previously part of a company’s comprehensive healthcare coverage. In other cases, they can simply reduce the sting of higher healthcare premiums and deductibles, fewer choices in providers, or overall reduced coverage.
Ancillary benefits put the power back in the insurance brokers’ hands, so you can provide your customers with products that will make them – and their employees — happy.
As your full-service provider and back-office administrator for ancillary benefits like dental, vision, Group Life/AD&D and enhanced disability coverage, The DBL Center Ltd. can point you to the benefits packages that offer the greatest value to your customers, with multi-line discounts when you purchase benefits from the same carrier – and put money in your pocket.
If the Affordable Care Act has you shying away from selling health insurance, isn’t it time to consider bolstering your business with ancillary benefits?
Contact The DBL Center Ltd. today to see why ancillary benefits are the answer to increased profits and disability insurance is just the beginning.