Post updated on November 15, 2020
Covid-19 has brought many challenges to business owners, HR directors, and employees across the Northeast. It has also created many questions regarding temporary disability benefits and eligibility.
As a trusted insurance broker, it helps to have answers to frequently asked questions regarding temporary disability and long term disability payments. One of the most frequently asked questions, recently, addresses employees with lingering illnesses or injuries not incurred in the workplace: “What can I do when temporary disability runs out?”
Fortunately, there are multiple solutions. As a P&C insurance broker with The DBL Center’s vast network of top-rated carriers behind you, you’re equipped to assist with at least two of these:
If a customer asks what their employee can do when statutory short term disability (TDB in New Jersey, DBL in New York, and PFML in Massachusetts and Connecticut) or private group short-term disability (STD) runs out, here are some options you can suggest.
Some people with an illness or injury may try to apply for Social Security benefits. However, to qualify for Social Security / Disability benefits, you must be unable to work for at least one year, or have an illness that will lead to death. The time between 26 weeks and a year is a long span to live without any income if you are unable to work.
Group long-term disability insurance increases the length of time of coverage up to 60 months. Employers can choose from “same occupation” or “any occupation” coverage. Class I coverage, for the executives in a company, offers up to 60% of income replacement up to $15,000 per month.
The cost to the company is actually very small, especially if the employer purchases coverage bundled with statutory benefits or other ancillary benefits, like dental, vision, and Group Life / AD&D.
Group LTD benefits higher level employees in the same way enriched DBL does in New York, providing income replacement at a minimal cost. Employers can avoid tapping into their 401K or selling other investments. Let’s face it – especially in today’s market, selling stocks may not be the best answer for high-earners to free up capital for living expenses!
In addition to providing company owners and high-level executives with a safety net and peace-of-mind should they become injured or disabled, a generous group LTD package can also benefit the company as a whole.
It may help entice star talent, but, more importantly, it can help a business retain high-quality employees after they bounce back from an illness or injury. If a company takes care of someone in their time of need, they will return to work with a degree of loyalty. In fact, due to the strain financial difficulties place on a person’s health, having disability coverage to provide for themselves and their family could, in fact, help make a return to work after injury or illness possible.
For business owners who don’t want to make the investment in Group LTD, or for self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and solopreneurs, private long-term disability insurance provides an income replacement solution.
Since the premiums on this insurance are paid out-of-pocket, after taxes, the disability income is not taxable. Claimants receive their full benefits when they need the money most.
Disability insurance may seem like a tough sell when it is not mandated by the state. But the coronavirus pandemic has made many people come to terms with their own health and even their mortality. More than ever, people are thinking about their financial future should they be unable to work for any length of time. This includes COVID-19 long-haulers, those who experience symptoms even after the worst of the illness has passed.
The Social Security Administration estimates that a 20-year-old employee faces a three in ten chance of becoming disabled before age 65. Other reports say one in four workers becomes disabled during their working life. These odds increase for heavy smokers, people who are overweight, or those who have a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. And these numbers have undoubtedly risen since the pandemic.
Yet, only 45 percent of millennial workers have long-term disability insurance, according to The Hartford Financial Service Group. More than 20 percent of millennials said they would need help from family or friends or move back in with their parents if they were unable to work due to illness or injury, while another 20 percent would have to rely on credit cards or borrowing against their 401K retirement account.
While employees don’t want to consider being one of the 25 to 30 percent of people who become disabled, it’s a reality. And most disabilities are caused by illness, not injury. Knowing they are protected, whether through private income replacement insurance or employer-funded long-term disability benefits offers peace-of-mind and greater financial security.
As a broker, remind your customers that temporary disability coverage doesn’t have to be “all-or-nothing.” Voluntary group long-term disability coverage can be fully employee-funded, with no out-of-pockets costs for the employer (other than the employer’s insurance premiums to cover themselves). Since this is a pre-tax benefit, some employees may enjoy the tax benefits, too, although it means they will have to pay taxes on their disability income if they ever make a claim.
Employers also have the option to split the costs of group LTD with their employees, or to fund the benefit completely as an incentive to recruit and retain top talent. You can help your customers weigh cost factors with the benefits of employee recruiting and retention based on their industry and region.
It costs more to gain a new customer than to upsell an existing account. In these challenging financial times, consider Group LTD, along with other ancillary benefits, as a means to grow your book-of-business and increase your commissions.
And don’t forget to use your Broker Dashboard to track it all! Schedule your free demo of this state-of-the-art statutory insurance net revenue tracker today.
by Dawn Allcot
The New York State Disability Benefits Law (DBL) mandates every “covered” employer (employers with one or more employees) to provide private disability insurance in New York to employees who are ill, injured off-job, or pregnant. To stay in compliance with the law, the employer can purchase private disability benefits insurance in New York either from an authorized insurance carrier or through the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF).
Many employers don’t know of the tremendous advantages of bundling an enriched DBL policy with other, highly desirable ancillary benefits in New York State. As successful insurance brokers who emphasize customer service, it’s important for you to remind them of the top reasons they should privatize DBL in NYS.
You know from shopping policies with The DBL Center for years that your customers can save money, get better coverage, and enjoy the white glove service you provide as a broker with The DBL Center as your back-office staff. Enriched DBL especially benefits the high earners in a company, since they are getting more bang for the buck with the benefit. The extra cash may help keep them from tapping into investments like stocks (no one wants to sell when the stock market is low!) or borrowing against their 401K. Keep that money in savings where it’s earning passive income for the future and use the benefits you’ve been paying for anyway.
Enriched DBL enables employers and employees, alike, to receive a weekly maximum benefit of up to $850, with optional in-hospital coverage available through select carriers.
But the income protection isn’t the only reason New York State employers should consider enriching DBL today.
Many employers today realize that highly capable workers want intangible benefits like flexible hours, telecommuting options and – above all else – a clear direction of their job expectations with guidance from their supervisors.
But when it comes to benefits, employers might be surprised to realize that traditional – and practical – benefits win out over other employee perks. In a study done by staffing agency Robert Half, employees listed paid time off, dental insurance, and vision insurance as three of the top five benefits they’d prefer. The state of New York recently forced employers’ hands with mandated New York State Sick Leave.
To stand out in a competitive market, you need to be able to offer ancillary benefits like vision and dental at a reasonable cost. According to the survey, 71% of employers offered dental insurance while 63% provided vision coverage.
When employers write NY Disability Benefits insurance through a private insurance carrier, they can bundle ancillary benefits at a low cost. Plus, these insurance options can be voluntary and employee-funded, costing the employer absolutely nothing out-of-pocket. Consider hosting a webinar to get in front of employees or the HR team and explain how much they can save with enriched DBL and ancillary benefits from your insurance agency and you’ll make friends for life.
After all, who wouldn’t want to save money on their insurance and necessities like dental care and eyeglasses?
Are you new to DBL Center? DBL Center works for its clients by offering quality assistance on the best NY State Disability Insurance Benefit packages and providing top-notch white-glove service.
With our instant, binding application, we help you prepare quotes from multiple carriers in a matter of minutes. Compare rates, diversify your portfolio, and earn more commission while DBL Center serves as your back-office support staff to manage and maintain your policies.
Plus, you’ll gain access to our state of the art Broker Dashboard to track your cancellations, upcoming renewals and commission.
by Michael Cohen
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.
Because different benefits have different definitions and the devil is in the details…
As more states add legislation for paid family leave and the federal government introduces programs to help manage Covid-related disability claims, short-term disability has become more confusing than ever.
To help brokers understand the profit potential in these benefits and to help business owners sort through the “alphabet soup” of STD (short-term disability), The DBL Center offers your complete guide to short term disability offerings.
Short-term disability is the all-encompassing phrase to describe disability benefits for employees who are unable to work due to illness or injury that did not occur at work. (Workers’ compensation covers work-related illnesses and injuries.)
Disability Benefits Law is New York’s statutory temporary disability insurance coverage. Business owners can write their policies through the state or privately. DBL pays employees 50% of their salary to a maximum of $170 per week of benefit up to 26 weeks.
Increasing benefits that extend beyond the statutory DBL (Disability Benefits Law) coverage in the form of a higher maximum benefit. It can also include shorter waiting periods or a longer maximum duration. All eligible employees must be included.
Temporary Disability Benefits cover New Jersey employees out of work for illness or injury up to 26 weeks. Effective July 1, 2020, the NJ TDB benefit increased to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary to a maximum of $881 per week. To pay for these benefit increases, for the first time, employees are contributing premiums for the NJTDB coverage on a different taxable wage base than employers. As of 1/1/2020 employees are contributing .26% on the first $134,900 of earnings (maximum annual contribution of $350.74). Employers are contributing based on employees’ earnings capped at $35,500. As in New York, NJ business owners can write their policies privately or through the state.
New York State Paid Family Leave covers individuals up to 67% average weekly wage replacement for up to 12 weeks for the birth, adoption or foster care of a child; to care for a seriously ill family member; or to manage the household while a spouse is deployed. It’s written as a rider to DBL.
Covered individuals are eligible for no more than 26 total weeks in the aggregate of paid family and medical leave in a single benefit year under the new Massachusetts PFML (Paid Family and Medical Leave) legislation. This was introduced to cover individuals out of work to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child in the first year; to care for a family member; or to manage the household while a spouse is deployed. PFML adds medical leave, to care for a family member unable to work due to illness or injury as of July 1, 2021.
Disability Income is private disability coverage offered to individuals or sold as a group plan in states that do not mandate statutory STD. It encompasses paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits (STD), and long-term disability benefits (LTD).
Unlike the benefits above, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that guarantees an employee’s job if they are out for family or medical leave. It does not pay benefits.
The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) provides income replacement at 2/3 the regular rate of pay for up to 80 weeks for employees in quarantine as a result of Covid-19 or seeking treatment for coronavirus, and an additional 10 weeks for employees whose school or childcare provider has closed due to the pandemic. This is paid by employers, with federal tax credits to offset the costs.
The DBL Center has also created a handy slide of this information for easy reference. You can view the it below and on our LinkedIn feed.
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.
Insurance brokers know that DBL stands for “Disability Benefits Law,” which provides statutory New York State short term disability insurance to qualifying workers through employer-funded benefits packages.
But here at DBL Center, we love a good play on words. We want to remind our brokers that this year, more than ever, the “DBL” in DBL Center stands for “Don’t be late.” That is, don’t be late with your NY disability insurance premiums and delay your incoming commissions because clients haven’t remitted premiums on time.
Across New York, businesses have closed as a result of the pandemic. From mom-and-pop boutiques, to law firms, restaurants, gyms, and even larger companies, New York business owners felt the crush of the quarantine, followed by re-opening regulations, and a public that is wary of leaving their homes or spending money.
As we continue to struggle with these challenges, one thing insurance brokers shouldn’t have to worry about is whether or not their clients still in business have paid their premiums.
Yet, it’s a fact of life. Brokers face cancellations due to non-pays, client bookkeeping errors, and other lapses that can delay your commissions.
Even in the best of times, you don’t want to have to waste time chasing down clients. The Covid-19 pandemic complicated it further, because you don’t know who:
• Went out of business
• Doesn’t have the money to pay
• Received a PPP loan but perhaps thought premiums were yet another bill waived due to the pandemic
• Put their statutory DBL last on the list of payments to make, after paying the lease and keeping the lights on
Whatever your client’s situation, if they have an in-force NYS DBL policy or enriched DBL, they owe the premium amount due – and you deserve your commission.
DBL Center is here to remind your customers “don’t be late,” on their DBL payments. Through our powerful Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, we can track renewals, cancellations, and non-pays.
Then we send those emails and make those uncomfortable calls reminding your clients their New York state DBL payment is due. We use the utmost tact, and will get that bill paid so you can collect your commission.
And if a company has gone out of business? We’ll adjust the Broker Dashboard records to reflect that. No more wasted time on out-of-business companies.
Many customers might have NYS DBL premium payments due, but not understand the amount owed due to a change in their overall employee head count. If their bill does not reflect the new number of lives, reflective of layoffs or furloughs that occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ll recalculate the total amount due.
And, again, get that bill paid so you can collect your commission.
When you help your clients purchase NY disability insurance through The DBL Center, we serve as your back-office staff to manage your accounts. That frees you up to do what you do best, which is sell insurance – even in a struggling economy.
With access to our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, you’ll always know what you’re earning at a glance. You can track accounts ready for renewal, cancellations, and commissions. The Broker Dashboard helps you stay on top of it all – and The DBL Center team is here to help you manage it.
As I stated in my last video interview, the year is more than half over. Halloween is just around the corner and before you know it, we’ll all be closing the books on 2020 and hoping for better things ahead.
Now is the time to start planning for 2021. What will your book of business look like? Are you putting the time into sales or hunting down premium payments? Let us help so we can all look forward to a better future.
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.
As New York begins its phased reopening, many employers seek to call back workers on furlough or re-hire employees who have been laid off. Employers may also be looking for ways to reduce expenses as they come off possibly the roughest financial quarter New York businesses have faced in decades.
Now, more than ever, your clients are looking to save money and improve retention (or entice employees back to work). Enriching DBL benefits through private disability insurance in New York is one way your customers can:
The New York State Disability Benefits Law (DBL) gives employers the option to purchase NY state disability insurance through the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF). But writing policies through the NYSIF does not offer the advantages of private disability insurance. New York businesses who write DBL with the NYSIF max out coverage limits at $170 a week for 26 weeks. Who could live on that, especially in downstate New York?
When employers write NY Disability Benefits insurance through a private insurance carrier, they can enhance coverage limits past the state minimum, improve employee retention, and enjoy more personalized service. Additionally, DBL Center has relationships with multiple carriers, to offer a wide range of coverage options.
The DBL Center has been helping NY insurance brokers write private disability insurance in New York for more than 40 years. Our instant binding application helps you prepare quotes from multiple carriers in a matter of minutes.
You can bundle enriched NY state disability insurance (DBL) with ancillary benefits like vision, dental, and group life / AD&D for added savings. Plus, you’ll gain access to our state-of-the-art Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, helping you keep sight of it all with just a click.
Compare rates, grow your book of business, and earn more commission while DBL Center serves as your back-office support staff to manage and maintain your policies.
Bind your application for NY disability insurance (DBL) today!
Massachusetts becomes the fourth state in the Northeast to mandate benefits under a paid family and medical leave act
DBL Center is ready to offer Massachusetts insurance brokers incredible savings on PFML plans under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.
The MA Paid Family and Medical Leave Act applies to individuals who need time off:
• Due to a serious health condition
• To care for a newborn, newly adopted, or new foster child within the first year of the event
• To care for family while a spouse is deployed in the Armed Forces
• To care for a family member of any age with a serious health condition
Help Your Customers Privatize Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act Coverage
As in New York and New Jersey, states which have offered short-term disability and paid family leave for several years, business owners in Massachusetts have the option to privatize their FMLA policies for substantial cost reductions.
By law, private FMLA plans must offer benefits of the same amount and duration – or better – than plans underwritten and paid for by the state. That’s why it’s important for business owners to find a source they can trust to write their family and medical leave act coverage in Massachusetts. And that’s where DBL Center insurance brokers come in, offering stellar customer service and lower premiums thanks to the relationships their wholesale general agency has developed over five decades.
Bundle PFML to Save Even More
PFML is a stand-alone benefit, but not every carrier can write PFML as a stand-alone policy. DBL Center has the industry connections and the volume to help Massachusetts insurance brokers get the best deals for their customers.
DBL Center delivers white-glove service, low premiums, and superior benefits packages. Your clients can save even more by bundling FMLA coverage with group ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and group life / AD&D.
DBL Center Enhances Focus on Customer Service and Technology
As testament to the company’s dedication to customer service and education, DBL Center recently launched a Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Resource Center on its website.
DBL Center also recently introduced 24/7 live chat on its website. Simply type in the chat box and a knowledgeable representative will answer your questions about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Act, short- or long-term disability insurance, and group ancillary benefits.
“Massachusetts in the fourth state in our region to introduce paid family leave. As experts in short-term disability and paid family leave in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, DBL Center is poised to become the number one source for brokers to privatize PFML in Massachusetts for their customers,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “We’re looking forward to the profit potential the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act presents to our brokers.”
Selena Kutschera, DBL Center’s Director of DBL and TDB never actually applied to work at DBL Center. She joined the family when DBL Center acquired competitor Combined DBL, a competitive insurance wholesaler in NY, in 2014.
How she got the job at Combined DBL, straight out of college with no insurance industry experience, is quite a story.
“I found the job listing in the newspaper,” she tells DBL Center owner and president Michael Cohen. “I begged for an interview, but they had already closed out their interviews because they knew who they were going to hire.”
Kutschera didn’t stop pushing for the interview, however, and, ultimately, got the job. Through her hard work and perseverance, she’s become a leader in wholesale TDB and DBL sales.
It was this tenacity that impressed DBL Center founder David Cohen at the time of the acquisition. “That was the kind of personality my father was looking for,” Michael Cohen recalls. “I remember him saying, ‘I don’t know if we’ll get the deal, but Selena will join us.’ We did make the deal and here we are, five years later.”
Read on to learn how Selena Kutschera is helping DBL Center brokers manage the challenges of PFL and prepare for new opportunities in New Jersey.
Then watch the video to find out Selena’s (second) favorite word, what musician she’s not-so-secretly obsessed with, and what she’d be doing if she wasn’t serving the DBL and TDB insurance needs at one of the top insurance wholesalers in NY.
Michael Cohen: What’s the most exciting thing that we’ve done as a team, in your opinion, since the acquisition?
Selena: The program – the Broker Dashboard. Just coming together and building something, changing the game.
Michael: How has that been an upside for you?
Selena: We can track now. We can track the business. We can track what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained, the brokers, who’s writing, who’s not writing. It just makes it easier.
Michael: Can you describe the process we use when we get together and track retention and new business?
Selena: When we look at our book through the Broker Dashboard, we look at what we can keep out of what’s lost. Our cancellations. We know DBL’s a moving target. Your DBL’s come on, they come off, there are non-pays all the time. That’s the first thing we address, the non-pays. Can we get them reinstated? If we can, that puts business back into the books.
Any time coverage is replaced, we want to find out why it was replaced. Was it something we lost? Did the broker lose it? Did they replace it on us, and why did they replace it? We have to analyze what happened—and why—to get that business back.
Michael: What has the feedback been from the brokers since we implemented the dashboard?
Selena: They’re surprised about their non-pays and what’s cancelled and what’s not.
Michael: Everyone thought Paid Family Leave was going to be a home run, but in the beginning, it wasn’t. Why? And what have you been doing to help overcome those challenges?
Selena: It just added another layer of tracking. Who doesn’t want to pay their PFL [rider]? Who didn’t think they needed Paid Family Leave? They pay the DBL; they don’t pay the PFL. That’s really been the issue. Now, we’re getting the complaints that the insured made the payment, but they only paid a portion of it, or they shortchanged it. So now it’s a matter of them understanding how to pay the bills.
Mike: What do you feel is the biggest dilemma in the overall statutory environment? You’re in the trenches and you’re also involved in commissions. What’s an issue for us that’s outside of our control as a wholesale insurance broker in NY?
Selena: I guess what’s outside of our control is just the insureds making payments. That’s out of our control as an insurance wholesaler in NY. Is the $170 [weekly] benefit in New York State for disability low? Absolutely.
What I do find is some employers want to buy up and some employers don’t want to hear it. I agree with the buying up because the reality is the Paid Family Leave is for somebody else—to take care of a baby, child, or family member—and the disability is for yourself. And if you need to go out on disability, why do you need to go out at a $170, when the PFL benefit is $750 and change? It’s $752 [for 2019].
Mike: Are you excited about what’s happening in Jersey? Explain that.
Selena: Absolutely! Jersey just lifted its signature requirement—there’s no more signature requirement to move to a private carrier. So, it makes it easier for us to write this product, as 98% of it sits with the state right now. And the benefit is going up tremendously.
If you’re shopping for a new insurance wholesaler in NY or NJ or need help writing TDB or DBL, let Selena Kutschera and DBL Center help you. Reach out today.