DBL Center Brokers Help Businesses Bundle Short Term Disability and MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act Benefits

Prior to the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act, short-term disability benefits provided partial income replacement for non-work-related illnesses or injuries in Massachusetts.

With MA PFMLA benefits going into effect on January 1, 2021, (and additional benefits beginning July 1, 2021), Massachusetts business owners may wonder if they still need to offer group STD to employees.

The DBL Center, a wholesale insurance general agency specializing in statutory benefits, recently shared details on why Massachusetts business owners should supplement MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act benefits with Group STD.

Short Term Disability vs. MA PFML (MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act)

Employers in Massachusetts must provide statutory PFML coverage. Businesses over 25 employees can write their benefits plan through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or choose a private plan that:

  • Meets or exceeds the benefits and duration of the state plan
  • Has the same or more lenient requirements
  • Offers the same or lower premiums than the state plan.

Group STD Coverage Bridges the Gap Between PFML and Long-Term Disability

 

In 2021, the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act will compensate workers for up to 20 weeks of personal medical leave. However, if the worker already filed a personal or family leave claim within the past calendar year, they may not be able to collect for the full 20 weeks.

On the other hand, employees can collect STD income replacement for up to 26 weeks, regardless of other claims.

Long-term disability insurance typically goes into effect 26 weeks after an employee becomes disabled. STD provides income replacement for those six weeks (or more) once PFML runs out, before LTD begins.

Better benefits help reduce employee stress and improve retention rates within a company. Combining PFML with Group STD and the best long-term disability insurance , plus ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and Group Life AD&D can set a Massachusetts business apart.

About The DBL Center Ltd.

With 40+ years in the insurance industry, The DBL Center services 100,000 insured corporations through 4,000 brokers across 15 states as a wholesale insurance general agency. For more information, visit InsuranceWholesaler.net, call 800.325.2777 or connect with us on LinkedIn.

Contact
InsuranceWholesaler | Michael Cohen
6312935100 ex 800
Michael.Cohen@dblcntr.com


What States Offer Statutory Disability Benefits or Paid Family Leave?

The DBL Center, a wholesale insurance general agency specializing in statutory benefits, recently posted a summary of statutory disability and paid family and medical leave plans across the United States. Visit InsuranceWholesaler.net to find out what states are on the list.

“Most people don’t realize this, but 37 states threw their hats in the ring this past election to pass Paid Family Leave acts on a state level,” said The DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “This is a growing legislation that may ultimately become federal, like the Family Medical Leave Act, which offers unpaid job protection for those who are out of work due to illness or to care for family members.”

Statutory Disability Coverage and Paid Family Medical Leave Plans

Moving into 2021, nine states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico offer statutory disability plans to employees. Of those states, only Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York provide options to privatize statutory disability through an independent insurance carrier.

California, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island offer Paid Family Leave as subsets of statutory disability plans. For instance, PFL in New York is written as a rider to DBL coverage.

In New Jersey, Family Leave Insurance is included automatically with TDB premiums. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act covers both family leave and medical leave. It can be written through the state or through a private insurance carrier. Private plans typically offer faster, more flexible payout options and personalized service.

Private Plans Create Happy Customers

As more states add paid family and medical leave benefits to their statutory disability programs, business owners enter uncharted territory. Reputable insurance brokers can provide the education and guidance business owners need to select the right plans.

“It’s important for business owners to understand the tremendous advantages of writing their coverage with a top-rated carrier rather than going settling for what their state offers,” Cohen says. “Private plans can provide better service, faster claims, flexible payout options, and costs savings over state plans.”

About The DBL Center Ltd.

With 40+ years in the insurance industry, The DBL Center services 100,000 insured corporations through 4,000 brokers across 15 states as a wholesale insurance general agency. For more information, visit InsuranceWholesaler.net, call 800.325.2777 or connect with us on LinkedIn.

Contact
InsuranceWholesaler | Michael Cohen
6312935100 ex 800
Michael.Cohen@dblcntr.com


The DBL Center’s Broker Dashboard App Revolutionizes Statutory Disability Insurance in New York and New Jersey

Get a free demo of the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker today

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

The Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker software-as-a-service enables brokers to:

  • Write quotes
  • Track renewals and cancellations
  • Track commissions

The dashboard provides brokers with everything they need from an account management basis to compare premiums and bind policies easily from anywhere they happen to be.

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

Broker Dashboard Increases Functionality and Adds New Features with iOS App

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 any iOS mobile device.

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

The DBL Center is offering brokers a free live demo of the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker and its new features. Brokers who take advantage of the demo will receive free access to the Broker Dashboard for all their accounts.

The statutory insurance business is built on return customers and repetitive commissions. “As my father and DBL Center founder David Cohen used to say, ‘It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.’ In these challenging times, The DBL Center helps brokers retain more of their business for greater profitability,” says DBL Center CEO Michael Cohen.

Schedule a Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker live demo today.

About The DBL Center Ltd.

With 40+ years in the insurance industry, The DBL Center services 100,000 insured corporations through 4,000 brokers across 15 states as a wholesale insurance general agency. The DBL Center specializes in DBL, PFL, TDB, TDI, and PFML in Massachusetts and Connecticut. For more information, visit InsuranceWholesaler.net, call 800.325.2777 or connect with us on LinkedIn.

Contact
InsuranceWholesaler | Michael Cohen
6312935100 ex 800


The DBL Center’s Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker Comes to the Apple App Store

The DBL Center offers its brokers a better way to track renewals, cancellations, and commissions

The DBL Center, a statutory insurance wholesaler with more than 40 years of experience, continues to lead the statutory insurance industry with cutting-edge technology. This week, The DBL Center launched the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app in the App Store for iPhone and iPad users. The launch of the app enables brokers to work from anywhere while providing superior levels of customer service to their clients.

Track Renewals, Cancellations, and Commissions from an iOS Mobile Device

Already garnering five-star ratings and close to 200 downloads, the app is patterned after The DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker cloud-based software solution for statutory insurance brokers across the northeast and beyond.

Offering all the functionality of the Broker Dashboard desktop application, the Broker Dashboard app for iPhone and iPad puts the capability to track renewals, cancellations, and commissions at broker’s fingertips.

The DBL Center also recently released a video detailing the capabilities of the Broker Dashboard software.

DBL Center: Helping Brokers Embrace Change

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, studies show approximately 62 to 64% of U.S. employees shifted to remote work. Experts predict the trend to continue even after the pandemic ends. Through technology, resilience, and understanding, the statutory insurance industry can embrace this change and take the opportunity to be able to deliver even higher levels of service to business owners.

“If you run an insurance agency, it’s more important than ever to be able to manage a remote workforce and give your producers the tools they need to do their jobs – in their office or at home,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “With the Broker Dashboard app for iPhone and iPad, the tools brokers need are just a touch away.”

About The DBL Center Ltd.

With 40+ years in the insurance industry, The DBL Center services 100,000 insured corporations through 4,000 brokers across 15 states as a wholesale insurance general agency. The DBL Center specializes in DBL, PFL, TDB, TDI, and PFML in Massachusetts and Connecticut. For more information, visit InsuranceWholesaler.net, call 800.325.2777 or connect with us on LinkedIn.

Contact
InsuranceWholesaler | Michael Cohen
6312935100 ex 800
michael.cohen@dblcenter.com


Massachusetts Business Owners Can Save Money with Private Coverage Under Family and Medical Leave Act

Massachusetts becomes the fourth state in the Northeast to mandate benefits under a paid family and medical leave act

DBL Center, the family-owned and operated wholesale insurance general agency specializing in statutory short-term disability benefits, is ready to offer Massachusetts insurance brokers and business owners incredible savings on PFML plans under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

The MA Paid Family and Medical Leave Act applies to individuals who need time off:

  • Due to a serious health condition
  • To care for a newborn, newly adopted or new foster child within the first year of the event
  • To care for family while a spouse is deployed in the Armed Forces
  • To care for a family member of any age with a serious health condition

Privatize Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act Coverage for Competitive Benefits at Lower Rates

As in New York and New Jersey, states which have offered short-term disability and paid family leave for several years, business owners in Massachusetts have the option to privatize their FMLA policies for substantial cost reductions.

By law, private FMLA plans must offer benefits of the same amount and duration – or better – than plans underwritten and paid for by the state. That’s why it’s important for business owners to find a source they can trust to write their family and medical leave act coverage in Massachusetts.

Bundle PFML to Save Even More

PFML is a stand-alone benefit, but not every carrier can write PFML as a stand-alone policy. DBL Center has the industry connections and the volume to write PFML direct to businesses or to act as an insurance wholesale general agency for Massachusetts brokers.

DBL Center delivers white-glove service, low premiums, and superior benefits packages. Businesses can save even more by bundling FMLA coverage with group ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and group life / AD&D.

DBL Center Enhances Focuses on Customer Service and Technology

As testament to the company’s dedication to customer service and education, DBL Center recently launched a Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Resource Center on its website.

DBL Center also recently introduced 24/7 live chat on its website. Simply type in the chat box and a knowledgeable representative will answer your questions about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Act, short- or long-term disability insurance, and group ancillary benefits.

“Massachusetts in the fourth state in our region to introduce paid family leave. As experts in short-term disability and paid family leave in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, DBL Center is poised to become the number one source for brokers and business owners, alike, to privatize PFML in Massachusetts for cost-savings and exemplary customer service,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “We want anyone in Massachusetts affected by the law to know they can come to us with questions, for guidance, or to write their policies at substantial savings compared to the state plan.”

About The DBL Center Ltd.

Celebrating 40+ years in the insurance industry, The DBL Center services 100,000 insured corporations through 4,000 brokers across 15 states as a wholesale insurance general agency. The DBL Center specializes in Disability Benefits Law (DBL) and PFL (Paid Family Leave) coverage in New York, Temporary Disability Benefits (TDB) in New Jersey, and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) in Hawaii. The DBL Center also underwrites, manages and maintains Group Life/AD&D, vision, and dental packages, as well as individual life and income replacement policies, giving brokers and their customers the benefits of multi-line discounts and a single point-of-contact.

Through its dedication to personalized, concierge-level service, The DBL Center Ltd. remains true to its roots as a family- owned and operated, relationship-focused wholesale insurance agency.

InsuranceWholesaler.net is the company’s gateway to premium service, low insurance rates, and high commissions.

For more information, visit InsuranceWholesaler.net, call (631) 293.5100 or connect with us on LinkedIn.


NJ Disability Insurance Deadline Approaches April 1

Here’s How to Help Your Customers Switch to a Private New Jersey TDB Plan

I’ve discussed on several of my videos recently how fast time moves, and how crucial it is for us all to adapt to selling insurance in the time of Covid-19. Insurance brokers face more challenges than ever before when it comes to writing new plans, including NJ disability insurance.

We’re all suffering from a lack of face-to-face contact with our customers, which makes it more challenging to establish trust and build relationships. In addition, many New Jersey businesses have faced bankruptcy, permanently closed, or reduced their staff as a result of shutdowns and lockdowns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve all lost business as a result of it.

But I’m not one to look on the negative side. Instead, The DBL Center has always taken a proactive approach to facing any challenges head-on.  As in year’s past, the deadline for business owners to switch their statutory NJ disability insurance to a private plan is approaching on April 1.

Get an early start on showing New Jersey business owners in your area the tremendous benefits of writing NJ disability insurance through a private plan. April 1 will be here before you know it.

Fortunately, in 2019, New Jersey waived the signature requirement to privatize NJ TDB coverage. That means business owners no longer need opt-in from employees when it comes to choosing a private plan. They can now switch to private disability insurance in New Jersey in about five minutes. And I’ll show you exactly how to help them do it.

Benefits of Privatizing NJ Disability Insurance

Many business owners want to keep things as easy as possible. If they’re writing a new insurance policy through a broker, they want you, the insurance broker, to do all the work.

But it’s important to help them understand that they could save up to 20% on their NJ disability insurance coverage, get faster claims payouts with no waiting period – and access to a trusted broker willing to provide top-notch service at any time. Plus, their employees making claims can choose their method of payment, either a check, debit card, or ACH direct deposit straight into their bank account.

They will need to spend about five minutes obtaining the all-important AC174.1 form so you can get them a quote and write the policy.

But 20% cost savings for five minutes of their time is a pretty good trade-off, especially with the state of New Jersey increasing premiums on TDB this year. For larger businesses, saving 20% on disability insurance could equal tens of thousands of dollars, annually.

Plus, once they switch to a private plan, they can “set-it-and-forget-it,” continuing to save money for years. Meanwhile, you can do the same, earning commissions on the account while our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker lets you know when policies are up for renewal or scheduled for cancellation.

How to Obtain the AC174.1 Form to Switch NJ Disability Insurance to a Private Plan

Five minutes to save thousands of dollars…that’s what your customers need to keep in mind. Here’s how they can obtain the AC174.1 form that allows you to provide them with a quote for New Jersey TDB coverage. Remember, as your back office support staff, The DBL Center is here to help if they need assistance.

  1. Visit the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Employer Accounts and create an Employer Access account (formerly called TWES).
  2. Create a myNewJersey account, if they don’t already have one.
  3. Link both accounts so they can switch between a variety of services the NJDOL offers.
  4. Within the Employer Access system, download the AC174.1 form for 2020.
  5. With this information, along with the number of lives (male and female) and their salaries within the organization, insurance brokers can obtain multiple quotes from The DBL Center to help their customers privatize TDB, save money, and gain access to our renowned white-glove service.

Get Started Now

The opportunity to privatize TDB only comes along on the quarter with 90% of companies privatizing NJ disability insurance in the first quarter of the year. You don’t want your customers to miss out. Reach out to The DBL Center today to help your customers save money and get 2021 off to a strong start.


Hawaii Increases Temporary Disability Insurance Rates

Just like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, Hawaii also offers temporary disability insurance to employees for non-work related injury or illness. There is no maternity leave or paid leave component to Hawaii TDI, but the plan provides coverage for a pregnancy-related disability as well as other non-work related illnesses or injuries.

As with the other states, Hawaii increased its maximum disability payments and premium rates for 2021. The new rates for temporary disability insurance in Hawaii are as follows:

  • 58% of average weekly wages (AWW) rounded up to the next dollar
  • Maximum benefit of $640 per week
  • Maximum 26 weeks temporary disability coverage paid in any benefit year – the benefit year equals 12 months from the first date of disability

In addition, there is a seven-day waiting period before state benefits for Hawaii temporary disability insurance kicks in. Benefits are payable from the eighth day of disability.

The DBL Center Can Help You Write TDI in Hawaii

The DBL Center entered the Hawaii temporary disability insurance back in 1986. My father, DBL Center Founder David Cohen, was looking for ways to grow the wholesale general agency.  He had heard that California offered the benefit and was eager to have offices on both coasts, so he hopped on a plane to L.A. where he connected with a state insurance representative who mentioned, yes, they indeed offer the benefit, but it is not available as a fully insured option.  (These were, of course, the days before Google was at your fingertips).

Dave wound up being directed to The State Insurance commissioner, who directed my father to The Hawaiian Islands, telling him they were also a statutory state, with options to privatize. At the time, Hawaii had no general agency presence, so The DBL Center was on the cutting edge of bringing more options and better service to Hawaii business owners by showing them how to privatize TDI.

Never one to pass up a chance to travel, David Cohen got on yet another plane and, upon landing, began forging connections with insurance brokers across the Hawaiian Islands.

Let’s just say the Hawaiian luau shirt he chose may not have been his best choice for his first meeting. I believe his first broker said he looked like he belonged in The Barnum and Bailey Circus, but ultimately, he showed Hawaiian business owners and insurance brokers that The DBL Center understands the statutory insurance industry like no one else does. Through our massive carrier connections we could – and still can, to this day – provide lower premiums and better service than state plans.

Today, we insure several thousand satisfied customers in Hawaii, and the potential to tap into this market exists for insurance brokers across the country.

Temporary Disability Insurance in Hawaii: Tap into a New Market by Helping Business Owners Privatize Benefits

As the internet makes it easier than ever to connect with business owners across the country, there’s no reason not to tap into the lucrative Hawaii market for temporary disability insurance. As experts in the field of statutory insurance, you can introduce Hawaii business owners to the many advantages of privatizing their TDI coverage, including:

  • White glove, personalized service
  • Faster claims payouts
  • Options to receive benefits in the form of a debit card, check or ACH deposit

Of course, The DBL Center is always here to assist with our state-of-the-art technology, including the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to help you track cancellations, renewals and commissions so you can keep more of what you earn.

Technology has created a world without geographic boundaries. And let’s face it, when travel once again becomes commonplace again – as it surely will within the coming year – there are worse things than having a network of friends and associates in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.

Increase Commissions by Selling Ancillary Benefits in Hawaii

As you forge relationships with Hawaii business owners, you’ll want to step into the role of consultative selling. Just as in the mainland U.S., you can save business owners money by offering ancillary benefits, including vision, dental, and group life / AD&D coverage.

These benefits increase retention within companies and help business owners recruit talent in highly competitive fields. In the age of Covid-19, employee benefits, including ancillary benefits, become more important than ever as health and wellness moves to the forefront of our minds.

If you’re ready to explore a lucrative new market with temporary disability insurance in Hawaii, reach out today.

 

 


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.