New Jersey TDB: State Proposes Wage Base Increase

Rates could rise, once again, for the premium cost of New Jersey TDB coverage. That means more opportunities than ever before for insurance brokers to build loyal customers and increase their book of business by showing companies how to privatize temporary disability benefits in New Jersey.

Here’s what we know so far:

The New Jersey Department of Labor has proposed to increase the taxable wage base for employer contributions from $36,200 in 2021 to $39,800 in 2022. The wage base for employee contributions to TDB and New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefit could jump from $138,200 this year to $151,900 in 2022, BloombergTax.com reported earlier this month.

Will New Jersey TDB Benefit Increases Follow?

New Jersey has not yet stated whether it will increase employee contributions beyond 47 cents on the dollar for either benefit, or if it will increase the benefit amount. Frequently, wage base increases and premium rate hikes are accompanied by benefit increases. As inflation has affected the price of goods and services across the board in 2021, we can be hopeful that a benefit increase announcement will follow. In 2021, New Jersey offered income replacement of up to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary, capped at $903 per week.

Show Your Clients How They Can Join the Elite 2%

Regardless of the amount of the benefit for 2022, there’s never been a better time to show your clients the cost savings they can realize by privatizing New Jersey TDB. By New Jersey state law, a private benefits plan must offer coverage equal to or better than the state plan at rates equal to or lower than the state’s premiums. Yet, only 2% of New Jersey businesses take advantage of this benefit. We know the 2% is an elite number… your clients would love the opportunity to join their ranks and privatize TDB.

Especially now, as states face a labor shortage and are looking to entice workers through raises and enhanced benefits, privatized TDI and voluntary worksite benefits represent a great way to give workers more without spending more.

Plus, in addition to the cost savings realized by privatizing TDB, New Jersey business owners can eliminate waiting periods for claims payouts, select their choice of payment methods, and enjoy personalized service from the state.

How to Privatize New Jersey TDB

Since New Jersey waived the signature requirement for employees to “opt-in” to a private plan, it’s never been easier to privatize TDB. You’ll just need your client to obtain their AC174.1 from the Department of Labor website and send it to us.

Find instructions to obtain an AC-174.1 form here.

Once The DBL Center team has that information, we do it all from there, including shopping the plan to find the lowest rates and offering white glove service every step of the way.

Sweeten the Deal with Voluntary Worksite Benefits Options

While you don’t need to bundle New Jersey TDB with ancillary benefits to switch to a private plan, it may help your customers save even more money. DBL Center’s experienced staff can help you write the best policies for voluntary worksite benefits and ancillary benefits that include:

  • Accident insurance
  • Critical Illness Insurance
  • Group Life / AD&D
  • Vision and Dental Coverage

Employers can even customize plans to fit their workforce needs and demographics.

What’s to Come In 2022?

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding 2022 and what steps business owners will take to stay competitive in such a tight labor market. In all scenarios, there’s little doubt they will look to their trusted insurance brokers to provide the benefits their employees and job candidates need and want.

If premium rates rise in lockstep with inflation, business owners will be looking to save money on premiums while offering their employees value-added benefits that can give them financial peace-of-mind.

The DBL Center is here to help you keep pace with changing times and deliver low rates from trusted carriers on New Jersey TDB, voluntary worksite benefits, and more.

It’s time to start letting the 98% of business owners who are still writing their New Jersey TDB policies with the state that there is a better way.

 


DBL Center Expands into Critical Illness Insurance with Larry Estridge

PFL can help you increase DBL revenue

The DBL Center, known for more than 40 years as a provider of statutory benefits in New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and now Connecticut and Massachusetts, is expanding to provide critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, and accident insurance plans. Insurance industry veteran Larry Estridge joins the insurance wholesaler as the Regional Vice President for Group Voluntary Worksite benefits.

See more: Meet our Team

Estridge comes to The DBL Center directly from OneShare Health, where he helped agents and brokers in the Northeast Region find affordable healthcare solutions for their clients. With more than a decade of experience in the insurance industry, Larry Estridge has previously worked at Union Central, where he provided training for agents and recruited, developed and managed independent distribution of Brokerage General Agencies. He has also worked as Regional VP, Director of Agencies for Ameritas Life Insurance and as District Development Manager at Colonial Life.

Larry Estridge, Regional Vice President of Group Worksite Benefits

In his new role at The DBL Center, Estridge will spearhead the wholesale general agency’s Voluntary Worksite Development department, providing brokers with options for critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, and accident insurance. He will also work to help grow the ancillary benefits division of DBL Center, which provides:

  • Group Life / AD&D
  • Long-term disability insurance (LTD)
  • Dental
  • Vision

Cultivating Relationships Across States and Industries

Estridge’s relationships in the insurance industry, his passion for employee benefits, and his consultative selling approach to voluntary worksite benefits will set him up for success as part of the growing DBL Center team. His focus on cultivating relationships with individual producers and agencies, as well as financial advisors, will help him construct the best solutions to help their clients protect their savings and lifestyle even in the event of an unthinkable accident or illness.

“I consistently utilize a balanced approach of product knowledge, discipline, creativity and sales support, which allows me to provide insurance solutions quickly, competitively, and accurately,” Estridge says. “Combining my knowledge and relationships with The DBL Center’s existing network and state-of-the-art technology will help us grow quickly and strategically in the voluntary worksite benefits and critical illness insurance space.”

About Critical Illness Insurance, Hospital Indemnity Insurance, and Accident Insurance Plans

Several major carriers and DBL Center partners provide critical illness insurance, hospital indemnity insurance and accident insurance plans. plans. As the newest addition to our company spearheading this growing division, Estridge will seek to provide insurance brokers across the U.S., including NY, NJ, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Florida, with these in-demand benefits for their clients.

Hospital indemnity insurance is a voluntary benefit, paid for by employees who opt in. It helps alleviate some of the financial burden of hospital stays for workers who have suffered an accident or serious illness off the job.

Similarly, critical illness insurance and accident insurance plans help protect employee’s savings with partial income replacement in the event of an on-the-job or off-the-job accident or illness, depending on the specific insurance plan. Coverage can be:

  • 100% employer-paid
  • 100% employee-paid as a voluntary benefits
  • Written as a shared-cost plan

Specific coverage levels, premiums, and the number of lives required to write this group benefit vary depending on the type of insurance. Estridge and The DBL Center team will help brokers find the right plan for their clients and help them save money by bundling critical illness insurance and other voluntary and ancillary benefits with statutory disability and paid family leave coverage in states where it applies.

“A lot has changed since the pandemic,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “From workers to company owners, people began to face their own mortality and think hard about what might happen if they should become critically ill or injured and unable to work. There’s more demand than ever before for benefits like hospital indemnity insurance, critical illness insurance, and accident insurance plans. Larry’s experience and relationships will help The DBL Center stand out as a leader in helping our brokers give their clients more of the benefits they need and want. More than ever, I’m excited about our future as a company and the white-glove service we continue to offer to our brokers. There’s never been a better time to join our team.”

 

 


DBL Center Equips Brokers to Brace for the Storm

Summer is in full swing, the country is re-opening, and many New York, New Jersey, and New England residents are flocking to the beaches.

But brace yourself, because the employee benefits space is about to face a major financial storm front. This includes long- and short-term disability insurance, dental and vision, group life/AD&D, plus state-mandated short-term disability and paid family leave. If you sell insurance in any of these niches, read on for important information regarding what we can expect through 2022.

Winter may be challenging for P&C insurance brokers, and the time to prepare is now.

DBL Center President Michael Cohen shares his thoughts on inflation, the P&C insurance industry, and statutory benefits.

Storm Front Coming

Inflation is no joke. The cost of virtually everything is going up right now. But most statutory and group ancillary insurance carriers have kept rates flat. Rates are bound to increase. And it’s likely to happen just as small to mid-size business owners, including restaurants, bars, and other non-essential shops, are just starting to get back on their feet and show a profit after what was one of their worst financial years in recent history.

When DBL Center President Michael Cohen says a storm is brewing, he’s referring to a financial storm that will, in many ways, rival Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Of course, the superstorm was a weather event, but it impacted P&C insurance brokers in an irrevocable way.

Similarly, the coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented in modern history. But with proper preparation, DBL Center brokers can position themselves for success amidst tumultuous change.

We chatted with DBL Center President Michael Cohen about how to take this summer to prepare for the coming months and what changes might be on the horizon.

Let’s cut right to the chase. We are seeing prices go up everywhere. Have the major statutory disability and group ancillary insurance carriers raised rates yet to keep up with inflation?

That’s a great question. After 15 to 18 months of rate passes from many preferred insurance carriers in the marketplace, we are beginning to see an uptick in activity.  At the DBL Center, we have always requested our Group Ancillary Benefit renewals 120 days in advance to give our sub producers ample leeway time if they plan on marketing the risk.

What is a broker’s best move in this inflationary economy? What selling techniques will be most effective and what products should they emphasize? 

Sell tiny increases. Each industry has a trend. If you can be at or slightly below that trend, you can generate additional revenue coming off the heels of a year when new business was slow and premiums dropped due to decreased payroll and headcounts.

If you own a brokerage firm and had a tough sales year, you can always rely on your residual income generated from renewals.  I’m not saying to sell astronomical rates but as long as it’s around or less than trend it should be able to be sold – especially when everything around us in our lives is also going up in price. Just look at the costs of meat and lumber as two examples!

Can you explain how DBL Center gets brokers the best rates for their clients’ statutory disability and ancillary benefits plans?

By leveraging block size. We have 46 years of compounded organic growth and several acquisitions, which have enabled us to maintain strength with the preferred carriers that we continue to represent and partner with.

Plus, our method for tracking revenue through our Broker Dashboard, which is a free added resource for any retail agent, makes it easier for brokers to stay on top of renewals and minimize cancellations while tracking what they net on a monthly basis.

We’re obviously in an inflationary period. Why is it smart for managers, owners, and company executives, to increase their spend in enriched DBL? 

Mainly to keep up with the new Paid Family Leave benefit law which is growing throughout the country.

I personally find it unusual that an individual claimant can receive more money to help a significant other than if they become personally sick or injured. Therefore, I feel it is in best practice to advertise the importance of enriching New York State’s mandated DBL Benefit. It has not increased since 1989 when our governor’s father was in office, Mario Cuomo.

Since you brought up PFL, let’s talk about that! Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York all introduced some form of Paid Family and Medical Leave in recent years. What do you see for the future?

It’s definitely the shiny object in the room and the point of discussion. Multiple states threw their hat in the ring last election to offer paid family leave on a fully insured basis. Currently Colorado and Oregon are next on the docket. New Hampshire and Delaware are in talks, too.  Excited to see who’s next!

As long as more states implement this into their legislation, we will continue to use this benefit to scale The DBL Center into the future.

How can brokers best prepare themselves for this future growth? 

Call The DBL Center their Insurance Wholesaler and let us help open the door for other product lines that they may specialize in and help monitor your book’s retention for free!


3 Reasons to Bundle Long Term Disability Ancillary Benefits with PFML in Connecticut

 

Connecticut (USA) flag waving on the wind

With the introduction of Paid Family and Medical Leave in Connecticut, insurance brokers that serve the state are grappling with many new questions and challenges, along with exciting opportunities and even cost savings over the plan administrated by Connecticut’s paid leave authority. But is it worth it to add other lines of coverage such as ancillary benefits or long-term disability?

“We’re in the position now, of asking our clients to pay more money just to satisfy their desire to privatize PFML,” says Cathy Brown, Vice President of Employee Benefits at Brown & Brown of Connecticut, Inc., a publicly-held insurance carrier in Rocky Hill, CT.

She points out that, fortunately, The DBL Center works with top-rated carriers who will privatize PFML as a standalone benefit and can connect customers with those plans, instead. She notes that her company takes a holistic approach to the decision, and The DBL Center provides options that will benefit the client whether they opt for ancillary benefits or not.

As a broker, Brown says, “You want to do what’s right for the client, but you want to take advantage of the added revenue stream with additional lines of coverage, too. As a broker, we want to look at it holistically from the point-of-view of our client. It could be in the best interests of the employer because they’re saving money with a private plan.”

Should Connecticut Business Owners Bundle PFML with Long-Term Disability?

However, adding lines of coverage is not just a matter of the cost of premiums. If a person’s PFML coverage runs out and now they have to file for long-term disability, now the employer has to backfill that leave. They may have to hire a temp or a contractor to fill the position. “You’ve upped the spend on your budget with the long-term disability policy because you wanted to privatize PFML. Can you afford the line of coverage and additional costs down the line?” Brown says.

These are the questions Connecticut brokers need to be asking their customers. It’s important to explore these facets with clients because, overall, you’ll build trust and create long-term, happier clients.

But there are compelling reasons for Connecticut business owners to bundle long-term disability and ancillary benefits with state-mandated PFML – and it’s about more than just saving money and getting better service with a plan through a private carrier.

Long-Term Disability Plans Aid in Retaining Good Workers

It’s a fact that employers should have contingency plans set up for employees who require to take short-term medical leave or long-term disability. But it’s not something most of us, as business owners, think about until it’s staring us in the face and we’re looking to fill a role left by someone out on leave.

If someone is sick, disabled, or unable to work, they may not have a choice but to take a leave of absence. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees their job for a certain amount of time. Long-term disability can help ensure they return to your place of business once they recover, since you’ve not only held their job, but provided a means of income while they couldn’t work. It’s important to share these facts with your clients – and also look at ways you can enhance benefits within your insurance brokerage to show your clients you are “walking the walk.”

Today’s Employees Want More Than Just Office Perks

On-site gym memberships, ping-pong tables and craft beer Fridays are no longer enough to attract top talent to organizations. Employees want flex-time, continued remote work options, and better emergency leave. The state of Connecticut is making sure employers provide that emergency leave for employees to care for themselves or a loved one. Now it’s up to employers to fill in gaps with ancillary benefits.

Human Resource Executive notes that, during the pandemic, people have put off dental, vision, and routine medical care. Since a person’s eyes and teeth are a reflection of their overall health, it’s important to stay up to date on dental and vision check-ups. Ancillary benefits that cover these costs, in part or in whole, makes it more likely for people to take care of these appointments. That can create an overall healthier workforce that performs better.

Benefit Coordination Will Be Easier for Employers and HR Teams

You may bundle your auto and home insurance under one policy for cost-savings and convenience. The same holds true for bundling employee benefits. By putting as many employee benefits with one carrier as they can, your customers can get not just the best rates, but the advantage of a single point of contact for questions and claims.

“I would advise employers and brokers to package PFML benefits in Connecticut with long-term disability and ancillary benefits. That way, benefit coordination will be nice and neat,” says Brian Dewey, Group Sales Representative, New England Territory, for The DBL Center. “And, of course, with The DBL Center’s experience in paid leave in New York and my experience with ancillary benefits across New England, we can be a resource to the Connecticut brokers who are trying to manage with is really a new benefit in their state.”

Do your clients prefer to purchase stand-alone PFML? Whether they want to bundle benefits or not, The DBL Center can help, with Paid Family and Medical Leave in Connecticut through top-rated carriers.

 


Find All The DBL Center’s News and Videos In One Spot

We’re all busy and it’s not always easy to stay up on the latest statutory and ancillary employee benefit insurance industry news – or to get the helpful tips you need to grow your book of business. The DBL Center understands, which is why we’ve launched our In The News section.

See Your Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker in Action

Watch an overview of how to use your Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to easily track renewals, cancellations and commissions from any internet-enabled device. You can also schedule a demo of this cloud-based app using the easy-to-access chat feature directly on the page.
If you’re not already using the Broker Dashboard, you’re missing out on a key benefit of working with The DBL Center as your wholesale general agency. The Broker Dashboard provides up-to-the-minute information on all the accounts you write with us, so you can gain better control of your business and track your direct billed policies.

Read More: Six Steps Insurance Brokers Should Take Today to Start 2021 Right

Meet The DBL Center Team

Get to know the people behind our wholesale general agency better in our one-on-one video series. DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen puts his years of stage experience and his passion for film to work as he interviews The DBL Center team, revealing their motivations, goals, and a few fun facts.

Stay Up to Date on Industry Insights with Rep Roundtable

Our Rep Roundtable series achieved industry-wide recognition. These short-form video podcasts launched in 2019, bringing together reps from our top insurance carriers to discuss industry trends and offer tips for brokers.

If you want to learn more about Paid Family Leave’s expansion into New England and beyond, examine the implications of technology on the statutory insurance industry, or find out how top carriers got their start in the field, this is the place to look.

Read More: New York Paid Family Leave Resource Center

Take a look, too, as The DBL Center marketing team “turns the tables” on Michael Cohen to interview him in a virtual series produced during the pandemic. Cohen discusses how the industry changed dramatically in 2020 and what brokers can do to network successfully and grow their business through enriched DBL and ancillary benefits, including Group Life / AD&D, which has seen increased demand in the past year.

Find Out What’s New with The DBL Center and Statutory Benefits

Of course, scroll down to our Press Release section to see the latest breaking news, from the Broker Dashboard app release on the iPhone App Store to PFL expansion across New England and, soon, into the western states of Colorado and Oregon. We’ll release more information about these new Paid Family Leave programs as it becomes available, and you can find it here in our press release section first.

Since our website’s revamp four years ago, we have aimed to give you the information and resources you need to run your insurance business. Our In The News section brings together some of our most valuable media in one place, so you can browse easily during short spurts of down time. We hope you’ll discover information, inspiration, and maybe even a laugh or two.


Are You Making Money Off THIS In-Demand Employee Benefit?

As insurance brokers, it’s your job to deliver the benefits your customers and their employees need, including packages that will help employers recruit and retain top workers. With remote work on the rise, employers have an endless talent pool to draw from as geographic location now matters less than it used to. And employee benefits have become more important than ever when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

A survey from Prudential Insurance revealed that 52% of employees would leave their job for one with what they deemed the “right” benefits. And 77% said benefits represent a “key part” of a compensation package.

But what benefits do employees want most during a pandemic?

The Ancillary Benefits Employees Want Most

Health insurance remains important, of course, with 86% of employees calling it a “must have.” But dental, vision, and disability coverage now rank in top spots, as well. Respectively, 69%, 41%, and 41% of survey respondents said they require these ancillary benefits.

But there’s another benefit that’s also topping many lists: Group Life / AD&D coverage. “Here in The DBL Center office,” says The DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen, “we’re getting more calls than we ever have to bundle Group Life / AD&D with other lines of coverage. The pandemic has put everybody in touch with their own mortality and they want to make sure their loved ones are taken care of if something happens.”

Insurance companies across the country noticed a spike in life insurance policy sales in the beginning of the second quarter of 2020, that hasn’t waned as we entered 2021. Haven Life Insurance Agency, a company owned by carrier MassMutual, reported a 34% increase in term life policies sold in the second and third quarters of 2020 versus the same time frame in 2019. Northwestern Mutual reported a 15% increase in policies sold between April and September 2020 versus the same time period in 2019. LIMRA, a financial industry organization, saw a 2% increase in policies sold industrywide, according to CNBC.

Industry experts told CNBC that the last time they saw a spike like this was in the days and weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Why Group Life / AD&D Policies Represent Tremendous Value for Your Customers

Insurance industry reps told CNBC they saw the largest spike in term life insurance policies, especially for younger workers. But for many employees, group policies can provide affordable coverage without a medical exam.

Insurers cannot deny claims due to COVID, although premiums may rise in the future as an effect of low interest rates and high claims – much like they did in the P&C insurance industry after claims rose due to Hurricane Sandy.

Your smartest customers will want to offer their employees a voluntary or shared-cost Group Life / AD&D policy now, rather than waiting until rates rise. Only 60% of businesses currently offer Group Life / AD&D, so there is a tremendous market to tap.

Adding Group Life / AD&D to existing customers’ policies can help offset the losses insurance brokers experienced with so many small business owners closing permanently due to the pandemic. Employers can opt to share premiums costs with employees or choose a 100% employee-funded voluntary group plan.

Tiered Plans that Provide the Best Coverage for Top Level Employees

Like enriched DBL coverage in New York, Group Life /AD&D coverage favors high-level executives and business owners when you choose a tiered plan. Executives in the top tier enjoy reasonable premiums, while coverage is based on basic annual earnings, so your top earners have a higher coverage cap.

You can read more about Group Life / AD&D and see a sample tiered plan here.

“It’s been a challenging year for brokers, and I don’t want to look at this as a silver lining,” Cohen says. “But it took a pandemic for people to realize how important life insurance coverage is for preserving their legacy and making life a little easier for their loved ones in case the unthinkable happens.”

It’s now the insurance broker’s role to point employers and their workers in the right direction to coverage that will meet their needs, scale as their family or standard-of-living grows and give them the peace-of-mind to focus on what really matters today.


Celebrate the End of Business Requirements with The DBL Center

Do you remember Blockbuster’s end-of-late-fees?

With the transition to DVD rentals, we no longer had to “be kind, rewind.” Late fees were the last inconvenience of the video store rental service. And then Blockbuster enticed us all to “Celebrate the end of late fees.”

Insurance brokers faced a lot in 2020. Here at The DBL Center, we want to make life just a little bit easier for our brokers. So we’re asking you to join us in celebrating the end of minimum business requirements.

What We Mean by the End of Minimum Business Requirements

For all of 2021, brokers who write their statutory insurance benefits with us, along with ancillary benefits like vision, dental, and group life / AD&D have no minimum business requirements to worry about. Unlike some other companies you may do business with, we do not require any monthly, quarterly, and annual business requirements to ensure the lowest rates and access to our premium, white-glove service.

We understand that many businesses shuttered in 2021. Reports show nearly 1/3 of all New York and New Jersey small businesses closed permanently in 2020. As of November 2020, the New York Post reported, 27.8% of New York-based small businesses failed to reopen following temporary closures due to the pandemic. It’s even worse in New Jersey, where 31.2% of small businesses closed.

These small businesses are our brokers’ bread and butter. Cancellations were beyond your control. And with few new companies launching, it became harder to write new business.

Because we take care of our brokers, and we want them to be successful without added pressure, we’ve never had minimum business requirements, and we plan to keep it that way. By shifting your book of business to The DBL Center, you, too, can celebrate the end of business requirements and sales quotas! Make life just a little less stressful in 2021, and enjoy all the benefits of having The DBL Center as your white-glove, white-label, back office team.

Just Call Us “The Netflix of Insurance”

When Netflix first came along, everyone thought movies-on-demand, no late fees… was crazy.

Just call us the Netflix of the insurance industry, because we’re doing something no one has done before by eliminating minimum business requirements and sales quotas to meet. Also like Netflix, we are on top of the latest technology in our industry.

As a DBL Center broker, you can:

  • Bind quotes in real time online
  • Upload the information to your personal Broker Dashboard
  • Track cancellations, renewals, and commissions

You can learn more about our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker here. And, for all of 2021, don’t worry about meeting business requirements  Just keep doing what you’re doing and enjoying all the benefits of having The DBL Center as your white-glove, back-office team.


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.

 

 


New York PFL vs. New York State Sick Leave Act: What Insurance Brokers Need to Know

 

New York insurance brokers may be getting questions from customers about the New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) act, which went into effect September 30, 2020. However, employees cannot take paid sick leave through the state law until January 1, 2021, or at a time after that date if their employer requires them to accrue paid time off.

A direct result of the coronavirus pandemic to help contain the spread of the virus by encouraging employees to stay home, with pay, if they are not feeling well, the Paid Sick Leave Law mandates that employers of any size now provide paid sick leave to employees.

Unlike New York State DBL benefits or Paid Family Leave (PFL), New York State Sick Leave  (NYSSL) is funded entirely by employers through payroll. It is not an insurance benefit.

However, employers may have questions about when employees can use their paid sick leave and when they need to file a claim for DBL or PFL. It helps brokers to be aware of the new legislation to reduce unnecessary or unqualified DBL and PFL claims in New York.

New York PFL v. DBL v. NYSSL

The duration of NYSSL is much shorter than New York State’s short-term disability coverage or PFL coverage.

Here are a few other differences between the three types of leave:

DBL / Enriched DBL

DBL or enriched DBL insurance provides partial pay to employees who are seriously ill or injured and cannot perform their normal job functions for up to 26 weeks. The DBL Center can help you bind DBL & Enriched coverage under 50 lives easily online here.

New York State Paid Family Leave (NYS PFL)

Written as a mandatory rider  to statutory DBL coverage, PFL in New York provides partial pay to employees taking time off to care for an ill family member, a newborn (or newly adopted or newly fostered) child within the first year, or to manage family matters while a military spouse is deployed. The maximum duration for Paid Family Leave is 12 weeks. Learn more about New York State PFL coverage, first introduced in 2017, here.

NYSSL

Introduced in September 2020 and going into effect on January 1, 2021, Paid Sick Leave provides full pay for up to 56 hours (in some cases) for employees who are:

  • Sick or injured
  • Caring for family members who are sick or injured
  • Under quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19
  • Caring for minor family members under quarantine

The New York State Sick Leave law (NYSSL) also covers a host of other circumstances for which employees may need time off, including:

  • Preventative care
  • Mental health
  • Medical or mental health treatments
  • Domestic violence incidents

Other Differences You Need to Know About DBL/PFL and NYSSL

The reason for Paid Family Leave or DBL must be documented on the appropriate claims form. On the other hand, the reasons for taking NYSSL can remain confidential. Employers may not require employees to disclose any confidential information regarding their need for sick time.

In addition, the definition of a family member as it relates to paid sick leave extends beyond the PFL definition to include siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, and the children or parents of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.

How Employers Can Issue New York State Sick Leave

Business owners in New York have a choice to “frontload” employees’ sick time at the beginning of the calendar year, offering paid sick leave from day one that the benefit goes into effect (January 1, 2021). Or, employers may permit employees to accrue sick time at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 or 56 hours in total – depending on the company size.

Employers with at least 100 employees must provide 56 hours paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than 100 employees or fewer than five employees but a net income of $1 million for the prior tax year must provide 40 hours paid sick leave.

Businesses with fewer than five employees but less than $1 million in net income must allow 40 hours of unpaid sick leave with no disciplinary action permitted for employees who take that time off without pay.

Should Your Customers’ Employees File a DBL or PFL Claim?

The decision for an employee to take paid sick time or to file a DBL or PFL claim largely comes down to the duration of the time off required and, of course, the reason. See below:

  • DBL insurance claims provide partial pay for severe illnesses or injuries that require more than a few days or a week out of work.
  • PFL, on the other hand, covers employees when they need to care for someone else for an extended time period of up to 12 weeks.
  • NYSSL offers full pay up to the amount of accrued sick time. It permits parents to stay home for a short duration with a sick or feverish child without losing a day’s pay. It also makes it financially easier for employees who are feeling under the weather to call out sick and avoid spreading germs.

Help Your Customers Understand the New Laws

Until now, Paid Time Off remained the choice of New York State business owners. Many companies provided generous PTO while others didn’t. Some small business didn’t even have a written policy but trusted their workers not to take unnecessary time off.

By standardizing PTO under the NYSSL, and outlining specific permissible reasons for sick time, New York State has eliminated confusion, miscommunication, or gray areas surrounding PTO.

By understanding the new law, you can help your customers reduce unnecessary DBL or PFL claims and continue to act as a resource for them when it comes to managing employee benefits.


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.