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.
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.
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:
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.
by Michael Cohen
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:
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 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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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:
The New York State Sick Leave law (NYSSL) also covers a host of other circumstances for which employees may need time off, including:
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.
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.
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:
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.
by Dawn Allcot
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.:
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.
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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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.
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
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 (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.
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. In the future, it will be able to track 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 Broker Dashboard may be able to analyze data faster, recognize relevant patterns, save brokers time, and potentially increase sales.
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.
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.