As many of us get set to celebrate Father’s Day with cookouts, laughter, and gifts for Dad, the DBL Center family decided it would be appropriate to look back at The DBL Center’s history and, especially, reminisce about founder David Cohen.
At a recent broker appreciation event at Oheka Castle, a few guests suggested we share David’s endless font of wisdom in a blog post. They didn’t know we already had the idea in the works, but their suggestions moved the topic to the top of our list.
We went from “Hey, we should…” to “Let’s do this. Now.” You can watch the video here:
It seemed right to share this post in the week leading up to Father’s Day, as David was not just a role model for his son, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen, but also to the many brokers he worked with over four decades.
These financial tips and valuable wisdom will make you think, make you laugh, and give you a new perspective on growing your book of business in the insurance industry.
“Dave was like the Don Rickles of the insurance business. He tried to make it fun and I’m trying to continue that legacy,” Michael Cohen said, before sharing the anecdotes and adages that he’s used to pick up where David left off in growing the DBL Center into a top insurance wholesaler in the tri-state area.
A lot of people don’t know this, but my father wanted to be a dentist, which I think was probably what most Jewish parents at the time. Back in the ‘60s [they all] wanted their kids to be a dentist or a doctor.
He went the dentist route, and one day he got into a car accident on his way to Stony Brook dental school. The guy he hit was a life insurance salesman who said: “Hey, listen, it was clearly your fault. But I overheard you speaking to the cop and it sounds like you have half a brain because you’re going to Stony Brook’s dental program. I happen to be looking for an underwriter that has a salesman’s mouth, so why don’t you come work for me? I sell life insurance.”
It was that simple. And that life-changing.
After that he sold life insurance for a year until he met someone who introduced him to estate planning; a company called Alexander & Alexander that ended up becoming AON. They asked my father if he had thought about selling DBL, and that’s when he started to segue out of life insurance to get into statutory disability.
When he first knew that I would be starting [at DBL Center], his initial advice to me was: “If you think of it like a restaurant, you’re going to grab the mop and you’re going to start from the bottom before you get into the kitchen. There are different levels and you have to work your way up.”
I didn’t want people to think I was coming in like the prince of the kingdom. That was the first obstacle I had to get over: Proving myself to the organization. That was 15 years ago this July.
He always used to tell me, “Grow out like Los Angeles, not up like New York.” If you’re too top heavy and you’re in a very short and narrow city where everything is upwards and falls, you can lose a tremendous amount of revenue. Instead, you should focus on your nickels, dimes, and quarters and build your base and foundation that way.
The rule of 72, which is something we have written about in the past, is about how your money doubles every ten years. We’re trying to tell people that the statutory benefit hasn’t gone up in 30 years. But inflation has, so why don’t you enrich your DBL to mitigate and bridge that gap between DBL and paid family leave? That’s what we’ve been trying to do.
It’s all about retention, which is exactly what we are tracking in our broker dashboard. Our brokers receive email notifications twice a month letting them know which policies are potentially going to be canceled for non-pay. It’s one thing to know where you’re growing, but do you really know what you’re keeping or retaining?
It’s the small, steady accounts that build your foundations. That’s why David always said, “Grow out like L.A.” Take care of all your nickels, dimes and quarters, because they all make dollars; they all add up.
Too many people today don’t want that $15,000 dollar commission. They want the $100,000 commission. But my father taught me that all those $15,000 accounts add up to $100,000, and you should always treat a smaller account as if it’s worth a million dollars.
Work at what you’re good at. Do what you do best and don’t get outside of the box.
This is exactly why we do statutory disability in New York, New Jersey, Hawaii. My father opened up shop in Hawaii in 1986, and his biggest dilemma there was a cultural difference. He had to convince a Japanese guy to deal with a Jewish kid from Brooklyn in the ‘80s. It was a bit of an obstacle, but he overcame that.
We also do ancillary benefits. group life, long-term disability, dental and vision, that’s it. No major medical, no workers’ comp.
We stick to what we know best at DBL Center and we’ve been doing that since 1976.
by Dawn Allcot
View the full Broker Dashboard video here.
DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard app enables DBL Center’s New York-based brokers to track renewals, cancellations, revenue, and commissions on NYS DBL policies with a click.
With 250 brokers now using the Broker Dashboard, and interest from insurance carriers to partner and expand the capabilities of the cloud-based software, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen took a few minutes in his Melville, NY office to explore the history, present, and future of Broker Dashboard. He also hinted at even more advanced technology for brokers and insurance carriers on the horizon.
Where did the Broker Dashboard concept come from?
The broker dashboard evolved mainly from my father, David, Cohen, who was the founder of DBL Center. He always shared two mantras with me: “Nickels, dimes and quarters make dollars,” and “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”
After he passed away nearly two years ago, I decided to look at his tracking mechanisms with his old-school number two pencil and general ledger, take that ideology, and convert it into our own proprietary digital management system. That ultimately evolved into our broker dashboard, which we’re making available to all our sub agents across New York State.
How has the Broker Dashboard helped DBL Center?
It’s helped us in two ways. The first way has been the growth aspect of it. If I go into a broker’s office who is using the Broker Dashboard, their immediate question to me is, “Why don’t I see exhibit A or this specific policy?”
The answer is: “Well, that’s because it’s not an account we service. But if you’d like us to service that account, you can roll it over. We’ll become the servicing general agent. And you’ll then see it under your broker dashboard.”
The second way has been in helping our brokers to keep accounts and monitor their retention, which results in preserving profits for everyone, including the carriers where we are acting as not only a servicing general agent but a bill collector. Every two weeks we send out a reminder email to track their retention, so they can realize what they’re keeping. This goes back to one of my father’s mantras: “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”
In what other ways has the Broker Dashboard helped your brokers?
Tracking all their commissions. We are in a nickels and dimes business, and Paid Family Leave has emphasized that point. The Broker Dashboard helps brokers understand the status of all their policies and determines whether a policy is active or cancelled. I’m staying one step ahead of the insurance carriers by letting our brokers know their clients’ status so they can stay on top of non-pays.
Sometimes, if you lose a DBL policy, you might ultimately lose a workers’ comp policy or a major medical policy. I’m all about helping our brokers retain their book of business through us. We have thousands of brokers and we currently insure 1.7 million lives.
How many sub-producers are currently using the Broker Dashboard?
Two hundred and fifty brokers are currently using the app. It can be three users per agency, and if they want more than that we unlock it and for a nominal fee, they can have up to 50 users. But the average right now has been between three and five users per agency.
What response have you gotten from the insurance carriers about the Broker Dashboard?
Two carriers, specifically, showed interest in wanting to partner with us through doing some technological advancements to the Broker Dashboard. Those talks evolved into a software company my business partner and I started called Net Revenue Tracker (NRT).
If anybody wants to learn more about NRT, we will do a future video and blog post about how NRT works to track retention and revenue through cloud-based software.
President and CEO Michael Cohen invites top brokers to celebrate recent successes and a bright future
Long Island, home of DBL Center’s corporate office, is rich with history many residents take for granted.
Oheka Castle in Cold Spring Harbor, for instance, celebrated 100 years in 2019.
It’s been 100 years since the original owner, Otto Kahn, paid to truck dirt to the North Shore to create the highest point of Long Island. From that vantage point, he built a golf course and luxurious castle in the style of a French Chateau on Long Island’s Gold Coast.
DBL Center’s Michael Cohen chose the site for his 2019 Broker Appreciation event. The exclusive cocktail party recognized top insurance brokers, introduced DBL Center customers to the new Broker Dashboard app, and celebrated a beautiful (and long-awaited) spring day on Long Island’s North Shore.
DBL Center, like Oheka Castle, is a Long Island success story, making the location especially suitable to celebrate the success of the insurance wholesaler, now in its 43rd year, and its growing network of insurance brokers.
With the sun shining and temperatures in the 70s, the event was held outdoors on a spacious terrace adjacent to the castle’s restaurant and bar. Although largely focused on Long Island insurance agents, brokers came from as far as Westchester to enjoy the ambiance, eat and drink together.
Local artist John Herz, recently featured in Newsday, displayed his artwork, including striking full-color depictions of big cats from his African safari and numerous framed prints.
At the centerpiece of his display was a pencil drawing of DBL Center Founder David Cohen, who once called Herz “the Michelangelo of the Number Two Pencil.”
Several attendees commented that the senior Cohen was looking over the event with pride at how much his son, Michael Cohen, has evolved and advanced the family-owned business in just a few short years.
The event included long-time DBL Center brokers and newcomers to the DBL Center family. Some had passing familiarity with the new Broker Dashboard app, while others had been using it for several months to streamline managing DBL accounts.
This was not a lunch-and-learn event or a seminar. The emphasis was on networking and celebration. “I considered doing a Broker Dashboard demo, but that would have meant holding the event inside,” Michael Cohen said. “Instead, we can be outdoors enjoying the weather and the scenery. This is really just an event to appreciate my brokers and say thank you for their support and loyalty.”
“This is probably the best insurance event I’ve been to in a while. Mike always takes care of his customers and their clients, and his knowledge of the business is amazing,” said Marc Salerno, a long-time client of DBL Center and account executive for Salerno Brokerage Corp in Syosset. “I feel very appreciated.”
Many other brokers echoed Salerno’s sentiments regarding the service the DBL Center team provides, making the event one of mutual appreciation.
“The DBL Center is second-to-none when it comes to the services they provide,” said Jason Cavallo of The Hotaling Group, a New York-based independent insurance firm with a national presence. “They assist in ways no other company could ever match, let alone surpass. They’re the best.”
Brokers new to the DBL Center family also touted the advantages of working with the insurance wholesaler to streamline operations and get the most out of DBL and PFL policies.
“As a property & casualty broker, billing the DBL and PFL policies is cumbersome, and it’s a smaller line-item. It’s helpful to have an expert who wants to get in the weeds with us and make sure that whole process is streamlined,” said Matt Avellino from AC Risk Management in Melville, NY. “We believe in the team, we believe in the staff, and we’re off to a great start in the beginning of this soon-to-be longstanding relationship with Michael and DBL Center.”
While this event was focused on brokers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, The DBL Center hosts quarterly events across the New York tri-state area, including celebrations at prestigious New York City venues. “We’ve gotten great feedback about this event,” said Cohen. “Our next one will be held this summer in New Jersey as we increase our focus on TDB.”
Jason Cavallo of The Hotaling Group and DBL Center’s Michael Cohen
(l-r) Donna Cody, Avanti Associates; Lori Rose, DBL Center; Marc Salerno, Salerno Insurance; Annette Sperandio, DBL Center; Thomas Tubridy, Principal Life Insurance; Chris Metzger, Blair Insurance Agency
Financial stress affects every aspect of an employees’ life, including their work performance. When employees feel as if they aren’t prepared if illness or injury strikes, their health, and workplace productivity suffers. Employees spend an average of 13 hours per month worrying about money while they’re at work, according to a study by Mercer.
In a recent survey, finance website Bankrate discovered that 60% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $1,000 surprise expense. But even middle managers and top talent in the New York Tri-state are not immune to the fear of bankruptcy or a personal financial crisis should an illness or injury occur.
Insurance brokers are uniquely equipped to solve this pain point for business owners, HR departments, and employees. At the same time, successfully conveying the advantages of a robust benefits package to your customers can help you expand your book of business and increase commissions with existing customers.
A robust ancillary benefits package can help eliminate financial stress for employees, which, in turn, can improve their productivity, reduce sick days, and enhance their creativity and problem-solving abilities.
Ultimately, the right benefits can help create better employees.
Finances, health, and work performance are intrinsically linked. Enriched DBL, along with ancillary benefits, can give New York workers peace-of-mind, knowing they have a safety net in place if they become ill, injured, or even need expensive emergency dental care.
New York State did the right thing for families with a PFL policy that is, currently, the best in the nation. Now it’s in the best interests of business owners to enhance their other benefits packages to make sure all employees have access to the resources they need to help them stay productive as well.
A robust ancillary benefits package, including vision, and dental benefits, can help recruit and retain employees while reducing overall living costs for employees to reduce their financial stress. It can also reduce an employer’s bottom line as an investment in ancillary benefits as part of a package that includes enriched DBL often costs less than employees’ raises.
In fact, many ancillary benefits are voluntary and employee-funded and employers can choose to have employees cover part or all of the premium. Employees have the option to dramatically reduce their out-of-pocket costs on necessary expenses using pre-tax dollars, and employers pay nothing.
For brokers, this makes ancillary benefits an easy sell. And, with DBL Center as your back office staff, benefits administration is easy, too.
What benefits should your customers include in their ancillary benefits packages?
Dental and vision are a good start, offering tremendous bang for the buck for most employees.
The Case for Dental and Vision Coverage
As you create an ancillary benefits package for your customers, consider these statistics about eye care in the U.S.:
If more than one person in the family needs vision correction and the costs add up. Yet only 35% of employers offer vision coverage. It’s easy to see how your customers can stand out by offering voluntary vision benefits.
Similarly, the average family of four could spend $2,162 on dental care per year without insurance. Nearly 60% of Americans don’t visit the dentist often enough due to the cost, according to some sources.
However, 77% of Americans do have dental coverage, with 90% of those plans offered by employers. It’s important to offer dental coverage to keep pace with your competitors and retain talent.
Especially as healthcare costs continue to rise, ancillary benefits can play an important role in reducing out-of-pocket costs for employees and employers, alike. And reducing employees’ financial stress can help businesses perform better, with more active and engaged workers.
Brokers should speak to HR directors about developing a robust benefits package that can help keep employees happy, healthy, and engaged.
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If you’re a New York insurance broker, you could be subject to new regulations for protecting your customers’ digital data under the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Regulations.
Fortunately, insurance brokers with fewer than 10 employees, less than $10 million in year-end total assets, or less than $5 million in gross annual revenue are not subject to the regulations, which reached their final transition phase on March 1, 2019.
In addition to the new cybersecurity regulations for larger New York brokers, all insurance brokers who accept digital payments of any kind must follow applicable Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards, established by the PCI Security Standards Council. The organization was founded to develop, enhance, disseminate, and assist with the understanding of security standards for payment account security.
Whatever the size of your brokerage, following basic cybersecurity measures can help you build the trust of your customers, and prevent your company from financial loss and loss of business if there is a data breach.
In short, keeping your customers’ data safe is a significant responsibility that insurance brokers shouldn’t take lightly. If you have questions about cybersecurity in your organization, it’s best to speak with a professional who can help your company undergo a security audit, spot weaknesses in your network and overall IT operations, and help you establish cybersecurity best practices.
These three steps can be a good start.
If you accept digital payments from your customers, you can complete a Self-Assessment Questionnaire to determine if you meet PCI Data Security Standard requirements. Checking for things like encryption software and up-to-date firewalls can give you an idea of whether or not your brokerage is in PCI compliance.
“If you’re accepting credit cards, debit or digital payments, you must be in compliance with up-to-date firewalls and other security standards to protect your customer data,” says Sunny Naqvi, President of CMIT Solutions of Mid-Suffolk, the award-winning technology firm that helps keep The DBL Center’s data safe.
It’s important to note that the PCI self-assessment only applies to your customers’ payment data, not other important customer information stored on your server. It is also not a complete measure of your organization’s security. PCI controls should continue to be implemented as part of your company’s overall security strategy.
A security audit, performed by IT and networking professionals, ensures that your company is following cybersecurity best practices. Your auditors should be able to identify vulnerabilities in your network that could lead to a breach and offer a plan of action to fix those security risks.
Naqvi notes that firewalls and anti-virus software should all be up-to-date, and traffic on your network should be limited to only necessary users. Multiple security layers can ensure employees can access the documents they need while keeping customer data secure.
Ultimately, your cybersecurity tools are only as strong as the people using your network.
“Whenever you have to tighten the security, you have to take into account the weakest link in the security chain, which is the human factor,” says Ahmad Mirza, network engineer at CMIT Solutions.
“Training employees how to avoid phishing emails, how to recognize the latest cybersecurity scams, and how to protect their passwords should all be covered as part of cybersecurity best practices,” Mirza says.
He recommends password manager applications to make it easy to set secure, hard-to-crack passwords and then login to all your applications with a single key.
Just be sure to choose a password manager you can trust, with multi-key encryption and multi-factor authentication. “Your passwords should be strong,” Mirza says, “but however you’re storing your passwords should be even stronger.”
Paid Family Leave has changed the modern workplace for many New York businesses. In a blink, New York companies became more family-friendly and flexible, setting standards with one of the most generous PFL policies in the country.
But what about employees left behind while their co-workers took leave to bond with a newborn or care for an ill, aging, or disabled family member?
As a New York broker, you have a unique opportunity to help your clients improve retention and company morale by addressing the demographic that is least likely to need family leave benefits but may be left behind to pick up the slack for employees on leave.
For companies who already had a generous maternity policy in place, it is probably business as usual. But companies who have never provided maternity leave for employees may have faced some challenges through the first year of PFL, which insurance brokers can help them address.
“New York businesses should explore company operations and their existing employee benefits packages to develop a plan to help keep all employees, not just those who may be eligible for PFL, engaged and happy with what the company offers,” says DBL Center President Michael Cohen.
Who’s Covering the Job Duties of Employees on PFL?
When an employee informs announces they will be taking PFL – or when managers first discover that an employee or their spouse is expecting a baby – it’s time to develop a contingency plan for those who will be picking up the slack.
Planning ahead is crucial so employees don’t feel put upon. In most cases with PFL coverage – as opposed to DBL which is available when an employee is injured or ill – employers have plenty of warning. They may not know the exact date a worker will go on leave. But the expectant parent can begin training their co-workers two-to-three months before the expected due date or adoption day to minimize frustration and ensure the employees understand how their new role will mesh with their existing duties.
Consider Who’s Using PFL – And Who Isn’t
Last year, 76.7% of people who used PFL through DBL carrier Shelterpoint took leave to care for a newborn baby or newly adopted child. Another 23.2% used it to care for a disabled, ill, or aging family member, and 0.1% used it to hold down the fort while a military spouse was deployed.
Now, let’s look at who is less likely to take PFL benefits. In general, baby boomers, millennial or GenX couples not planning to have children, and (for now) most GenZ employees just entering the workforce won’t have any need for PFL.
While Baby Boomers and child-free couples may not seem like a large percentage of the workplace, let’s consider some recent statistics:
• People aged 55+ took 1.4 million of the 2.9 million new jobs in 2018
• 39.2% of Americans ages 55-and-up were working in 2018
• 65.5% of 55- to 64-year-olds are still in the workforce, and 19.6 percent of 65+ are still working, too
• Boomers and the Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1945) made up 27% of the workforce in 2017, according to PEW Research
Boomers possess massive amounts of knowledge and experience in the workplace. Because of that knowledge and experience, they are well-equipped to help pick up the slack when their co-workers take PFL. “It’s important to make employees feel appreciated for their extra work, and there are many ways to do this,” Cohen says. “Enriching mandatory DBL can give employers the most bang for their buck and provide employees with an important benefit that will give them peace-of-mind if they become ill or injured.”
Enrich NYS DBL Coverage
The first step is for brokers to help customers examine their existing employee benefits packages. Current mandatory NY State DBL coverage only gives employees a maximum of $170 per week for 26 weeks. Very few people can live on that in New York, especially in the New York metro area.
Employers can enrich DBL coverage to pay up to 50% of an employee’s salary up to $850 per week up to 26 weeks. This puts DBL coverage on pace with PFL. In fact, enriched DBL can exceed current PFL pay-outs, which max out at 55% of an employee’s average weekly salary for 8 weeks, with a maximum benefit of $746.41 per week.
Your customers can also add Hospital Cash indemnity insurance through Shelterpoint to give hospitalized employees who are collecting DBL an additional $165 per day ($240 in NY metro areas) with no cap for the number of continuous days of coverage. Patients staying in Skilled Nursing Facilities receive the same benefit level, limited to a stay of 5 consecutive days.
“Compared to neighboring New Jersey, New York’s statutory disability benefits package is lacking,” Cohen says. “Enriching DBL benefits has always been a good idea to help attract top talent and increase retention. In light of PFL, it’s more important than ever before. It’s up to brokers to educate employers, creating a win-win situation, increasing commissions for brokers while creating happier customers.”
The DBL Center is always on the lookout for creative tools to help you address your clients’ pain points when it comes to essential insurance coverage. While we specialize in DBL coverage and other temporary disability benefits, we know that many of our brokers also deal with major medical.
Even if you don’t, P&C brokers are in a unique position to help their clients address the painful medical renewals they face every year, as coverage levels decrease and premiums rise. In fact, the solution may be easier than you think, and it’s right in the wheelhouse of P&C brokers.
DBL Center President and CEO Michael S. Cohen sat down with Simon Klarides, Director of Business Development at ShelterPoint Life1 to answer our questions on how ShelterPoint Life’s recently updated Hospital Cash program fits in the picture – and to help you sell this commissionable coverage.
Michael S. Cohen: Simon, why do you think Hospital Cash indemnity insurance is a good option?
Simon Klarides: Let’s face it: Looks like high deductible medical plans are here to stay and they are placing more and more of a financial burden on the employees. Although Supplemental Medical Gap policies are not available as a solution in New York, simple, indemnity-based Hospital Cash insurance may present an option. In fact, we’ve configured our Hospital Cash2 product so that you don’t have to go through the full, traditional underwriting process: an alternative, much more streamlined way to get it is by selling it with DBL.
That sounds intriguing, but before we go into those mechanics, can you explain what exactly Hospital Cash indemnity insurance is?
Sure. Hospital Cash pays a fixed amount per day while confined to the hospital for at least 24 hours. This helps with expenses that result– such as copays and deductibles. I remember a Business Insurance article stating that 43 percent of adults said their deductible is difficult or impossible to afford.3
Anyway, our Hospital Cash benefits are paid for an unlimited continuous number of days per hospital stay, and they are paid independently from any other insurance. The nice thing is that benefits are paid directly to covered individuals and can be used however they choose, whether to help with medical bills or everyday expenses like groceries or the phone bill. And what’s even better – our plans cover not only the employee but the whole family!
So how much does Hospital Cash indemnity insurance pay?
New York State regulates the maximum daily benefit by region. The maximum for NY metro areas is $240 per day and $165 per day everywhere else in New York.4 As I mentioned before, there’s no cap for the number of continuous days per hospital stay. Skilled Nursing Facility stays are covered at the same benefit level but are limited to a maximum of 5 consecutive days.
Let’s circle back to how Hospital Cash indemnity insurance can be sold by brokers and in conjunction with DBL. Can you explain, Simon?
Yes! The easiest way of giving clients this coverage is by getting it at time of DBL application. We’ve created a simplified version as part of our BaseLine suite of products that is issued on a non-roster basis with flat per-capita rates – just by checking a box. This means, no enrollments are required while all active employees and their family members are automatically covered.
While Hospital Cash may certainly benefit groups regardless of how robust their medical coverage is, we typically see the sweet spot for this coverage with micro groups that have minimal medical coverage with high deductibles, if any coverage at all. Many times, these types of groups don’t have a benefit broker at all and look to their business insurance broker for guidance. That’s where you can differentiate your approach as a P&C broker to be more consultative and provide extra value to your clients, all while making more commission.
That’s very insightful. Now, for brokers who are looking to sell Hospital Cash, what if their clients already have DBL, whether through ShelterPoint or not?
The BaseLine version of Hospital Cash can be added at time of DBL renewal for existing ShelterPoint customers, and I know your team, Mike, can help with that. For groups with DBL elsewhere or groups that want customized benefits and riders, we still offer Hospital Cash on a traditionally underwritten basis.
Hospital Cash indemnity insurance will help differentiate yourself from other brokers. Call us here at The DBL Center to add this coverage for your existing clients or chat with us about options how to assure that this gets added to your future cases.
Learn more about ShelterPoint Life’s Hospital Cash here.
1 ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, a NY-domiciled insurance carrier with principal office in Garden City, NY
2 BaseLine version of Hospital Cash policy available in NY only and underwritten by: ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, Form# SPL GHC115 P NY. The policy described in this post provides limited hospital cash benefits only. It does not provide basic hospital, basic medical or major medical insurance as defined by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Lack of major medical coverage (or other minimum essential coverage) may result in an additional payment with your taxes. Policy provisions, conditions, and exclusions apply. Download this BaseLine Hospital Cash brochure for more information on the BaseLine (non-roster) version. Download this brochure for details and state availability of the FlexLine (traditionally underwritten) Hospital Cash version; this version is available in and underwritten by ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company in NY (SPL GHC115 P NY) and MI; ShelterPoint Insurance Company (licensed in 48 jurisdictions, not including NY) in all other available states outside NY and MI.
3 Livingston, Shelby. Business Insurance 11/25/15 and Commonwealth Fund & Kaiser Foundation, 2017
4 Metro New York area: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Manhattan, Nassau, Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. All other New York counties are considered non-Metro.
Photo by RawPixel.com from Pexels
By David Clausen, Coastal Insurance
If you’re like most P&C brokers, NYS DBL and NJ TDB insurance aren’t your only niches. Most brokers sell a variety of lines, whether it’s healthcare, business insurance, or personal lines of coverage like home insurance.
But you may not be thinking of ways to cross-sell your lines to expand your book of business and increase your commissions without cold calls or prospecting for new clients.
When you get in the habit of consultative selling, which includes getting to know your customers, their businesses, and additional insurance needs they may have, you’ll discover avenues to increased profits.
Mandatory coverage like workers’ compensation and NYS DBL coverage, along with enriched DBL, provide excellent upsell opportunities. Many business owners don’t realize they need this coverage even if they only have a few employees. Even if they know about statutory DBL coverage, they may not recognize the opportunities available with enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.
As their trusted insurance broker, you can help make sure they are protected from nearly any contingency. Chances are, you are already taking some of these steps. But are you closing the deal?
These tips, garnered from years of experience selling home insurance and other personal and business lines to Long Island-based customers, can help you expand your book of business.
1. Look for opportunities to upsell complementary insurance lines by getting to know your customers.
In Coastal’s niche market of home insurance for high-net-worth homeowners, many of our best clients also own their own businesses. This means they need workers’ compensation insurance and statutory disability coverage in New York State.
Ask your customers, “Who is currently writing your statutory DBL coverage?” to uncover opportunities.
With the introduction of Paid Family Leave as a rider to DBL, they might be looking to shop their policy around, since some carriers have stopped providing DBL.
2. Don’t forget about your customers who hire domestic employees.
Most Coastal customers who aren’t business owners are c-level executives, celebrities, and other high-net-worth individuals who may hire domestic employees to help run their households. A lot of people don’t know that workers’ compensation and NYS DBL coverage is mandatory in New York for full-time domestic employees or for domestic employees who live in your home, even if they don’t work a full 40-hour week.
This includes nannies, au pairs, housekeepers, gardeners, chefs, drivers, personal assistants, and anyone else who works for an individual. Even if people may treat their nannies or housekeepers like family, the State of New York classifies them as domestic workers or residence employees – and they need to be insured as such.
There can be hefty fines for failing to provide the proper insurance coverage for domestic workers, not to mention the liability if an employee gets hurts on the job. Brokers are doing a service to their customers by letting them know what employee coverage is required.
As with any job, providing ancillary benefits to domestic workers can also help improve retention rates and reduce sick time.
3. Discuss the potential for ancillary benefits.
Whether your customers are business owners seeking to hire the best employees, or individuals with a team of domestic help, they may not have considered ancillary benefits as a low-cost way to recruit and retain employees.
Benefits like Group Life, vision, and dental coverage are still highly sought after by workers. In a Harvard Business Review study, 88 percent of employees said they would consider accepting a job with a lower salary if the position had better health, dental, and vision benefits than the job with the higher pay.
Explore these possibilities with your customers, and they will look to you as a trusted business resource rather than just someone selling insurance products.
4. Educate your customers about enriched DBL.
NYS DBL coverage provides a bare minimum to help an employee who is ill or injured (while not on the job). DBL pays out just 50 percent of an employee’s salary up to $170 per week for 26 weeks.
Enriched DBL is a powerful retention tool for middle managers who exceed the maximum payout but may not have private disability insurance or a savings account to help get them through a medical emergency.
With the introduction of Paid Family Leave as a rider to DBL coverage in New York, many employers are looking to enrich DBL benefits in order to provide coverage comparable to PFL for employees who don’t have, or plan to have, families or may want a robust benefits package for themselves.
PFL was the big news in the insurance industry in 2018, but many people still aren’t aware of the policy changes. Stay on the forefront, educate your customers, and they will trust you to write their policies for personal and business insurance.
5. Offer the best rates by bundling coverage.
When you take advantage of The DBL Center’s carrier relationships, you can bundle lines to provide your customers with the best rates for DBL, ancillary benefits, and more.
Why would they go to any other broker if you’ve positioned yourself as a one-stop-shop for their business and personal lines of insurance coverage?
Top New York insurance wholesaler announces the acquisition of DBL Advantage Etc. Ltd
Effectively immediately on January 1, 2019, the DBL Center Ltd. has acquired DBL Advantage Etc. Ltd., a New York-based licensed General Agency specializing in NYS DBL, Paid Family Leave, NJ TDB and group ancillary benefits. The synergy between the two company’s insurance lines, as well as the mutual carriers and industry partnerships developed by both firms over several decades, made the acquisition the next logical step in The DBL Center’s growth.
DBL Center: Celebrating a Rich History and a Strong Future
The DBL Center was founded in 1976 by David J. Cohen. Now under the guidance and leadership of Michael Cohen, the company is one of the largest insurance wholesalers in the New York Tri-state area. In 2014, The DBL Center Ltd. acquired Combined DBL, a Long Island-based General Agency, to expand its ability to serve customers in the NJ TDB, NYS DBL, and group ancillary markets.
In addition to these noteworthy acquisitions, the past decade has brought unprecedented growth, market expansion, and new technologies to the company. The acquisition of DBL Advantage is a testament to, and a direct result of, DBL Center’s rapid expansion and market position.
How the Acquisition Will Affect NJ TDB and NYS DBL Brokers
Expanding The DBL Center’s market share and increasing the general agency’s leverage in the marketplace, the acquisition provides outstanding benefits to new and existing DBL Center brokers. The acquisition promises to strengthen the position of The DBL Center and its brokers in the statutory disability, PFL, NJTDB, and group ancillary markets, resulting in lower rates, higher commissions, and more options.
“The combination of premium between DBL Advantage and the DBL Center enables the DBL Center to provide brokers with higher compensation on new DBL and PFL business placed after the first of the year and moving on through 2019,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen.
“New brokers that came to us as part of the acquisition will enjoy additional office staff to answer all their questions and to provide the full, white-glove back-office support DBL Center is known for,” Cohen says. “With generous commissions, multi-line discounts, and the most advanced technology available to P&C brokers, we have no doubt that our newest customers will view the acquisition as a favorable transition, and we welcome DBL Advantage brokers to the DBL Center family.”
White-Glove Support and the Latest Technology
The DBL Center will provide new customers with a designated account manager for over- and under-50 employee cases, as well as sales representatives to assist in the cross-selling of ancillary product lines.
“Working with DBL Center, brokers will discover multiple ways to round out their book of business and earn additional compensation through the sale of Group Life / AD&D coverage, group long-term disability, dental, and vision benefits,” Cohen says.
In addition, new brokers will gain free access to the DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard, a cloud-based app that enables brokers to track accounts and renewals, receive monthly reports on cancellations and reinstatements, and receive an earnings report on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
With the white-glove service brokers have come to expect for more than 40 years, along with the latest technology and innovative solutions to the challenges today’s NJ TDB and NYS DBL brokers face, DBL Center is ready to move to the next phase of growth.
“To say we are excited about the future is an understatement,” Cohen says. “As the NYS DBL and NJ TDB markets change and evolve, The DBL Center keeps pace, providing our brokers with all the support they need to thrive.”
The DBL Center had an exceptionally successful year and celebrated the holidays in exceptional style. In what has become a DBL Center tradition, DBL Center family, staff, contractors, colleagues and friends gathered in the Founder’s Room, the VIP room of Huntington’s historic Paramount Theater, a 1,500-seat venue that regularly hosts A-list bands and comedic acts.
The Founder’s Room below the theater is themed out in the décor of a 1920s speakeasy, creating an upscale yet laidback environment for guests to enjoy drinks, music and deliciously creative hors d’oeuvres.
DBL Center guests talked about business, their families, and their plans for the holidays to the backdrop of holiday tunes and big band era hits played by saxophonist Danny Bascher. Bascher, along with DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen, is a member of New York City’s exclusive Friar’s Club.
Michael Cohen Takes the Founder’s Room Stage
Cohen took the mic at one point for a short, yet heartfelt speech. Cohen channeled his talents as a stand-up comic to evoke laughs from the audience. The tone of the night was light and casual. His speech exemplified the true family spirit of the DBL Center and its staff. Mike mentioned the company’s continued success in 2018, the new office space in Melville, and a future acquisition to take place by the end of the year.
After the party, he elaborated on The DBL Center’s many successes in 2018 and what makes the insurance wholesaler such a special place to work.
“This is a team of people who really enjoy working together,” Cohen observed. “We work hard, and we also have a lot of fun. My in-office staff is top-notch, best in the business. As we expertly handled the PFL roll-out, we continued to view every challenge as an opportunity and grow the business. The team accomplished great things in 2018 and I know our founder David Cohen would be proud.”
He continued, “I also have a team of independent contractors who are the best in their field, helping to keep DBL Center’s technology systems running and to guide our marketing. We are always trying to stay two steps ahead in these areas, and 2019 will bring continued evolution, innovation, and outreach.”
As We Enter 2019, We Give Our Thanks to DBL Center Carriers and Brokers
DBL Center carriers, too, warrant recognition this time of year. “The carrier relationships we have built allow us many opportunities, from the best pricing and product options for our brokers to cross-marketing to expand our presence,” Cohen says.
Finally, it is the DBL Center’s customers, top brokers across the New York Tri-state area and beyond, who deserve thanks in the holiday season and throughout the year.
“Every DBL Center broker has their own strengths and areas of expertise. We have highlighted some in our new Broker’s Spotlight columns this year,” Cohen says. “As we grow and expand our family of brokers through sales and acquisitions in 2019, we are excited to continue providing exemplary levels of service to all our customers, new and existing and to get to know all our brokers even better. Our success is built on the relationships we nurture and the support we provide. That business philosophy will only continue to grow in the new year.”
See a clip of Danny Bascher as he performs live at The Founder’s Room…
The DBL Center wishes you the happiest of holidays, from our family to yours.