Privatize NJ Temporary Disability Insurance: As Easy as 1-2-3


Have your customers privatized NJ temporary disability insurance for potential cost savings and superior customer service?

As we reported in October 2018, the State of New Jersey waived the signature requirement for business owners to obtain privatized New Jersey TDB coverage. This opened the door for brokers to write privatized NJ temporary disability insurance to provide customers with:

  • Potentially lower rates when bundled with other coverage
  • Superior customer service from a private carrier
  • Faster payouts, choice of payment methods
  • Choice of carriers
  • Easier claims process
  • Less red tape

By law, premiums must be the same or lower than NJ temporary disability insurance written through the state. At the same time, benefits packages for New Jersey TDB must be the same as – or better – than state benefits.

State Increases Premiums for NJ Temporary Disability Insurance

New Jersey has always had a robust disability benefits package. In January 2020, New Jersey TDB payouts increased to 66.67% of a worker’s average weekly salary, up to $667 per week through June 30, 2020.

As of July 1, 2020, the benefit grows to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary, capped at $881 per week.

With these benefit increases come a change in premium payments, too.

Employees now contribute .26% on the first $134,900 of earnings, with a maximum annual contribution of $350.74. Employers have a different taxable wage base than employees. Employers contribute based on employees’ earnings, with a cap of $35,000.

Is It Time for Business Owners to Privatize New Jersey TDB?

If your customers have not privatized New Jersey TDB yet, now’s the time. The next deadline to shift policies from New Jersey TDB written by the state to a private plan takes place June 15, 2020.

We can make it easier than ever for you to help your clients privatize New Jersey TDB – and grow your book of business with a statutory benefit with automatic renewals.

Just follow this simple, three-step process.

1. Instruct your customers to obtain form AC-174.

Brokers can no longer download the AC-174 form for their customers, and your insurance wholesaler also can’t provide it for you. Employers first must visit the New Jersey Department of Labor website and fill out the Employer Application.

This form replaces the previous TWES form. If your customer has already registered, they can go here to log in. From either location, they can download the AC-174 form and fill it out.

The census can help you obtain an accurate quote so there are no surprises for your customer when premiums are due.

2. Provide the AC-174 to DBL Center so we can shop policies through our network of top-rated carriers.

The DBL Center does all the work for you from here. We will shop policies and leverage our industry relationships and volume to find the lowest premiums. You may find your customers can save even more by bundling New Jersey TDB with ancillary benefits like vision, dental, and life insurance.

3. Write the policy and track your commissions through our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker.

Once we’ve secured the best coverage and lowest rates we can find for your clients, it will be an easy sell. After all, what business owner would want to pay more through the state and miss out on concierge-level service and faster payouts?

New Yorkers have benefited from private statutory benefits for years. It’s time New Jersey business owners enjoy the same flexibility and superior service they can get from The DBL Center and our dedicated New Jersey rep and brokers.

Let us help you write the policies for your New Jersey clients. You’ll gain access to our proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, where you can track your commissions, renewals, and pending cancellations to improve customer retention. You’ll be able to view your book of business at a glance and access carrier portals with a click.

The world seems to be changing here in the Northeast U.S. every day. The service you receive from The DBL Center is one thing you can always count on.


Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Payment Deadline Approaches

Members of the sandwich generation benefit from the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical LEave Act
Earlier this year, Massachusetts introduced the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) for W-2 employees as well as some 1099 independent contractors. Benefits won’t go into effect until 2021, but employers can begin paying into the plan now.

July 1, 2020 marks the first deadline for payments.

As a shared benefit, MA Family Medical Leave Act premium costs are split between the employer and employees or contractors. Organizations with fewer than 25 employees can offer the plan to their workers as a voluntary, employee-funded benefit.

How Much Do Employers Need to Pay?

The DBL Center can write FMLA policies independent of other lines, so you can privatize policies under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act affordably and provide your customers high levels of service.

With the first MA PFML payments coming up, your customers may wonder how much they owe for their plan, whether it’s funded by the state of Massachusetts or written privately.

Your premiums are based on the total number of your lives in your company, which includes all W-2 employees:

    Full-time
    Part-time
    Seasonal

You do not need to count 1099 contractors, as they are responsible to write their own policies and pay the full 0.75% contribution.

When clients provide you with the active employee count and wages earned, they should report figures for the prior 3-month period. Contributions made by July 1, 2020 should include the total headcount from April, May, and June.

What About Furloughed Workers?

As COVID-19, the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to strike across the U.S., many employers have laid off or furloughed workers. If furloughed employees or workers on unemployment have earned at least $4,700 in the prior 12 months before filing, they may be eligible to file a PFML claim in January if they meet all other requirements.

In most cases, employers would still pay into benefits packages for furloughed employees, so these workers would count toward the organization’s number of active lives. However, unemployed workers would not.

During the pandemic, many organizations laid off employees and then brought them back to meet the June 1 deadline for loan forgiveness on a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan issued as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Employees re-hired by June 1 would need to be counted as part of Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act premium payments.

Need Help Calculating Premiums for the Paid Family Medical Leave Act Coverage in Mass?

With so many changes going on for business owners right now, calculating Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act premiums can be complicated. It depends on employers’ total lives for the past three months. These numbers may have varied wildly as employees were furloughed or laid off and then brought back as Massachusetts begins its phased reopening this week.

The DBL Center works with top Massachusetts statutory insurance carriers to provide the best service you’ll find. We’ll help you deliver the best rates and superior service to your customers with privatized Massachusetts PFML insurance policies.

Contact The DBL Center today.


Capture, Track, Improve: New Video Lets Brokers Test Drive the Broker Dashboard

Watch the video and then read on to learn even more about how our proprietary Broker Dashboard can help you capture data about your book of business, track policies and cancellations, and improve your net revenue.

“It’s not about what you earn. It’s about what you keep.” Since the early days of The DBL Center, this philosophy has been the company’s mantra. From founder David Cohen’s handwritten ledger to our state-of-the-art Broker Dashboard, DBL Center provides its brokers with the tools, technology, and service they need to retain more clients.

Times are challenging right now for businesses of all sizes. As small businesses struggle and close, we wonder how many will open their doors again once the pandemic is over. It’s crucial, right now, especially, for brokers to closely track their book of business, including renewals, cancellations, and pending non-pays.

The Broker Dashboard makes it easy.

The video above highlights the Broker Dashboard’s features that enable our licensed insurance agents to track new policies, policies that have lapsed, and overall retention, along with real time calculations of annualized premiums, and total commissions paid.

Having all this information in one easy-to-use, cloud-based app can help brokers manage their accounts – from wherever they might be working.

Let’s review some of the Broker Dashboard features that can help brokers keep more of what they earn and significantly improve their returns – making more in less time than ever before. Because we all know it costs more to sign a new customer than to retain one you already have.

1. Track cancellations.

As small businesses close their doors, it’s important for brokers to track the reason for cancellations and non-pays. Brokers receive emails every two weeks that list policies that are pending non-pay, so you can reach out and make sure the policy doesn’t lapse.

The Broker Dashboard also shows you the reason for the cancellation. You can even sort cancellations based on the size of the account, so you can focus on small businesses who may be struggling and help them find solutions to pay their bills. Nickels, dimes, and quarters make dollars. By tracking your clients through Broker Dashboard, you’ll be in a position to help keep their policies in force… which is good business for everyone.

2. Track new policies.

How much new business are you writing? Are you meeting your agency’s goals for growth?

The Broker Dashboard lets you track countless policyholders and up to date head count giving you real time eligibility, so you can see how much volume you have – from your biggest client to the smallest.

3. Track commissions.

Bottom line: How much are you making? The DBL Center’ proprietary Broker Dashboard shows you how much commission you’ve received across any selected time frame – for the month, the quarter, or the year broken down by product. This is the single-most important piece of information you need to gauge the overall health of your business. These net revenue tracking capabilities, alone, make Broker Dashboard an indispensable tool for your business.

4. Get direct access to preferred carrier websites.

The Broker Dashboard is more than just your net revenue and policy tracker. It is also your one-click portal to preferred carrier websites. Download claim forms and other documents and access important information from any internet-enabled device, regardless of the carrier’s business hours or availability of team members.

In today’s remote working world, business never stops. Broker Dashboard is there whenever you need it.

5. Contact DBL Center directly through the Dashboard.

Have a problem or question? Need to speak to your DBl Center representative? Want to learn more about a specific Broker Dashboard feature? Click the “report an issue” button and someone from The DBL Center will get back to you to help you get the most from your Broker Dashboard app.

There’s never been a greater need for cloud-based tools enabling DBL Center brokers to work from anywhere, at any time.

If you aren’t already using your Broker Dashboard, or would like to learn more about how it can help you track your business in real time, contact us today to schedule a remote WebEx demo.


Federal “Families First Act” Should Relieve Pressure on PFL Claims Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

In an attempt to keep the economy moving and provide Americans with the financial relief they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal government has introduced the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

Beginning April 2, this act provides emergency paid sick leave benefits to employees unable to work for a variety of reasons. Employees may be eligible for paid leave if they are unable to work because they are:

  • In quarantine or isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and in quarantine
  • Caring for someone in quarantine or isolation as a result of COVID-19
  • Have children in schools or daycare that have closed because of the pandemic

Employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide two weeks’ worth of paid sick leave. Employers will receive tax credits to offset these costs, hopefully minimizing the financial impact on their business.

Employees are also entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick time at 2/3 the regular rate of pay, and an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave if the employee is unable to work because they need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s important to note that this paid leave coverage is from the federal government and is not related to NYS PFL.

The legislation also ensures that employees do not have to use any other paid time off in lieu of federal paid leave benefits. Employers also cannot mandate that employees find replacement workers.

NYS PFL Claims in Light of Coronavirus Pandemic

Until April 2 when Families First goes into action, New York State has stepped in to help employees with COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave, compensated in many cases through New York State DBL and PFL benefits. To help employees stay afloat during this challenging time, the state has waived the five-day waiting period before PFL benefits kick in.

Employers with fewer than 10 workers and less than $1 million in annual net income will still rely on DBL and PFL benefits for their employees, paid concurrently for a combined $2,884.62.

Those with 10 or fewer employees but net revenue exceeding $1 million, or employers with 11 to 99 employees must provide workers with at least 5 days paid sick leave, not counting any PTO they have accrued in the past. After that, employees can make a concurrent PFL / DBL claim for paid leave from Day 6 onward.

Businesses with 100+ employees and public employers are fully responsible for full salary continuation for a minimum of 14 days.

PFL programs only pay out for the intended duration of the quarantine period, which is 14 days. However, if the employee has not exhausted their paid leave from New York State by April 2, those benefits will end regardless. Employees will have to file a federal claim to begin collecting benefits again, this time under the Families First Act. Benefits under the Families First Act apply to companies with fewer than 500 employees.

Stimulus for Business Owners During the Pandemic

It is not easy balancing the economic well-being of our nation with the health and safety of our residents. It’s a challenge many business owners grapple with, as well, during this trying time.

In addition to lowering the federal interest rate, the U.S. government has introduced – or is in the process of introducing — legislation that will help small and large businesses stay afloat while we fight the pandemic with social distancing and isolation.

Last week, the Federal Reserve introduced the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, a program that lends money to banks to purchase assets from money market funds. Lending will not affect bank capital requirements, according to finance site Investopedia.

The government also introduced the Term Asset-Backed Security Loan Facility (TALF), enabling the purchase of asset-backed securities backed by auto loans, student loans, and small business loans to unfreeze credit and help stabilize the economy throughout the pandemic and during the economic recovery period afterwards. These measures will run until September 30, 2020, unless they are extended at that time.

The Fed is also working on a Main Street Business Lending Program. We will reveal details as they become available.

Ultimately, avenues will be available to keep large and small businesses afloat and give them access to the funds they need through loans and tax credits. Here at DBL Center, we will do our best to keep you apprised of changing legislation as it pertains to our brokers and their customers.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and know that the DBL Center is here, as always, to serve as your back-office staff as we get through these trying times together – remotely.


Brokers’ Coronavirus Questions about Short Term Disability, Answered

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, business owners in New York and New Jersey may be wondering if short-term disability insurance will cover their absence from work if they are diagnosed with the virus and must stay home from work.

They might also wonder if they can make a disability claim if they have not been diagnosed with the virus but were placed under a precautionary quarantine.

Finally, with schools closing across the country, they might wonder if they can make a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim to stay home and care for school-age children if they don’t have other childcare arrangements.

These are dilemmas many Americans are facing today. DBL Center is working hard to provide our brokers with the answers they need to give their clients’ guidance about what does, and what does not, constitute a short-term disability claim when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

The policies of our carriers do vary, but you can always reach out to one of our team if you or your clients have urgent questions. You can reach us 24/7 through the new chat feature on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Coronavirus and Short Term Disability Policies: What You Need To Know

In short, a coronavirus diagnosis or a quarantine related to the pandemic does not constitute automatic approval of a short-term disability claim in New York or New Jersey. Some policies from certain carriers, however, may carry quarantine provisions.

Short-term and long-term disability policies typically do not include treatment for a cold or the flu under short-term disability coverage. If an employee is sick and unable to work due to COVID-19, these claims will be determined on a case by case basis, depending on the severity and length of the illness. In some situations, cases requiring hospitalization may qualify for short-term disability in New York and New Jersey.

Claims submitted with a diagnosis of Coronavirus will be evaluated based on all applicable contract provisions. The insured will need to provide proof that they are under the care of a Health Care Provider that can certify the disability and unable to perform their job duties either in the work place or at home via remote access.

PFL and the Coronavirus

Similarly, covered employees cannot make PFL claims to care for children over a year old who are home from school because the school closed as a precautionary measure. Since the virus doesn’t seem to be affecting children severely, it would be unusual for a parent or guardian to require a PFL claim to care for a child who is ill from the virus, unless the child is immune compromised. Again, that would be decided on a individual basis depending on the length and severity of the illness, as with any cold or the flu.

Working from Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

DBL Center understands that, at this time, many of our brokers may be working from home to limit the spread of the virus. Here at DBL Center, we will remain open and are doing everything to maintain the clean and sanitary conditions or our workplace and protect our employees.

Fortunately, DBL Center is also set up to work remotely. We have employees in New York and New Jersey offices who frequently connect virtually, and our cloud-based systems transition well to a work-at-home environment.

Our brokers can even Bind DBL Over 50 lives right from any internet-enabled computer, whether at home or in the office. Our exclusive broker Dashboard gives our brokers access to all their policies and preferred carriers from any internet-enabled device, as well.

Throughout the pandemic and after, the DBL Center will continue to be your back-office staff, answer any questions related to disability coverage and the coronavirus pandemic, and help you bind DBL policies from home.

 


Technology Helps your Insurance Wholesaler in NY Offer Superior Service

Insurance wholesaler in NY tracks commisions Broker Dashboard

Since my father, David Cohen, first founded The DBL Center back in 1976, we have always focused on concierge-level service for our brokers. My father liked to frequent boutique hotels on vacation, and he wanted to model that personalized service as an insurance wholesaler in NY.

That level of service wasn’t seen in the insurance industry at that time. Now, more than four decades later, The DBL Center continues breaking new ground as a wholesale insurance broker.

In the past few years, we’ve begun leveraging technology to provide the best service to our brokers, staying on the cutting edge of industry news, and delivering resources brokers need to retain business, remain competitive, and deliver the highest level of service to their clients.

You may have noticed some new features and functionality added to our website recently. Let us walk you through the ways we are using technology to help our insurance brokers grow their book of business.

24/7 Chat Feature Ensures We’re Here to Help

Chat-bots are all the rage on customer service-oriented websites today. They make it easy for customers to get answers to their questions round-the-clock.

The problem? You never know if you’re speaking to a real, knowledgeable company representative or a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) program with only basic, high-level answers.

The 24/7 chat feature on The DBL Center website always connects you directly to a wholesale insurance expert with answers to every question you might have. We don’t outsource the service. You are always chatting with one of The DBL Center team. We can answer questions or take it to the next level and jump on the phone to help you write your NJ TDB, New York DBL or enriched DBL coverage, or Massachusetts PFML policies immediately, along with Group Ancillary Benefits.

If you reach out after business hours, we may have to wait until the next business day to provide you with an accurate quote from our top-rated carriers. But we can get the process started at any time. It’s just one more way we are able to provide personalized service as an insurance wholesaler in NY and beyond.

Broker Dashboard Provides the Insights You Need to Retain Business

Our proprietary Broker Dashboard continues to grow in popularity, giving insurance brokers a way to track renewals, cancellations, and commissions easily. This became extremely valuable during the Q4 2019, when we helped Shelterpoint transition 5,000+ Statutory policies from Wesco to their company.

Brokers receive bi-monthly reminders about cases that are pending non-pay, helping carriers like Shelterpoint and Standard Security receive payment in a timely manner. This also helps our brokers avoid losing business due to non-paying customers who might decide to write the policy somewhere else. Not only are we a full-service insurance wholesaler in NY, but your back-office team. Just think of Broker Dashboard as your “friendly neighborhood bill collector.”

We’re also using the data from Broker Dashboard to gain insights that will help us serve our brokers better. Your information – and your customers’ information – remains completely secure and confidential in the Broker Dashboard app. But we can track trends that will help us provide the best products, be more proactive about pending cancellations, and learn why clients switch carriers. This knowledge will help us provide more of the products and service your clients need and want.

Faster Website Gives You News, Insights, and Quotes Faster from Any Device

Maintaining our position as a top insurance wholesaler in NY means being as responsive as possible to our clients’ needs – and that includes our website. No one has time to sit around waiting for pages to load anymore. Whether you want to read our latest blog post, need information on Massachusetts PFML or need a quote for enriched DBL under 50 lives, you need our site to load in a snap – wherever you might be.

We recently updated our website with the latest technology, enabling it to load more quickly on mobile devices so we can serve our brokers better – even faster!

Disruptive Technology, Traditionally Personalized Service

The DBL Center prides ourselves on combining disruptive technology with the personalized service that was so important to David Cohen when he started the company. From our new chat function to our video series, we are on top of the trends that make it easier to stay connected to our brokers, delivering the service you’d expect from a top insurance wholesaler in NY and beyond.

 


Massachusetts PFML Provides Opportunities for Brokers

Learn more about Massachusetts PFML from your Paid Family Leave experts

At the beginning of the summer, DBL Center reported on Massachusetts and Connecticut introducing Paid Family Leave benefits programs for employees, similar to—but more robust than—New York State PFL.

New York State brokers already familiar with writing PFL as a DBL rider may find expansion opportunities in Massachusetts, as the New England state announced the details of its plan this month.

Unlike NY PFL, Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (MA PFML) is written independently. Businesses can opt to write their insurance through the state or apply for a private plan exemption to secure coverage through top-rated private carriers.

Employers wishing to write coverage through a private plan must provide employees with private plan details along with posting information about the state-run plan. Employers can download state employer posters and written employee notices from the MA PFML website.

Although the plan doesn’t begin until January 1, 2021, the state of Massachusetts requires that all employers post notices as of September 30, 2019.

Accurate Census Simplifies Billing

Unlike NYS PFL, employers must provide a census to the state or to their private carrier by September 1, 2020, in order to secure the correct amount of coverage. The use of a census will help streamline billing and enable brokers to provide a higher level of service to Massachusetts businesses purchasing PFML, while also improving profitability.

Employers should have fewer questions about premium costs, since they are paying for the coverage needed based on the actual number of employees, not estimates.

Best of all, business owners have the option to defer paying into the pool for one year, while remaining eligible for PFML coverage. Massachusetts businesses can enjoy PFML benefits without making any payments until January 2021.

How to Apply for Private Plan Exception

As a New York tri-state area or New England-based insurance broker, you are probably already seeing the opportunities available to shift customers from the state plan to a private plan in Massachusetts. PFML represents an entirely new line of coverage and an opportunity to expand your business.  

DBL Center has conveyed the profit potential in New Jersey, which recently waived the signature requirement to shift from a state-funded plan. Massachusetts makes it even easier for business owners to opt for private coverage.

Massachusetts’ state government provides a tutorial on how to request a private plan exemption. Brokers should share this tutorial with prospective customers and walk them through the steps, if necessary.

Employers will need to provide the estimated size of their workforce, including W-2 employees and 1099 contractors, the type of paid leave plan (Family and Medical, in most cases), and the plan provider’s company name.

From there, employers will also need to answer questions regarding specific aspects of the plan. Brokers can assist with this step while selling the benefits of the private plan to prospective customers. If the employer provided the correct information and the private plan meets the state requirements, the application should be approved.

DBL Center Service Makes the Difference

As with PFL and NJ TDB, DBL Center brokers have the advantage when it comes to selling this statutory benefit. Our team has been writing PFL in NY since its inception. We understand the challenges, pitfalls, and profit potential of this powerful statutory product. As your insurance wholesaler, we are uniquely qualified to steer you through the process, permitting you to provide stellar white-glove service to your customers.

We already have a footprint in Massachusetts, providing benefits packages for Fortune 500 companies. We will be following MA PFML developments closely to assist our brokers as this important benefit becomes reality in yet another state.


New York Family Leave Program: Eligible Employees to Receive 60% of Their Average Weekly Wage in 2020

PFL enters its third year with another benefit increase

The Department of Financial Service (DFS), New York, has announced that the benefits under New York’s Paid Family Leave program will be increased to 60% of the average weekly wage for up to 10 weeks of leave beginning January 1, 2020. The new average annual wage will be $72,860, with a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70 per week.

The decision to increase the benefits will stay unless the Superintendent of the DFS announces a delay citing non-compliance with Workers Compensation Law 204(2).

In the first two years of the family leave program, the benefits were 50% and 55% of the average weekly wage of the eligible employees.

About Paid Family Leave in New York

New York’s Paid Family Leave program is the most comprehensive program in its category in the entire country. The program, which began in 2018, allows eligible employees to take time off to address important personal matters and still receive a portion of their salary, which can help alleviate financial concerns.

Employees can use family leave benefits to cover time off during three key events:

  • Attending to the needs of a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Handling personal matters when a family member is called to active duty in the US Armed Forces
  • Bonding with a new child.

PFL Premiums at a Glance

The premium rate for the family leave benefits is decided by the Superintendent of DFS as stated under Insurance Law 4235(n)(1), which also mentions that these benefits need to be community rated.

The family leave program must offer similar benefits to every eligible employee, irrespective of their geographical location, age, gender, or other demographic factors.

The premium rate is the percentage of an employee’s wage. The Superintendent has established that the premium rate for the coverage starting January 1, 2020, will be 0.270% of an employee’s wages each pay period and shall not exceed a maximum annual employee contribution of $196.72. The Superintendent establishes the maximum amount that an employer is authorized to collect from employees for PFL.

PFL Represents Growing Opportunities for Brokers

When PFL was first introduced in 2018, only 27 insurers offered the program. Today, 29 insurers write PFL as a rider to DBL policies. DFS believes there will be more insurers joining next year.

All statutory disability insurers are law-bound to offer Family Leave benefits, says DFS. The DFS has also asked all relevant insurers to submit Family Leave Benefits policy forms and rates by October 1, 2019. Insurers can visit the DFS website for more information and to view a PFL checklist, submission instructions, and model rider.

DBL Center Is Here to Help Brokers Earn More with PFL

As a mandatory rider to DBL coverage, PFL represents an additional revenue stream for brokers writing statutory disability in New York.

When brokers talk to their customers about PFL, however, it also opens doors to have a conversation about enriching DBL coverage to provide a generous benefits package and peace-of-mind for all employees, including top level executives, and not just those who fit into the requirements to qualify for PFL.

Let DBL Center help you enrich DBL in New York today.


New York and New Jersey Announce New Premium Rates and Coverage

Father and son on beach

As we return to our offices following Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, the New York and New Jersey state insurance departments have made some important announcements for business owners and insurance brokers in the two states.

Read on to find out the new premium rates and coverage levels for Statutory Disability and Paid Family Leave plans across the U.S., New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits (TDB), and New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI).

New York Announces New PFL Employee Contribution

As announced in early 2017, New Yorkers can receive up to 60% of their average weekly wage for up to 10 weeks to care for and bond with a newborn (less than one year old) or newly adopted or newly fostered child, to care for an ill or aging family member, or to take care of the household while a military spouse is deployed. The increased benefit (up from 55% in 2019) comes with an increased premium of 0.270% of an employee’s wages each pay period, not exceeding an annual maximum employee contribution of $196.72.
These rates make NYS PFL benefits some of the most generous in the country. Take a look at this chart to compare benefits and premiums across the U.S.

Policy forms and rate submissions are due October 1, 2019. If you need assistance with PFL coverage for any of your customers, the DBL Center is here to help. As your white-glove, white-label back office staff, we want to make it as simple as possible for your customers to phase in PFL coverage as a rider to their DBL policy and provide you with opportunities to enrich DBL coverage to offer benefits that make good financial sense for all your customers.

New Jersey Announces New Employee Rate for 2020

The New Jersey state insurance fund has also introduced a rate hike increase for 2020, from 17 cents to 26 cents for every $100 in taxable wages. Earlier this year, New Jersey introduced expanded Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits as part of its TDB package.

Under the new FLI regulations, the benefits period has expanded from six weeks to 12 weeks, beginning July 1, 2020. In addition, the definition of “family” has increased to include any blood relative of the employee or any individual shown to have a close association that is the equivalent of a family relationship with the employee.

In addition to the rate hike increase, the limit on wages on which taxes are levied for TDB and FLI has increased from 28 times the statewide average weekly wage ($33,700) to 107 times the statewide AWW (approximately $131,100), beginning January 1.

Concurrent with the rate hike, the maximum TDB or FLI benefit has also increased, from $638 to $860 per week. Partial TDB benefits will also be available.

Good News for New Jersey Insurance Brokers

The New York premium and benefits increase is predictable and in line with prior increases since the introduction of PFL. A broker’s best move continues to be selling enriched DBL to provide a benefit that makes sense to top company executives and decision makers within an organization.

The New Jersey hike represents an opportunity for New Jersey insurance brokers to beat the state rate, while providing benefits equal to or better than the state insurance fund, with a higher level of customer service. When New Jersey waived the signature requirement earlier this year, it became easier than ever to get businesses to switch to privatized TDB.

This is the moment New Jersey insurance brokers have waited for; when you break it down, you realize it’s here because of New York’s generous PFL policy.

With family leave enhancements sweeping across the Northeast, employers will want to find ways to stay competitive and recruit working families, millennials, and the future generations of employees. Robust yet low-cost benefits packages, especially in the face of an impending recession, remain one of the best ways to recruit and retain top talent.

Give us a call to take advantage of the white-glove service and support DBL Center offers our tri-state area brokers and expand your book of business as we head into autumn.


Family Leave Insurance Programs Extend Across Northeast

Massachusetts and Connecticut follow New York in adopting paid family leave benefits

Tri-state area insurance brokers, take note. Big changes are afoot again when it comes to employee benefits, paid leave, and family leave insurance.

New York’s Paid Family Leave has been in full swing since January 2018 and is set to reach the maximum benefit of 67% of the employee’s salary for 12 weeks by January 2021. With New York as a model, Massachusetts and Connecticut have become the next states to roll out comprehensive medical and family leave insurance programs.

Family Leave Insurance Programs: More Inclusive and Expansive than NYS PFL

The programs in Massachusetts and Connecticut are even more inclusive than New York’s policy, allowing time off for more expansive reasons than New York permits.

Both Massachusetts and Connecticut expand on New York’s PFL policies, which allow employees to take time off following the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child within the first year; to care for injured, ill, or disabled family members; or to care for children and take care of household duties while a military spouse is deployed.

Connecticut’s plan also fills the role of DBL in New York, allowing for paid time off when an employee has a serious health condition. In addition, the new law allows paid time off for an employee:

  • serving as an organ or bone marrow donor,
  • who is the victim of family violence
  • who is caring for “any blood relation or “the equivalent of a family member.”

The Massachusetts law, slated to go into effect on October 1, 2019, is an employer-funded program that permits leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a loved one (and 26 weeks if that loved one suffered a health condition as a result of active duty military service) and up to 20 weeks for an employee’s own illness or injury.

Understanding Massachusetts’ Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA)

Massachusetts rushed the legislation through on June 28, 2018, and it went into effect on January 1, 2019. The start date to begin collecting taxes for the benefits was originally stated as July 1, 2019, but Massachusetts has delayed the start time to collect funds to October 1, 2019. Benefits will go into effect January 2021, with some caregiving benefits becoming available that July.

Massachusetts PFMLA covers paid medical leave for employees as well as for caregivers, similar to NYS DBL with the PFL rider. PFMLA pays 80% of an employee’s average weekly wages up to one-half of the state’s average weekly wage (AWW), which is currently $1,338.05.

Here’s where it gets confusing. For employees earning an average of more than half the AWW, they receive an additional ½ of their average weekly wages that are in excess of the cap, up to a total of $850 per week, or 64% of the state’s AWW.

Essentially, the maximum allowable benefit for PFMLA in Massachusetts is $850 weekly, more than New York’s maximum weekly benefit for 2019, which is $746.41.

More About Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Connecticut is the most recent state to launch a paid family leave insurance program and, like Massachusetts, it combines leave to care for family members with paid leave for employees who are injured or ill.

The law goes into effect as of June 25, 2019, but contributions won’t start until January 1, 2021, with benefits becoming available January 1, 2022.

Employees may collect up to 95% of the employee’s base weekly earnings, up to 40 times the state minimum fair wage. Employees who earn more than 40 times the state minimum fair wage receive an additional 60% of their base weekly earnings above that minimum, not exceeding the weekly maximum benefit, which is 60 times the minimum fair wage.

When minimum wage reaches $15/hour in 2023, the maximum allowable PFML benefit in Connecticut will be $900 per week.

Employers may opt out of the state plan if the private plan they intend to adopt meets or exceeds the state plan, with contributions not higher than the state’s rate. Additionally, 50% + 1 of the employees must approve the plan.

What All This Means to Tri-State Area Employers and Insurance Brokers

There’s little doubt that Connecticut adopted the plan to compete with neighboring New York in terms of employee benefits. As a suburb of New York City, Connecticut draws from the same talent pool as downstate New York. Providing a robust medical leave and family leave package to rival DBL with the PFL rider can help Connecticut industries grow with high-value employees.

For tri-state area insurance brokers, Connecticut FMLA, and even Massachusetts PFMLA, could represent new opportunities to expand your book of business. New York-based businesses with offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut will need to revisit employee benefits packages in these states. Bundling FMLA and PFMLA with ancillary benefits such as vision, dental, and group life can help these companies save money while recruiting and retaining top talent.

Connecticut offers options for self-insured and fully insured plans. The Massachusetts plan, which won’t go into effect for a few years, has yet to announce these finer details.

In both cases, tri-state area insurance brokers are wondering: Will the new paid family and medical leave benefits be commissionable?

The DBL Center was here to walk you through New York’s PFL roll-out. We will continue to be your source for details on employee benefits, and paid family medical leave across the tri-state area.

Reach out with any questions you may have about the new family leave insurance: FMLA in Connecticut or PFMLA in Massachusetts. We will keep you up-to-date as new details are announced.