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.

Photo by RawPixel.com from Pexels

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Are You Selling DBL Coverage and Ancillary Benefits to Your Customers Who Need It?

Coastal Insurance offers tips to expand your book of business with strategic cross-selling of home insurance, DBL coverage, and ancillary products

By David Clausen, Coastal Insurance

If you’re like most P&C brokers, NYS DBL and NJ TDB insurance aren’t your only niches. Most brokers sell a variety of lines, whether it’s healthcare, business insurance, or personal lines of coverage like home insurance.

But you may not be thinking of ways to cross-sell your lines to expand your book of business and increase your commissions without cold calls or prospecting for new clients.

When you get in the habit of consultative selling, which includes getting to know your customers, their businesses, and additional insurance needs they may have, you’ll discover avenues to increased profits.

Mandatory coverage like workers’ compensation and NYS DBL coverage, along with enriched DBL, provide excellent upsell opportunities. Many business owners don’t realize they need this coverage even if they only have a few employees. Even if they know about statutory DBL coverage, they may not recognize the opportunities available with enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.

As their trusted insurance broker, you can help make sure they are protected from nearly any contingency. Chances are, you are already taking some of these steps. But are you closing the deal?

These tips, garnered from years of experience selling home insurance and other personal and business lines to Long Island-based customers, can help you expand your book of business.

1. Look for opportunities to upsell complementary insurance lines by getting to know your customers.

In Coastal’s niche market of home insurance for high-net-worth homeowners, many of our best clients also own their own businesses. This means they need workers’ compensation insurance and statutory disability coverage in New York State.

Ask your customers, “Who is currently writing your statutory DBL coverage?” to uncover opportunities.

With the introduction of Paid Family Leave as a rider to DBL, they might be looking to shop their policy around, since some carriers have stopped providing DBL.

2. Don’t forget about your customers who hire domestic employees.

Most Coastal customers who aren’t business owners are c-level executives, celebrities, and other high-net-worth individuals who may hire domestic employees to help run their households. A lot of people don’t know that workers’ compensation and NYS DBL coverage is mandatory in New York for full-time domestic employees or for domestic employees who live in your home, even if they don’t work a full 40-hour week.

This includes nannies, au pairs, housekeepers, gardeners, chefs, drivers, personal assistants, and anyone else who works for an individual. Even if people may treat their nannies or housekeepers like family, the State of New York classifies them as domestic workers or residence employees – and they need to be insured as such.

There can be hefty fines for failing to provide the proper insurance coverage for domestic workers, not to mention the liability if an employee gets hurts on the job. Brokers are doing a service to their customers by letting them know what employee coverage is required.

As with any job, providing ancillary benefits to domestic workers can also help improve retention rates and reduce sick time.

3. Discuss the potential for ancillary benefits.

Whether your customers are business owners seeking to hire the best employees, or individuals with a team of domestic help, they may not have considered ancillary benefits as a low-cost way to recruit and retain employees.

Benefits like Group Life, vision, and dental coverage are still highly sought after by workers. In a Harvard Business Review study, 88 percent of employees said they would consider accepting a job with a lower salary if the position had better health, dental, and vision benefits than the job with the higher pay.

Explore these possibilities with your customers, and they will look to you as a trusted business resource rather than just someone selling insurance products.

4. Educate your customers about enriched DBL.

NYS DBL coverage provides a bare minimum to help an employee who is ill or injured (while not on the job). DBL pays out just 50 percent of an employee’s salary up to $170 per week for 26 weeks.
Enriched DBL is a powerful retention tool for middle managers who exceed the maximum payout but may not have private disability insurance or a savings account to help get them through a medical emergency.

With the introduction of Paid Family Leave as a rider to DBL coverage in New York, many employers are looking to enrich DBL benefits in order to provide coverage comparable to PFL for employees who don’t have, or plan to have, families or may want a robust benefits package for themselves.

PFL was the big news in the insurance industry in 2018, but many people still aren’t aware of the policy changes. Stay on the forefront, educate your customers, and they will trust you to write their policies for personal and business insurance.

5. Offer the best rates by bundling coverage.

When you take advantage of The DBL Center’s carrier relationships, you can bundle lines to provide your customers with the best rates for DBL, ancillary benefits, and more.

Why would they go to any other broker if you’ve positioned yourself as a one-stop-shop for their business and personal lines of insurance coverage?


Artificial Intelligence and the Future of P&C Insurance

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become prevalent in every industry and in many homes, as well. If you’ve asked Siri to help you book a reservation at your favorite restaurant through OpenTable or used Alexa to create a playlist for a cocktail party you’re hosting, you’ve used AI.

In business settings, AI is beginning to help people schedule meetings, sift through resumes to find likely job candidates, and even provide customer service through chatbots online.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?

You’ve probably heard the phrase Artificial Intelligence many times and may even have a hint about what it means. You may have also heard another closely related term: Machine Learning.
An AI computer can act and react in ways similar to a human being. In other words, it can appear to think, and it can learn based on past experiences.

Machine learning is the means by which computers gain artificial intelligence.

In 2016, technologist, futurist, and investor Andrew Ng wrote, “If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future.”

This may be a vast simplification – or perhaps an over-statement – of AI’s capabilities. AI excels at pattern recognition, data sorting, voice recognition, and even responding to simple inquiries.
With this in mind, it’s easy to pinpoint some areas where AI could streamline insurance renewals, recordkeeping, audits, and bookkeeping for insurance professionals in the next five to 10 years – and perhaps even sooner.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Insurance Brokers Increase Sales and Commissions

Many brokers today use limited business intelligence analytics to track their business, but most of the activities are tracked manually, which means increased overhead and extra time spent staring at spreadsheets.

DBL Center’s Broker Dashboard can streamline many of your business intelligence processes, including tracking renewals, notifying staff of late payments, and tracking commissions. The new NRT software does all this and tracks data across all your P&C accounts, not just policies purchased through The DBL Center.

But this is only the beginning. Future versions of these powerful business intelligent (BI) engines are nearly destined to employ AI and machine learning. The next iterations of NRT may be able to analyze data faster, recognize relevant patterns, save brokers time, and potentially increase sales.

What Will the Broker Dashboard of the Future Look Like?

The potential for AI in the insurance industry in the future is incredible. Just as AI capabilities advance in the fields of healthcare and human resources, the insurance industry needs only embrace AI’s potential to streamline their business and earn more.

The Broker Dashboard of the future may be able to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to:

Predict which clients are likely to pay late so brokers can take pre-emptive action. Unlike running a credit check or looking at past behavior of that client, the AI algorithm can look at past behavior of clients with similar characteristics to predict future behavior of new clients. Brokers can take proactive steps to ensure bills are paid on time with reminder notifications or perhaps phone calls.

Identify good candidates for upsells like enriched DBL and ancillary benefits. AI could help increase the success rate of sales calls. Rather than taking a shotgun approach to try to sell existing clients bundled benefits packages, AI can help brokers identify highly-qualified leads most likely to say yes. Brokers will be more productive and earn more by delivering the benefits their clients really want.

Track the reasons behind cancellations. What if you could increase your retention rates by understanding why certain clients cancelled and take steps to retain similar clients? It’s always cheaper to keep a customer than to make a new one. By pinpointing cancellation patterns, AI can help you increase retention rates and keep your brokerage growing.

Track successful existing clients and identify likely prospects. If you are like many brokers, you’ve been working on building your database of prospects through social media, inbound marketing, direct mail, and in-person networking. AI is well-suited to compare that list to a list of your most successful clients. AI can help you cull down your massive database to find top prospects who are not only likely to say “yes.” It may also be able to pinpoint clients who will pay on time, stay with your company for years, and purchase multiple lines, including DBL, business insurance, home insurance, group life, and ancillary benefits.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

AI can take a lot of the guesswork out of insurance sales with business intelligence analytics. AI can recognize patterns of behavior and help brokers capitalize on all the data they have at their fingertips today.

Brokers who adopt these advanced technologies as they become available will save time, earn more, and stay ahead of the curve.

With our new broker dashboard and other business intelligence tools within reach, DBL Center can help.


Do Your Clients Understand their Maternity Leave Benefits?

Customer education goes a long way when it comes to selling employee benefits

As an insurance agent, you understand the intricacies of the employee benefits you sell, including maternity leave benefits available through Paid Family Leave (PFL) in New York. You can show customers how to file a DBL or PFL claim, tell them when their disability leave benefits will kick in, and how much money they are eligible to receive.

When you don’t know the answer, The DBL Center Ltd is just a phone call, email, or text away.

We sell employee benefits packages to the decision-makers, but employees don’t always receive the information they need to make important life decisions. For instance, maternity leave benefits may be a deciding factor in how soon a parent returns to the workplace, or even whether a couple can afford to have a child or not.

As an industry, we have an obligation to ensure that information on PFL and other benefits is being passed on to our customers – the company executives, HR departments, and the employees we serve.

An Insider Look at Maternity Leave Mistakes

An eye-opening article in Glamour magazine shares a “worst-case scenario” of what can happen when an employee doesn’t understand their maternity leave benefits.

Like any employee would do, the writer of the article spoke to her boss regarding her maternity leave benefits. She found out that she was eligible to receive 60 percent of her salary through her company’s short-term disability insurance plan. (The writer lived in Florida, so DBL was not a “given” as it is here in New York.)

She also learned she was entitled to 12 weeks off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which protects employees’ jobs while they are out on leave after having a baby or to care for a sick, aging, or disabled family member.

However, the writer never thought to ask (and her employer didn’t volunteer the information) if her insurance paid for a 12-week leave. When she realized it didn’t, it was too late. The couple’s savings had run out. She began freelancing when her son was only four weeks old to supplement her husband’s income and make the money her family needed to live.

The story resonated strongly with us here at The DBL Center, as a family-friendly company with many employees who are also parents. It underscored the importance of educating not just brokers, but the employers and employees who use PFL benefits.

3 Ways to Educate Customers About Maternity Leave

As a broker, you can (and should) take steps to educate your customers on maternity leave / PFL and other employee benefits. You’ll become a trusted resource, and the company they turn to when they want advice on other insurance-related topics.

If you aren’t already being proactive about educating your customers about paid family leave, here are some steps you can take.

  1. Work with HR Departments to Host a Lunch-and-Learn

There is nothing like making yourself available to your customers, in person, to answer their questions and explain their employee benefits packages. Set aside an hour of time to host a live seminar with the HR department and any employees who would like to hear about their options for employee benefits.

  1. Host a Webinar

You can also reach out to your customers without ever leaving your office. Host a webinar detailing the new PFL benefits, as well as any other ancillary benefits your customers receive.

Invest in low-cost, cloud-based software like Zoom or GoToMeeting to host webinars for up to 100 people. Or your organization may already have videoconferencing and webinar software already in place. Most of these programs are easy to set up and simple to use.

Hosting a webinar makes it easy to accommodate the schedules of multiple employees and eliminates travel time and expenses. You may even be able to provide recordings of the webinar, afterwards, for employees who could not attend.

  1. Provide Resources for Your Customers to Read or Watch Online

A personalized touch, either through live meetings or webinars, is often best to connect with your customers and upsell enriched DBL or ancillary benefits.

But you can make the information your customers need available to them when they need it by launching a resource center or blog on your website. Providing written information explaining the differences between PFL and FMLA and the extent of PFL benefits will help establish your insurance agency as a trusted resource.

You can even get creative and produce videos that you post on your website as well as on YouTube and Vimeo.

Not only do these articles and videos deliver the information your customers need when it’s convenient for them. It can also give your search engine rankings a boost, making it easier for people in your area to find you when they do a Google search for an insurance agency.

When it comes to marketing, it’s a win-win.

Join the DBL Center in Taking a Leadership Role in Customer Education

PFL is so important on so many levels, and it is crucial for employers and employees to understand the benefits. It is the responsibility of brokers to educate their customers, and the Glamour article details what can happen if insurance brokers don’t take a proactive stance. Employees don’t necessarily know the right questions to ask to make the right decisions for their financial future.

Fortunately, what is good for employee retention and for working families is also good for your bottom line. And customer education in the digital age is easier than ever.

If you can be the resource your customers need, your business will continue to grow through the sale of enriched benefits packages and word-of-mouth referrals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Are You Profiting from Insurance for Non Profit Organizations?

Follow these tips to grow your book of business in the nonprofit insurance sector

More than 1.5 million non profit organizations are registered in the U.S., says the National Center for Charitable statistics. And they all need nonprofit insurance coverage.

With 20.3 million people living in the New York Tri-State area, it’s safe to say a proportionate number of those non profits are based right here. And, just like your small business and large corporate customers, they are looking for low premiums, high-quality insurance coverage, and stellar service from their non profit insurance brokers.

Employee Benefits Help Compensate for Lower Pay

Non profit workers are traditionally paid less than their counterparts at for-profit companies. Owners of non profit organizations must tread carefully because they could face fines if the IRS deems their employees’ salaries “excessive.” Not only do nonprofits have less money to pay out—because their funding comes from supporter donations—but employers opt to err on the side of caution with employee salaries.

In order to find the best people to help them achieve their mission, non profits must look at other ways to attract and retain top employees. And that’s where insurance for non profit organizations comes in, especially when you are talking about enriched DBL and ancillary benefits. Most non profits have smaller operating budgets than corporations, including less money to pay out for employer-funded benefits like healthcare. But voluntary, employee-funded benefits like group life, vision, and dental coverage deliver great value at a low cost to employees.

Why You Should Consider Selling Insurance for Non Profit Organizations

Non profits go beyond foundations and mission-specific charitable organizations. They may include hospitals and universities, and other important business-oriented organizations with large teams and hefty operating costs.

Not only can non profits be a valuable sector by themselves, but selling not for profit insurance can also attract local business leads and new clients when your non profit customers spread the word to their members and volunteers about the service you deliver. Local networking groups such as your Chamber of Commerce, Lions’ Clubs, and Kiwanis are all non profit organizations.

Are you ready to start selling insurance for non profit organizations?

4 Easy Steps to Selling Insurance for Non Profit Organizations

To successfully sell not for profit insurance benefits, you need to understand what motivates the employees. Value-driven millennials often seek work with non profit organizations, because they want a career that makes a difference in the world along with providing a paycheck.

Employees are often willing to accept less pay because the intrinsic benefits of the job win out in the end. But, once reality sets in and the rent comes due, top talent may quickly be recruited away with promises of a hefty salary, ancillary benefits, and exciting perks in the corporate world.

A non profit may not be able to match a Fortune 500 in terms of pay. But non profit insurance brokers can offer something equal in intrinsic value and help organizations recruit and retain top talent by following these four steps.

  1. Research the mission and values of the organization.

Any good salesperson knows how it important it is to understand your audience. And the non profit group tends to be passionate about their beliefs. If you are working with an animal rights organization, for instance, mention your family pets you adopted from a rescue.

If you are working with an organization that supports eco-tourism,, and can off-handedly mention your Prius, they will understand you are aligned with their values. They will also love the efficiency of getting nonprofit insurance quotes online, without the hassles of paperwork.

Once you’ve made that personal connection, how do you make the leap to insurance products? By tapping into what’s important to non profit employees, you can show them the employee benefits that will help enhance their lifestyle by saving them money.

  1. Sell employees on the lifestyle benefits.

Millennials — especially those who choose to work for non profits—treasure a work/life balance and want to make a difference at work and at play. Saving money on dental and vision costs may free up cash so they can travel more, for instance, or adopt another pet from the animal rescue.

A good life insurance policy will provide peace of mind to employees starting a family. And a 401K will give them the financial freedom they need to continue supporting their favorite causes, through donations or volunteerism, into their retirement.

  1. Educate employers about the advantages of low-cost ancillary benefits.

Recruiting and retention is a major challenge for executives in the non profit sector. Smaller organizations may not have an HR director who understands the specifics of employee benefits packages, how they are structured, or what’s available.

They need a non profit insurance broker they can trust to explain how ancillary benefits can be bundled with mandatory coverage for maximum savings, and how these benefits can be used as important recruiting and retention tools to keep top talent.

  1. Make sure employees and employers understand exactly what they’re getting, how much money it can save them, and how it can enhance their lives.

Don’t assume anyone in the organization understands the value of employee benefits. Hold a lunch-and-learn seminar, make information available on your website, let employers and their employees, alike, know you are available for questions.

Bottom line: Making insurance for non profit organizations part of your book of business involves a large amount consultative selling. Make sure prospective clients understand that these are employee-funded, voluntary benefits that cost very little compared to the money they will save over their lives.


How You (and Your Customers) Can Benefit from a Company Census

Some carriers may require a company census in the future for DBL coverage. Here’s why it’s worth your customers’ time to complete one now.

If you are a broker who sells ancillary benefits such as life, dental, and vision coverage, you are already familiar with the paperwork required to complete a company census. Your customers have to submit a company census showing the number of employees, their ages, genders, and salaries.

Now, with the introduction of Paid Family Leave, some insurance carriers may require a company census for their DBL insurance, too.

Even if it isn’t required by your carrier, having an accurate and up-to-date census can benefit brokers and their customers, alike, resulting in money savings for customers and increased opportunities for brokers to cross-sell ancillary benefits with DBL coverage. Read on to find out how.

Benefits of a Company Census

With a census in hand, business owners will receive more accurate insurance rates that are based on the exact head count of covered employees. They won’t overpay for their insurance coverage, which can enable the company to better manage cash flow without tying up funds needlessly.

And if you have to break the bad news that their insurance premiums will go up slightly, at least your commission will rise proportionately. They will now be paying for the actual coverage they are receiving, which is difficult for any business person to argue.

How to Use The Company Census As the Doorway to Ancillary Coverage

With a company census for each one of your customers in hand, it is easy to request a quote for ancillary coverage through the DBL Center. In order to accurately quote ancillary coverage, you need the census. Now that your customers have that information, you can show them how affordable it can be to sweeten their employee benefits package with group life, vision, or dental coverage.

If you’ve already shown your customers you can save them money on their DBL and PFL, now you can show them how to take that extra money and invest it into ancillary policies that will make all their employees happy, build loyalty, and help attract top talent.

Making Time to Complete the Census

For small business owners, completing a census shouldn’t take much time at all. They can delegate the task to an office manager or set aside a few hours to gather the information from their employees. It could even be as fast as sending out a company-wide email.
For larger corporations with more than 50 lives, and even up to thousands of employees, gathering census data will, admittedly, take more time. But the cost savings could really add up for larger companies.

Once the census data is in place, it doesn’t take long to update it, annually, with new employees and to remove employees who no longer work for the company.

“It makes sense to calculate accurate insurance premiums based on the actual number of lives in a company and can result in cost savings for customers,” says DBL Center’s Selena Kutschera. “It also makes it easier for brokers to get an accurate quote in order to enrich their customers’ benefits packages with ancillary benefits.”

How To Get Started

Pinpoint a few customers, especially corporations over 50 lives, who would benefit the most from a census and be most amenable to ancillary benefits if it was fast and easy to get a price quote. If carriers begin requiring a census for DBL coverage with a PFL rider, these customers will have the information in hand.

“Filling out census forms for more accurate insurance billing is new and unfamiliar to many brokers,” says Kutschera. “But the DBL Center is here to help our brokers and their customers complete a company census. It’s also important to remember that this a one-time-only process that will allow the carrier to better serve brokers and their customers.”


3 Ways DBL Insurance Opens Doors for P&C Brokers

New York business owners need more than just DBL insurance coverage

The DBL insurance industry recently experienced a shake-up when New York State passed a law requiring mandatory Paid Family Leave coverage, to be written as a rider to NYS DBL policies. Several carriers exited the DBL insurance market because they didn’t want to write PFL riders, which left many brokers looking to replace their DBL policies.

Brokers had two choices: Lose the DBL business or leave their existing carriers to write DBL insurance policies elsewhere. DBL Center brokers who relied on DBL Center as their back-office staff were able to move those DBL policies with ease, impress their customers, and strengthen their position in the marketplace.

DBL Policies Open Doors

These brokers found that DBL insurance policies open doors to more business. This has always been true, but it’s even more relevant now, in 2018, when fewer carriers are writing DBL insurance coverage.

If you are the broker who can write these policies for New York State business owners, provide exemplary service, and build trust with your customers, they will come to you for all their insurance needs.

For P&C brokers, DBL insurance can act as your foot in the door, giving you the chance to write high-commission policies like home, auto or even umbrella policies for business owners and their employees.

Let’s look at some of the opportunities available to P&C brokers to expand their book of business with new and existing DBL insurance customers.

1. Smart business owners will consider expanding employee benefits packages with ancillary lines of coverage.

We’ve talked in-depth about enriching DBL coverage in light of the new PFL law. But business owners can also improve employee retention with ancillary benefits such as vision, dental, and life insurance.

The DBL Center can provide a discounted benefits package when you bundle these ancillary lines with an enriched DBL package, allowing you to provide your customers with even more value.

2. Business owners will rely on someone they can trust to write their personal insurance policies.

In addition to business insurance and employee benefits, business owners also need insurance for their personal assets. As an insurance broker, you know that many business owners possess one or more of the following: high-value homes, vacation homes, automobiles, recreational vehicles, or boats.

Once you’ve established trust as their broker of choice for mandatory DBL insurance or enriched DBL coverage, it’s easy to ask your business customers if they’d like a quote on an umbrella policy to cover their home/auto and other possessions requiring insurance. They might also consider purchasing life insurance through your brokerage.

Most consumers understand that when they do business through one company, they can get the best deals and preferred service as a loyal customer. It’s your job, as their broker, to remind them about your other insurance lines and the savings you can offer them. A new sale and a large commission check could be just that easy.

3. Business owners may refer their employees to you for their personal insurance coverage.

Not only do business owners have cars, homes, and boats to insure, so do many of their employees. What if you could earn referrals from your biggest accounts, just by providing excellent service and low rates to the owner of the company? You can increase your commission checks by writing homeowners’ insurance, auto insurance, umbrella policies, renters’ insurance, or whole- or term-life insurance policies.

More Than Just DBL Insurance

In New York, DBL Center specializes in DBL, PFL and ancillary benefits. We couldn’t tell you how to sell your P&C lines or where to go for the best rates.

But we can remind you that almost every business owner needs DBL coverage. And with our back-office staff providing white-glove service, as well as our new Net Revenue Tracker app giving you fast, convenient access to all your accounts, we make it easy for you to sell DBL and maintain your DBL accounts.

By doing so, the DBL Center opens doors for you to expand your book of business with the lines that you know best such as health, life, home and auto insurance and umbrella policies.

Need more information about DBL and PFL? Need tips on marketing DBL insurance coverage? We are here to help. Give us a call at (631) 293.5100 or get a quick quote now.


FSA v. HSA v. Ancillary Benefits: Which Should Employers Choose?

DBL Center explores FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits so you can help your customers make informed choices

If you or your employees have a flexible spending account (FSA) you may be scrambling to spend that money before it expires. That’s one of the main differences in an FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits package. Your FSA expires at year-end. (Although, in some cases, that deadline is extended to mid-March.)

Whatever benefits package you have, healthcare is expensive. When you factor in the costs or co-pays of prescription medicines, doctor’s visit co-pays, not to mention vision and dental costs or co-pays, plus the actual cost of healthcare coverage, the average person spent $10,345 in healthcare in 2016. FSA, HSA, or ancillary benefits packages can help defray some of those costs.

When comparing FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits, each has advantages for certain people. If you’re an employer interested in offering the most robust benefits package to your employees, combine ancillary benefits that include dental benefits and vision benefits with an FSA to pay other costs, not ordinarily covered by insurance, with pre-tax dollars.

When you’re looking at the differences in FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits, one of the biggest drawbacks to an FSA is it expires at year’s end.

Let’s sort through the other differences in FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits to better understand employee benefits available. As a broker, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to guide your customers toward the best ancillary benefits package to improve employee loyalty and morale.

What Is An FSA?

An FSA, or flexible spending account, is a pre-tax savings account you can use to pay for a variety of expenses related to health and wellness and, in some cases, dependent care.

The employer withdraws a set amount of money, pre-tax, and provides employees with a debit card to purchase any items or services covered by the FSA. The list includes a number of surprising items, including co-pays, prescription and over-the-counter medicine, childcare, and even items such as bandages and sunscreen.

If you don’t spend the money in the account by the deadline (typically December 31 or March 15), you could lose it, although some plans let you roll up to $500 into the next year.

FSA Advantages:

  • You can use the money for a variety of health-related expenses, including childcare
  • Money is deducted from your paycheck, pre-tax
  • You may also be able to use it to pay for childcare

FSA Disadvantages:

  • Use the money or lose it
  • No employer matching contributions

What Is an HSA?

An HSA, or a health savings account, is often confused with an FSA. But a Health Savings Account is available only to individuals enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). The idea is that the health savings plan can help cover the deductible cost with pre-tax dollars. HSA money can also pay health-related expenses not covered by your insurance, such as vision or dental costs.

Unlike an FSA, you can deduct money from your HSA for other reasons, but you will pay tax on that money, including an additional 20 percent tax penalty.

HSA Advantages:

  • For people with a high-deductible health care plan, an HSA helps ensure they have money available for doctor’s visits and other medical expenses
  • You can withdraw the money at any time for any reason, but you might pay a penalty
  • The HSA does not expire

HSA Disadvantages:

  • Not available to everyone
  • You’ll pay a tax penalty for using the money for non-eligible costs

What Are Ancillary Benefits?

If you’ve read this far, you understand why an FSA or HSA is not always the best option employers can provide to their workers.

Ancillary benefits, including vision and dental benefits, work like any other insurance plan. Employees pay the premium with pre-tax money deducted from their paychecks and the insurance benefits pay for things like check-ups, corrective lenses, or dental work. In some cases, the employee might have to pay a co-pay.

Most ancillary benefits are completely employee-funded, which means the employer has no added costs. Ancillary benefits are enticing to employees because it’s like money in the bank with no risks involved.

Advantages of Ancillary Benefits:

  • No out-of-pocket costs to the employer
  • Voluntary benefits means employees can choose their coverage
  • Low premiums and high payouts, especially for employees with families
  • Healthier employees are happy employees; with good coverage, employees won’t put off important dental work or eye exams

Which Is Better: FSA v. HSA v. Ancillary Benefits – The Answer

Brokers, if your customers ask you, “Which is better: FSA v. HSA v. ancillary benefits?” we encourage you to share this post with them and guide them toward the best conclusion. Flex spending accounts have their place, but as people rush to spend the money in their account this month, it might be a good time to show your customers a better, less frustrating way to pay for common dental and vision expenses.

You can add an ancillary benefits package to any enriched DBL account when the policy renews this winter. Let the DBL Center help as your white-glove, back-office team to help the process go smoothly.