6 Steps Insurance Brokers Should Take Today to Start 2021 Right

Most of us are happy to close the door on 2020, a year with multiple challenges from different fronts. While 2021 may not come in carrying a magic wand that will end the pandemic and the economic struggles of small business owners, it carries hope for a stronger future.

Insurance brokers can follow these six steps to get the new year started right.

Make a Plan for 2021

Three years ago, I had a vision to grow The DBL Center, expand our online presence, and introduce Software-as-a-Service for our insurance brokers that would replace my father’s pen-and-paper ledger with a streamlined way to track commissions, cancellations, and renewals.

Last year, we purchased another insurance wholesaler in the area to grow our business. We expanded our website to serve as a resource for insurance brokers across the Northeast, and we now provide regular content to help insurance companies expand, too. We have a network of more than 40,000 people on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

We’ve achieved our goals, so far, and I continue to work with my team weekly to solidify plans for future growth.

Set SMART Goals

My actions for the past three years were driven by solid, tangible goals. Goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Do your goals for 2021 fit this criteria?

Build a Strong Team to Help You Meet Your Goals

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the power of cooperation. We need to continue to work together to stop the spread of coronavirus, with everyone doing their part. But we also learned the crucial role collaboration plays in the workplace. When we couldn’t work side by side, we used Zoom meetings to fill the void.

It takes a lot of work to create a cohesive remote workforce. The DBL Center stayed strong and continued to grow through a reliable team of in-house employees and contractors who are all experts in their fields. With an organization of less than 50 people, we are accomplishing things that many companies much larger haven’t done.

What roles do you need to fill in your organization for 2021 to help you meet your goals?

Maximize Your Space for More Video Conferences

The pandemic also emphasized the need for work-at-home technologies. A survey from Upwork revealed that 36 million of the U.S. workforce will be working from home by 2025 – a drop from the numbers we saw in April 2020, but higher than pre-pandemic numbers.

With this in mind, we have to admit those Zoom meetings aren’t going away any time soon. Take a look around your office space to optimize your background and lighting for video conferencing.

Here at The DBL Center, we took some time when we first started our video series two years ago to determine the best angle and lighting to shoot in my office. During the pandemic, many of us have been holding video calls from home. Set up a quiet space that projects your brand and how you want to be seen.

Find Ways to Diversify Beyond New York and New Jersey

The pandemic, sadly, also shut down many small businesses in New York and New Jersey – especially Main Street mom and pop shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. This has affected many insurance brokers in the tri-state area, particularly those in New York City’s boroughs.

At the same time, Massachusetts and Connecticut have introduced Paid Family Leave laws that could prove very profitable for P&C insurance brokers selling statutory benefits. Let The DBL Center help you branch out as more states begin to offer statutory Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits. By helping business owners privatize these benefits, you can diversify your business for increased growth and profitability!

Leverage Technology to Manage Your Accounts

So much has changed in the past year. One thing that hasn’t changed, but has increased, is our reliance on technology to run a successful business. If you are a DBL Center broker and still haven’t signed up for our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, you’re missing out on an important tool to help you track your direct billed policies to increase profits by delivering a higher level of customer service and retaining more of your customers.

Watch our video here or sign up for a free demo to start the new year with an advantage.


Is Virtual Selling Enough for Insurance Brokers?

We all know 2020 presented major challenges for insurance brokers. I discussed some of these challenges with Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, and Michael Pelligrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative in the video, “Getting Creative in the Time of Covid-19.”

So much has changed this year – but adapting is an important part of success.

Heading into Thanksgiving we would look forward to The DBL Center’s Annual Holiday Party the first week in December. Of course, we aren’t holding the event this year due to the pandemic. 

A few months ago, I would have connected with brokers, carriers, and colleagues at our summer gathering. I’d been planning a get-together in Manhattan, instead of one of our usual Long Island venues. The location would have made it easier for those out of state to join in the fun and would have given my employees and favorite people a unique and memorable experience. (Needless to say, we had to cancel.)

We all understand that insurance is a commodity. We aren’t selling DBL or TDB or PFML, specifically. We are selling a white glove experience. Stellar customer service. State of the art technology. 

Aside from reduced premium rates and better, more flexible coverage, it’s the service that sets private disability insurance apart from the state plans.

And with that service comes perks for your best customers. Holiday parties. Sporting event or concert tickets. It’s all a part of the industry and it helps us build better relationships to grow loyal customers. After all, (you’ve heard it before) it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.

Connecting… Virtually

Insurance brokers can hold meetings by phone or video. We can host virtual Zoom gatherings, and even virtual Zoom happy hours to create a more casual environment for connection. But it’s still not the same as taking your favorite customers out for drinks, meeting courtside at a Knicks game, or sharing dinner overlooking the Long Island Sound.

As a father, I’ve watched my boys struggle with virtual schooling and being unable to see their classmates since March. Fortunately, they just went back full time. But we are all counting the days, knowing nothing is permanent as Long Island communities around us shift to “Yellow” status and… who knows what happens after that?

The teachers try their hardest to deliver a quality education online. But they are missing that personal connection. A hand on a shoulder. The nuances of facial expressions. Easy, convenient interaction without lag or household distractions. 

Insurance brokers, right now, face the same challenges as teachers in forging a personal connection with our customers. And, in the world of consultative selling, we do act as educators for our customers, imparting the information they need to make the best decisions for their businesses.

So what can we do to create personal connections when we can’t meet face-to-face?

Three Tips for Insurance Brokers to Connect to Clients During the Pandemic

Things are different right now. And not in a good way. But we have to keep going, just as teachers have done, to do our jobs and build success.

If you haven’t already done so, the pandemic is a good time to establish a strong digital marketing campaign. It’s more important than ever to deliver value to our customers and the business owners in our region.

Leverage email – Send touch-base emails more frequently than usual to stay front-of-mind. Mass emails that share helpful tips and information, as well as personalized emails to foster connections, are quick, easy, and effective to stay in touch with your customers.

Email generates $38 of revenue for every $1 spent, according to a Hubspot survey. Nearly 4 billion people use email daily. And 35% of online marketers send their customers 3 to 5 emails per week. So don’t worry about reaching out too often. You don’t want to be forgotten amidst all the other distractions your customers face every day.

Pick up the phone – As early as April 2020, just a month into the pandemic, workers started suffering from Zoom fatigue, which occurs due to the exhaustion of constant visual engagement forced by video calls. Instead of taking the extra time and energy to schedule a call and email the other party a conference link, pick up the phone for an old-fashioned voice conversation. 

This impromptu, casual conference can help create a better rapport, offering more time and energy for personal conversation. You might find a phone call is more efficient and, ironically, more personal and heartfelt, than a Zoom call initiated for the sole purpose of conducting specific business. 

Of course, arm yourself with the latest industry news to help customers understand how claims have changed in the time of Covid. As much as the personal connection, business owners will appreciate this type of valuable information and will rely on you as a trusted resource – which can result in future sales and upsells.

Plan for the future – We won’t always be on lockdown. The pandemic will end someday, especially with news of a vaccine on the horizon. 

Whether you’re on Zoom calls, the phone, or via email or social media, engage your customers with positive thinking and something to look forward to. Start talking about future plans for traveling when the pandemic ends. Even if you’re joking about putting meetings on the calendar for late 2021, you’re helping your customers see a light at the end of the tunnel.

This summer, as stores and restaurants started re-opening under strict guidelines, I kept saying, “Stop talking about a second wave.” I’m still saying it. Be realistic, but think positively, too. It’s all we’ve got right now as a community.

Are these virtual connections enough to keep customers and grow your book of business? Time will tell. What’s working for you? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts. 


Educate Your Customers on FMLA for Family Members in Massachusetts

The recent Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act legislation has caused some confusion regarding who is eligible for FMLA, since the definition of “Family” according to the Massachusetts Commonwealth extends beyond what many people think of as immediate family.

As Massachusetts insurance brokers grapple with new legislation surrounding the Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your clients and their employees probably have questions regarding coverage of both the “Family” and “Medical” portions of FMLA in Massachusetts.

The DBL Center is working closely with our top-rated carriers to report breaking news FMLA for family members, along with other details of FMLA claims, as it becomes available.

PFML vs. FMLA: What’s the Difference Between Massachusetts Paid Leave and the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act?

It’s important not to get confused between Massachusetts’ new PFML laws and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which was signed into law in 1993.

FMLA only provides job protection for employees under certain circumstances. It does not provide paid leave. The reasons for taking leave through FMLA or taking paid leave in Massachusetts overlap to an extent.

When Does FMLA Apply to Employees?

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid job protection should an employee stop working:

  • To care for a newborn child, adopted or foster child
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  • Due to a serious medical condition

Who Can Claim PFML in Massachusetts?

Employees can use PFML:

  • For an off-the-job injury or illness not covered by a private short-term disability plan
  • To care for a newborn, newly adopted or new foster child within the first year
  • To care for any family member with a health condition
  • To run a household while a military spouse is deployed

Understand Who Qualifies for FMLA Claims to Care for Family Members

Massachusetts has a much broader definition of family than federal legislation provides. Covered parties include virtually anyone you may have the responsibility of caring for under your roof. This includes:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic Partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent
  • Sibling
  • Parent of a spouse or domestic partner
  • Person who stood “in loco” to the employee when the employee was a minor

PFML also helps support military families during deployment or if a military service member should become ill or injured.

FMLA and PFML can – and typically are – taken concurrently, since one offers job protection and the other offers partial pay replacement.

STD v. PFML: Understanding the “Medical” Portion of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

PFML and the federal FMLA job protection have nearly identical standards defining a “serious health” condition for an employee. It includes any period of in-patient (hospital) care, or a period of incapacity of 3 or more days with continuing treatment from a medical professional.

These standards align with FMLA job protection. If a Massachusetts employer already provides provide short-term disability coverage on a voluntary basis for employees, they may find the standards for PFML less restrictive. MA PFML is not a “disability” standard, per se, so it provides benefits more frequently and is more likely to pay for certain health conditions not covered by STD.

For instance, the following conditions, which may require ongoing treatment or a hospital stay, would often be covered under MA PFML but not under short-term disability plans in Massachusetts:

  • Migraines
  • Physical therapy
  • Asthma
  • Overnight hospital stay for monitoring with next day release

If STD and MA PFML claims happen concurrently, such as in the case of the childbirth recovery period, which provides STD for six to eight weeks for people who have just given birth, MA PFML pays first.

The STD benefit then offsets with the amount received by the claimant under MA PFML. This can get complicated, but The DBL Center is here to walk you and your clients through specific circumstances, leveraging our years of insurance industry experience and carrier relationships with the best disability insurance companies that write this new benefit.

Three More Facts You Need to Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act in Massachusetts

Below are some more key points about the Family and Medical Leave Act that brokers should understand in order to knowledgeably field client questions:

  1. Under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, employees who are covered can expect to get as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, newly fostered, or newly adopted child; or family members who are ill or injured beginning July 1, 2021.
  2. Employees can use up to 20 weeks of paid leave per year if they are suffering from a serious illness or injury incurred off the job starting January 1, 2021. (On-the-job injuries and illness are covered by Workers’ Compensation claims.)
  3.  Companies in Massachusetts with at least 50 employees are required to provide PFML coverage for any employee who has worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months. It is a shared benefit, where employers and employees both pay a portion of the costs.

It’s important to understand both the “medical” and “family” portions of FMLA to answer employers’ questions knowledgably. Through consultative selling and building relationships, you can turn this new benefit in Massachusetts into a profit opportunity for ongoing commissions.

Remember, employers have the option to write PFML plans through private firms and receive not only the same benefits provided by the state PFML plans, but concierge-level service and access to state-of-the-art technology and customer portals to make managing benefits plans easier.

Contact The DBL Center to learn more about FMLA Certification for a family member and other aspects of the new MA PFML Act in Massachusetts.


Private Disability Insurance in New York: Great Reasons to Enrich DBL Now for Your Clients

The New York State Disability Benefits Law (DBL) mandates every “covered” employer (employers with one or more employees) to provide private disability insurance in New York to employees who are ill, injured off-job, or pregnant. To stay in compliance with the law, the employer can purchase private disability benefits insurance in New York either from an authorized insurance carrier or through the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF).

Many employers don’t know of the tremendous advantages of bundling an enriched DBL policy with other, highly desirable ancillary benefits in New York State. As successful insurance brokers who emphasize customer service, it’s important for you to remind them of the top reasons they should privatize DBL in NYS.

Privatize DBL for Added Income Protection

You know from shopping policies with The DBL Center for years that your customers can save money, get better coverage, and enjoy the white glove service you provide as a broker with The DBL Center as your back-office staff. Enriched DBL especially benefits the high earners in a company, since they are getting more bang for the buck with the benefit. The extra cash may help keep them from tapping into investments like stocks (no one wants to sell when the stock market is low!) or borrowing against their 401K. Keep that money in savings where it’s earning passive income for the future and use the benefits you’ve been paying for anyway.

Enriched DBL enables employers and employees, alike, to receive a weekly maximum benefit of up to $850, with optional in-hospital coverage available through select carriers.

But the income protection isn’t the only reason New York State employers should consider enriching DBL today.

Privatize New York Disability Benefits Law Coverage to Improve Employee Recruiting and Retention by Bundling Ancillary Benefits

Many employers today realize that highly capable workers want intangible benefits like flexible hours, telecommuting options and – above all else – a clear direction of their job expectations with guidance from their supervisors.

But when it comes to benefits, employers might be surprised to realize that traditional – and practical – benefits win out over other employee perks. In a study done by staffing agency Robert Half, employees listed paid time off, dental insurance, and vision insurance as three of the top five benefits they’d prefer. The state of New York recently forced employers’ hands with mandated New York State Sick Leave.

To stand out in a competitive market, you need to be able to offer ancillary benefits like vision and dental at a reasonable cost. According to the survey, 71% of employers offered dental insurance while 63% provided vision coverage.

When employers write NY Disability Benefits insurance through a private insurance carrier, they can bundle ancillary benefits at a low cost. Plus, these insurance options can be voluntary and employee-funded, costing the employer absolutely nothing out-of-pocket. Consider hosting a webinar to get in front of employees or the HR team and explain how much they can save with enriched DBL and ancillary benefits from your insurance agency and you’ll make friends for life.

After all, who wouldn’t want to save money on their insurance and necessities like dental care and eyeglasses?

Why Insurance Brokers Should Choose DBL Center for New York Disability Benefits Coverage

Are you new to DBL Center? DBL Center works for its clients by offering quality assistance on the best NY State Disability Insurance Benefit packages and providing top-notch white-glove service.

With our instant, binding application, we help you prepare quotes from multiple carriers in a matter of minutes. Compare rates, diversify your portfolio, and earn more commission while DBL Center serves as your back-office support staff to manage and maintain your policies.

Plus, you’ll gain access to our state of the art Broker Dashboard to track your cancellations, upcoming renewals and commission.

Bind your application for under 50 lives today!


Schedule a Look into the Future of Disability Insurance Now

Schedule your Broker Dashboard webinar demo today. 

Watching the Yankees on TV with my sons the other night, I had the thought, for the first time in my life, that we’re living in the future. The future we grew up with in fiction – the Jetsons and the rest of the science fiction we watched as kids – is here now. With the changes the pandemic brought to Major League Baseball, the Yankees were playing the Tampa Bay Rays at a stadium in California for the American League East title – as holographic fans cheered in the stands.

We hold multi-person videoconferences seamlessly. We have voice-controlled, artificially intelligent personal assistants. We work from home with powerful Wifi signals keeping us in constant contact with coworkers and clients. We carry around voice-activated mini-computers more powerful than NASA computers from 50 years ago in the palm of our hand. The latest iPhone carries more than 100,000 times the processing power of the computers that took Apollo 11 safely to the moon in 1969.

We have TVs we hang on our walls and phones we put in our pockets! But where are our flying cars? For a variety of reasons, that probably wouldn’t end well. The vehicles of the future are likely to be autonomous but not airborne.

In essence: The world is changing quickly. While the P&C insurance industry has not usually been ahead of the curve when it comes to the adoption of new technologies that is changing, too.

The DBL Center: The Future of Statutory Disability Insurance

For years, The DBL Center has been breaking new ground when it comes to providing superior customer service and a tech-forward approach to statutory disability sales for our brokers.

We have to look back and laugh at this blog from January 2017, where we doubted the effectiveness of chat-bots and AI in the P&C insurance industry. The chat box we added to our site in 2019 keeps us in constant contact with our brokers to answer questions and improve the stellar white glove service we have always offered.

The chat-bot can answer basic questions 24/7 but can also put you in touch with a real live person from The DBL Center team to answer your questions in a timely manner. We love that technology helps us stay in touch with our brokers – so you can serve your customers better at any time of day in this “always-on” world.

Broker Dashboard App Revolutionizes Statutory Disability Insurance in New York and New Jersey

Back in spring of 2017, The DBL Center also teased the introduction of a cloud-based application that would allow brokers to:

  • Write quotes
  •  Track renewals and cancellations
  •  Track commissions

On August 8, 2017, the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker desktop app was born. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a dashboard that provides our brokers with everything they need from an account management basis to compare premiums and bind policies easily from anywhere they happen to be. It is available free to DBL Center brokers for accounts you write through us.

Accessible from mobile phone, PC, or desktop computer, the Broker Dashboard was met with accolades from our brokers as a great way to stay on top of renewals and cancellations and to manage their business from anywhere.

And then the pandemic hit.

The Broker Dashboard became more than just a “nice-to-have” resource, but a necessity to allow our brokers to access information about their customers from anywhere – including their home offices.  Brokers also receive bi-monthly reminders of cases that are pending non pay as a result of the extended grace periods due to the New York governor’s moratorium.

Broker Dashboard Increases Functionality and Adds New Features with iOS App

And then, in September 2020, nearly 3 years from the date of its launch, the Broker Dashboard got its own app in the Apple App store. Available for iOS users (iPhone and iPad mobile devices) the app brings all the functionality of the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker SaaS to your mobile device

When you’re on a mobile device, logging onto the web takes added bandwidth and can be slow to load. An app, on the other hand, is easy to access with just a click on your iPhone or iPad.

Just like the Broker Dashboard desktop app, the mobile app is free to our brokers for the accounts you write through The DBL Center.

User-friendly and intuitive, the app is the future of statutory disability insurance in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts – and beyond.

If you’re interested in a free demo of the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker and its new features, reach out today. You’ll gain free access to the Broker Dashboard for all your accounts.

The statutory insurance business is built on return customers and repetitive commissions. As my father, DBL Center founder David Cohen, used to say, “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”

Let The DBL Center help you retain more of your business – even in these challenging times. Schedule your Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker live demo with me today.


PFML And Employer PFML Contribution Requirements In Connecticut

Even if your business is exempt from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you might still have to participate in the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML). FMLA provides certain employees with unpaid protected leave for specific family or medical-related reasons. PFML, on the other hand, provides paid protected leave to workers for family and medical-related reasons (similar to those covered by FMLA). To know more about paid FMLA in Connecticut, contact DBL Center Ltd today! 

Difference Between PFML & FMLA

Because the benefits look quite similar, people often confuse PFML with FMLA. However, the two laws are very different from each other, especially when it comes to who and what they cover. First of all, FMLA is a federal law as opposed to the state-offered PFML and only applies to employers with over 75 employees. PFML applies to all employers regardless of the size of their workforce. If we talk about Connecticut in particular, PFML requires employers to provide paid leave for reasons covered under the existing Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA). The PFMLA covers all private employers including those with just as few as one employee.

PFML Law — Contribution Guidelines in Connecticut

The Connecticut PFML law does not require employers to contribute towards the program. State government employees who belong to unions are also exempt. However, employers are responsible for withholding the payroll deductions for each employee and submitting the funds quarterly to the CT Paid Leave Authority. An employer’s failure to submit the contributions may result in an assessment of penalties in addition to the required withholdings. No matter the size of the workforce, you will always be responsible for withholding the covered individual share.

Coming to family leaves, all employers can withhold the entire family leave contribution from their covered individuals but it’s up to them to set the withholding rates for their workforce. Using an online contribution calculator, you can determine whether you’re required to pay the employer share and estimate how much must be withheld from wages based on your workforce and payroll.

Go for a Private Plan to Get the Most Out of Your Coverage

Though PFML is underwritten and paid by the state of Connecticut, employers can go for a private plan. This provides you with a variety of benefits, such as faster underwriting, better service, lower premiums, and more savings. Offering better benefits to your employees can also help in improving employee retention.

Depending on their preference, employers in Connecticut can use FMLA as a stand-alone benefit or bundle it with ancillary benefits, including dental, vision, and group life insurance — to save more money. The latter option also offers you access to a wide range of insurance carriers, allowing you to choose the best plan for yourself.

Looking for private plans, fast and flexible payouts, and great discounts on PFML benefits? Let DBL Center Ltd write your Paid Family and Medical Leave plan in Connecticut! Give us a call today!


NJ State Temporary Disability Insurance Rate and Benefits Increase: Creating Opportunities from Change

Last year, the State of New Jersey announced a rate hike and benefits increase for NJ State temporary disability insurance to go into effect in 2020.

The first increase took place on January 1, 2020, when the NJ state disability insurance benefit increased to 66.67% of a worker’s average weekly salary to a maximum of $667 per week through June 30, 2020.

As of July 1, 2020 the NJ state temporary disability insurance benefit will increase to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary up to $881 per week.

Along with the benefit increases, of course, comes a rate hike.

For the first time in history, employees will contribute premium for NJ state temporary disability insurance (NJ TDB) on a different taxable wage base than employers.

As of January 1, 2021, employees contribute .47% on the first $138,200 of earnings, with a maximum annual contribution of $$649.54. Employers, on the other hand, contribute based on employees’ earnings, with a cap of $35,500 for the company.

In 2019, New Jersey employees contributed .17% on the first $34,400 in earnings, with a maximum annual contribution of $58.48. The unprecedented increase in 2020 equals up to six times the premium for workers.

Privatize TDB in NJ for Better Service and Happier Customers

Does it seem as if 2020 won’t give insurance brokers, business owners, (or anyone else) a break? Hang tight.

Here at The DBL Center, we believe in turning challenges into opportunities. And we are here to help you make that happen, too.

While the benefit increase puts New Jersey ahead of neighboring states for temporary disability insurance, it can sting the pockets of employees and business owners at a time when people can least afford it.

There has never been a better time for statutory insurance brokers to privatize temporary disability benefits in New Jersey. By privatizing TDB, your customers will receive:

  • Benefits equal to or better than the state maximum
  • Faster payouts, choice of payment options
  • White-glove customer service with The DBL Center as your back-office staff

Additionally, as a DBL Center broker, you’ll gain access to our exclusive Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, allowing you to stay on top of pending cancellations, renewals, and commissions.

Easy, Three-Step Process to Privatize NJ Temporary Disability Insurance

Since the state waived the signature requirement for privatizing temporary disability benefits in NJ, it’s never been easier to privatize TDB coverage for your customers. You can write private TDB policies now for 2021 and put your customers in a position to receive stellar service and more options than the state of NJ provides for short-term temporary disability benefits.

Plus, you can help your clients save even more by bundling ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and Group Life / AD&D with their statutory disability coverage.

Need help privatizing TDB for your customers? The DBL Center is here. Follow this three-step process and reach out here or use our exclusive on-site live chat if you need help.


Family and Medical Leave Act: New York PFL Rate Change Announcement

NYS PFL rate and benefit increase goes into effect January 1, 2021As per the original legislation for the NYS Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, New York has announced a rate change and benefit increase for NYS PFL to go into effect January 1, 2021.

Beginning in 2021, employees can collect up to $971.61 through NYS PFL benefits. This increase completes the phased introduction of the Paid Family Medical Leave in New York that took place over the past three years.

In accordance with the rate increase comes a premium increase of 87% – from 27 cents to 51 cents. Out of that total rate, .005% is to fund the PFL quarantine payments.

History of NYS PFL

First introduced in 2017 as a mandatory benefit written as a rider to statutory short-term disability in NY, Paid Family Leave in NY will be fully phased in by January 1, 2021. At that time, the benefit will provide 67% of an employee’s Average Weekly Wage (up to the NYS PFL maximum amount) for up to 12 weeks to:

• Bond with a newborn, adopted or foster care child joining their family in the past 12 months
• Care for a seriously ill family member
• Manage the home while a spouse is deployed

Brokers can use our handy PFL calculator in our Paid Family Leave Resource Center to determine their customers’ premium payments.

Helping Your Customers Understand the Difference Between NYS PFL and Paid Family Leave for Covid-19 in NY

It’s important to understand that employees cannot claim NYS PFL for coronavirus. If schools close again in the fall, leaving parents with few childcare options, they cannot claim NYS PFL for coronavirus to stay home with their children.
However, the Families First Act for pandemic may entitle employees to certain benefits if they are unable to work due to school closures because of an outbreak or because of quarantine measures.

According to the Department of Labor, covered employees may receive:

• Two weeks paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay rate if they are quarantined or experiencing coronavirus symptoms
• Two weeks paid sick leave at 2/3 pay to care for a person who is quarantined or to care for children under 18 whose school or childcare provider is closed due to coronavirus
• Up to 10 weeks paid expanded family and medical leave in New York at 2/3 the employee’s regular pay to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has closed due to the pandemic. For an employee to qualify for extended leave, they must have 30 calendar days of employment on record.

To help mitigate unauthorized PFL claims, The DBL Center has introduced a Covid-19 claims pre-screening software for carriers.

Is It Time for Your Customers to Enrich DBL?

The rate increase for NYS PFL puts an even wider gap between disability insurance in NY payments and PFL rates. As you notice your customers about the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act increase, it’s a great time to remind them to enrich DBL coverage for:

• Faster, more flexible payouts
• Increased benefits
• Additional in-hospital coverage as an option

The NYS DBL rate remains at just a $170 per week for 26 weeks. Enriched DBL can offer up to 60% salary replacement, with weekly maximums between $200 and $850. Plus, you’ll get the service you expect from The DBL Center and access to our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to manage your accounts seamlessly from anywhere you might be working.

If you or your customers have any questions regarding the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act – New York premium and rate increase, reach out today. In these uncertain times, The DBL Center is here to help you navigate PFL claims in NY, retain customers, and increase commissions.


Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) In Connecticut: How It Works

The CT Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) provides “covered” employees in Connecticut access to paid leave for life events covered under:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act

Covered employee means a worker who is currently employed, has been employed within the last 12 weeks, self-employed, a sole proprietor, or a Connecticut resident enrolled in the PFML program. The employees are eligible for benefits under PFML if:

  • They have earned wages of at least $2,325.
  • The wages need to be earned in the highest-earning quarter of the first 4 of the 5 most recently completed quarters.

There are many health needs covered under the PFML, allowing employees to take leave without worrying about lost income.

Employers

All employers with one or more employees are covered under the PFML law. The law also provides employers with the tools and resources to comply with the applicable laws and promote a happy, healthy, and positive workplace.

Role of Employers

Employers in the State of Connecticut play a crucial role in helping workers access to paid time off to meet their various personal and family health needs under the Paid Family and Medical Leave law. They have to:

  • Make Payroll Deductions – Beginning January 1, 2021, the funding to support the CTPL program will come in the form of employee payroll deductions. The employers have to makepayroll deductions that are capped at 0.5%. One important thing to notice is because contributions are only based on earnings up to the social security cap, the calculation might require estimations in some cases.
  • Submit Employee Contribution – Employers are responsible for withholding as well as submitting the payroll deductions for each worker quarterly. These deductions are submitted to the CT Paid Leave Authority. Failure to make appropriate contributions can lead to penalties.
  • Communicate with the Authorities and employees to Discuss Leave Requests – Employees need to apply for time away from work to their employers. Also, they need to apply to the CT Paid Leave Authority for paid leave benefits to receive income replacement benefits while they are on leave. In some situations, the employee, the employer and the Paid Leave Authority might need to communicate with each other in order to establish the reason for the leave or to verify the duration and frequency of the leave.

Choose a Private Plan to Save Big on Premiums & Get Better Services

Employers can say no to a state PFML plan and instead, go for a private plan to take advantage of various benefits, such as faster underwriting, better service, lower premiums, and more savings. The option also allows you to get access to and choose from a wide range of insurance carriers. Let DBL Center Ltd write your Paid Family and Medical Leave plan in Connecticut today and uncover new possibilities!


Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act Deadline Approaches

Insurance brokers across Massachusetts have an opportunity to increase their commissions and better serve Massachusetts business owners through the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act.

By helping your customers privatize Massachusetts PFML before October 1, you can offer premium discounts plus defer fourth quarter premium payments until January 1, 2020.

Here’s what you need to know about the important October 1, 2020 deadline approaching for business owners who want to write privatized paid family medical leave in Massachusetts.

1. Massachusetts business owners can only defer taxes on state-run PFML in MA through October 1, 2020.

Business owners must pay PFML premiums on policies written by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by October 1, 2020. As we still battle the pandemic, many business owners continue to struggle with revenue, paying rent, or even making payroll. Some companies remain closed or at half-capacity right now. If there was ever a time to defer a mandatory expense, it’s now.

If your customers privatize Massachusetts PFML now, they don’t have to deduct payroll taxes for MA PFML premiums for 2020 until January 1, 2021.

Combined with the Paycheck Protection Program portion of the CARES Act, which permits business owners to defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s portion of Social Security taxes through December 31, 2020, this deferment can help free up cash for Massachusetts business owners at a time they need it most.

2. DBL Center brokers can save Massachusetts business owners money on PFML premiums if they privatize before October 1, 2020.

With no signature requirements or red tape, applying for a private plan exemption in Massachusetts is easy. As a broker, you can:

    Help your customers apply for the exemption
    Save business owners money on premiums
    Show your customers how to defer payroll deductions and premium payments through January 1, 2021

But only if you act now. After January 1, 2021, brokers can still write a private plan with faster, more flexible payments and better service. But premium rates will be the same as the state plan.

As Kelvin Joseph of Kool Kel Marketing stated in a recent interview, “Right now, businesses are looking to increase their revenue and reduce their expenses. [DBL Center] has a way to save people money.”

As a DBL Center broker, you can take advantage of our industry knowledge, connections, and relationships with top-rated carriers to save your customers money while providing superior service with DBL Center as your back-office staff.

3. Private plans, by law, must provide benefits equal to or greater than those required by the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

As in New York and New Jersey, Paid Family and Medical Leave plans in Massachusetts must provide benefits equal to or better than the state plan. If you could get the same (or better) product at the same (or lower) price, wouldn’t you?

It makes switching to a private plan a no-brainer, especially with The DBL Center here to help your customers get the lowest premiums available.

4. PFML benefits in MA begin January 1, 2021, with additional benefits to go into effect July 1, 2021.

As of January 1, 2021, Massachusetts will join New York to offer paid family leave benefits for employees to care for:

    A new infant, adoption, or foster child
    Family members if a spouse is deployed
    A family member with a serious health condition who is also a covered member of the military services

Beginnning July 1, 2021, PFML in MA will also cover time off to care for any family member with a serious health condition.

5. When your customers privatize PFML, you gain access to The DBL Center’s exclusive technology and service to help you track renewals, cancellations, and commissions.

For brokers across the New England region, working with The DBL Center offers many advantages to help you provide outstanding service to your customers as they navigate the confusing terrain of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

We act as your back office staff to manage policies, collect premiums, and even track down late payments for you.

Our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker provides all the information you need to manage your business, giving you access to renewals, cancellations, and commissions at a glance.

Massachusetts business owners may not want to think about another mandatory expense during the pandemic. They need brokers like you on their side to help them save money and receive the superior service they deserve. Reach out to The DBL Center today to help your customers privatize state mandated benefits under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.