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.


Your Clients Need the Best Long Term Disability Insurance

In any industry, employees represent the company’s greatest resource. This is true in your insurance agency, and also for the customers you serve. The DBL Center has been heavily focused on short term disability insurance in NY State recently, as we continue into the third year of Paid Family Leave coverage while having to contend with Covid-19 related claims.

But temporary disability benefits in New York should also include long-term disability insurance. If you aren’t using the DBL Center’s carrier relationships to up-sell the best long term disability insurance, you’re leaving profits on the table.

Help Your Customers Keep Employees by Offering the Best Long Term Disability Insurance

In January, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that NY state lost 1.4 million residents since 2010, and is one of only 10 states to see their population drop between 2018 and 2019. And that was before the pandemic caused many NYC residents to leave for suburban regions – in NY State or beyond.

In a recent post, Kelvin Joseph of Kool Kel Marketing discussed saving business owners money and helping them increase profitability. Long term disability insurance and other ancillary benefits packages have been shown to increase employee retention, which saves both time and money.

If your customers want to keep their top employees in New York, they need to offer the safety net and peace-of-mind long term disability insurance, or disability income (DI) insurance, provides.

Statutory Temporary Disability Benefits in New York Don’t Pay Enough for Most Workers

Through NYS DBL, employers must provide statutory disability insurance in NY state. But the benefits fall short of the cost-of-living in most regions of the state. A benefit increase would undoubtedly result in a premium increase, and employers would bear most of this burden. Plus, short term disability runs out after 26 weeks, which may not be enough time to recover from many injuries or illnesses.

So, what’s the solution to give New York workers and business owners the long term disability income they need?

The DBL Center gives our brokers access to the best long term disability insurance available in New York. Once you get your foot in the door with an affordable, private DBL policy, upsell your customers to long term disability insurance.

You can provide a choice of plans to your customers to fit their needs and budget:

  • Voluntary benefits packages, which are fully funded by employees using pre-tax dollars
  • Contributory plans, which are cost-shared between the employee and employer
  • Non-contributory plans, which are fully paid for by the employer.

In a non-contributory plan, the executives in a company can use the benefit as a tax deduction and receive a tax free benefit if they ever need to file a long term disability insurance claim in NY State.

Plans have a benefit maximum of $15,000 per month, covering up to 60% of an individual’s salary up to age 65 if the covered executive cannot work in their own occupation. That’s a stark contrast to the NYS DBL maximum payout of $170 per week.

We offer various tiered plans for long-term disability insurance in NY State from our top preferred carrier partners:

  • Class I (Executives Only) – Covers 60% of salary to a maximum of $15,000/mos. up to age 65 if the individual is unable to perform their own occupation. 90- or 180-day waiting period.
  • Class II (Management Only) -Covers 60% of salary to $5,000/mos. up to age 65 if the individual is unable to perform their own occupation for two years and any occupation thereafter. 180 day waiting period.
  • Class III (All Other Employees) – Covers 60% of salary up to $2,000/mos. for up to five years the individual is unable to perform their own occupation. 180 day waiting period.

Earn More with The DBL Center

The DBL Center works for our insurance brokers to help them increase commissions with the best long-term and temporary disability benefit plans in New York.

We manage and maintain the policies for you while you focus on expanding your book of business to increase your profits. Contact us today to find the best long term disability insurance in NY State for your customers.


On the Mic with Mike: DBL Center's Ancillary Benefits Account Manager Annette Sperandio Traces DBL Center's Growth Trajectory

DBL Center’s Ancillary Benefits Account Manager Annette Sperandio Talks About Technology, Service, and the Surprising Poster in Michael Cohen’s Office

Ancillary Benefits Account Manager Annette Sperandio joined the team three years ago, at the beginning of its most recent growth phase. Coming to DBL Center from the prestigious Chernoff Diamond firm, Annette was looking for a company where she would be empowered to learn and grow in a pivotal role.

Annette’s feeling that DBL Center was about to “take off,” – combined with a certain propitious poster on the wall of Mike’s office during the initial interview — gave Annette the feeling she’d found her new home.

Mike Cohen: Remember when we interviewed? What did you say?

Annette Sperandio:There were many things that were said. [laughs] One thing I remember is sitting across from you, and seeing that Jaws movie poster, which I thought was a weird sign from my dad. My dad’s restaurant in Eastchester, NY, was called Jaws. And he had a huge following once that movie came out. It was a chops and seafood house. I was like, “What the heck are the odds of that poster being on the wall right now?”

Then I had this feeling that you were going to take off. I felt like that was a good fit for me because I was ready to take off with somebody.

Mike: That’s a good jump-off point. Where have we gone as a team since that day?
Annette: Three years ago in September I joined the DBL Center. We were in a small two-office suite. It was truly a mom-and-pop shop, and I was coming from a prestigious firm. I said, “This is going to be a great opportunity. There’s somebody here who is willing to grow.”

And we did just that. There was a trajectory set. I said tell me what I need to do, and we did just that. We grew a database – from a statutory database to now being a statutory and ancillary benefits database.

We took our knowledge together and we built upon something your dad was very passionate about, his manual ledger. We added our tech-savvy to that whole process: From the audit to the processes, to being able to create a portal, to our carrier portal.

Mike: Explain that for a moment, because you’re in the day-to-day…
Annette: We really started from the ground up. That’s because I saw a lot of influx coming in from Rich’s clients, and your clients, and even some of your dad’s clients coming by the phone, and I said, “We really have to streamline this.” It was too much in the weeds, too much getting stuck.

I knew these carriers had the capability to do online portals, and to make them user-friendly for our clients and brokers alike. Aside from that, we gave them these super-access powers that allowed them to do employee terms and adds and address updates.

We still get involved with retro terminations, but it’s good to be needed. We want to be needed, but we also want our brokers to be proactive on their own. So, we took that information and we started to train our broker community.

Mike: Don’t you feel like we’re in control for the first time? We formed the masses to get them to go in a specific direction, like the pied piper. They’re using the database and the dashboard. That function was missing before.
Annette: Yes. There was an opportunity for us, as a team, to show our customers we now have a service model. That service model was going to make the best use of these things that these carriers had been spending millions of dollars on, but so many people were not using.

Does that mean we don’t help out? No, of course not. We teach them. Then, when they need us for something, we know it’s a true and blue issue.

We have up to 150 brokers at this time using it, with two or more users on it. We get such good, positive feedback because they’re able to do things that they would originally have to [email us about]. Even if they were reaching out to the carriers themselves, that’s a 7- to 10-business day turnaround time.

Mike: And that simplicity shaves a little bit of time and fat off of everybody, internally. If we’re less stressed, the clients pick up on that, the broker’s community. They can feel it.
Annette: Yes. I think people really rely on us to get things done. If you think about the sales process, they come to you or come to me, and they say, “Here’s a census and this is what I’m looking for.”

That’s one process by itself. But then there’s implementation, which is where I take the reins. And then there’s servicing a case that’s been finalized. So, we have this tiered system in place, and they need to know the pecking order and they rely on us to get it done within a certain amount of time.

Mike: And everybody’s in their lane. And all of that – in just three years.
Annette: Yes. When I joined the team there was a start to a system. It was statutory based. And then I felt like the first six months of my being here, aside from learning the system, was changing over from our old system to the new system: adapting, changing, and tweaking it. We’ve done that for well over two years, to a point where now we’re able to give it to our broker community. We’re able to share that with people, so they can see what we’re bringing to the table. Because we’re not just a general agency.

Mike: It’s far beyond… that’s our competitive advantage.
Annette: Yes. There’s service, upon technology, upon being platinum status with our carriers.

We’re always looking to our brokers the best prices for ancillary benefits, and a lot of times, we do that by bundling DBL or TDB. We have relationships with six carriers for ancillary benefits, and nine carriers if we bundle statutory benefits. So, I look at all nine when I’m writing ancillary benefits. We’re always trying to get the best rates and provide the best service.


How Ancillary Benefits Can Reduce Stress to Improve Employee Productivity

Financial stress affects every aspect of an employees’ life, including their work performance. When employees feel as if they aren’t prepared if illness or injury strikes, their health, and workplace productivity suffers. Employees spend an average of 13 hours per month worrying about money while they’re at work, according to a study by Mercer.

In a recent survey, finance website Bankrate discovered that 60% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $1,000 surprise expense. But even middle managers and top talent in the New York Tri-state are not immune to the fear of bankruptcy or a personal financial crisis should an illness or injury occur.

Insurance brokers are uniquely equipped to solve this pain point for business owners, HR departments, and employees. At the same time, successfully conveying the advantages of a robust benefits package to your customers can help you expand your book of business and increase commissions with existing customers.

A robust ancillary benefits package can help eliminate financial stress for employees, which, in turn, can improve their productivity, reduce sick days, and enhance their creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Ultimately, the right benefits can help create better employees.

The Link Between Employee Health and a Good Benefits Package

Finances, health, and work performance are intrinsically linked. Enriched DBL, along with ancillary benefits, can give New York workers peace-of-mind, knowing they have a safety net in place if they become ill, injured, or even need expensive emergency dental care.

New York State did the right thing for families with a PFL policy that is, currently, the best in the nation. Now it’s in the best interests of business owners to enhance their other benefits packages to make sure all employees have access to the resources they need to help them stay productive as well.

The Right Benefits Package Retains Top Performers

A robust ancillary benefits package, including vision, and dental benefits, can help recruit and retain employees while reducing overall living costs for employees to reduce their financial stress. It can also reduce an employer’s bottom line as an investment in ancillary benefits as part of a package that includes enriched DBL often costs less than employees’ raises.

In fact, many ancillary benefits are voluntary and employee-funded and employers can choose to have employees cover part or all of the premium. Employees have the option to dramatically reduce their out-of-pocket costs on necessary expenses using pre-tax dollars, and employers pay nothing.

For brokers, this makes ancillary benefits an easy sell. And, with DBL Center as your back office staff, benefits administration is easy, too.

What benefits should your customers include in their ancillary benefits packages?

Dental and vision are a good start, offering tremendous bang for the buck for most employees.

The Case for Dental and Vision Coverage

As you create an ancillary benefits package for your customers, consider these statistics about eye care in the U.S.:

    Approximately 75% of all adults in the U.S. wear glasses or contact lenses to correct vision problems, according to the Vision Council of America
    Eye exams cost an average of $114
    Prescription eyeglasses cost an average of $196
    Contact lenses cost wearers an average of $220 to $260 annually

If more than one person in the family needs vision correction and the costs add up. Yet only 35% of employers offer vision coverage. It’s easy to see how your customers can stand out by offering voluntary vision benefits.

Similarly, the average family of four could spend $2,162 on dental care per year without insurance. Nearly 60% of Americans don’t visit the dentist often enough due to the cost, according to some sources.

However, 77% of Americans do have dental coverage, with 90% of those plans offered by employers. It’s important to offer dental coverage to keep pace with your competitors and retain talent.

Insurance Brokers Can Help Create Happy, Healthy, Engaged Employees

Especially as healthcare costs continue to rise, ancillary benefits can play an important role in reducing out-of-pocket costs for employees and employers, alike. And reducing employees’ financial stress can help businesses perform better, with more active and engaged workers.

Brokers should speak to HR directors about developing a robust benefits package that can help keep employees happy, healthy, and engaged.

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Hospital Cash: Help Your Clients Relieve Out-of-Pocket Burdens

Even as a P&C broker, you can help your customers relieve the pain of out-of-pocket medical costs

 

 

The DBL Center is always on the lookout for creative tools to help you address your clients’ pain points when it comes to essential insurance coverage. While we specialize in DBL coverage and other temporary disability benefits, we know that many of our brokers also deal with major medical.

Even if you don’t, P&C brokers are in a unique position to help their clients address the painful medical renewals they face every year, as coverage levels decrease and premiums rise. In fact, the solution may be easier than you think, and it’s right in the wheelhouse of P&C brokers.

DBL Center President and CEO Michael S. Cohen sat down with Simon Klarides, Director of Business Development at ShelterPoint Life1 to answer our questions on how ShelterPoint Life’s recently updated Hospital Cash program fits in the picture – and to help you sell this commissionable coverage.

Michael S. Cohen: Simon, why do you think Hospital Cash indemnity insurance is a good option?

Simon Klarides: Let’s face it: Looks like high deductible medical plans are here to stay and they are placing more and more of a financial burden on the employees. Although Supplemental Medical Gap policies are not available as a solution in New York, simple, indemnity-based Hospital Cash insurance may present an option. In fact, we’ve configured our Hospital Cash2 product so that you don’t have to go through the full, traditional underwriting process: an alternative, much more streamlined way to get it is by selling it with DBL.

That sounds intriguing, but before we go into those mechanics, can you explain what exactly Hospital Cash indemnity insurance is?

Sure. Hospital Cash pays a fixed amount per day while confined to the hospital for at least 24 hours. This helps with expenses that result– such as copays and deductibles. I remember a Business Insurance article stating that 43 percent of adults said their deductible is difficult or impossible to afford.3

Anyway, our Hospital Cash benefits are paid for an unlimited continuous number of days per hospital stay, and they are paid independently from any other insurance. The nice thing is that benefits are paid directly to covered individuals and can be used however they choose, whether to help with medical bills or everyday expenses like groceries or the phone bill. And what’s even better – our plans cover not only the employee but the whole family!

So how much does Hospital Cash indemnity insurance pay?

New York State regulates the maximum daily benefit by region. The maximum for NY metro areas is $240 per day and $165 per day everywhere else in New York.4 As I mentioned before, there’s no cap for the number of continuous days per hospital stay. Skilled Nursing Facility stays are covered at the same benefit level but are limited to a maximum of 5 consecutive days.

Let’s circle back to how Hospital Cash indemnity insurance can be sold by brokers and in conjunction with DBL. Can you explain, Simon?

Yes! The easiest way of giving clients this coverage is by getting it at time of DBL application. We’ve created a simplified version as part of our BaseLine suite of products that is issued on a non-roster basis with flat per-capita rates – just by checking a box. This means, no enrollments are required while all active employees and their family members are automatically covered.

While Hospital Cash may certainly benefit groups regardless of how robust their medical coverage is, we typically see the sweet spot for this coverage with micro groups that have minimal medical coverage with high deductibles, if any coverage at all. Many times, these types of groups don’t have a benefit broker at all and look to their business insurance broker for guidance. That’s where you can differentiate your approach as a P&C broker to be more consultative and provide extra value to your clients, all while making more commission.

That’s very insightful. Now, for brokers who are looking to sell Hospital Cash, what if their clients already have DBL, whether through ShelterPoint or not?

The BaseLine version of Hospital Cash can be added at time of DBL renewal for existing ShelterPoint customers, and I know your team, Mike, can help with that. For groups with DBL elsewhere or groups that want customized benefits and riders, we still offer Hospital Cash on a traditionally underwritten basis.

Hospital Cash indemnity insurance will help differentiate yourself from other brokers. Call us here at The DBL Center to add this coverage for your existing clients or chat with us about options how to assure that this gets added to your future cases.

Learn more about ShelterPoint Life’s Hospital Cash here.

Reference Notes:
1 ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, a NY-domiciled insurance carrier with principal office in Garden City, NY
2 BaseLine version of Hospital Cash policy available in NY only and underwritten by: ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, Form# SPL GHC115 P NY. The policy described in this post provides limited hospital cash benefits only. It does not provide basic hospital, basic medical or major medical insurance as defined by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Lack of major medical coverage (or other minimum essential coverage) may result in an additional payment with your taxes. Policy provisions, conditions, and exclusions apply. Download this BaseLine Hospital Cash brochure for more information on the BaseLine (non-roster) version. Download this brochure for details and state availability of the FlexLine (traditionally underwritten) Hospital Cash version; this version is available in and underwritten by ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company in NY (SPL GHC115 P NY) and MI; ShelterPoint Insurance Company (licensed in 48 jurisdictions, not including NY) in all other available states outside NY and MI.
3 Livingston, Shelby. Business Insurance 11/25/15 and Commonwealth Fund & Kaiser Foundation, 2017
4 Metro New York area: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Manhattan, Nassau, Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. All other New York counties are considered non-Metro.

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