Insurance brokers serving New Jersey now have another opportunity to increase commissions with statutory benefits: Family Leave Insurance.
By law, New Jersey business owners are required to provide FLI coverage for employees to bond with a new child within the first 12 months, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to seek legal counsel, medical care or other assistance following domestic or sexual violence.
The DBL Center is in a position through our carrier relationships to provide robust benefits – equal to or better than those provided by the state plan – with discounted premiums when clients bundle FLI benefits with TDB in New Jersey or with in-demand voluntary and worksite benefits.
If you are a broker in New Jersey looking to boost your business with existing clients and write new business by helping NJ companies gain compliance with state statutory insurance laws, tremendous opportunities lie ahead.
Five easy steps is all it takes.
The easiest way to write new FLI policies is with your clients who already understand the benefits of privatizing TDB coverage in New Jersey. Although FLI has been a statutory benefit in New Jersey for more than a decade, only recently did major carriers begin offer private policies.
The Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker makes it easy to view all your in-force TDB clients with a click from anywhere you might be: a laptop or desktop computer or on your smartphone through our Android or iOS app.
Take a look at their coverage, if they write ancillary benefits or voluntary worksite benefits with your agency, as well. Look for gaps in their coverage based on their current census. Do they have a lot of high-earners that do not have the coverage they need should they become ill or injured? Is their business protected should the owner die or become disabled? Are they providing their employees with options for voluntary dental and vision benefits?
Of course, they are probably writing their FLI benefits through the state, and may not even be aware that they can privatize FLI for the same advantages they receive with a private TDB policy.
When you set up your meeting, you’ll want to be prepared to talk about family leave insurance and ancillary and voluntary worksite benefits to show your clients maximum savings.
When your clients bundle TDB and FLI coverage together, they can coordinate benefits with a single intake, saving time. They will enjoy integrated claims management, reducing the burden on their HR team or employee benefits managers. Plus, employees and employers will gain access to a personalized claim service with their own case claim representative and experienced nurses as a first point-of-contact for claims.
Benefits are guaranteed to be as good or better than the state plan for both FLI and TDB, and clients can save money by bundling them together. Add long-term disability coverage, ancillary benefits like Group Life / AD&D, dental and vision, and voluntary worksite benefits for additional savings. Plus, clients gain the benefit of one point-of-contact for all their claims needs. When employers privatize FLI, they have the option of contributing to premium costs for their employees. Under the state plan, FLI premiums are entirely employee-funded.
Once you’re well-versed in the benefits of privatizing FLI in New Jersey and have a good concept of what ancillary and voluntary worksite benefits your clients may need, make that call. Set up that appointment.
You will have all the support you need with The DBL Center as your back-office staff. We can provide a free rate quote with just a census and salaries for any company.
Our team may even notice gaps in coverage that you didn’t identify and can share a quote that will ensure your clients have all the coverage they need, including statutory TDB and FLI.
Beginning January 2023, new rates and premiums take effect for TDB and private FLI coverage. Write policies now to start the first quarter of 2023 to take advantage of the low rates and better service with private TDB and FLI.
Reach out to The DBL Center now for information or guidance to pursue this new opportunity for New Jersey insurance brokers.
by Dawn Allcot
As we enter a new working world post-pandemic, with many employers permitting flexible working hours or work-at-home arrangements, it’s required some adjustments.
A new McKinsey American Opportunity Survey revealed that 58% of Americans report having the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week, with 35% working from home five days a week.
Contrary to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s belief that people who are working from home “should pretend to work somewhere else,” the assumption is that when employees are working from home, they’re really working.
Several studies show that employees permitted to work remotely are actually more productive – by as much as 47%, according to one report.
But can we talk about Summer Fridays for a minute?
As an employer, it’s a challenge to find a balance between flex-time and productivity. The DBL Center has always offered our staff Summer Fridays. Between June and September, we cut out early to enjoy an extended weekend with our families. This allows more time for travel, relaxing, running errands, or soaking up the sun Long Island’s amazing beaches.
But even with our reduced office hours, The DBL Center team is there when you need us. Our 24/7 chat means someone can answer your questions promptly – from wherever we may be. And when we’re in the office, we are 100% available with all the tools and resources you need to help your clients navigate an ever-evolving landscape of statutory and voluntary employee benefits.
In many companies, we are noticing that Summer Fridays are bleeding into Summer Thursdays, with people enjoying three-day work weeks or other flexible arrangements for the summer. For employers who can make this work within their company culture, flexible hours are a proven retention tool.
Then you have vacations, holidays, corporate get-togethers or team retreats, and there are a dozen things pulling people out of the office and away from their desks all summer.
Those who are still in the office four, or even five days, a week must work around these limitations. They might be unable to reach colleagues whose input is needed to get a job done. Projects can face delays. And it can be frustrating to not get immediate answers to questions. Fortunately, there are some tactics you can use to get things done.
Maximize Connection Time with Partners
When people are out of the office for extended periods, it can make it more difficult to get quotes, move processes along, or close deals. This is true whether they are co-workers or business associates.
Maximize the time when people are most reachable early in the week to schedule meetings and calls. Use Thursday afternoon and Friday morning for deep focus work that may not require input or feedback from others.
Look at it this way: Without a million meetings, you can get more of your work done on Thursday and leave more time for play and a relaxing weekend!
There’s no need to be staring longingly out the window at the horizon while your colleagues are gazing at a beach sunset. Whether you use time-blocking, the Pomodoro Method, or some other tactic, consider ways you can be more productive during your time in the office. Then, you can enjoy your Summer Fridays without a heavy weight on your shoulders.
Finally, it can be easy to become resentful watching others take advantage of flexible hours while you’re tied to your desk. Find outlets, whether it’s a weekend getaway with your family or time at the gym every evening, to avoid burning out.
Take note of the time and benefits available to you if you’re caring for a new child in your life or an aging parent. You may be able to file a PFL claim in NY or PFML in several other states to get paid for that time you’re bonding with your child or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room with a relative.
Finally, choosing the right partners. With The DBL Center as your wholesale general agency, we can help make it easier for you to keep your business moving through the summer and achieve your monthly, quarterly, and annual sales goals.
Our resource center can help you find the answers to many questions regarding paid family and medical leave across the U.S., voluntary worksite benefits, and statutory disability insurance.
Our proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker puts all the information you need about cancellations, renewals, and commissions at your fingertips, whether you’re in the office, working remotely, or on the road.
You’re never on your own with The DBL Center as your wholesale general agency. We are here to help you accomplish more in less time so that you can enjoy your summer, as well.
by Michael Cohen
Rates could rise, once again, for the premium cost of New Jersey TDB coverage. That means more opportunities than ever before for insurance brokers to build loyal customers and increase their book of business by showing companies how to privatize temporary disability benefits in New Jersey.
Here’s what we know so far:
The New Jersey Department of Labor has proposed to increase the taxable wage base for employer contributions from $36,200 in 2021 to $39,800 in 2022. The wage base for employee contributions to TDB and New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefit could jump from $138,200 this year to $151,900 in 2022, BloombergTax.com reported earlier this month.
New Jersey has not yet stated whether it will increase employee contributions beyond 47 cents on the dollar for either benefit, or if it will increase the benefit amount. Frequently, wage base increases and premium rate hikes are accompanied by benefit increases. As inflation has affected the price of goods and services across the board in 2021, we can be hopeful that a benefit increase announcement will follow. In 2021, New Jersey offered income replacement of up to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary, capped at $903 per week.
Regardless of the amount of the benefit for 2022, there’s never been a better time to show your clients the cost savings they can realize by privatizing New Jersey TDB. By New Jersey state law, a private benefits plan must offer coverage equal to or better than the state plan at rates equal to or lower than the state’s premiums. Yet, only 2% of New Jersey businesses take advantage of this benefit. We know the 2% is an elite number… your clients would love the opportunity to join their ranks and privatize TDB.
Especially now, as states face a labor shortage and are looking to entice workers through raises and enhanced benefits, privatized TDI and voluntary worksite benefits represent a great way to give workers more without spending more.
Plus, in addition to the cost savings realized by privatizing TDB, New Jersey business owners can eliminate waiting periods for claims payouts, select their choice of payment methods, and enjoy personalized service from the state.
Since New Jersey waived the signature requirement for employees to “opt-in” to a private plan, it’s never been easier to privatize TDB. You’ll just need your client to obtain their AC174.1 from the Department of Labor website and send it to us.
Find instructions to obtain an AC-174.1 form here.
Once The DBL Center team has that information, we do it all from there, including shopping the plan to find the lowest rates and offering white glove service every step of the way.
While you don’t need to bundle New Jersey TDB with ancillary benefits to switch to a private plan, it may help your customers save even more money. DBL Center’s experienced staff can help you write the best policies for voluntary worksite benefits and ancillary benefits that include:
Employers can even customize plans to fit their workforce needs and demographics.
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding 2022 and what steps business owners will take to stay competitive in such a tight labor market. In all scenarios, there’s little doubt they will look to their trusted insurance brokers to provide the benefits their employees and job candidates need and want.
If premium rates rise in lockstep with inflation, business owners will be looking to save money on premiums while offering their employees value-added benefits that can give them financial peace-of-mind.
The DBL Center is here to help you keep pace with changing times and deliver low rates from trusted carriers on New Jersey TDB, voluntary worksite benefits, and more.
It’s time to start letting the 98% of business owners who are still writing their New Jersey TDB policies with the state that there is a better way.
I’ve discussed on several of my videos recently how fast time moves, and how crucial it is for us all to adapt to selling insurance in the time of Covid-19. Insurance brokers face more challenges than ever before when it comes to writing new plans, including NJ disability insurance.
We’re all suffering from a lack of face-to-face contact with our customers, which makes it more challenging to establish trust and build relationships. In addition, many New Jersey businesses have faced bankruptcy, permanently closed, or reduced their staff as a result of shutdowns and lockdowns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve all lost business as a result of it.
But I’m not one to look on the negative side. Instead, The DBL Center has always taken a proactive approach to facing any challenges head-on. As in year’s past, the deadline for business owners to switch their statutory NJ disability insurance to a private plan is approaching on April 1.
Get an early start on showing New Jersey business owners in your area the tremendous benefits of writing NJ disability insurance through a private plan. April 1 will be here before you know it.
Fortunately, in 2019, New Jersey waived the signature requirement to privatize NJ TDB coverage. That means business owners no longer need opt-in from employees when it comes to choosing a private plan. They can now switch to private disability insurance in New Jersey in about five minutes. And I’ll show you exactly how to help them do it.
Many business owners want to keep things as easy as possible. If they’re writing a new insurance policy through a broker, they want you, the insurance broker, to do all the work.
But it’s important to help them understand that they could save up to 20% on their NJ disability insurance coverage, get faster claims payouts with no waiting period – and access to a trusted broker willing to provide top-notch service at any time. Plus, their employees making claims can choose their method of payment, either a check, debit card, or ACH direct deposit straight into their bank account.
They will need to spend about five minutes obtaining the all-important AC174.1 form so you can get them a quote and write the policy.
But 20% cost savings for five minutes of their time is a pretty good trade-off, especially with the state of New Jersey increasing premiums on TDB this year. For larger businesses, saving 20% on disability insurance could equal tens of thousands of dollars, annually.
Plus, once they switch to a private plan, they can “set-it-and-forget-it,” continuing to save money for years. Meanwhile, you can do the same, earning commissions on the account while our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker lets you know when policies are up for renewal or scheduled for cancellation.
Five minutes to save thousands of dollars…that’s what your customers need to keep in mind. Here’s how they can obtain the AC174.1 form that allows you to provide them with a quote for New Jersey TDB coverage. Remember, as your back office support staff, The DBL Center is here to help if they need assistance.
The opportunity to privatize TDB only comes along on the quarter with 90% of companies privatizing NJ disability insurance in the first quarter of the year. You don’t want your customers to miss out. Reach out to The DBL Center today to help your customers save money and get 2021 off to a strong start.
We all know 2020 presented major challenges for insurance brokers. I discussed some of these challenges with Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, and Michael Pelligrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative in the video, “Getting Creative in the Time of Covid-19.”
So much has changed this year – but adapting is an important part of success.
Heading into Thanksgiving we would look forward to The DBL Center’s Annual Holiday Party the first week in December. Of course, we aren’t holding the event this year due to the pandemic.
A few months ago, I would have connected with brokers, carriers, and colleagues at our summer gathering. I’d been planning a get-together in Manhattan, instead of one of our usual Long Island venues. The location would have made it easier for those out of state to join in the fun and would have given my employees and favorite people a unique and memorable experience. (Needless to say, we had to cancel.)
We all understand that insurance is a commodity. We aren’t selling DBL or TDB or PFML, specifically. We are selling a white glove experience. Stellar customer service. State of the art technology.
Aside from reduced premium rates and better, more flexible coverage, it’s the service that sets private disability insurance apart from the state plans.
And with that service comes perks for your best customers. Holiday parties. Sporting event or concert tickets. It’s all a part of the industry and it helps us build better relationships to grow loyal customers. After all, (you’ve heard it before) it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.
Insurance brokers can hold meetings by phone or video. We can host virtual Zoom gatherings, and even virtual Zoom happy hours to create a more casual environment for connection. But it’s still not the same as taking your favorite customers out for drinks, meeting courtside at a Knicks game, or sharing dinner overlooking the Long Island Sound.
As a father, I’ve watched my boys struggle with virtual schooling and being unable to see their classmates since March. Fortunately, they just went back full time. But we are all counting the days, knowing nothing is permanent as Long Island communities around us shift to “Yellow” status and… who knows what happens after that?
The teachers try their hardest to deliver a quality education online. But they are missing that personal connection. A hand on a shoulder. The nuances of facial expressions. Easy, convenient interaction without lag or household distractions.
Insurance brokers, right now, face the same challenges as teachers in forging a personal connection with our customers. And, in the world of consultative selling, we do act as educators for our customers, imparting the information they need to make the best decisions for their businesses.
So what can we do to create personal connections when we can’t meet face-to-face?
Things are different right now. And not in a good way. But we have to keep going, just as teachers have done, to do our jobs and build success.
If you haven’t already done so, the pandemic is a good time to establish a strong digital marketing campaign. It’s more important than ever to deliver value to our customers and the business owners in our region.
Leverage email – Send touch-base emails more frequently than usual to stay front-of-mind. Mass emails that share helpful tips and information, as well as personalized emails to foster connections, are quick, easy, and effective to stay in touch with your customers.
Email generates $38 of revenue for every $1 spent, according to a Hubspot survey. Nearly 4 billion people use email daily. And 35% of online marketers send their customers 3 to 5 emails per week. So don’t worry about reaching out too often. You don’t want to be forgotten amidst all the other distractions your customers face every day.
Pick up the phone – As early as April 2020, just a month into the pandemic, workers started suffering from Zoom fatigue, which occurs due to the exhaustion of constant visual engagement forced by video calls. Instead of taking the extra time and energy to schedule a call and email the other party a conference link, pick up the phone for an old-fashioned voice conversation.
This impromptu, casual conference can help create a better rapport, offering more time and energy for personal conversation. You might find a phone call is more efficient and, ironically, more personal and heartfelt, than a Zoom call initiated for the sole purpose of conducting specific business.
Of course, arm yourself with the latest industry news to help customers understand how claims have changed in the time of Covid. As much as the personal connection, business owners will appreciate this type of valuable information and will rely on you as a trusted resource – which can result in future sales and upsells.
Plan for the future – We won’t always be on lockdown. The pandemic will end someday, especially with news of a vaccine on the horizon.
Whether you’re on Zoom calls, the phone, or via email or social media, engage your customers with positive thinking and something to look forward to. Start talking about future plans for traveling when the pandemic ends. Even if you’re joking about putting meetings on the calendar for late 2021, you’re helping your customers see a light at the end of the tunnel.
This summer, as stores and restaurants started re-opening under strict guidelines, I kept saying, “Stop talking about a second wave.” I’m still saying it. Be realistic, but think positively, too. It’s all we’ve got right now as a community.
Are these virtual connections enough to keep customers and grow your book of business? Time will tell. What’s working for you? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.
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.
Have your customers privatized NJ temporary disability insurance for potential cost savings and superior customer service?
As we reported in October 2018, the State of New Jersey waived the signature requirement for business owners to obtain privatized New Jersey TDB coverage. This opened the door for brokers to write privatized NJ temporary disability insurance to provide customers with:
By law, premiums must be the same or lower than NJ temporary disability insurance written through the state. At the same time, benefits packages for New Jersey TDB must be the same as – or better – than state benefits.
New Jersey has always had a robust disability benefits package. In January 2020, New Jersey TDB payouts increased to 66.67% of a worker’s average weekly salary, up to $667 per week through June 30, 2020.
As of July 1, 2020, the benefit grows to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary, capped at $881 per week.
With these benefit increases come a change in premium payments, too.
Employees now contribute .26% on the first $134,900 of earnings, with a maximum annual contribution of $350.74. Employers have a different taxable wage base than employees. Employers contribute based on employees’ earnings, with a cap of $35,000.
If your customers have not privatized New Jersey TDB yet, now’s the time. The next deadline to shift policies from New Jersey TDB written by the state to a private plan takes place June 15, 2020.
We can make it easier than ever for you to help your clients privatize New Jersey TDB – and grow your book of business with a statutory benefit with automatic renewals.
Just follow this simple, three-step process.
1. Instruct your customers to obtain form AC-174.
Brokers can no longer download the AC-174 form for their customers, and your insurance wholesaler also can’t provide it for you. Employers first must visit the New Jersey Department of Labor website and fill out the Employer Application.
This form replaces the previous TWES form. If your customer has already registered, they can go here to log in. From either location, they can download the AC-174 form and fill it out.
The census can help you obtain an accurate quote so there are no surprises for your customer when premiums are due.
2. Provide the AC-174 to DBL Center so we can shop policies through our network of top-rated carriers.
The DBL Center does all the work for you from here. We will shop policies and leverage our industry relationships and volume to find the lowest premiums. You may find your customers can save even more by bundling New Jersey TDB with ancillary benefits like vision, dental, and life insurance.
3. Write the policy and track your commissions through our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker.
Once we’ve secured the best coverage and lowest rates we can find for your clients, it will be an easy sell. After all, what business owner would want to pay more through the state and miss out on concierge-level service and faster payouts?
New Yorkers have benefited from private statutory benefits for years. It’s time New Jersey business owners enjoy the same flexibility and superior service they can get from The DBL Center and our dedicated New Jersey rep and brokers.
Let us help you write the policies for your New Jersey clients. You’ll gain access to our proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, where you can track your commissions, renewals, and pending cancellations to improve customer retention. You’ll be able to view your book of business at a glance and access carrier portals with a click.
The world seems to be changing here in the Northeast U.S. every day. The service you receive from The DBL Center is one thing you can always count on.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, business owners in New York and New Jersey may be wondering if short-term disability insurance will cover their absence from work if they are diagnosed with the virus and must stay home from work.
They might also wonder if they can make a disability claim if they have not been diagnosed with the virus but were placed under a precautionary quarantine.
Finally, with schools closing across the country, they might wonder if they can make a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim to stay home and care for school-age children if they don’t have other childcare arrangements.
These are dilemmas many Americans are facing today. DBL Center is working hard to provide our brokers with the answers they need to give their clients’ guidance about what does, and what does not, constitute a short-term disability claim when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
The policies of our carriers do vary, but you can always reach out to one of our team if you or your clients have urgent questions. You can reach us 24/7 through the new chat feature on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
In short, a coronavirus diagnosis or a quarantine related to the pandemic does not constitute automatic approval of a short-term disability claim in New York or New Jersey. Some policies from certain carriers, however, may carry quarantine provisions.
Short-term and long-term disability policies typically do not include treatment for a cold or the flu under short-term disability coverage. If an employee is sick and unable to work due to COVID-19, these claims will be determined on a case by case basis, depending on the severity and length of the illness. In some situations, cases requiring hospitalization may qualify for short-term disability in New York and New Jersey.
Claims submitted with a diagnosis of Coronavirus will be evaluated based on all applicable contract provisions. The insured will need to provide proof that they are under the care of a Health Care Provider that can certify the disability and unable to perform their job duties either in the work place or at home via remote access.
Similarly, covered employees cannot make PFL claims to care for children over a year old who are home from school because the school closed as a precautionary measure. Since the virus doesn’t seem to be affecting children severely, it would be unusual for a parent or guardian to require a PFL claim to care for a child who is ill from the virus, unless the child is immune compromised. Again, that would be decided on a individual basis depending on the length and severity of the illness, as with any cold or the flu.
DBL Center understands that, at this time, many of our brokers may be working from home to limit the spread of the virus. Here at DBL Center, we will remain open and are doing everything to maintain the clean and sanitary conditions or our workplace and protect our employees.
Fortunately, DBL Center is also set up to work remotely. We have employees in New York and New Jersey offices who frequently connect virtually, and our cloud-based systems transition well to a work-at-home environment.
Our brokers can even Bind DBL Over 50 lives right from any internet-enabled computer, whether at home or in the office. Our exclusive broker Dashboard gives our brokers access to all their policies and preferred carriers from any internet-enabled device, as well.
Throughout the pandemic and after, the DBL Center will continue to be your back-office staff, answer any questions related to disability coverage and the coronavirus pandemic, and help you bind DBL policies from home.
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.
The State of New Jersey legislature recently voted to waive the signature requirements for companies to switch from a state plan to privatized TDB (Temporary Disability Benefits). Previously, brokers needed signatures from 50% + 1 of all employees within a company to switch.
DBL Center reported on the proposed legislation in October 2018, and the bill passed in February 2019. It goes into effect this month.
DBL Center is making sure our brokers are ready for the change, with our Assistant VP of Ancillary Benefits, Lori Rose leading the charge. For two years now, Lori has helped DBL Center expand its brand and presence over the bridges into New Jersey and provide the level of customized service our New York brokers have come to expect. Using TDB as a doorway to sell more ancillary benefits, including dental, life, and vision, Lori has helped brokers increase their book of business.
Now, as it becomes even easier to write privatized TDB, the opportunities for New Jersey brokers expand.
Lori is ready for the challenge – which involves broker education and lots of hustle. The word “can’t” is not in Lori’s vocabulary. She views the new legislation as an opportunity to help her customers – and all New Jersey brokers – earn more with privatized TDB.
Her desire to help others, her willingness to hustle, and her “team player” attitude is why DBL Center President Michael Cohen calls Lori “a hybrid between a ‘fantabulous’ account manager and a superior sales manager.”
Lori sat down with Mike to talk about privatized TDB and also share some fun facts about herself. Watch the video here.
You can learn even more about Lori in Part 1 of Mike’s interview here.
Mike: What are your goals going into January 1, 2020, due to the changes in New Jersey, where privatized TDB will no longer require employee signatures?
Lori: That’s a great question. That signature requirement has always held companies back, because it was difficult to make a change from a state plan to a private plan. With that going away starting in August 2019, all employers will get the experience from the state — it’s called the AC-174.1. Once they have that information, I’m going to be working with my brokers to help their customers privatize TDB.
A lot of it is training and education to teach brokers about selling New Jersey TDB. My goal is showing them how easy it is for them to work with their clients to see if it makes sense to go to a private plan, not only to save the employer some money, but to get better claims service.
Mike: Tell us about how easy it is for employers to switch to privatized TDB.
Lori: Once upon a time, we had an easy TDB program at [insurance carrier] CNA. We were able to guarantee savings to an employer based on the experience on the AC174.1. That has moved forward in the industry from CNA; Zurich took that program, and now other carriers have jumped onboard. That makes it easy for employers to see their savings with privatized TDB. Now, with no signature requirement, it will help brokers write even more business in 2020 for New Jersey TDB.
Mike: What is your favorite word?
Lori: Fantabulous. And it’s a made-up word.
Mike: What is your least favorite word?
Lori: The word can’t.
Mike: I had a feeling you were going to say that. I really did.
Lori: Because everything is do-able. I consider myself a professional problem solver, and I can get anything done. And when I get it done, it’s fantabulous.
Mike: What motivates you?
Lori: I like helping people. I like providing solutions. I find when I can bring value to the table, that motivates me to do a better job every day. Working as a team.
Mike: What turns you off?
Lori: Negativity. I have to be around that positive energy and surround myself with it, and bring that to others, as well.
Mike: What profession other than yours have you always wanted to do?
Lori: Once upon a time, I was a psychology major. I had always thought I’d go into child psychology. I find that even in this business, it’s all about relationships. It’s about talking to each other. It’s about understanding a person, knowing their needs, and really listening. Being a good listener.