Add Maryland to the growing list of states offering paid family and medical leave to many workers. As the federal government continues to discuss a U.S.-wide mandated paid family leave program, more state legislatures are introducing their own programs.
On April 9, 2022, the Maryland General Assembly voted to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a broad-reaching PFML bill. The reasons an employee can take leave mirror New York’s legislation, which represented some of the broadest and best coverage in the country when it was introduced in 2017. Massachusetts and Connecticut then followed in New York’s footsteps.
The New York PFL plan was introduced in stages of increased benefits until 2021 saw the benefits fully phased in up to the maximum amount of $1068.36 per week for up to 12 weeks.
Maryland’s PFML benefits will become available January 1, 2025, but the state will begin collecting premiums on October 1, 2023. Benefits will begin at a $50 per week minimum, with a maximum of $1,000 weekly for up to 12 weeks in the first year. From there, maximum benefits will rise based on the state’s average weekly wage, with benefit caps announced for each year on September 1 of the prior year.
Maryland patterned its eligibility requirements after states like New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. It is likely that a federal PFML program will also follow these requirements. Under the Maryland PFML law, employees can take leave to:
Family members include children, parents, in-laws, spouses, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents. Maryland excludes domestic partners from coverage.
Every business, individual or government entity that employs at least one individual in Maryland must provide PFML benefits to all employees who have worked at least 680 hours in the 12-month period preceding their leave. That means part-time employees who clock at least 17 hours per week are eligible for leave.
Self-employed Maryland residents can elect to participate in PFML but must opt in for an initial minimum time of three years and can then choose to renew annually.
While all the details haven’t yet been outlined regarding employee and employer contributions, according to a report issued by insurance carrier SunLife, employers with more than 15 employees will be required to contribute to premiums.
Covered employees will be responsible for 75% of the premiums, although employers can elect to cover a portion of the employee’s premiums as an added benefit. In smaller organizations, employees will be responsible for 100% of the premium costs, as are self-employed program participants.
Employers will need to begin submitting premium payments, deducted from payroll, beginning in October 2023.
Employers have the option of establishing a private plan, either through a qualified carrier or on a self-insured basis. Private plans must provide the same or better benefits, rights, and protections with comparable or lower premiums and must be filed with and approved by the Maryland Department of Labor.
As PFML programs expand across the country, insurance brokers have more opportunities than ever before to build relationships and increase revenue with this statutory benefit. While PFML programs have not been the most profitable by themselves, statutory benefits represent a foot in the door to share knowledge and build trust.
Insurance brokers licensed in Maryland can help guide business owners through the process of establishing a PFML plan. Then, they can save those clients money by bundling ancillary benefits written through top insurance carriers.
The DBL Center has 45+ years of experience in the statutory market and has been on the cutting edge of New York PFL and other PFML programs from coast-to-coast since their inception. As your back office team, we can guide you to the best benefits packages for your clients, while the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app helps you stay on top of renewals, cancellations and commissions with just a few clicks.
Are you ready for Maryland PFML? We can help.
by Dawn Allcot
As major tech companies, including Twitter, Airbnb, DoorDash, and Reddit, advocate for federal paid family leave programs, more states are enacting legislation of their own.
Colorado recently joined New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California with a paid family and medical leave program. Called Colorado FAMLI (Family and Medical Leave Insurance), the program will provide benefits to employees to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one who meets certain criteria.
In line with programs in other states, Colorado workers can file for FAMLI to:
Eligible employees can claim up to 12 weeks of leave per year, according to the website famli.colorado.gov. Parents who experience pregnancy or childbirth complications may qualify for an additional four weeks of recovery time.
The state of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment provides a benefits and premium calculator for employers and employees here.
Benefits range from 37% to 90% of an employee’s weekly wage, depending on the employee’s income. Benefits max out at $1,100 weekly or $13,200 annually for employees in the top tier, who normally gross $2,000 or more per week.
According to a Fact Sheet issued by the CDLE, every employer must offer the benefit to their workers. Organizations with their own paid leave program in place can apply for an exemption.
Premiums equal 0.9% of an employee’s wage. Employers with 10 or more employees must pay at least half the premium due, or 0.45%, with the other half coming from employee payroll deductions. Employers will also have the option of paying the full amount of the benefit as an added perk and employee retention tool.
Employers with fewer than 10 employees do not have to contribute to the program but are responsible for remitting the employee’s share (0.45%) quarterly with money collected through payroll deductions.
The legislation goes into full effect on January 1, 2024, when employees can make claims and begin collecting benefits. Employers will need to begin submitted premiums to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment by January 1, 2023.
Specific details regarding carriers and self-insured options are not yet available.
Insurance brokers who already provide private DBL, TDB, or FMLA coverage in other states may want to start thinking about covering Colorado businesses and their employees, as well. Colorado business owners will be looking for brokers with knowledge, expertise, and a network of carriers who understand these complex benefits.
The CDLE recommends that Colorado business owners begin communicating with employees in Fall 2022 to prepare them for the payroll deductions and upcoming benefits. Internal communications such as employee handbooks should be updated with relevant information as it becomes available. By Fall 2023, the CDLE says Colorado business owners should have “clear guidance and communications to employees around FAMLI benefits.”
Insurance brokers who have helped employers implement successful PFL and FMLA programs in other states by providing them with affordable benefits and packages that bundle ancillary benefits with paid family leave have unique opportunities in Colorado. To set the stage for success, you can:
Finally, stay tuned to The DBL Center news section to read about breaking developments in Colorado FAMLI.
DBL Center President and CEO Michael S. Cohen recently appeared as a guest on the Poza podcast The Risk Taker, hosted by Chaim Berkovic, founder and president of Skyscraper Insurance. The podcast focuses on business leaders who take on unusual challenges, step outside their comfort zones, and achieve success.
During the 40-minute interview, Berkovic and Cohen discussed how DBL Center was founded more than 45 years ago by David Cohen and how he brought privatized short-term disability benefits to Hawaii. You’ll learn how Michael Cohen got into the family business, and the many lanes Cohen has now expanded into as The DBL Center leads the charge in terms of technology in the statutory disability industry.
Below, we share a few highlights from their conversation. But it’s worth tuning into the full podcast here.
You’ll hear the two business leaders talk about connecting with clients of different cultures, taking risks in sales, and treating every account as if it’s a $1 million deal.
As risks go, selling DBL is one not many insurance brokers take on. Cohen told Berkovic, “They don’t think there’s enough money in it. They don’t know what to ask. They’re not asking the right questions. I know how to help brokers like you get in the door to ask the right questions about disability insurance. Everybody asks about major medical, worker’s comp, or personal lines, but right in the middle between that is the state-mandated short-term disability. The introduction of paid family leave has just blown that door wide open and raised awareness about statutory benefits.”
Although his father David Cohen, laid the groundwork decades ago, Michael Cohen never wanted to be viewed as just “the owners’ son.” In the past several years since taking over the company, Cohen catapulted The DBL Center not just to the top of Google rankings through his team’s marketing efforts, but to rapid growth and expansion across the New England states.
Today, The DBL Center services not just New York, New Jersey and Hawaii but also Connecticut and Massachusetts, which recently implemented statutory paid family and medical leave policies. Cohen helps brokers tap into markets they may not have considered by hiring experts in those regions, and offering a streamlined process for selling and managing statutory benefits.
“I keep it simple,” he told Berkovic. Through the Broker Dashboard, The DBL Center can show brokers the direct-billed DBL and ancillary policies and help them track renewals, cancellations, and commissions. While DBL and PFL may not be what most brokers think of as “big-ticket sales,” these products provide a foot in the door for larger policies. “The DBL Center – and our proprietary Broker Dashboard – are the conduits to helping brokers’ retention,” Cohen said.
Recently, Cohen further expanded The DBL Center to offer absence management solutions to brokers’ clients. “We are offering solutions for when workers are taking intermittent leave on a standalone basis, especially in companies with over 50 lives. Most places require you have another plan, like LTD. We can do standalone policies and tie it into DBL,” he said on the podcast.
Adding yet another responsibility to his list wasn’t easy – and it wasn’t a decision Cohen took lightly. But he knew it was necessary to scale The DBL Center to the next level and provide the best service to his clients. “One of the toughest things about my job is that I feel like the brokers are my children. How do I hug all of them at one time? I don’t feel like there’s enough of me to consult and teach everybody. So, I hire people who are experts in their region or their field. I stay in my lane. And the lane has become filled – it’s now one lane, two lane, three lane, and HOV.”
Listen to the full podcast here: The Risk Taker: Skyscraper Insurance with Michael S. Cohen of The DBL Center
Massachusetts Representative Richard Neal has introduced a federal paid family and medical leave program that rivals that of the program in his home state. President Joe Biden has also introduced paid family and medical leave provisions in his American Families Plan Act but is getting pushback from Republicans in both the Senate and the House.
If either Biden’s plan or Neal’s plan, which was presented by the House Ways and Means Committee, pass what will this mean for private insurance brokers and carriers who are currently writing paid family and medical leave policies? And what is a federal plan likely to look like?
Here’s what we know so far.
In addition to generous child care for low-to-middle income families, extended public preschool for three and four year olds, and extended child tax credits, Biden’s plan includes a proposed 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
The plan calls for 66% income replacement, with up to 80% for lower wage workers. There would be a monthly cap of $4,000, which means that higher wage workers would undoubtedly have to rely on additional means of income replacement to maintain their standard of living and pay their bills if they take leave because they are ill or injured or to take care of family members.
Neal’s plan, called “the Building an Economy for Families Act” dives deeper into specifics for income replacement. It would be based on wages earned and provide up to 85% income replacement. Those at higher income tiers of $8,334 to $20,833 in monthly income would receive just 5% of their income as a paid benefit, while those earning less than $1,256 per month would receive 85% of their wages.
Again, higher income earners would need to plan ahead and rely on savings, investments or other income to continue bringing in the money they need.
The chart below shows the benefits.
The leave could be taken for the same reasons as FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) job protection, which includes medical leave for an accident, illness or injury that occurred off-the-job, or family leave to care for an ill or injured family member or to care for or bond with an infant in their first year of life or a newly adopted or foster child within the first 12 months.
The definition of family member, now, varies by state. Neal’s federal plan would expand family to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, spouses of family members, and also “chosen family.” This mimics the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, which also has a brought definition of family that includes anyone the claimant considers as family.
As of now, details for Biden’s program aren’t clear. However, the House Ways & Means Committee proposal details three options to fund PFML. Employers could write their policy through a public program managed by the U.S. Treasury Department. In states with existing PFL or PFML programs, employers could opt to continue with these legacy programs. There may also be employer-provided coverage options, which represents an opportunity for insurance carriers and brokers. It is unclear whether the benefit would be employer-funded, employee-funded, or shared costs.
Given the lower payouts for high-wage earners, there may also be opportunities to enrich private policies, similar to the way business owners in New York enrich DBL benefits now. Should a top worker become ill or injured, enriched DBL coverage in New York is one of the best ways to supplement income without having to tap into valuable investments – especially considering new capital gains tax laws.
Additionally, in a highly competitive job market where there are not enough skilled workers to fill available positions, business owners may want to consider offering private short-term and long-term disability policies as an added benefit for managers and c-suite executives. This can help recruit and retain top employees in a variety of industries and provide added value to top talent, as federal programs ensure that lower-income workers have the benefits they need if they are unable to work.
As always, The DBL Center remains your source for news as it develops regarding employee benefits and PFML at the state and federal levels. Top finance site GoBankingRates recently interviewed me as an expert resource for an article detailing everything people need to know about state paid family and medical leave programs and potential federal programs. You can read it here.
by Michael Cohen
As many companies went out of business in 2020 and others saw substantial revenue reductions, insurance brokers have struggled to collect payments for New York and New Jersey statutory disability insurance policies. The DBL Center is the first and only wholesale insurance broker to deliver a list of your pending cancellations and renewals directly to your inbox via our industry-first Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app.
Every year, a handful or more of companies will push the limits of their disability insurance renewals. They know we can always backdate the policy if they pay even after cancellation. But brokers’ commissions get delayed and it can wreak havoc on cash flow.
This year could have been even worse when it comes to lost commissions and a shrinking book of business due to the pandemic. But the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app helps DBL Center brokers stay on top of pending cancellations for non-pay, so they can get paid faster and keep the money coming in. After all, we all know that nickels, dimes, and quarters make dollars. Every disability insurance policy your customers pay on time, before multiple cancellation notices, represents money in your pocket.
“I think the annual billing cycle that just closed has been as successful as it could have been given all the other [economic] circumstances,” said Valmaria Strobel, Vice President – DBL Underwriting for Standard Security Life Ins. Co. of NY.
She added that The DBL Center’s reminders to Standard Security brokers were instrumental in avoiding a host of non-pay cancellations. “We billed these policies at the end of 2020, and although some were slow to pay, more have paid than would have without those reminders he was sending.”
Standard Security started in the business 30 years ago with The DBL Center, led by founder David Cohen, as one of the carrier’s top wholesale insurance brokers. “If you ask me what [DBL Center President and CEO] Mike Cohen has brought to the table, it’s the technology, for sure,” Strobel said.
Every month, The DBL Center delivers a list of all policyholders, including in-force policies, renewals, pending cancellations, and cancellations to brokers’ inboxes, making it easy for brokers to track down pending cancellations to keep revenue streams flowing. “It’s hand-packaged and tied in a bow, essentially,” Strobel said.
Strobel explained that the Broker Dashboard reminders go out to brokers on the heels of Standard Security reminders. “It’s been effective in getting policy holders to pay and avoiding some unnecessary cancellations,” she says.
It’s not just carriers who love the way the Broker Dashboard keeps cash flow moving and helps prevent cancellations for non-pay.
Over the past years since The DBL Center introduced this technology, brokers have expressed gratitude for the monthly reports and easy, remote access to their entire book of business.
Calling the list of renewals and pending cancellations “very helpful,” Anthony Villani, managing director for Avanti Associates, a Pelham, NY, disability insurance broker, said. “We do a lot hand-holding with insureds on these renewal audits and are presently working on these accounts, I am pretty sure we will be saving most of them and this list facilitates our process.”
Similarly, Tom Murray, commercial lines account executive for JSM Brokerage Inc. in East Hills, NY said, “I appreciate you reaching out and letting me know about all these.” Having a list of pending cancellations and non-renewals allows brokers to focus on bill collection in a timely manner, while the Broker Dashboard tracks it all for them.
The DBL Center is the only wholesale insurance broker that provides the technology and service to help you stay on top of cancellations and improve cash flow.
Not using the Broker Dashboard yet? Watch our video and then schedule your free demo here!
We’re all busy and it’s not always easy to stay up on the latest statutory and ancillary employee benefit insurance industry news – or to get the helpful tips you need to grow your book of business. The DBL Center understands, which is why we’ve launched our In The News section.
Watch an overview of how to use your Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to easily track renewals, cancellations and commissions from any internet-enabled device. You can also schedule a demo of this cloud-based app using the easy-to-access chat feature directly on the page.
If you’re not already using the Broker Dashboard, you’re missing out on a key benefit of working with The DBL Center as your wholesale general agency. The Broker Dashboard provides up-to-the-minute information on all the accounts you write with us, so you can gain better control of your business and track your direct billed policies.
Read More: Six Steps Insurance Brokers Should Take Today to Start 2021 Right
Get to know the people behind our wholesale general agency better in our one-on-one video series. DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen puts his years of stage experience and his passion for film to work as he interviews The DBL Center team, revealing their motivations, goals, and a few fun facts.
Our Rep Roundtable series achieved industry-wide recognition. These short-form video podcasts launched in 2019, bringing together reps from our top insurance carriers to discuss industry trends and offer tips for brokers.
If you want to learn more about Paid Family Leave’s expansion into New England and beyond, examine the implications of technology on the statutory insurance industry, or find out how top carriers got their start in the field, this is the place to look.
Read More: New York Paid Family Leave Resource Center
Take a look, too, as The DBL Center marketing team “turns the tables” on Michael Cohen to interview him in a virtual series produced during the pandemic. Cohen discusses how the industry changed dramatically in 2020 and what brokers can do to network successfully and grow their business through enriched DBL and ancillary benefits, including Group Life / AD&D, which has seen increased demand in the past year.
Of course, scroll down to our Press Release section to see the latest breaking news, from the Broker Dashboard app release on the iPhone App Store to PFL expansion across New England and, soon, into the western states of Colorado and Oregon. We’ll release more information about these new Paid Family Leave programs as it becomes available, and you can find it here in our press release section first.
Since our website’s revamp four years ago, we have aimed to give you the information and resources you need to run your insurance business. Our In The News section brings together some of our most valuable media in one place, so you can browse easily during short spurts of down time. We hope you’ll discover information, inspiration, and maybe even a laugh or two.
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
The DBL Center held a summer celebration at Prime in Huntington on the Long Island Sound.
The team, led by Michael Cohen, has plenty to celebrate in 2018. We have a new office in Melville and we’re getting set for the launch of our Broker Dashboard this fall, followed by the introduction of our Net Revenue Tracker (NRT) software.
We’d like to take this chance to give you a peek into life at DBL Center.
You’ll get to know us a little bit better. And maybe understand exactly how – and why – white-glove service is a core part of our company mission and how important our brokers are to us.
The DBL Center has always been a family-owned company. And our employees are a lot like family, too.
With this in mind, picture your most boisterous family meal, and you could imagine our lunch at Prime.
There was lots of great food, many laughs, and great stories from great storytellers. (We have many in the DBL extended family). As the conversation meandered to family traditions, there were strong reminders of where we came from and some talk of where we are going.
Our new office at 155 Pinelawn Road in Melville, a few miles south of our prior location and near prestigious Long Island companies like Newsday and Estee Lauder, gives The DBL Center more space and more amenities. With room to grow within our suite, the office boasts an open floor plan that allows our team to work more closely in alignment. We are all here to help each other.
On a summer Friday afternoon, the office spaces are filled with laughter. The atmosphere makes us more eager to work and happy to provide our brokers with the service they expect. Productivity, creativity, and idea-sharing are all enhanced as DBL Center prepares to enter its next stage of growth.
In the doorway of the office suite to greet visitors and employees is an original drawn portrait of founder David Cohen by local artist and family friend John D. Herz, who David often called, “the Michelangelo of the #2 pencil.” The image reminds us, daily, of why it’s so important to continue living up to our founder’s vision of white-glove service.
Of course, the new office space boasts all the expected amenities. New, ergonomic office chairs were specially chosen for our employees’ comfort and enhanced productivity. In addition to the large conference table in the common area, there is a conference space in president Michael Cohen’s office, where he records our popular webinar series that covers topics like Paid Family Leave, and a screen to show WebEx demos of our new NRT software to brokers.
As DBL Center continues to expand in every way, we have more resources to serve our brokers better, faster, and with the level of attention you expect and deserve. Our webinars and website are just a few examples of how we’ve evolved for the better in the past few years, and our new office is the next step in that evolution.
As our sales volume increases, it puts us in an even better position to negotiate with carriers to secure the best deals for our brokers.
Yet, DBL Center will never forget our roots and will never neglect the personalized service we have offered for more than 40 years. We may grow larger, with nicer offices and more personnel, but we won’t ever become a “big box” insurance wholesaler.
We maintain true to David Cohen’s vision of a “boutique” insurance agency dedicated to serving our brokers, even as we leverage today’s technology to do so in new and more effective ways.
Drop us a line and let us know how we can serve you today.
As an insurance agent, you understand the intricacies of the employee benefits you sell, including maternity leave benefits available through Paid Family Leave (PFL) in New York. You can show customers how to file a DBL or PFL claim, tell them when their disability leave benefits will kick in, and how much money they are eligible to receive.
When you don’t know the answer, The DBL Center Ltd is just a phone call, email, or text away.
We sell employee benefits packages to the decision-makers, but employees don’t always receive the information they need to make important life decisions. For instance, maternity leave benefits may be a deciding factor in how soon a parent returns to the workplace, or even whether a couple can afford to have a child or not.
As an industry, we have an obligation to ensure that information on PFL and other benefits is being passed on to our customers – the company executives, HR departments, and the employees we serve.
An eye-opening article in Glamour magazine shares a “worst-case scenario” of what can happen when an employee doesn’t understand their maternity leave benefits.
Like any employee would do, the writer of the article spoke to her boss regarding her maternity leave benefits. She found out that she was eligible to receive 60 percent of her salary through her company’s short-term disability insurance plan. (The writer lived in Florida, so DBL was not a “given” as it is here in New York.)
She also learned she was entitled to 12 weeks off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which protects employees’ jobs while they are out on leave after having a baby or to care for a sick, aging, or disabled family member.
However, the writer never thought to ask (and her employer didn’t volunteer the information) if her insurance paid for a 12-week leave. When she realized it didn’t, it was too late. The couple’s savings had run out. She began freelancing when her son was only four weeks old to supplement her husband’s income and make the money her family needed to live.
The story resonated strongly with us here at The DBL Center, as a family-friendly company with many employees who are also parents. It underscored the importance of educating not just brokers, but the employers and employees who use PFL benefits.
As a broker, you can (and should) take steps to educate your customers on maternity leave / PFL and other employee benefits. You’ll become a trusted resource, and the company they turn to when they want advice on other insurance-related topics.
If you aren’t already being proactive about educating your customers about paid family leave, here are some steps you can take.
There is nothing like making yourself available to your customers, in person, to answer their questions and explain their employee benefits packages. Set aside an hour of time to host a live seminar with the HR department and any employees who would like to hear about their options for employee benefits.
You can also reach out to your customers without ever leaving your office. Host a webinar detailing the new PFL benefits, as well as any other ancillary benefits your customers receive.
Invest in low-cost, cloud-based software like Zoom or GoToMeeting to host webinars for up to 100 people. Or your organization may already have videoconferencing and webinar software already in place. Most of these programs are easy to set up and simple to use.
Hosting a webinar makes it easy to accommodate the schedules of multiple employees and eliminates travel time and expenses. You may even be able to provide recordings of the webinar, afterwards, for employees who could not attend.
A personalized touch, either through live meetings or webinars, is often best to connect with your customers and upsell enriched DBL or ancillary benefits.
But you can make the information your customers need available to them when they need it by launching a resource center or blog on your website. Providing written information explaining the differences between PFL and FMLA and the extent of PFL benefits will help establish your insurance agency as a trusted resource.
You can even get creative and produce videos that you post on your website as well as on YouTube and Vimeo.
Not only do these articles and videos deliver the information your customers need when it’s convenient for them. It can also give your search engine rankings a boost, making it easier for people in your area to find you when they do a Google search for an insurance agency.
When it comes to marketing, it’s a win-win.
PFL is so important on so many levels, and it is crucial for employers and employees to understand the benefits. It is the responsibility of brokers to educate their customers, and the Glamour article details what can happen if insurance brokers don’t take a proactive stance. Employees don’t necessarily know the right questions to ask to make the right decisions for their financial future.
Fortunately, what is good for employee retention and for working families is also good for your bottom line. And customer education in the digital age is easier than ever.
If you can be the resource your customers need, your business will continue to grow through the sale of enriched benefits packages and word-of-mouth referrals.
It’s tax season once again and for insurance brokers, it’s also a good time to reflect on ways to improve business efficiency in your insurance agency.
For small to mid-size businesses in New York and New Jersey, including many DBL Center brokers, March means working with your tax accountant, sorting through receipts and expenses, running QuickBooks reports, and reviewing your annual revenue.
But there is a lot of data hidden inside those numbers besides just how much you owe the I.R.S. Are you tracking and leveraging your business analytics to their full capacity? The DBL Center is introducing a tool that will allow property & casualty and other licensed agents the ability to do just that.
QuickBooks and other accounting software provides reports to help you track income and expenses, but it is not tailored to an insurance agency. You can’t view the profitability of different types of insurance or different types of customers. You can’t track cancellation trends so you can improve customer retention. And you can’t reliably predict cash flow or opportunities for growth without a way to track renewals.
CRM software can help your insurance agency sales team track leads to generate new business. But someone in your office has to input the data and your sales team has to be invested enough in the process to use it.
Our new Net Revenue Tracker is tailored to P&C insurance brokers to help you manage all your accounts and spot opportunities for growth. It connects directly to your DBL Center back office so all the analytics you need are at your fingertips at any time, wherever you may be. The cloud-based software functions seamlessly and securely on any internet-enabled device, including a desktop PC or Mac, laptop, or Android- or iOs-based smartphone or tablet.
The Net Revenue Tracker provides the information most important to help you grow your book of business, enabling you to track the profitability of specific accounts, track policy renewal dates so you can be proactive about renewals and up-sells, and view important business metrics at a glance.
You can view accounts by carrier to see where you might want to diversify to protect your business interests, and where it might benefit your customers to consolidate for better coverage and lower premiums.
And because it is based on software we’ve used here at The DBL Center for years, we know it is user-friendly to help you increase efficiency and streamline your business processes.
As you’re assessing your business processes to increase efficiencies and track your revenue more effectively, it’s also important to begin thinking about tax strategies for 2018.
This year’s tax season should be straightforward for most insurance brokers, or at least business as usual. The big changes went into effect beginning this year and will be reflected on corporate taxes filed in March 2019. Talk to your tax accountant about the new tax laws and how they may affect your business — and your customers’ businesses, for that matter.
With reduced or eliminated deductions for fringe benefits like transportation, meals and entertainment, employers and HR directors may be looking to enrich disability coverage and ancillary benefits to recruit and retain top talent. Our Net Revenue Tracker can help you spot these opportunities for increased sales with existing customers at your New York insurance agency.
Be one of the first brokers to catch a sneak preview of the software in a live webinar demonstration.
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