The past year has brought shake-ups for statutory insurance brokers.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
by Dawn Allcot
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.
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.
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.
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.
Post updated on November 15, 2020
Covid-19 has brought many challenges to business owners, HR directors, and employees across the Northeast. It has also created many questions regarding temporary disability benefits and eligibility.
As a trusted insurance broker, it helps to have answers to frequently asked questions regarding temporary disability and long term disability payments. One of the most frequently asked questions, recently, addresses employees with lingering illnesses or injuries not incurred in the workplace: “What can I do when temporary disability runs out?”
Fortunately, there are multiple solutions. As a P&C insurance broker with The DBL Center’s vast network of top-rated carriers behind you, you’re equipped to assist with at least two of these:
If a customer asks what their employee can do when statutory short term disability (TDB in New Jersey, DBL in New York, and PFML in Massachusetts and Connecticut) or private group short-term disability (STD) runs out, here are some options you can suggest.
Some people with an illness or injury may try to apply for Social Security benefits. However, to qualify for Social Security / Disability benefits, you must be unable to work for at least one year, or have an illness that will lead to death. The time between 26 weeks and a year is a long span to live without any income if you are unable to work.
Group long-term disability insurance increases the length of time of coverage up to 60 months. Employers can choose from “same occupation” or “any occupation” coverage. Class I coverage, for the executives in a company, offers up to 60% of income replacement up to $15,000 per month.
The cost to the company is actually very small, especially if the employer purchases coverage bundled with statutory benefits or other ancillary benefits, like dental, vision, and Group Life / AD&D.
Group LTD benefits higher level employees in the same way enriched DBL does in New York, providing income replacement at a minimal cost. Employers can avoid tapping into their 401K or selling other investments. Let’s face it – especially in today’s market, selling stocks may not be the best answer for high-earners to free up capital for living expenses!
In addition to providing company owners and high-level executives with a safety net and peace-of-mind should they become injured or disabled, a generous group LTD package can also benefit the company as a whole.
It may help entice star talent, but, more importantly, it can help a business retain high-quality employees after they bounce back from an illness or injury. If a company takes care of someone in their time of need, they will return to work with a degree of loyalty. In fact, due to the strain financial difficulties place on a person’s health, having disability coverage to provide for themselves and their family could, in fact, help make a return to work after injury or illness possible.
For business owners who don’t want to make the investment in Group LTD, or for self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and solopreneurs, private long-term disability insurance provides an income replacement solution.
Since the premiums on this insurance are paid out-of-pocket, after taxes, the disability income is not taxable. Claimants receive their full benefits when they need the money most.
Disability insurance may seem like a tough sell when it is not mandated by the state. But the coronavirus pandemic has made many people come to terms with their own health and even their mortality. More than ever, people are thinking about their financial future should they be unable to work for any length of time. This includes COVID-19 long-haulers, those who experience symptoms even after the worst of the illness has passed.
The Social Security Administration estimates that a 20-year-old employee faces a three in ten chance of becoming disabled before age 65. Other reports say one in four workers becomes disabled during their working life. These odds increase for heavy smokers, people who are overweight, or those who have a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. And these numbers have undoubtedly risen since the pandemic.
Yet, only 45 percent of millennial workers have long-term disability insurance, according to The Hartford Financial Service Group. More than 20 percent of millennials said they would need help from family or friends or move back in with their parents if they were unable to work due to illness or injury, while another 20 percent would have to rely on credit cards or borrowing against their 401K retirement account.
While employees don’t want to consider being one of the 25 to 30 percent of people who become disabled, it’s a reality. And most disabilities are caused by illness, not injury. Knowing they are protected, whether through private income replacement insurance or employer-funded long-term disability benefits offers peace-of-mind and greater financial security.
As a broker, remind your customers that temporary disability coverage doesn’t have to be “all-or-nothing.” Voluntary group long-term disability coverage can be fully employee-funded, with no out-of-pockets costs for the employer (other than the employer’s insurance premiums to cover themselves). Since this is a pre-tax benefit, some employees may enjoy the tax benefits, too, although it means they will have to pay taxes on their disability income if they ever make a claim.
Employers also have the option to split the costs of group LTD with their employees, or to fund the benefit completely as an incentive to recruit and retain top talent. You can help your customers weigh cost factors with the benefits of employee recruiting and retention based on their industry and region.
It costs more to gain a new customer than to upsell an existing account. In these challenging financial times, consider Group LTD, along with other ancillary benefits, as a means to grow your book-of-business and increase your commissions.
And don’t forget to use your Broker Dashboard to track it all! Schedule your free demo of this state-of-the-art statutory insurance net revenue tracker today.
Prior to the introduction of the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act, Massachusetts workers relied on group short-term disability plans to cover partial income replacement for a non-work-related illness or injury.
With MA PFMLA benefits set to go into effect on January 1, 2021, (and additional benefits under the act to begin July 1, 2021), employers may wonder how this affects the need for group STD benefits within an organization.
Should employers and employees still invest in voluntary group short-term disability benefits?
What’s the difference between Group STD vs. PFMLA in Massachusetts?
MA PFML is a statutory benefit that all employers in Massachusetts with more than 25 employees must provide. It is similar to Paid Family Leave in New York, which is written as a rider to DBL coverage. The Massachusetts law adds a medical component to combine medical disability coverage with family leave benefits.
Employers can write their benefits plan through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or opt for a private plan that:
Costs will typically be shared between the employer and employee, although the employer may opt to fund more than their minimum percentage.
On the other hand, short term disability or Group STD is a voluntary benefit that can be funded by the employer or employees or shared between the two.
Group short term disability coverage typically lasts until group long-term disability benefits (most commonly called “disability income,” or DI) begin. Your customers should know that MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act benefits offset disability insurance coverage; premiums may be lower for a group STD plan in Massachusetts since the MA PFML plan covers partial income replacement.
In New York, employers have the option to enrich DBL coverage to pay out more than the state maximum benefit. In Massachusetts, a group STD plan can fill this role. The MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act has a maximum weekly benefit cap of $850, which means that high-earners making more than $80,000 will receive a lower percentage of their income than others who are not maxing out the benefit.
As the owner of a Massachusetts business or a c-level executive or human resources director, investing in STD coverage for your employees can also benefit you should you become ill, injured, or unable to work.
In 2021, the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act pays workers for up to 20 weeks of personal medical leave. However, if the worker already filed a claim for family leave or personal leave within the past calendar year, they may not be able to collect for the full 20 weeks this time around.
On the other hand, employees can collect STD income replacement for up to 26 weeks, regardless of other, unrelated leave.
Long-term disability insurance typically goes into effect 26 weeks after an employee becomes disabled. Short-term disability can provide income replacement for those six weeks (or more), when PFML runs out and before LTD kicks in.
Having financial peace-of-mind with income replacement can reduce stress on the employee and improve retention rates within a company. Combining PFML with Group STD and the best long-term disability insurance , plus ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and Group Life AD&D can help set a Massachusetts business apart. Being able to describe and explain these benefits to business owners can help Massachusetts brokers thrive in any economy.
It’s important to reiterate, as well, that PFML and other state paid family and medical leave programs are not the same as the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act. FMLA only provides job protection, not income replacement. Additionally, some of the requirements and definition of a family member in Massachusetts may differ from the federal legislation. However, since FMLA in Massachusetts covers both partial income replacement and job protection, a Massachusetts employee should be able to take the necessary time off and know they will have a similar job description, position, and salary when they return to work.
View our glossary of short-term disability coverage here for more information on various benefits and protected leave in different states.
Following in the steps of New York and Massachusetts, Connecticut will become the third New England state to offer Paid Family Medical Leave (CT PFML). Like the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave program, CT Paid Family Medical Leave will cover both short-term medical leave for employees and family leave to care for specific family members, under one policy. The leave also covers:
Deductions for CT Paid Family Leave begin January 1, 2021, but claimants can’t file for the benefit until January 22, 2022. Business owners can register to write coverage through the State Fund as of November 1, 2020.
The DBL Center is staying in touch with our carriers in the market, as well as with the CT State Insurance Fund, to determine when and how employers can write a private plan. The DBL Center is working closely with our network of top-rated, preferred carriers to determine who has filed to write in this market. We will keep our brokers up to date, as early education is sure to be a key to success in showing Connecticut business owners the benefits of privatized CT PFML.
To qualify for the benefit, employees must have been employed within the last 12 weeks and earned at least $2,325 in at least one quarter from the first four of the past five most recently completed quarters.
For instance, if an employee earned $2,400 in the most recently ended quarter, but only $2,000 in the four prior to that, they would not qualify. But if they earned $2,400 three quarters ago, and then their wages dropped to $2,000 for the past two quarters, they would qualify.
Former employees who met the earnings and have been employed within the prior 12 weeks are also eligible.
Additionally, self-employed individuals and sole proprietors can opt into CT Paid Family Medical Leave coverage, as can Connecticut residents who are employed in a different state.
All employers with one or more employees are covered under the PFML law. The law also provides employers with the tools and resources to comply with the applicable laws and promote a happy, healthy, and positive workplace.
Employers in the State of Connecticut play a crucial role in helping workers access to paid time off to meet their various personal and family health needs under the CT Paid Family Medical Leave law. They have to:
As in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, who all offer paid family and/or medical leave benefits, employers can say no to the state plan and opt into privatized CT Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, instead.
However, current legislation will require employee opt-in and private carrier approval via a vote. New Jersey recently waived the 50%+1 signature requirement to privatize TDB coverage. But brokers hoping to move into the CT PFML market in Connecticut are likely to face challenges getting employee buy-in to privatize benefits.
The good news?
Time is on the side of Connecticut brokers, with the legislation set to go into effect January 1, 2022. Now is the time to begin showing Connecticut business owners the benefits of a private plan. We have New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey as examples of the advantages of privatizing paid leave.
These advantages, in general, include:
In addition to getting employees to vote to privatize CT Paid Family Medical Leave, employees must also vote on the specific carrier in order to satisfy the CT statutory requirement.
Now’s the time to begin educating Connecticut business owners and show them the vast choices of carriers and plans they have when they work with DBL Center brokers. It’s time to show them how they can save by bundling ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and Group Life / AD&D. And to show them how white-glove service makes a difference, especially when employers and HR directors are struggling to navigate a whole new world of employee benefits with CT Paid Family Medical Leave.
New York insurance brokers may be getting questions from customers about the New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) act, which went into effect September 30, 2020. However, employees cannot take paid sick leave through the state law until January 1, 2021, or at a time after that date if their employer requires them to accrue paid time off.
A direct result of the coronavirus pandemic to help contain the spread of the virus by encouraging employees to stay home, with pay, if they are not feeling well, the Paid Sick Leave Law mandates that employers of any size now provide paid sick leave to employees.
Unlike New York State DBL benefits or Paid Family Leave (PFL), New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) is funded entirely by employers through payroll. It is not an insurance benefit.
However, employers may have questions about when employees can use their paid sick leave and when they need to file a claim for DBL or PFL. It helps brokers to be aware of the new legislation to reduce unnecessary or unqualified DBL and PFL claims in New York.
The duration of NYSSL is much shorter than New York State’s short-term disability coverage or PFL coverage.
Here are a few other differences between the three types of leave:
DBL or enriched DBL insurance provides partial pay to employees who are seriously ill or injured and cannot perform their normal job functions for up to 26 weeks. The DBL Center can help you bind DBL & Enriched coverage under 50 lives easily online here.
Written as a mandatory rider to statutory DBL coverage, PFL in New York provides partial pay to employees taking time off to care for an ill family member, a newborn (or newly adopted or newly fostered) child within the first year, or to manage family matters while a military spouse is deployed. The maximum duration for Paid Family Leave is 12 weeks. Learn more about New York State PFL coverage, first introduced in 2017, here.
Introduced in September 2020 and going into effect on January 1, 2021, Paid Sick Leave provides full pay for up to 56 hours (in some cases) for employees who are:
The New York State Sick Leave law (NYSSL) also covers a host of other circumstances for which employees may need time off, including:
The reason for Paid Family Leave or DBL must be documented on the appropriate claims form. On the other hand, the reasons for taking NYSSL can remain confidential. Employers may not require employees to disclose any confidential information regarding their need for sick time.
In addition, the definition of a family member as it relates to paid sick leave extends beyond the PFL definition to include siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, and the children or parents of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.
Business owners in New York have a choice to “frontload” employees’ sick time at the beginning of the calendar year, offering paid sick leave from day one that the benefit goes into effect (January 1, 2021). Or, employers may permit employees to accrue sick time at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 or 56 hours in total – depending on the company size.
Employers with at least 100 employees must provide 56 hours paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than 100 employees or fewer than five employees but a net income of $1 million for the prior tax year must provide 40 hours paid sick leave.
Businesses with fewer than five employees but less than $1 million in net income must allow 40 hours of unpaid sick leave with no disciplinary action permitted for employees who take that time off without pay.
The decision for an employee to take paid sick time or to file a DBL or PFL claim largely comes down to the duration of the time off required and, of course, the reason. See below:
Until now, Paid Time Off remained the choice of New York State business owners. Many companies provided generous PTO while others didn’t. Some small business didn’t even have a written policy but trusted their workers not to take unnecessary time off.
By standardizing PTO under the NYSSL, and outlining specific permissible reasons for sick time, New York State has eliminated confusion, miscommunication, or gray areas surrounding PTO.
By understanding the new law, you can help your customers reduce unnecessary DBL or PFL claims and continue to act as a resource for them when it comes to managing employee benefits.
Because different benefits have different definitions and the devil is in the details…
As more states add legislation for paid family leave and the federal government introduces programs to help manage Covid-related disability claims, short-term disability has become more confusing than ever.
To help brokers understand the profit potential in these benefits and to help business owners sort through the “alphabet soup” of STD (short-term disability), The DBL Center offers your complete guide to short term disability offerings.
Short-term disability is the all-encompassing phrase to describe disability benefits for employees who are unable to work due to illness or injury that did not occur at work. (Workers’ compensation covers work-related illnesses and injuries.)
Disability Benefits Law is New York’s statutory temporary disability insurance coverage. Business owners can write their policies through the state or privately. DBL pays employees 50% of their salary to a maximum of $170 per week of benefit up to 26 weeks.
Increasing benefits that extend beyond the statutory DBL (Disability Benefits Law) coverage in the form of a higher maximum benefit. It can also include shorter waiting periods or a longer maximum duration. All eligible employees must be included.
Temporary Disability Benefits cover New Jersey employees out of work for illness or injury up to 26 weeks. Effective July 1, 2020, the NJ TDB benefit increased to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary to a maximum of $881 per week. To pay for these benefit increases, for the first time, employees are contributing premiums for the NJTDB coverage on a different taxable wage base than employers. As of 1/1/2020 employees are contributing .26% on the first $134,900 of earnings (maximum annual contribution of $350.74). Employers are contributing based on employees’ earnings capped at $35,500. As in New York, NJ business owners can write their policies privately or through the state.
New York State Paid Family Leave covers individuals up to 67% average weekly wage replacement for up to 12 weeks for the birth, adoption or foster care of a child; to care for a seriously ill family member; or to manage the household while a spouse is deployed. It’s written as a rider to DBL.
Covered individuals are eligible for no more than 26 total weeks in the aggregate of paid family and medical leave in a single benefit year under the new Massachusetts PFML (Paid Family and Medical Leave) legislation. This was introduced to cover individuals out of work to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child in the first year; to care for a family member; or to manage the household while a spouse is deployed. PFML adds medical leave, to care for a family member unable to work due to illness or injury as of July 1, 2021.
Disability Income is private disability coverage offered to individuals or sold as a group plan in states that do not mandate statutory STD. It encompasses paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits (STD), and long-term disability benefits (LTD).
Unlike the benefits above, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that guarantees an employee’s job if they are out for family or medical leave. It does not pay benefits.
The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) provides income replacement at 2/3 the regular rate of pay for up to 80 weeks for employees in quarantine as a result of Covid-19 or seeking treatment for coronavirus, and an additional 10 weeks for employees whose school or childcare provider has closed due to the pandemic. This is paid by employers, with federal tax credits to offset the costs.
The DBL Center has also created a handy slide of this information for easy reference. You can view it below and on our LinkedIn feed.
As we prepare to enter the fourth quarter, insurance brokers have had to contend with many changes and challenges. If you run an insurance agency, it’s more important than ever to be able to manage a remote workforce and give your producers the tools they need to do their jobs – in their office or at home.
A project two years in the making could not have come at a better time. It started two years ago with the introduction of the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker.
Today, The DBL Center is pleased to announce the introduction of the Broker Dashboard app, available in the Apple Store.
Offering all the functionality of the Broker Dashboard desktop application, the Broker Dashboard app for iPhone and iPad puts the capability to track renewals, cancellations, and commissions at your fingertips.
Follow up with client renewals while you wait in the pick-up line at your child’s elementary school. Check on incoming commissions as you oversee distance learning at your dining room table. And when you come into the office, your Broker Dashboard comes with you.
You’re always informed, giving you the means to spot profit opportunities and increase commissions by giving your customers the products and information they need – when they need it.
It’s not going to be an easy autumn for many working parents or for insurance brokers still splitting time between their homes and the office. The Broker Dashboard technology can help bring you closer to your customers, wherever you might be.
Back in April at the height of the pandemic, a Gartner survey revealed that 75% of CEOs planned to move at least 5% of their employees to full-time remote even after the pandemic. The remote workforce is here to stay and embracing technology can help us to better cope with it.
With childcare challenges facing many parents as schools are now opening with distance learning or hybrid schedules – where children may attend school a few days a week and have remote learning the rest of the time – employers may have to provide more flexibility for working parents.
After all, you know the rules. Employees can’t claim NYS PFL for Covid-related illness, (if they have the ability to work from home, or a lack of childcare for students undertaking distance learning). But by creating flexible employee policies and ensuring your employees can be productive wherever they are, you may be able to reduce erroneous PFL claims and also minimize Covid-related claims under the federal Families First Act. (You can read more about PFL and the FFA here.)
Just like many other businesses, the DBL Center team faces the challenges of a remote workforce and children’s school schedules that don’t coincide with typical, established workplace schedules. Through technology, resilience, and understanding, we continue to thrive and offer high levels of service to our brokers and their clients.
We’re excited to give our brokers the same opportunities to embrace change with the Broker Dashboard app and other tools.
The DBL Center provides workplace flexibility for our employees as we adapt to these times. But that doesn’t change our availability for our brokers when they need us. We are always available as your back-office staff to assist.
And now, with the Broker Dashboard app for iPhone and iPad, the tools you need are just a touch away. Watch the video to learn more about using your exclusive Broker Dashboard app here, and reach out if you have any questions.
The DBL Center marketing team “Turned the Tables” on President and CEO Michael Cohen to put Michael in the hot seat for a three-part interview. In the first and third videos, he offered tips for insurance agents and talked about the value The DBL Center provides to its network of brokers.
In this video, Michael discusses the impact the pandemic has had, the creation of the Covid-19 Claim Qualifier, and what he sees for 2021. Plus, he shares one of DBL Center Founder David Cohen’s favorite expressions. Read (and watch the video) to the end for advice from two generations of business leaders in the Cohen family.
Dawn Allcot: How did you come up with the idea for the Covid-19 Claim Qualifier to reduce the number of Covid-related claims and the financial burden on insurance carriers?
Michael Cohen: I was in actually in my son’s room near the start of the quarantine. I think it was March 24. I was speaking to my programmer. I said if there’s a way something can be tweaked, now would be the time. We took something we were already utilizing, the Broker Dashboard Net Revenue tracker, and transformed it into something that could help our preferred insurance carriers. It’s a way to help prequalify claims, to bring the number of Covid-related DBL and PFL claims down.
Everything is volume. If I’m tracking volume for businesses, I can use that same algorithm to track the volume for claims, specifically in the short-term disability segment as a result of Covid.
Dawn: You were in your son’s room, on a call with your programmer. That’s a sign of the times…
Mike: I like being able to work from home. I’ve been working from home since 2007. I’ve got friends and family members that have said to me, “It’s great; I’m not traveling. I get to see my kids.”
My wife has been a healthcare professional for 16 years. The days she would work 12-hour shifts, I was that guy at home. And still am. Nothing has really changed in that regard.
Dawn: Looking ahead, what new initiatives does the DBL Center have planned for 2021?
Mike: Franchising the technology we have created and taking it out to every Paid Family Leave state that’s available.
So, stay tuned for that. That should be a new and exciting venture, which should begin in January. We’re laying the groundwork now.
Dawn: That’s what it’s all about. We’ve been laying the groundwork for this moment for three years now, and it’s coming to fruition. It’s been fascinating to watch you, Mike, and it’s a great case study for business growth.
Mike: Think about it. With the amount of time businesses have been closed during this pandemic, if you add another hundred days onto that, it’s already Halloween.
If we’ve been doing this for three years, what’s another four months? When you’ve been up against the ropes and done what we’ve done over 36 months, with all the highs and lows and peaks and valleys. It’s a breath of fresh air to know we’ve been through all that, already. Now we know what to expect.
You give yourself a goal. And if you accomplish that, then you give yourself another goal. And once you tackle it, get that notch in your belt, you let that ride, and then move on to the next thing. Just keep building upon that and getting to the next level. You want to get to a point where the business sustains itself or you’re ready to sell it.
Dawn: What’s your advice to brokers to get through this time?
Mike: Stop talking about a potential second wave! I don’t want to hear it. It’s negative energy. Let’s just stick to what we know. And that is today.
Now’s not the time to project what will be as far as the pandemic. We don’t know. And it’s too much stress to worry.
I try to tune out a lot of the news media. And I do what’s best for my company.
If I do what’s best for my company, I’m impacting my employees. And if I do what’s good for them, maybe they can take that into their real-world experiences.
I’ve got a lot of friends who are business owners, too. We’re in a bubble of what we do.
As long as we do it best, whether it’s writing or selling insurance or whatever it is, it’s that old adage my father used to say, which is, “Stick to sewing.” It means stick to what you’re good at and do not be a jack-of-all trades.
Dawn: What’s your next goal for The DBL Center?
Mike: We’re more than halfway through the year. Anything I talk about in the fall is going to be for 2021 at this point.
My goal is to be the most state-of-the-art, tech-savvy general agency in the Paid Family Leave statutory space. Case closed. End of story.
In our latest video series, The DBL Center marketing team turned the tables on Michael Cohen to interview the DBL Center President about recent initiatives and how The DBL Center has coped with the pandemic.
Now more than ever, The DBL Center remains focused on providing our brokers with free tools they can use to stay competitive and remain profitable in these challenging times.
Read on for excerpts from our three-part interview with Michael Cohen and be sure to check out the videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our video content as it goes live.
Dawn Allcot: What’s been the reaction to The DBL Center’s recent marketing content – the videos, blog posts, and direct email campaigns?
Michael Cohen: Our read ratio is triple what it used to be. You always say it’s a matter of putting out good content, but it’s also a matter of not putting out redundant content. In the beginning of the [pandemic], we were getting things out quickly, but we didn’t want it to be laborious. There’s only so much people can understand about the loans and about unemployment. There has to be a shift. People got accustomed to reading the same things everywhere.
Dawn: The content we did was targeted to our audience, so it wasn’t the same things they are reading everywhere else. People can follow links to find out how to apply for the PPP loans. The Covid qualifying software you came up with really set DBL Center apart.
Michael: It’s an antiquated business and people know it. I’ll be the first to say it. These tools help set us apart. I’m happy with where we’re going, and I do think it’s going to be a unique, creative year. Everything I’ve done, and am doing, and have been building over the past 36 months has come to the point where it will be a differentiator in a very positive light. I feel very strongly about next year and I’m excited.
Dawn: On the topic of tools and resources, how does the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker help your brokers?
Michael: No one really had a great grasp on where their business was. Because most people were elephant hunting and chasing things that my father would always tell me would be top heavy.
One of the things I’ve been able to do is use the software to help show brokers the profitability in the smaller accounts. Those are the companies that are predominantly relying on the PPP loan, and have people who have been furloughed due to unemployment. What happens when the money runs out?
The tool has been able to help brokers understand the retention aspect. Now on the cusp of unemployment maybe being a month from being over, the real question is how much of the relief and aid will stick and help the businesses survive?
Dawn: And you’re offering the Broker Dashboard completely free of charge to your brokers.
Michael: I don’t want to charge anybody so they can track their business. It’s been terrific during the pandemic in helping people know where their business is down to the dollar, because we don’t know what’s going to stick.
Dawn: Besides the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, what else are you doing to help your brokers thrive and grow?
Michael: I’ve been giving away free advice from friends of mine in the business who are influencers, including your interview with Kelvin Joseph from Kool Kel Marketing. The point we were trying to get across there is the power of relationships.
My business has expanded greatly in other states, predominantly because of my LinkedIn strategies and how many people I know. Between myself and my buddy Kelvin, we reach 100,000 individual touch points on LinkedIn. Every day, I get a lead in some form, that I can help give back [to our brokers].
The advice I’ve been given from my father, I’ve been able to funnel through our content marketing strategy and give back to the brokers’ community in my own words. The Broker Dashboard, LinkedIn, and our website resources are the three primary ways we’ve been able to give back for free to our brokers.
Watch the full three-part series of videos here: