Insurance Brokers: Don’t Let Summer Fridays Hold You Back from Your Sales Goals

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.

How to Cope When Summer Fridays Become Summer Thursdays – And More

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!

Prioritize To Get More Done in Less Time

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.

Don’t Let Yourself Burn Out

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.

Know Your Benefits

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.

Partner With Companies Who Are There for You

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.


New York Disability Insurance and Voluntary Employee Benefits: The Workforce Retention Solution Your Clients Need

Is enriched New York disability insurance the way to keep high-level workers in tech, finance, and other competitive fields?

There’s a mass exodus of white-collar workers from a variety of fields, including finance and technology. What experts are calling the “Great Resignation” continues in spite of six figure salaries for investment bankers fresh out of college and employer accommodations such as flex-time and remote work for professionals in a variety of other industries.

Survey Finds Skilled Employees Leaving the Workforce En Masse

A new survey from HiBob, an HR/people management platform and Fiverr, an online freelancer marketplace, has revealed that it’s not just hourly wage workers who are jumping ship, either. Forty-six percent of HR professionals surveyed said that managers and directors are leaving, rather than entry-level workers.

“This leaves companies with a massive skills gap… They need to fill manager and director roles, ones that require years of experience and knowledge,” said Shany Malbin, general manager of Fiverr Business, in a GoBankingRates article.

The study went on to reveal that it takes, on average, as much as six months to hire new full-time employees. Coupled with the costs associated with recruiting and training new hires, it is in any business owners best interests to retain their in-house talent as long as possible.

But how can New York disability insurance and voluntary employee benefits make a difference?

Skilled Talent Turns to Freelance Gigs

The report revealed that 54% of HR professionals said many workers that resigned started their own business or decided to freelance. Workers are seeking flexibility, the ability to set their own hours, and work from anywhere. The DBL Center, which has excellent retention rates for our key employees, has offered as much flexibility as possible to our workers since 2004. “All I have done over the years is reinvested in technology to keep things current and safe from a security perspective, enabling my team to have continued flexibility,” said DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen.

Offering flexible hours, remote work, and perks like on-site childcare may help keep top employees. Statutory PFL in New York can also entice workers who are caregivers by giving them flexible, paid time off to care for children or their aging parents.

For many workers, statutory benefits like New York disability insurance, along with voluntary employee benefits and enriched DBL packages, could be another draw that keeps them employed. After all, freelancers in New York aren’t required to provide their own New York disability insurance and ancillary benefits are rarely available – or affordable – for self-employed individuals.

Why New York Disability Insurance Matters to Upper-Level Employees

Enriched DBL coverage tends to benefit executive-level employees and management as much, if not more, than it benefits other workers in an organization. Enriched DBL coverage enhances New York disability insurance to a cap of $850 per week. That’s not likely to cover all the monthly expenses of a six-figure, salaried employee – especially in New York. But coupled with accident insurance or critical illness insurance, it can help an ill or injured employee avoid tapping into their investments or rainy-day savings fund, offering peace-of-mind for the employee and their family.

“It takes 7.2 years to double income from investments at a rate of 10%,” explains DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “When employees have savings, it’s wise to keep it parked where it can grow.”

Similarly, ancillary benefits like vision, dental, and Group Life / AD&D offer tremendous value to employees who are likely to invest in regular vision and dental care, including braces for their kids.

How You Can Profit from the Great Resignation and Employee Retention Struggles

Insurance brokers are in a unique position to solve workforce retention challenges in a variety of industries, including finance and technology.

Spotlight New York disability insurance and voluntary employee benefits as a way to keep talented employees from taking the entrepreneurial route. Point out the cost savings employers will experience when they bundle statutory benefits like PFL and DBL with enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.

For business owners, enriching their employee benefits package will cost less than recruiting, hiring and training new talent. Productivity won’t suffer and they can focus on growing their business, knowing that their insurance broker is working in their best interests as a crucial part of theirteam


How to Fill your New York Disability Insurance Pipeline for the New Year

Smart New York disability insurance brokers have been thinking ahead to 2022 since the third quarter wrapped up. However, that’s not always easy to do as so much has changed in the past year. If you’ve been focused on the day-to-day, treading water and focused on maintaining your book of business without growing, that’s completely understandable.

But it could be time, as the new year approaches, to take a step back and take inventory of how you can grow in 2022.

As a successful New York disability insurance broker, you understand that keeping your pipeline full of leads and using consultative selling to earn the trust of clients and prospects, are keys to success. But how can you generate leads to fill your pipeline in this ever-changing, fast-paced world?

First, let The DBL Center be your back-office staff for managing the details. Follow our expert marketing tips for New York disability insurance, ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and group life/AD&D, and voluntary worksite benefits like accident insurance.

Take Inventory and Understand Your Market

As we prepare to enter the new year, take an internal inventory of your sales and marketing strategies. What has worked in the past?

  • What stopped working for your brokerage in 2020 and 2021?
  • What new strategies and tactics that you’ve noticed could be deployed by your team?
  • How can you use technology to continue building relationships with your target market?

Most importantly, are you clear on the make-up of your target market? Only when you understand your audience can you adopt the appropriate strategies to fill your pipeline with leads.

Choose One or Two Marketing Strategies and Focus on Them

The digital era brings marketing strategies and tactics that New York disability insurance brokers haven’t previously embraced. If you’ve relied on sales calls, face-to-face meetings, and in-person networking to grow your book of business, it’s time to start looking at one-to-many (rather than one-to-one) tactics that can save you time and yield faster results.

Possibilities for digital marketing include:

  • Inbound marketing through blog posts and social media content
  • Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Advertising through Google AdWords or paid social
  • Email marketing campaigns for lead generation
  • Webinars for one-to-many marketing

This can all seem overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done much digital marketing.

Choose one or two tactics that fit your company’s skillset, personality, brand and budget. Consider outsourcing some of these services if you don’t have the in-house staff to maintain momentum with content creation or don’t have the knowledge to spearhead a digital ad campaign on your own.

An outsourced digital marketing agency can deliver warm leads straight to your sales team, leaving your in-house brokers to seal the deal through consultative selling, white-glove service, and a deep understanding of the products.

Get Back to Basics with Follow-ups

It can take three to six months for a digital campaign to gain momentum, but you’ll want to be prepared when it does. Have a system to identify and follow-up on qualified leads.

When you do, consider your entire product line – not just New York disability insurance. The DBL Center works with preferred carriers to provide our clients with affordable options to upsell businesses on:

  • Long-term disability coverage
  • Group Life / AD&D
  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Accident Insurance
  • Critical Illness Coverage

You can save your clients money by bundling benefits, which can help them recruit and retain talent in today’s tight labor market. By making recommendations in a consultative capacity, you’ll become a valuable resource, working hand-in-hand with business owners and HR departments to help solve one of their biggest problems today: Keeping well-qualified employees happy.

Leverage Technology to Track Renewals and Cancellations

Of course, it costs less money to retain customers (and upsell additional employee benefits!) than it does to generate new leads and bring in new business. Both are equally important for business growth.

The DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker gives you the tools you need to track renewals and cancellations, so you can stay in touch with your clients when they need you most.

Schedule your free demo of the Broker Dashboard today.


Early Renewals Leave More Time for Business Growth

The holiday season used to begin when Santa Claus rode down 34th Street, waving in front of Macy’s during the Thanksgiving Day parade. But now anyone who celebrates Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or even New Year’s Eve knows the “holiday” season starts with pumpkin spice and apple pie, not sleigh bells.

Things get busy – and for parents or people caring for older family members, it can be even more stressful. In the insurance industry, we have our own pressures as soon as October 1 hits. State-mandated benefits including DBL in NY and TDB in New Jersey are eligible for renewals, leading to a swarm of administrative work beginning October 1 through October 10 and running through the end of the year.

For brokers, your renewals are the bread-and-butter of your business. Those nickels, dimes, and quarters add up to dollars. And the product is a benefit that every business owner in New York, New Jersey (and now a growing list of additional states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts) must carry for themselves and their employees. So it’s just a matter of providing the best rates and stellar service to keep that business on your books year after year.

So here’s the question: Why must all Statutory and Ancillary Employee Benefits have a Jan 1st effective date?   

The answer….They Don’t! 

You probably have many customers who are stuck in the renewal phase of October 1 or January 1 for temporary disability insurance.  But as you onboard new customers, encourage them to set their renewals for a different quarter. And remember, ancillary benefits, life insurance, and voluntary worksite benefits – such as critical illness insurance – can be written the first of any month.

By writing early renewals, or even shifting renewal dates to the spring, you can provide your clients with several advantages and save yourself time and stress. Let’s explore the benefits of locking in renewals early.

Help Your Customers with Cash Flow

Worker’s compensation, major medical benefits, and several other expenses all come due on the first of the year. If you’ve ever budgeted for your business – or even your household – you know that it’s best to spread expenses out across a month. Most people don’t want to have to pay their mortgage, car loan, utilities and credit card bills all on the same day of the month. That’s why credit card companies offer you the option to “choose your own monthly payment date.”

It’s the same thing for a small business. Your customers can spread out insurance expenses over the year by renewing the following ancillary benefits earlier in the year:

  • Group Life/AD&D
  • LTD
  • STD
  • Dental
  • Vision

This can help them manage cash flow and also spread out their quarterly tax deductions to reduce their tax bill.

Give Yourself and Your Team Time to Relax

In any sales industry, leaders push hard at the end of the month to drive revenue. In the insurance industry, we push from October through January. But what would your life – and bottom line – look like if you pushed hard at the beginning of the year, instead?

You’d have more time to relax and breathe at the end of the month, knowing you’ve already achieved your sales goals and have money in your pocket.

If you spread renewals across all four quarters, especially when it comes to upsells like ancillary benefits, you’re not only reaching clients at a time when they aren’t facing other renewals for workers’ compensation and major medical, you’re giving yourself a head start on revenue for the year.

Early Renewals Let You Focus on Growing Your Business in the Fourth Quarter

Here at The DBL Center, 75% of our renewals for ancillary benefits come in the fourth quarter. We push hard to get our clients the best rates and maintain the highest levels of service. But if you take the time to line up recurring revenue from renewals in the spring, you’d have the second half of the year to focus on growing your business.

Maybe that means making operational changes for greater productivity. Or maybe it means initiating a large inbound marketing push to help drive leads to your website and grow your book of business. Maybe you can take that time to focus on business growth, instead of just keeping up with existing policies. And if you want to take a break to enjoy the holidays with your family? You’d have that opportunity, as well.

We’re already entering the busy season in the statutory disability and voluntary worksite benefits space. It’s time to start thinking about planning ahead for next year and how you can spread renewals across the four quarters for better cash flow, peace-of-mind, and business growth.


Your Wholesale Insurance Broker Helps You Track Renewals, Avoid Cancellations

Increase revenue with our exclusive Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker

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.”

Cutting Edge Technology, White Glove Service

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.

Insurance Agents Rely on The DBL Center as their Wholesale Insurance Broker and “Bill Collector”

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! 


Is Virtual Selling Enough for Insurance Brokers?

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.

Connecting… Virtually

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?

Three Tips for Insurance Brokers to Connect to Clients During the Pandemic

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. 


New York PFL vs. New York State Sick Leave Act: What Insurance Brokers Need to Know

 

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.

New York PFL v. DBL v. NYSSL

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 / Enriched DBL

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.

New York State Paid Family Leave (NYS PFL)

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.

NYSSL

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:

  • Sick or injured
  • Caring for family members who are sick or injured
  • Under quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19
  • Caring for minor family members under quarantine

The New York State Sick Leave law (NYSSL) also covers a host of other circumstances for which employees may need time off, including:

  • Preventative care
  • Mental health
  • Medical or mental health treatments
  • Domestic violence incidents

Other Differences You Need to Know About DBL/PFL and NYSSL

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.

How Employers Can Issue New York State Sick Leave

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.

Should Your Customers’ Employees File a DBL or PFL Claim?

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:

  • DBL insurance claims provide partial pay for severe illnesses or injuries that require more than a few days or a week out of work.
  • PFL, on the other hand, covers employees when they need to care for someone else for an extended time period of up to 12 weeks.
  • NYSSL offers full pay up to the amount of accrued sick time. It permits parents to stay home for a short duration with a sick or feverish child without losing a day’s pay. It also makes it financially easier for employees who are feeling under the weather to call out sick and avoid spreading germs.

Help Your Customers Understand the New Laws

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.


Family and Medical Leave Act: New York PFL Rate Change Announcement

NYS PFL rate and benefit increase goes into effect January 1, 2021As per the original legislation for the NYS Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, New York has announced a rate change and benefit increase for NYS PFL to go into effect January 1, 2021.

Beginning in 2021, employees can collect up to $971.61 through NYS PFL benefits. This increase completes the phased introduction of the Paid Family Medical Leave in New York that took place over the past three years.

In accordance with the rate increase comes a premium increase of 87% – from 27 cents to 51 cents. Out of that total rate, .005% is to fund the PFL quarantine payments.

History of NYS PFL

First introduced in 2017 as a mandatory benefit written as a rider to statutory short-term disability in NY, Paid Family Leave in NY will be fully phased in by January 1, 2021. At that time, the benefit will provide 67% of an employee’s Average Weekly Wage (up to the NYS PFL maximum amount) for up to 12 weeks to:

• Bond with a newborn, adopted or foster care child joining their family in the past 12 months
• Care for a seriously ill family member
• Manage the home while a spouse is deployed

Brokers can use our handy PFL calculator in our Paid Family Leave Resource Center to determine their customers’ premium payments.

Helping Your Customers Understand the Difference Between NYS PFL and Paid Family Leave for Covid-19 in NY

It’s important to understand that employees cannot claim NYS PFL for coronavirus. If schools close again in the fall, leaving parents with few childcare options, they cannot claim NYS PFL for coronavirus to stay home with their children.
However, the Families First Act for pandemic may entitle employees to certain benefits if they are unable to work due to school closures because of an outbreak or because of quarantine measures.

According to the Department of Labor, covered employees may receive:

• Two weeks paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay rate if they are quarantined or experiencing coronavirus symptoms
• Two weeks paid sick leave at 2/3 pay to care for a person who is quarantined or to care for children under 18 whose school or childcare provider is closed due to coronavirus
• Up to 10 weeks paid expanded family and medical leave in New York at 2/3 the employee’s regular pay to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has closed due to the pandemic. For an employee to qualify for extended leave, they must have 30 calendar days of employment on record.

To help mitigate unauthorized PFL claims, The DBL Center has introduced a Covid-19 claims pre-screening software for carriers.

Is It Time for Your Customers to Enrich DBL?

The rate increase for NYS PFL puts an even wider gap between disability insurance in NY payments and PFL rates. As you notice your customers about the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act increase, it’s a great time to remind them to enrich DBL coverage for:

• Faster, more flexible payouts
• Increased benefits
• Additional in-hospital coverage as an option

The NYS DBL rate remains at just a $170 per week for 26 weeks. Enriched DBL can offer up to 60% salary replacement, with weekly maximums between $200 and $850. Plus, you’ll get the service you expect from The DBL Center and access to our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to manage your accounts seamlessly from anywhere you might be working.

If you or your customers have any questions regarding the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act – New York premium and rate increase, reach out today. In these uncertain times, The DBL Center is here to help you navigate PFL claims in NY, retain customers, and increase commissions.


Your Clients Need the Best Long Term Disability Insurance

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.

Help Your Customers Keep Employees by Offering the Best Long Term Disability Insurance

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.

Statutory Temporary Disability Benefits in New York Don’t Pay Enough for Most Workers

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:

  • Voluntary benefits packages, which are fully funded by employees using pre-tax dollars
  • Contributory plans, which are cost-shared between the employee and employer
  • Non-contributory plans, which are fully paid for by the employer.

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:

  • Class I (Executives Only) – Covers 60% of salary to a maximum of $15,000/mos. up to age 65 if the individual is unable to perform their own occupation. 90- or 180-day waiting period.
  • Class II (Management Only) -Covers 60% of salary to $5,000/mos. up to age 65 if the individual is unable to perform their own occupation for two years and any occupation thereafter. 180 day waiting period.
  • Class III (All Other Employees) – Covers 60% of salary up to $2,000/mos. for up to five years the individual is unable to perform their own occupation. 180 day waiting period.

Earn More with The DBL Center

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.


Should the State Increase NY Disability Insurance Rates?

Governor Cuomo signs Covid-19 legislation.We’re living in unprecedented times and federal, state, and local governments are looking for ways to adapt. Seeking a balance between regulations and budget, legislation has sought to help Americans keep their businesses open and their employees paid through the vast challenges 2020 has brought us.

Most business owners in New York, along with insurance brokers and other professionals, have concerns about keeping our economy going. Increasing NY disability insurance rates for statutory DBL coverage might be the last thing on people’s minds. But it’s something those of us in the insurance industry should be thinking about.

Should the State Consider Raising NY Disability Insurance Benefits?

NY State Disability Insurance benefits, or DBL, has not increased in decades. With a maximum payout of $170 per week, NYS DBL lags behind New Jersey TDB benefits, and even Massachusetts and Connecticut. The latter two states recently introduced statutory paid leave for non-work related illness or injury.

The last thing New York business owners would want to face right now is a premium increase for any benefits. Many New York City landmarks have shuttered as a result of recent events, and mom-and-pop shops in Main Street areas across upstate and downstate New York have closed permanently or struggle to stay alive.

But an increase in NY state disability insurance pay-outs could yield benefits to employers in the long run, especially as we face uncertainty related to the pandemic. Will DBL claims rise if we see a second wave of the virus? Will the government be so quick to offer Federal aid packages the second time around? Will businesses, already hard hit by recent events, be able to mount a second comeback? No one knows the answers to these questions.

FFCRA Alleviates Pressure on NY State Disability Insurance Brokers

When the first wave of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, hit, the Federal government intervened with the Families First Act. The FFA alleviated much of the pressure on insurance carriers who otherwise would have faced unprecedented levels of claims because of COVID-19.

Here at The DBL Center, we also sprung to action. Our COVID-19 pre-screening software helped eliminate confusion regarding NY State Disability Insurance claims and FFA claims.

If the Federal government had not signed the FFA to help Americans with income replacement if they became ill from COVID-19 or had to care for family members with the virus, disability insurance carriers and brokers may have experienced a situation similar to what P&C brokers in the northeast experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Business owners and the insurance industry, alike, were not set up to respond to an emergency of this scale. Our country was not prepared; but perhaps there is no effective way to prepare for a global pandemic.

Looking to the Future of NY Disability Insurance

Many people reading this, even our brokers who are tapped into the industry, don’t realize that the governor initially had plans to increase DBL benefits when he introduced Paid Family Leave. A short-term disability insurance increase was in the original legislation, but removed before the Paid Family Leave Act was signed.

Increasing NY state disability insurance benefits will help business owners retain high-quality talent, which is a challenge in any economy. New York City, especially, is suffering from “brain drain,” or young, smart, and affluent couples leaving the city. Reports say five percent of Manhattan’s population fled the city between March 1 and May 1 at the height of the pandemic. Further, 69% of tech and finance employees said they would leave New York if they could work from home.

This exodus began years prior to the pandemic because of real estate prices, but was exacerbated this spring.

No, increased DBL may not tip the scales, but having peace-of-mind that you can survive on your disability insurance benefits should you become ill with coronavirus could give many New Yorkers one less reason to leave. Couple that with the most robust PFL policy in the nation, and New York becomes a more family-friendly state.

It’s a good time to make legislation changes right now. New Yorkers have become accustomed to rapid change and increased benefits, including the $600 Federal boost in unemployment benefits.

As always, because it is a shared benefit, DBL represents one way business owners can provide added value to their top employees at a small cost.

Until the time comes that NY State disability insurance benefits rise, business owners can purchase private disability insurance in New York. DBL Center brokers can offer their customers increased benefits through enriched DBL, white-glove service, and faster, more flexible payouts.

What do you think? Is it time for NY to increase their disability insurance benefits?