With the introduction of Paid Family and Medical Leave in Connecticut, insurance brokers that serve the state are grappling with many new questions and challenges, along with exciting opportunities and even cost savings over the plan administrated by Connecticut’s paid leave authority. But is it worth it to add other lines of coverage such as ancillary benefits or long-term disability?
“We’re in the position now, of asking our clients to pay more money just to satisfy their desire to privatize PFML,” says Cathy Brown, Vice President of Employee Benefits at Brown & Brown of Connecticut, Inc., a publicly-held insurance carrier in Rocky Hill, CT.
She points out that, fortunately, The DBL Center works with top-rated carriers who will privatize PFML as a standalone benefit and can connect customers with those plans, instead. She notes that her company takes a holistic approach to the decision, and The DBL Center provides options that will benefit the client whether they opt for ancillary benefits or not.
As a broker, Brown says, “You want to do what’s right for the client, but you want to take advantage of the added revenue stream with additional lines of coverage, too. As a broker, we want to look at it holistically from the point-of-view of our client. It could be in the best interests of the employer because they’re saving money with a private plan.”
However, adding lines of coverage is not just a matter of the cost of premiums. If a person’s PFML coverage runs out and now they have to file for long-term disability, now the employer has to backfill that leave. They may have to hire a temp or a contractor to fill the position. “You’ve upped the spend on your budget with the long-term disability policy because you wanted to privatize PFML. Can you afford the line of coverage and additional costs down the line?” Brown says.
These are the questions Connecticut brokers need to be asking their customers. It’s important to explore these facets with clients because, overall, you’ll build trust and create long-term, happier clients.
But there are compelling reasons for Connecticut business owners to bundle long-term disability and ancillary benefits with state-mandated PFML – and it’s about more than just saving money and getting better service with a plan through a private carrier.
It’s a fact that employers should have contingency plans set up for employees who require to take short-term medical leave or long-term disability. But it’s not something most of us, as business owners, think about until it’s staring us in the face and we’re looking to fill a role left by someone out on leave.
If someone is sick, disabled, or unable to work, they may not have a choice but to take a leave of absence. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees their job for a certain amount of time. Long-term disability can help ensure they return to your place of business once they recover, since you’ve not only held their job, but provided a means of income while they couldn’t work. It’s important to share these facts with your clients – and also look at ways you can enhance benefits within your insurance brokerage to show your clients you are “walking the walk.”
On-site gym memberships, ping-pong tables and craft beer Fridays are no longer enough to attract top talent to organizations. Employees want flex-time, continued remote work options, and better emergency leave. The state of Connecticut is making sure employers provide that emergency leave for employees to care for themselves or a loved one. Now it’s up to employers to fill in gaps with ancillary benefits.
Human Resource Executive notes that, during the pandemic, people have put off dental, vision, and routine medical care. Since a person’s eyes and teeth are a reflection of their overall health, it’s important to stay up to date on dental and vision check-ups. Ancillary benefits that cover these costs, in part or in whole, makes it more likely for people to take care of these appointments. That can create an overall healthier workforce that performs better.
You may bundle your auto and home insurance under one policy for cost-savings and convenience. The same holds true for bundling employee benefits. By putting as many employee benefits with one carrier as they can, your customers can get not just the best rates, but the advantage of a single point of contact for questions and claims.
“I would advise employers and brokers to package PFML benefits in Connecticut with long-term disability and ancillary benefits. That way, benefit coordination will be nice and neat,” says Brian Dewey, Group Sales Representative, New England Territory, for The DBL Center. “And, of course, with The DBL Center’s experience in paid leave in New York and my experience with ancillary benefits across New England, we can be a resource to the Connecticut brokers who are trying to manage with is really a new benefit in their state.”
Do your clients prefer to purchase stand-alone PFML? Whether they want to bundle benefits or not, The DBL Center can help, with Paid Family and Medical Leave in Connecticut through top-rated carriers.
by Michael Cohen
In the past several years, Paid Family Medical Leave legislation has been sweeping across the Northeast. The DBL Center has been at the forefront of guiding brokers to make the most of this new revenue stream, which can be bundled with ancillary benefits to provide business owners with cost savings while brokers enjoy increased commissions.
As we increase our services in Connecticut and Massachusetts, especially, we’ve been expanding our base into New England with a physical presence in Connecticut. This allows us to service our New England brokers better with a local presence.
Brokers in Connecticut and Massachusetts have turned to The DBL Center in the past year to navigate Paid Family and Medical Leave in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We’ve been helping brokers manage PFL in NY since 2017, so we’re familiar with the transition. Most importantly, we can help brokers use statutory coverage as a springboard to sell highly profitable group ancillary benefits, including dental, vision, and group life / AD&D.
However, as Connecticut and Massachusetts solidify their Paid Family and Medical leave legislation, there are bound to be nuances in the laws that make them different from New York. Already, Connecticut has different paperwork to fill out to privatize PFML in CT. And the definition of a “family member” that someone can take leave to care for hasn’t been fully defined, but it may be less restrictive than New York’s laws.
Learn more about Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave here in our resource center.
Having local insurance experts in New England that can focus exclusively on our New England brokers will allow The DBL Center to provide the same level of expert, personalized service across Massachusetts and Connecticut as we have been doing for 45+ years in New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii.
As we focus on customer service and PFML in Connecticut and Massachusetts, we’ve brought on an industry expert with an office in Trumbull, Connecticut. Brian Dewey, the newest DBL Center Group Sales Representative, comes to us from major carriers Sun Life and Ameritas and has been a staple in Connecticut insurance for nearly a decade.
A Massachusetts native and Stonehill graduate with degrees in Economics and Finance, Dewey specializes in group ancillary benefits and will stay on top of the ever-evolving statutory benefits legislation in Connecticut, where he currently resides, and in his home state of Massachusetts.
With our extensive knowledge of Paid Family and Medical Leave coverage, The DBL Center is here to support New England brokers through the confusion of the first year of this new benefit and beyond. Brokers who take advantage of our white-glove, personalized service also gain access to our state-of-the-art Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, helping you track renewals, cancellations, and commissions easily from any internet-enabled device.
Reach out to The DBL Center and Brian Dewey to learn more about how to help your customers save money by privatizing PFML in Connecticut today.
by Dawn Allcot
As Connecticut employers prepare to make their first contributions to the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority for Paid Family Medical Leave in Connecticut, many business owners are wondering if it pays to privatize PFML through a top-rated insurance carrier. Since the program was first announced last year, Connecticut insurance brokers have been wondering the same thing. Is there profit in privatizing PFML in Connecticut?
Cathy Brown, Vice President of Employee Benefits at Brown & Brown of Connecticut, Inc., a publicly-held insurance carrier in Rocky Hill, CT, shares her thoughts on navigating the introduction of PFML, the challenges, pitfalls, and opportunities Connecticut brokers face.
“Since the end of last year, we’ve been exploring opportunities with different carriers to see if it pays to privatize this paid leave and write the policy through a trusted carrier rather than the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority,” she said.
In some cases, the choice looks like a no-brainer. The DBL Center has secured quotes for businesses in certain low-risk industries that save employees money on the 0.5% standard premium charged by the state. “We’ve had some quotes come in at 0.4%,” Brown says, “so automatically we are saving employees money by privatizing the plan.”
That 0.1% point can add up over time, especially for high-earners. But in other cases, the quotes may come in the same. Brown points out that premium prices often depend on the industry, as certain industries are deemed higher risk for employees to take paid family leave or paid medical leave for illnesses not covered by workers’ compensation.
For instance, healthcare workers may have a higher risk of catching a communicable disease in their workplace, but since it can’t be traced back to a specific workday incident, it would not qualify for workers’ compensation and the employee would file for short-term medical leave, instead.
Similarly, healthcare workers may be more likely to take paid leave to care for family members. “The definition of who constitutes a ‘family member’ here in Connecticut is very broad,” Brown says. “It hasn’t been fully defined by the department of labor. But if your line of work is in the healthcare field, you might be more likely to be the one to take a leave of absence to care for someone in your family, because you’re the one who knows how to do that.”
Industries dominated by women of child-bearing age may also have a higher incidence of paid family leave claims. A 2019 report from the University of Chicago found that 48% of new fathers and 55% of new mothers have taken time off to care for a newborn. When it comes to taking leave to care for a family member, the margin gets even slimmer: 28% of working men and 31% of working women took time off to care for a family member.
However, working with an experienced insurance wholesaler like The DBL Center can help brokers get the lowest rates for their clients regardless of the industry. “We’ve been able to work through Michael Cohen and his team at The DBL Center to find out which insurance companies are best for which industries. He’s been able to help us navigate through our choices to get the best plans for our clients,” Brown says.
She adds that The DBL Center has helped her write plans without requiring her clients to add additional lines of coverage, such as long-term disability or other ancillary benefits. Not every employer is ready, financially or from a staffing standpoint, to add other employee benefits as they are just beginning to adapt to the challenges and costs of paid family medical leave.
Even if the premiums for privatizing PFML end up equal in cost to the state plan, Connecticut business owners can reap other rewards by privatizing paid family medical leave in Connecticut.
“It’s about our clients’ comfort level when it comes to helping their employees file a claim,” Brown says. “You can go it alone and let your employees work directly with the state or you can privatize and work directly with a top carrier, while having your broker to help you.”
Brown points out that The DBL Center’s knowledge has been invaluable in guiding her clients. Cohen’s experience in helping brokers roll out Paid Family Leave in New York, where it is written as a rider to short-term disability policies, is helping The DBL Center stay ahead of the curve as Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation ripples across the northeast states. “We’ve been able to reach out to Michael and his team as a resource. He’s help us interpret some of the legislation for us and even gotten on the phone with our clients to explain it to them in better laymen’s terms than we can, because of our lack of boots on the ground to this point,” Brown says.
Following in the steps of New York and Massachusetts, Connecticut will become the third New England state to offer Paid Family Medical Leave (CT PFML). Like the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave program, CT Paid Family Medical Leave will cover both short-term medical leave for employees and family leave to care for specific family members, under one policy. The leave also covers:
Deductions for CT Paid Family Leave begin January 1, 2021, but claimants can’t file for the benefit until January 22, 2022. Business owners can register to write coverage through the State Fund as of November 1, 2020.
The DBL Center is staying in touch with our carriers in the market, as well as with the CT State Insurance Fund, to determine when and how employers can write a private plan. The DBL Center is working closely with our network of top-rated, preferred carriers to determine who has filed to write in this market. We will keep our brokers up to date, as early education is sure to be a key to success in showing Connecticut business owners the benefits of privatized CT PFML.
To qualify for the benefit, employees must have been employed within the last 12 weeks and earned at least $2,325 in at least one quarter from the first four of the past five most recently completed quarters.
For instance, if an employee earned $2,400 in the most recently ended quarter, but only $2,000 in the four prior to that, they would not qualify. But if they earned $2,400 three quarters ago, and then their wages dropped to $2,000 for the past two quarters, they would qualify.
Former employees who met the earnings and have been employed within the prior 12 weeks are also eligible.
Additionally, self-employed individuals and sole proprietors can opt into CT Paid Family Medical Leave coverage, as can Connecticut residents who are employed in a different state.
All employers with one or more employees are covered under the PFML law. The law also provides employers with the tools and resources to comply with the applicable laws and promote a happy, healthy, and positive workplace.
Employers in the State of Connecticut play a crucial role in helping workers access to paid time off to meet their various personal and family health needs under the CT Paid Family Medical Leave law. They have to:
As in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, who all offer paid family and/or medical leave benefits, employers can say no to the state plan and opt into privatized CT Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, instead.
However, current legislation will require employee opt-in and private carrier approval via a vote. New Jersey recently waived the 50%+1 signature requirement to privatize TDB coverage. But brokers hoping to move into the CT PFML market in Connecticut are likely to face challenges getting employee buy-in to privatize benefits.
The good news?
Time is on the side of Connecticut brokers, with the legislation set to go into effect January 1, 2022. Now is the time to begin showing Connecticut business owners the benefits of a private plan. We have New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey as examples of the advantages of privatizing paid leave.
These advantages, in general, include:
In addition to getting employees to vote to privatize CT Paid Family Medical Leave, employees must also vote on the specific carrier in order to satisfy the CT statutory requirement.
Now’s the time to begin educating Connecticut business owners and show them the vast choices of carriers and plans they have when they work with DBL Center brokers. It’s time to show them how they can save by bundling ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and Group Life / AD&D. And to show them how white-glove service makes a difference, especially when employers and HR directors are struggling to navigate a whole new world of employee benefits with CT Paid Family Medical Leave.