New Jersey insurance company delivers better service for statutory and ancillary customers
Although Meeker Sharkey & Hurley has been in the insurance business since 1864, the full-service broker is one of the newest in The DBL Center family. The company is already realizing the advantages of buying state-mandated TDB through DBL Center’s vast network of private carriers.
“The DBL Center knows the statutory market. That’s their specific field,” says Richard Ambrose, Meeker Sharkey & Hurley Senior Vice President-Practice Leader, Employee Benefits. “While we could go to the carriers ourselves, The DBL Center is more tuned in to the TDB market. They can be more aggressive in the pricing because they have such a large block of business with the statutory companies, and that helps us.”
Private TDB Coverage: Sales Based on Service
Since New Jersey’s TDB coverage pays a living wage to employees on short-term disability or maternity leave, there is less reason to enrich policies the way New York brokers do for businesses in their state. New Jersey pays a maximum of $637 per week for employees, with affordable premiums. “In New Jersey, more than 85 percent of the employers write TDB through the New Jersey State Insurance Fund (NJSIF),” says Ambrose.
Yet, he views this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. “Most employers don’t know they can switch, and the state, by design, makes it difficult to switch,” he explains.
Employers must get signatures from 50 percent of their NJ employees explaining the change before they can switch, and they can only make the jump from the state on the first day of any quarter. But once employers do make the jump, they enjoy better service, faster payouts, and more flexibility.
The DBL Center simplifies the process and helps Meeker Sharkey customers switch to a private carrier by shopping around for the best rates, sometimes getting those rates locked in for two to three years, and then helping with the paperwork to switch from NJSIF.
“With a private carrier, our customers get a dedicated account manager, as well as people from my firm who can help them, people from the DBL Center who can help them, and service by phone even after 4 o’clock in the afternoon—which you won’t find with the state,” says Ambrose.
In addition, claimants can receive their first check in less than one week, with flexible pay periods so they can maintain the budget and lifestyle they had prior to filing for disability coverage. “I’ve heard of people not getting their first check from the state until after they’ve gone back to work,” says Ambrose. “We tell our clients that if we can get them the same rate as the state, they should make the jump because they will appreciate the better service. And The DBL Center helps make it easier to find an equal or lower rate.”
Adding Ancillary Benefits to Save Even More
In addition to writing Temporary Disability Benefits for New Jersey customers through The DBL Center’s large network of carriers, Meeker Sharkey also focuses heavily on ancillary benefits, including vision, dental, life, and long-term disability. Often, The DBL Center can find the best rates by bundling these important ancillary benefits with a statutory TDB policy.
Communicating the Advantages of Ancillary Benefits
Ambrose reveals a great deal of Meeker Sharkey & Hurley’s revenue comes from employee health and ancillary benefits for businesses with over 50 lives. “We have a hospital client with 2,000 lives, but the majority of our revenue are clients with 50 covered employees up to about 400. We have quite a few financial institutions, manufacturing firms, and not-for-profits.”
Ambrose notes employers in these fields are always looking to entice employees and benefits packages are an important part of those recruiting tactics. “DBL Center is very aggressive with customer education, and that’s important when we’re selling ancillary lines. Michael Cohen and his team are very tapped into what’s happening in the industry, whether we are talking about Paid Family Leave in New York, TDB, or ancillary benefits,” says Ambrose.
“They are also very proactive with follow ups, and responsive to our needs,” he says. “I’d been talking to Mike for at least a year before we signed on with The DBL Center and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.”