Cloud-based Broker Dashboard and other tools help keep The DBL Center in touch with its brokers and help brokers serve their clients
Things are changing rapidly across the U.S. with new legislation related to family leave for coronavirus. DBL Center, the family-owned and operated wholesale insurance general agency specializing in statutory short-term disability benefits, strives to be a COVID-19 insurance resource center in New York and across the northeast U.S., providing customers with personalized service and cutting-edge technology.
Even before the coronavirus hit the U.S., The DBL Center had been on top of remote technology that makes it easier for brokers to write new business and manage their accounts from any internet-enabled device.
For brokers looking to provide the lowest premiums and best service to their business customers while increasing profitability, The DBL Center provides the technology and resources needed to write state-mandated disability coverage in New York, New Jersey, and beyond. But there are some things brokers may not know about The DBL Center.
Most insurance brokers are now working remotely as part of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders from the governors in their states.
As a cloud-based app, DBL Center’s Broker Dashboard makes it easy for insurance brokers to log in from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection. When brokers bind new policies in real time through the DBL Center website, those accounts link automatically to their personalized Broker Dashboard.
“The Broker Dashboard has become an essential tool during the pandemic, enabling brokers to continue to bind policies and manage accounts while they practice social distancing and work from home,” says DBL Center President Michael Cohen.
Reports are automatically emailed on the first and 15th of every month, enabling brokers to provide their customers with proactive service.
Pandemic or not, DBL Center is standing by to answer questions related to PFL and DBL claims, statutory disability policies, and more. Start a chat at any time, from any page of the DBL Center website.
4. DBL Center has expanded its offerings from NY, NJ and Hawaii into Massachusetts as a result of new Paid Family Leave policies.
DBL Center’s home state of New York set the precedent for generous Paid Family Leave policies three years ago and DBL Center was at the forefront of helping brokers transition to DBL policies with PFL riders. Now, DBL Center can help Massachusetts brokers write Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage, too.
DBL Center recently launched a COVID-19 resource center for brokers writing DBL and PFL in New York.
“We were one of the first in our industry to report on the federal Families First Act and how it will affect insurance claims. We are working virtually round-the-clock to provide updated news and information as it happens,” Cohen says.
Coming soon, DBL Center will launch a pre-screening form to help brokers and business owners determine who is eligible for PFL in New York and who should be applying for aid through the Families First Act or filing for unemployment.
David Cohen started The DBL Center in 1976 based on a business model that followed the boutique hotels he loved to visit on vacations, delivering white-glove, concierge-level service to brokers in a way that was unprecedented at the time.
Michael Cohen took over as President and CEO after his father’s passing. David Cohen’s legacy lives on in the creativity, vibrancy, and innovation Michael Cohen brings to the company. DBL Center continues to deliver the same level of customer service as it always has, leveraging carrier relationships and cutting-edge technology to provide brokers with the lowest premiums available and the highest levels of service.
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.
by Michael Cohen
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:
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.
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.
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.
DBL Center helps its brokers support their clients through this difficult time
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, business owners and employees in New York and New Jersey have many questions about short-term disability and paid family leave coverage. DBL Center, the family-owned and operated wholesale insurance general agency specializing in statutory short-term disability benefits, is here to answer questions and supply its insurance brokers with the information they need to help business owners and benefits managers across the region.
Common Questions about Short Term Disability and COVID-19
In this tumultuous time, employers and employees may wonder:
DBL Center, its network of brokers, and its trusted carriers, are working hard to provide timely answers to these questions and many others.
To better serve their customers, DBL Center brokers can reach a knowledgeable DBL Center representative at any time, 24/7, through the company’s new chat feature on its website.
Coronavirus and Short-term Disability Policies: What You Need to Know
Right now, a coronavirus diagnosis or quarantine 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.
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. Some 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 that the employee is unable to perform their job duties either in the workplace or via remote access.
PFL and the Coronavirus
New York State PFL claims for paid time off to care for children over a year old who are home from school because their school closed may be denied. If a child is diagnosed with COVID-19, PFL claims would be determined on an individual basis, depending on the severity of the illness.
Working from Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In an attempt to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus, we understand that many P&C brokers who manage disability policies will be working remotely. DBL Center is here to support these brokers online and by phone.
“Our brokers have the ability to Bind DBL policies UNDER 50 lives from any internet-enabled computer, whether at home or in the office in order to keep the economy moving,” says Michael S. Cohen, DBL Center President and CEO. “Our exclusive Broker Dashboard gives our brokers access to all their policies and preferred carriers from any internet-enabled device, as well. During these challenging times, we will do everything we can to help our brokers support the businesses they serve with the information they need. We feel it’s important for everyone to work together as we face this unprecedented situation.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
In our last post, we spoke about using ancillary benefits to help reduce the financial stress that’s placed on employees.
This is especially crucial for employees in the New York tri-state area, which includes regions with the highest cost of living in the country. An accident or illness can leave an employee’s finances depleted. The New York State minimum for DBL coverage hasn’t kept up with inflation and isn’t enough to live on. In fact, the statutory disability benefit in New York has not increased since 1989.
The Rule of 72, for example, states that a specific dollar amount invested at an annual fixed interest rate of 10% would take 7.2 years to double. Yet, in 30 years the DBL benefit has remained the same.
Why not enrich DBL for a very low cost, ramping up the ROI on the investment?
Enriching DBL helps this important benefit keep pace with inflation to cover more of an employer or employee’s living expenses if they are ill or injured.
Consider the Needs of Your Customers
While it’s important to consider hourly workers who may be living paycheck to paycheck, it’s also important for brokers to consider the needs of company owners and top-level employees, including CEOs, CFOs, and HR managers, who make the buying decisions when it comes to employee benefits.
Of course, c-level executives want the best benefits for their employees to improve morale, maximize productivity, and aid recruiting and retention. But if you can also sell decisionmakers on the benefits that also serve their best financial interests, you’ll earn their lifelong trust.
Twenty years ago, Governor Mario Cuomo voted to increase the statutory disability benefit. His son, Andrew Cuomo, decided not to increase DBL. Instead, he introduced Paid Family Leave as a statutory benefit in New York.
But PFL – while it’s undoubtedly an important benefit – doesn’t apply to a vast majority of workers. Many middle-aged and older employees are past child-raising years and have already faced the loss of their parents. People in these demographics, especially middle managers and top executives, need benefits that will appeal to their needs.
Enriched DBL is a “set it and forget it” benefit. Once a business owner enhances their short-term disability benefits in New York, they will renew automatically each year. They aren’t likely to go back to the state minimum benefits.
Why Is Enriched DBL Such a Good Investment for Company Executives?
Many business owners and executives have savings and investments to cover a worst-case scenario such as an accident or illness that could leave them unable to work.
But, in fact, enriching DBL can be the smartest investment company leaders can make.
If it takes 7.2 years to double your income from investments at a rate of 10%, you don’t want to pull that money out to cover your living expenses.
Enriched DBL allows employers and employees – from c-level executives to hourly wage workers – to keep their savings where it is and receive a rate-of-return on their insurance premium that is far beyond any investment.
If a company enriches DBL by 5X, they will only pay $9.75/mo/male in premium and $11.50/mo/female, and if they need to make a claim, receive $850 per week for up to 26 weeks.
When you show your customers the math – and the benefit of leaving their investments growing – they will ask you to enrich DBL for their own financial peace-of-mind.
Build Relationships with the Right Advice
Smart insurance brokers are serving two customers – the employees who use the benefits, and the company owners and HR executives who are making the decisions on what benefits to offer.
When you can open doors to give them a low-cost, high-return benefit that appeals to employers and employees alike, you can gain trust and earn their business for life.