Creating An Employee Wellness Culture In Your Organization

Focusing on employee wellness can reduce disability insurance claims

State-mandated DBL (New York) and TDB (New Jersey) insurance provide employees with income if they are sick or disabled for an extended period of time. Overall, this insurance coverage can increase employee job satisfaction and overall company morale.

But, even with insurance coverage sick employees still take a toll on the business. You can fight these negative effects by fostering an employee wellness culture within your organization.

Reduce Productivity Losses, Improve Profitability through Employee Wellness

Productivity losses linked to employees who miss work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year, according to CDC statistics. Of that lost money, more than half ($153 billion) is a result of sick time used by full-time workers who are overweight or obese or have chronic health issues.

Reducing excess weight, high blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels by just 1 percent are employee wellness measures that can save up to $103 annually in medical costs per person.

One way to encourage healthier lifestyles for your workers is by building an employee wellness culture within your organization, modeled by executives and carried down to every employee.

There are many ways to do so—and these small changes don’t have to cost a fortune. And certainly less than the $1,685 spent per employee when people get sick).

1. Make healthy snacks available in the break room.

We all cringe that first week back to work after the New Year. Many of us might be trying to eat healthy or even starting new diets. But others decide to bring those leftover cookies, pies, chocolates, and fruitcake to the office, where “someone will eat them.”

As a leader in your organization, you don’t have to be that “someone.” You can even provide an alternative for everyone and encourage employee wellness through healthy foods.

Stock a mini-fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, provide herbal teas for those who need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, and even consider bringing in a healthy catered lunch once a week.

Or send an email to organize a mid-day potluck on a Friday, where everyone brings in their favorite healthy meal and shares the recipe.

2. “Challenge” your employees.

“Challenges” are the new fitness craze, and they work to get people moving by motivating them through the thrill of competition. Oh, and cash prizes.

Here’s how it works: Collect a small amount of money from everyone who wants to participate. Set rules, such as being active for 30 minutes each day. Employees show proof of their activity through a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or even a free downloadable app like MyFitnessPal. At the end of the challenge (typically 30 days) everyone who completed the challenge as per the rules is entered into a random drawing to win the money.

You can also divide the office into teams. The team that shows the most total minutes of physical activity over 30 days wins the challenge.

3. Plan an active office outing.

Color runs. Obstacle races. Walkathons. 5K events. There’s an activity for employees at nearly any ability level. And while the weather may not be conducive to running for anyone but the diehards right now, spring is on the way.

It’s time to catch the early-bird registration pricing for a team-building physical challenge. You can even get healthy while helping others, and engage in a race or event that donates proceeds to charity.

If you’re looking for a winter activity, consider indoor rock-climbing, laser tag, or even bowling.

4. Provide health-related perks

From free or discounted gym memberships to in-office massages, two-thirds of all U.S. workplaces today offer wellness-related benefits. But it’s not enough to provide the benefits.
You must let employees know they are available and make it easy for them to take advantage.

When you get half the office talking about last night’s boot camp, and the other half want to know where to sign up, you know you’ve created an employee wellness culture within your organization.

Mandatory DBL and TDB coverage is there when you need it. But taking small steps toward a healthier workplace can make a big difference in your organization’s overall productivity.

The DBL Center wishes all our brokers, clients, and readers a happy and healthy 2018.

 

 


The DBL Center Family Celebrates the Holidays

DBL Center party promotes camaraderie and idea exchange to wind down the year.

As it enters its 42nd year, the DBL Center is and has always been, a family-owned business. The company recently celebrated the holidays with a party at the historic Paramount concert venue, bar and lounge in Huntington Village, Long Island.

Taking over a private VIP room below the theater, the DBL Center hosted a Speakeasy Holiday Party.

For those who’ve never visited, the Founder’s Room at the Paramount features décor of the 1920s, along with music memorabilia for those who wax nostalgic about the earlier days of rock and roll. Absolutely perfect for The DBL Center employees, clients, friends, and peers who were invited to the party. It’s a cliché, but it’s also accurate to say “a good time was had by all.”

In the tradition of The DBL Center, the venue, the food, and of course, the people created an incredible atmosphere of first-class fun.

Concierge Service, High-Tech Capabilities

The DBL Center was founded by David Cohen to offer insurance brokers the type of highly differentiated, personalized service provided by “boutique” companies in other industries.

Those who knew David knew he loved to travel. He loved staying in luxury boutique hotels instead of the bigger chains. He enjoyed not just the personalized service, but the original and unique touches these hotels provided.

What White Glove Service Means To Us

The concept of “concierge service” provided at boutique hotels was the inspiration for our website cover photo. And that philosophy of providing white glove service translates into everything we do.

From giving our brokers the latest resources to help them understand new legislation such as Paid Family Leave, to our app that puts control of our broker’s accounts right at their fingertips, on the road or in the office, everything we do is designed to provide a higher level of service to our brokers and their clients.

No doubt, it takes a lot of work to maintain that level of service and stay ahead of the pack.

But we also have a lot of fun along the way, with our holiday party as just one example!

Nurturing a Family Atmosphere

The family atmosphere that we nurture within the organization welcomes an open exchange of ideas to help The DBL Center continue to improve. Whether in the office or after-hours at a gathering like our holiday party–we listen to our employees and our customers.

We are continually brainstorming new ways to service our agents in areas that matter to them. Our technology, our back-office staff, and the resources we offer can help agents expand their book of business and increase their profits in less time.

Paying Tribute, Saying Thank You

President and CEO Michael Cohen, of course, didn’t stand still during the party. He traveled the room sharing stories, always with a crowd around him, eagerly awaiting the punchline.

Mid-way through the night, Michael took the time to gather everyone near the bar and shared his gratitude and appreciation for The DBL Center family — employees, brokers, clients, contractors, and friends.

Join Us in 2018

No doubt, 2018 has been a year of changes and adaption – for The DBL Center family and for the insurance industry as a whole.

Armed with determination, knowledge, and a team that is stronger than ever, The DBL Center moves forward into 2018 with unprecedented optimism, new ideas to implement, and more opportunities than ever before for our brokers to expand their book of business and make more money with us.

Happy Holidays, from our family to yours. 

Are you ready to join The DBL Center family?

Find out how we can help you get the best rates on enriched DBL coverage, ancillary benefits, and more.


FSA v. HSA v. Ancillary Benefits: Which Should Employers Choose?

DBL Center explores FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits so you can help your customers make informed choices

If you or your employees have a flexible spending account (FSA) you may be scrambling to spend that money before it expires. That’s one of the main differences in an FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits package. Your FSA expires at year-end. (Although, in some cases, that deadline is extended to mid-March.)

Whatever benefits package you have, healthcare is expensive. When you factor in the costs or co-pays of prescription medicines, doctor’s visit co-pays, not to mention vision and dental costs or co-pays, plus the actual cost of healthcare coverage, the average person spent $10,345 in healthcare in 2016. FSA, HSA, or ancillary benefits packages can help defray some of those costs.

When comparing FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits, each has advantages for certain people. If you’re an employer interested in offering the most robust benefits package to your employees, combine ancillary benefits that include dental benefits and vision benefits with an FSA to pay other costs, not ordinarily covered by insurance, with pre-tax dollars.

When you’re looking at the differences in FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits, one of the biggest drawbacks to an FSA is it expires at year’s end.

Let’s sort through the other differences in FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits to better understand employee benefits available. As a broker, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to guide your customers toward the best ancillary benefits package to improve employee loyalty and morale.

What Is An FSA?

An FSA, or flexible spending account, is a pre-tax savings account you can use to pay for a variety of expenses related to health and wellness and, in some cases, dependent care.

The employer withdraws a set amount of money, pre-tax, and provides employees with a debit card to purchase any items or services covered by the FSA. The list includes a number of surprising items, including co-pays, prescription and over-the-counter medicine, childcare, and even items such as bandages and sunscreen.

If you don’t spend the money in the account by the deadline (typically December 31 or March 15), you could lose it, although some plans let you roll up to $500 into the next year.

FSA Advantages:

  • You can use the money for a variety of health-related expenses, including childcare
  • Money is deducted from your paycheck, pre-tax
  • You may also be able to use it to pay for childcare

FSA Disadvantages:

  • Use the money or lose it
  • No employer matching contributions

What Is an HSA?

An HSA, or a health savings account, is often confused with an FSA. But a Health Savings Account is available only to individuals enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). The idea is that the health savings plan can help cover the deductible cost with pre-tax dollars. HSA money can also pay health-related expenses not covered by your insurance, such as vision or dental costs.

Unlike an FSA, you can deduct money from your HSA for other reasons, but you will pay tax on that money, including an additional 20 percent tax penalty.

HSA Advantages:

  • For people with a high-deductible health care plan, an HSA helps ensure they have money available for doctor’s visits and other medical expenses
  • You can withdraw the money at any time for any reason, but you might pay a penalty
  • The HSA does not expire

HSA Disadvantages:

  • Not available to everyone
  • You’ll pay a tax penalty for using the money for non-eligible costs

What Are Ancillary Benefits?

If you’ve read this far, you understand why an FSA or HSA is not always the best option employers can provide to their workers.

Ancillary benefits, including vision and dental benefits, work like any other insurance plan. Employees pay the premium with pre-tax money deducted from their paychecks and the insurance benefits pay for things like check-ups, corrective lenses, or dental work. In some cases, the employee might have to pay a co-pay.

Most ancillary benefits are completely employee-funded, which means the employer has no added costs. Ancillary benefits are enticing to employees because it’s like money in the bank with no risks involved.

Advantages of Ancillary Benefits:

  • No out-of-pocket costs to the employer
  • Voluntary benefits means employees can choose their coverage
  • Low premiums and high payouts, especially for employees with families
  • Healthier employees are happy employees; with good coverage, employees won’t put off important dental work or eye exams

Which Is Better: FSA v. HSA v. Ancillary Benefits – The Answer

Brokers, if your customers ask you, “Which is better: FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits?” we encourage you to share this post with them and guide them toward the best conclusion. Flex spending accounts have their place, but as people rush to spend the money in their account this month, it might be a good time to show your customers a better, less frustrating way to pay for common dental and vision expenses.

You can add an ancillary benefits package to any enriched DBL account when the policy renews this winter. Let the DBL Center help as your white-glove, back-office team to help the process go smoothly.


FMLA vs PFL: What’s the Difference?

FMLA vs PFL: The DBL Center explores the differences

Since New York introduced Paid Family Leave, there has been a lot of confusion. Brokers, HR directors, employers and employees are just beginning to understand what PFL means and who it will affect.

One point of confusion: Many people believe the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the federal law put into place during the Obama administration, is the same as New York’s PFL.

In fact, the two are loosely related, and can be applied in conjunction with each other.

But they are not the same thing.

FMLA vs PFL: What Is The Difference?
For starters, FMLA is a federal level law, while PFL provides benefits to employees at the state level.

The key difference in FMLA vs PFL is that FMLA is not a paid leave. It offers no compensation to employees taking time off. PFL in New York, on the other hand, provides both job protection and income for employees on leave.

Read on as The DBL Center, your expert in Paid Family Leave in the New York Tri-State area, explains more  you should know about FMLA vs PFL.

What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The Family Medical Leave Act was signed into law by the federal government to protect the jobs of employees who have to take time off for medical reasons of their own or to care for a sick or disabled family member.

When the employee returns from leave, the employer must be able to provide that employee with the same position they had before or one that is equivalent in pay, benefits, and status. While the employee is out on leave, the employer must also maintain their benefits at the same level as when they were working.

FMLA vs PFL: Who Can Make a Claim?
FMLA legislation applies to people who take medical leave for themselves or take time off to care for a loved one.

On the other hand, Paid Family Leave applies only to employees taking time off to care for family members. Employees can make a PFL claim to take time off to care for ill or disabled family members, infants, adopted or foster children within the first year of care, or any family member while a spouse in the military has been deployed.

Employees who are ill or injured, themselves, would need to file a DBL claim in New York to receive income while they cannot work. They are not eligible for PFL. However, the employee’s job would be protected on the federal level by FMLA if they meet the other requirements, such as total number of hours worked for that employer.

Eligibility Requirements for FMLA vs PFL
FMLA applies to companies with 50+ employees. PFL is available to any eligible employee working for a business with one or more employees. This makes PFL available to more New Yorkers than FMLA.

The employment requirements for PFL are also less stringent. Employees working 20+ hours per week must have worked for 26 consecutive weeks at their current, covered employer to make a PFL claim. Part-time employees who work less than 20 hours per week must have worked at least 175 days for their current employer.

On the other hand, employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours each month for the past 12 months at their current employer to qualify for job protection under FMLA.

FMLA vs PFL: Other Important Differences
There are a few other differences in FMLA vs PFL, such as how the federal government and the state government define family. For instance, the FMLA does not protect the jobs of employees who take time off to care for an in-law. Employees would make a PFL claim, instead, for income and job protection.

The rules of FMLA vs PFL also differ slightly for members of the military and their spouses.

Finally, the federal government offers FMLA time off in increments of 15 minutes, while employees make a PFL claim for time in days, which will gradually increase to a maximum of six weeks by 2021.

NJ Family Leave Act: What Is It?
To further complicate things, if you live in the New York tri-State area, you may also have heard of the New Jersey Family Leave Act. Where does NJ FLA fit in?

New Jersey’s FLA, similarly to the federal FMLA program, does not provide New Jersey workers with paid leave. It only offers job protection to those employees. New Jersey employees would make a TDB (Temporary Disability Benefits) claim to receive income if they are unable to work due to medical reasons.

Similar to PFL in NY, the FLA is broader than the FMLA in its definition of “parents.” New Jersey employees can take time off to care for in-laws, step-parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, or anyone with a parent-child relationship with the employee.

Putting It All Together

New York’s new PFL coverage puts our home state on the cutting edge of protecting and providing for employees caring for family members. It exceeds FMLA coverage in many ways, including a broader scope and paid benefits for claimants.

However, the FMLA was an important stepping stone toward PFL adoption. It is also important to protect employees in other states, who may not have access to PFL benefits to protect their jobs and provide them with a living wage during leave.

As a broker, it’s important to understand the difference in FMLA vs PFL. If your customers ask, you want to be prepared with the right answers. Presenting yourself as an expert in PFL coverage will help you gain the trust of your customers and pave the way to referrals and increased profits through the sale of enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.

PFL is Almost Here:
Visit our PFL resource center to be sure you are ready.


Your Guide to Family Leave Benefits and Employment Taxes

Family leave benefits in New York bring new IRS tax implications

Credit: artystarty

Disability Benefits Law (DBL) brokers in New York State are getting a handle on the new paid family leave benefits, with the new PFL law set to start January 1, 2018.

The DBL Center has provided a host of paid family leave resources and information in a new section on our website. We will also continue to offer webinars and live sessions explaining the intricacies of this new benefit.

While we know tax laws may change across the board in 2018 for businesses and individuals, it’s important to understand the tax ramifications of PFL for employers and employees now.

In short: how should accounting departments, Human Resources, payroll, and benefits departments in small businesses and larger corporations treat family leave employee contributions and benefits?

Family Leave: Taxable Just Like Disability Income
Family leave benefits, just like short-term disability benefits, are taxable as non-wage income and reported by taxpayers using FORM 1099-MISC.

The exception? Employee contributions, deducted after taxes, are not included as part of this taxable income. The insurance provider or employer should send a 1099-G form that employees can use when filing taxes, so they know which portion of their family leave benefits are taxable.

Employees Should Understand Withholding Tax Laws to Budget for An Event

The tax ramifications of paid family leave benefits will take some money out of the pockets of claimants. Smart planning can help employees minimize their tax liability on April 15, when federal and state income taxes are due. Alternately, employees can opt to keep more money in their pockets when they need it most—at the time of the family leave.

Employees can request to have withholding taxes deducted from their family leave benefits before receiving their benefits. This will reduce the size of benefits checks, but may also help reduce tax liability at the end of the year. Depending on the length of the maternity leave, the employees’ personal savings and financial situation, along with their expected tax bill, some employees may choose to have taxes withheld.

More commonly, employees will collect the full amount of their family leave benefits and then pay taxes on that income when they file federal and state income taxes. By that time, it’s expected that employees would be back to work and collecting their full salary, putting them in a better position to pay those taxes.

In the case of family leave taken for childbirth or adoption, the employee may also be able to take advantage of the child tax credit and claim their new family member as a dependent, further reducing their tax liability.

How Family Leave Taxes Affect Brokers

As a broker, it’s good to know the tax implications if Paid Family Leave in order to help educate the c-suite executives and HR professionals who make up your client base. You can be a resource for your customers and the first person they think of when they need an expert in PFL and disability benefits law.

When you inform employers and employees of the potential tax ramifications, this can help them make the best decisions or decide to pursue further information from tax experts. When customers have questions, it’s important to suggest they check with a tax professional to determine the best course of action.

Are Your Customers Ready for Paid Family Leave?
The PFL benefits rider to New York State DBL goes into effect in less than two months, on January 1, 2018. Many of your customers should already be deducting employee and employer contributions.

Now is the time to discuss options, including enriching their DBL benefits package so it is comparable to paid family leave in New York.

Contact The DBL Center now to enrich DBL for your customers and increase your commissions on these important mandatory benefits.


7 Important Ways PFL Differs from DBL Insurance

From the duration to the benefit payouts, DBL and PFL differ significantly.

Credit: Choreograph

Brokers in New York can now sell a new mandatory benefit: Paid Family Leave. We’ve been talking about this new coverage since New York State announced the law in April. As January approaches, the benefit becomes reality in two short months.

As news of the coverage begins to spread, employers and employees have questions. It’s important for brokers to establish themselves as trusted experts and to explain the benefits in a simple, straightforward manner to company executives and HR professionals.

What’s The Difference between PFL and DBL?
The main difference is that employees take DBL if they are injured or ill. Employees take PFL to care for someone else. That’s the most important thing to remember.

However, there may be some overlap. For instance, a new mom may file for DBL if she needs time off for her body to recover from childbirth. When that coverage ends, she can collect PFL to spend time with her new baby.

In most cases, it’s pretty obvious to determine which benefit an employee should collect. And there are some pretty big differences between the two benefits.

Let’s explore seven ways DBL and PFL are different.

1. Eligibility Requirements
Both full-time and part-time employees may qualify for PFL or DBL coverage. Requirements vary.

Full-time employees must work 20+ hours a week and have been employed at least 26 consecutive weeks at their current employer to qualify for PFL.

To qualify for DBL, employees must work the number of hours that the employer considers a full-time work week, and have worked at least four consecutive weeks for any covered employer.

Important to Note: DBL coverage eligibility transfers from one job to another in many cases. PFL does not.

Part-time employees must have completed at least 25 work days at any covered employer to qualify for DBL. To qualify for PFL, 175 days at their current employer is required.

2. Waiting Period
The waiting period for DBL is seven days from the date of filing. Paid Family Leave has no waiting period, so employees can begin collecting benefits immediately.

3. Maximum Leave
DBL has the edge here. Employees can take up to 26 weeks in any consecutive 52-week period.

PFL provides 8 weeks of benefits beginning in 2018, increasing to 12 weeks in 2021 in any consecutive 52-week period.

It’s important to note that employees cannot collect PFL and DBL benefits at the same time. One must stop when the other begins. In that situation, the combined duration for both benefits is capped at 26 weeks during any 52-week time span.

4. Job Protection
As part of the Family Medical Leave Act, which is a national law, employees who take Paid Family Leave receive job protection for the duration of their leave, regardless of the size of the company. Employers must hold their position or provide a comparable position when an employee returns from PFL.

DBL offers no job protection for ill or injured employees.

5. Benefit Offsets
You can collect DBL benefits concurrently with Paid Time Off, such as sick days or vacation time. This can help employees make ends meet by collecting a full paycheck plus DBL benefits for a time.

On the other hand, you cannot use PFL with other PTO.

6. Funding
Employee contributions for DBL are capped at 60 cents per week, regardless of the employee’s average weekly wage.

PFL benefit contributions are capped at 0.126 percent of the employees’ weekly wage, to a maximum of $1.65 per week in 2018.

7. Benefit Payouts
DBL pays 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage up to $170/week. PFL has a more generous benefit, phased in to start at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage in 2018, and topping out at 67 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage by 2021.

The major difference is the cap. While DBL caps out at a less-than-living wage of $170/week, PFL is capped at New York’s Average Weekly Wage, currently $1,305.92.

Enrich DBL Now
In New York, although the maximum employee contribution for DBL is much lower than PFL, so is the benefit payout. In other states that mandate PFL, disability insurance and Paid Family Leave provide comparable benefits.

Employers are wise to consider enriching New York State DBL coverage now. Enriched DBL benefits packages that are more in line with PFL benefits can help reduce fraud, improve employee morale, and increase retention rates. (We’ll talk more about this in a future post, so stay tuned.)

It’s up to you, the broker, to educate your customers on the options today. DBL Center is here to help.

Contact our disability insurance experts about PFL riders and enriched DBL coverage now.


Ready to Write Enriched DBL? Three Ways We Can Help

Enriched DBL coverage can make it rain commissions for insurance brokers.

Protect yourself from the uncertainty caused by PFL benefits and earn more commissions with enriched DBL coverage.

In our last post, we talked about the challenges inherent in PFL riders. It may not be the cash cow brokers had expected when it was first announced. The amount of commission you’ll earn will depend upon the size of your DBL book. Still, any commission is better than no commission when we are talking about a mandatory benefit that virtually sells itself. And it can make it even easier for brokers to increase their commissions on enriched DBL packages in New York.

PFL is an important benefit with strong societal implications. It gives parents a chance to bond with their children and helps those stuck in the “sandwich generation” to care for aging parents without dashing their own hopes and dreams for the future by destroying their finances. From an insurance broker perspective, this unprecedented benefit can spark discussions and open doors enriched DBL sales.

“DBL commissions will always be higher than PFL, and brokers can use this to their advantage,” says DBL Center President Michael Cohen. “Take the opportunity, when you’re adding the PFL rider, to enrich the client’s DBL package at the same time—or at least begin the discussion so when their DBL is up for renewal, it will be on the client’s mind to enrich the policy.”

Selena Kutschera, Director of DBL and TDB Benefits for The DBL Center, points out an important reason to enrich DBL. “In most states that have mandatory PFL benefits, including New Jersey and California, the DBL and PFL benefits packages are comparable. There’s not this huge gap you see in New York.” New York’s DBL benefits pay a maximum of $170/week for 26 weeks. PFL, on the other hand, will be phased in over four years to ultimately pay 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage for 12 weeks.

“Brokers who want to do the right thing by their customers, and offer comparable benefits packages, will show their clients how easy it is to enrich DBL,” says Kutschera.

Just how easy IS it to sell enriched DBL? So easy, Kutschera broke it down into three simple steps for DBL Center brokers.

1. Pinpoint your customers that are the best candidates for enriched DBL.

You can only enrich DBL when a customer’s policy is up for renewal, which means not every customer can enrich DBL at the same time they add PFL to their policy. Some carriers renew all their policies in January, which means the time to contact those customers is NOW. Review your files and determine which customers are up for renewal and create a mailing list.

2. Use The DBL Center’s pre-written letter explaining the benefits of enriched DBL.
The DBL Center does all the work in this regard. We provide our brokers with a letter that lists the insured’s carrier, their current rates, and a chart on the back showing the options to enrich DBL.

Dollar for dollar, DBL is one of the most cost-effective benefits to increase coverage. And the maximum benefit of $850 a week means employees can actually live on DBL insurance if they become ill or get injured. Most employers are already taking an employee contribution for DBL coverage. For just over $5 annually, you can increase DBL coverage by $50 per week. That’s 10 times the return on their investment for employees who make a claim, on a pre-tax paycheck deduction they will barely notice. “If your employees are already paying the whole cost of DBL coverage through employee deductions, you’re giving them something more for it. Who can live on $170 in New York?” says Kutschera.

3. Let The DBL Center do the rest of the work and bind your policy for small businesses under 50 lives in New York.
Once your clients call or write back expressing interest, determine their enriched coverage levels. Let your DBL Center representative know, and, from there, we do it all. As your back-office support staff offering white-glove service at every stage of the sale, we work directly with the carriers to enrich your client’s DBL policies through a paperless process.

Did you know it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer? In addition, the most effective digital method of customer retention is email marketing. If you’re looking for generous commissions with little work on your end and no hard sales, let The DBL Center help you enrich DBL packages for your existing customers and increase your commissions today.

 


In the Winds of Change, DBL Center Brokers Prevail

History (nearly) repeats itself with the introduction of Paid Family Leave

Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project

October 29, 2012: It was a sad day for many New Yorkers as properties were swept away in Superstorm Sandy, businesses went under, and more than 8.1 million homes across the U.S. were left without electricity for a week or more.

Superstorm Sandy caused losses totaling $19 billion dollars, resulting in delayed payouts and financial hardship to the insurance agencies that paid out more than they’d earned in premiums.  Many P&C brokers struggled to survive.

Meanwhile, Zurich Insurance Company, a leading global business insurance carrier, had just left the New York State DBL market a week prior due to a number of factors. Turmoil and uncertainty plagued the industry, as New York tri-state area business owners struggled to pick up the pieces and adopt a “new normal” after Sandy.

Here we are almost exactly five years later,  and the entire U.S. is banding together to assist those suffering from the aftereffects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida.

In New York, as we write this, the wind whips outside the windows of our Long Island headquarters, and the nearby Costco parking lot is packed as Long Islanders brace for a tropical storm —which could be the first of many this ominous hurricane season.

In the disability insurance sector, changes are once again brewing that have nothing to do with Mother Nature’s wrath.  Paid Family Leave, a necessary insurance coverage that will provide employees with a living wage as they take time off to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child, care for an elderly parent, or hold down the fort while their spouse serves in the military, may burden some disability insurance carriers past their breaking point.

We don’t want to be alarmist. We only want to report the news with our analysis as we see it.

The Problems with PFL that No One Else Is Talking About
There are only a few select carriers that have committed to write PFL, which is offered as a mandatory rider to DBL coverage in New York State beginning January 1, 2018. Fortunately, those carriers are doing an excellent job of educating small business owners and HR directors about the implications of the coverage, as well as giving brokers what they need to know about the policies. DBL Center brokers have the added advantage of our industry experience and knowledge, along with access to educational webinars and live informational sessions. We’ve worked hard to make the transition to mandatory PFL coverage easy for brokers and small business owners alike.

But some challenges remain. Because PFL coverage is mandatory and written with DBL coverage, brokers will be left with fewer choices for DBL. Some carriers have already left the market, just as Zurich did five years ago. We expect many more to exit in the beginning of 2019, after the numbers come in for the first year of PFL coverage.

PFL, as it stands, is not profitable for insurance carriers. Payouts could easily total more than premiums, leaving carriers in the same position P&C brokers faced immediately following Superstorm Sandy. Some carriers will write PFL riders—because the only other choice is to leave the game altogether. But they may not offer commissions on the riders. Some carriers are recommending that brokers write enriched DBL on their existing policies to earn the commissions they expected from PFL.

Enriched DBL: The Answer to Bigger Commissions
There are a number of reasons to enrich DBL coverage right now. Not only is enriched DBL one of the more profitable products for brokers to write, it also provides customers with the best coverage for their money.

As an example, small business owners can enrich DBL coverage in $50 increments for just 44 cents every $50, up to $850 total. For an investment of just $5 a year, employees can get $50 more per week for up to 26 weeks. It doesn’t make sense not to enrich DBL. Paid Family Leave was carefully designed to provide employees with a living wage while they are out on leave. Mandatory DBL coverage only pays a maximum of $170 per week. Who can live on that in New York?

Most states that offer Paid Family Leave offer comparable benefits for disability claims. This helps reduce fraudulent claims and helps maintain employee morale by leveling the playing field and offering all employees comparable benefits if they need them.

DBL Center Brokers: Weathering the Storm
With Harvey and Irma on our minds, New Yorkers last week prepared for a storm that never came. Just like Mother Nature, the insurance industry is fickle. And, in both cases, it’s important to be prepared.

Carriers can exit at any time, for any reason, just as Zurich did in 2012. Who will be next? Brokers who align with DBL Center preferred carriers who are writing PFL riders are protecting themselves against changes in the marketplace.

Educate your customers about PFL riders before someone else does. Be their authoritative source and guide them to the right decisions, including enriching DBL so it is in line with PFL benefits.

Fortunately for brokers working with The DBL Center as their insurance wholesaler, we make it easy to write enriched DBL policies and earn greater commissions. Stay tuned, because next week we talk with our Director of DBL and TDB Benefits, Selena Kutschera, to show you just how simple it is to increase commissions with enriched DBL in three easy steps.

Meanwhile, stay safe and dry. The best protection against any storm is the right preparation. Our thoughts are with those across the country affected by this season’s hurricanes and storms.


Autumn Brings Changes, New Hires for DBL Center

Photo credit: Lucienne Mannino, Digital Mix DJ Entertainment

Autumn is approaching and, here at The DBL Center, it’s one of our favorite times of the year. Autumn on Long Island is absolutely beautiful, with so much to do. Baseball season comes to a climactic ending with the pennant race heating up and the promise of post-season play. (We don’t want to talk about the Mets, but will the Yankees make it?) Football season begins. Weekends at the wineries on the East End are a perfect way to relax with family and friends. Fall festivals bring fun for all ages.

Autumn is also the time of harvest – when hard work comes to fruition to create a bounty. This is definitely what’s happening at The DBL Center this year. Our efforts of the first three quarters combined with legislation changes have resulted in tremendous growth for our business and expanded commission opportunities for our brokers across the country —especially here in New York and New Jersey.

PFL Is Here
If you’ve been reading our blog and newsletter, you’ve no doubt heard about the changes to Paid Family Leave. NOW, this autumn, is the time, if you haven’t already started, to educate your customers about this mandatory insurance. PFL coverage is written as a rider to existing DBL policies in New York, and employers are permitted to begin withholding to pay the premiums. If you haven’t begun discussing coverage options—and suggesting enriched DBL as an additional policy upgrade—now is the time.

As part of our expanded marketing and outreach efforts, the DBL Center launched a webinar series this autumn to explain this new coverage to our brokers. We have a resource center in the works, and also recently launched a video Q&A with DBL Center President Michael Cohen discussing some surprising facts about PFL that even the most savvy brokers may not know.

The webinar, video and resource center for PFL are just the beginning. We also have plans to launch a PR and marketing campaign designed to educate New York business owners about PFL, which will help our brokers sell the coverage by creating a more knowledgeable audience.

New Hires Help DBL Center Continue to Provide Personalized Service

Our growth initiatives also extend over the bridge into New Jersey. The DBL Center recently hired two new employees to help accommodate our rapid expansion and better serve our brokers. Lori Rose joins The DBL Center to serve our New Jersey brokers as Assistant Vice President of Ancillary Lines. Lori has been in the insurance industry specializing in employee benefits for over 25 years, with expertise in Group Life, Disability, Dental and Vision. We are excited that she is bringing her expertise and passion for insurance sales and service to DBL Center brokers.

In addition, Melissa Bilka has joined The DBL Center team as Benefits Coordinator. A newcomer to the insurance industry, with a degree in Mathematics Education from Long Island University, Melissa will assist our expanding Group Ancillary Department in providing the level of white-glove service our brokers and their clients have come to expect.

DBL Center App Goes Online

The DBL Center has always been on the cutting edge of technology, and as we enter the fourth quarter of 2017, this remains true. In addition to an upgraded database that will streamline operations in-house, we’ve launched our new app that helps our brokers manage their accounts from anywhere they might be working—in the office, at home, or on the road.

Look for Even More from Your Insurance Wholesaler
As we move into what promises to be our most exciting fourth quarter in our 40-year history, we have even more in store to help our brokers with a consultative approach to insurance sales. Stay tuned to our blog and sign up for our newsletter to stay on the forefront of industry developments and learn how to expand your book of business with minimal effort.

And about those Yankees? Through our partnership with Steiner Sports, we can help you set up celebrity appearances or even reward your best customers with once-in-a-lifetime sports experiences this autumn. From PFL to home plate, we’ve got you covered.


Paid Family Leave Makes DBL Insurance “Relevant Again”

Bold statement from DBL Center President Michael Cohen leads into how brokers can grow their book of business with PFL
 

 

P&C and health brokers know that enriched DBL in New York can be a tough sell.

As a mandatory benefit, DBL is a no-brainer, but let’s face it: The commissions aren’t making anyone rich. That’s why we promote enriched DBL, as well as ancillary benefits, including vision, dental, and even life insurance as a way for brokers to expand their book of business and make more money.

But with the introduction of the Paid Family Leave Act, DBL is finally relevant again. That is to say, it’s not only making headlines everywhere in New York, it’s also become profitable. “Health brokers, life brokers, P&C brokers, even estate planners and CPAs are using PFL as a tool to broaden their book of business. And, of course, here at The DBL Center, we love it,” says Michael Cohen, DBL Center President.

Questions about PFL?

If you’re reading this, you probably know that PFL coverage, which goes into effect in New York on January 1, 2018, will be written as a rider to existing DBL policies. And that employers were allowed to begin deducting premiums as of July 1, 2017. “A lot of brokers and employers face some confusion or hesitation about the payroll deductions,” says Michael Cohen. “I’m telling people not to get hung up on the deduction, but instead think about how you are marketing PFL to grow your book. As brokers, at the end of the day, it’s all about taking advantage of these opportunities to increase profits.”

The DBL Center is taking a multi-faceted, multi-tiered strategic plan to marketing PFL which, in turn, helps their brokers. “We’re relying on our relationships with top carriers, and differentiating ourselves with educational content, including webinars and thought leadership articles. We are building an even stronger social media presence on LinkedIn, and we are leveraging the relationships I have in the entertainment industry to organize seminars and talks with celebrity tie-ins,” says Michael Cohen. “In essence, we are working hard to make the industry fun again while sharing information and promoting a very profitable – and important – product.”

Still have more questions about PFL and how to use it to grow your book of business?

DBL Center President Michael Cohen recently recorded a video with ShelterPoint that tackles many of the toughest questions about PFL coverage in New York.

Make sure to watch to the end, because you won’t believe what Michael Cohen says about how PFL will change the DBL industry —for the better. Watch the video here, and use the information to drive PFL marketing campaigns within your own brokerage.