Educate Your Customers on FMLA for Family Members in Massachusetts

The recent Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act legislation has caused some confusion regarding who is eligible for FMLA, since the definition of “Family” according to the Massachusetts Commonwealth extends beyond what many people think of as immediate family.

As Massachusetts insurance brokers grapple with new legislation surrounding the Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your clients and their employees probably have questions regarding coverage of both the “Family” and “Medical” portions of FMLA in Massachusetts.

The DBL Center is working closely with our top-rated carriers to report breaking news FMLA for family members, along with other details of FMLA claims, as it becomes available.

PFML vs. FMLA: What’s the Difference Between Massachusetts Paid Leave and the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act?

It’s important not to get confused between Massachusetts’ new PFML laws and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which was signed into law in 1993.

FMLA only provides job protection for employees under certain circumstances. It does not provide paid leave. The reasons for taking leave through FMLA or taking paid leave in Massachusetts overlap to an extent.

When Does FMLA Apply to Employees?

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid job protection should an employee stop working:

  • To care for a newborn child, adopted or foster child
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  • Due to a serious medical condition

Who Can Claim PFML in Massachusetts?

Employees can use PFML:

  • For an off-the-job injury or illness not covered by a private short-term disability plan
  • To care for a newborn, newly adopted or new foster child within the first year
  • To care for any family member with a health condition
  • To run a household while a military spouse is deployed

Understand Who Qualifies for FMLA Claims to Care for Family Members

Massachusetts has a much broader definition of family than federal legislation provides. Covered parties include virtually anyone you may have the responsibility of caring for under your roof. This includes:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic Partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent
  • Sibling
  • Parent of a spouse or domestic partner
  • Person who stood “in loco” to the employee when the employee was a minor

PFML also helps support military families during deployment or if a military service member should become ill or injured.

FMLA and PFML can – and typically are – taken concurrently, since one offers job protection and the other offers partial pay replacement.

STD v. PFML: Understanding the “Medical” Portion of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

PFML and the federal FMLA job protection have nearly identical standards defining a “serious health” condition for an employee. It includes any period of in-patient (hospital) care, or a period of incapacity of 3 or more days with continuing treatment from a medical professional.

These standards align with FMLA job protection. If a Massachusetts employer already provides provide short-term disability coverage on a voluntary basis for employees, they may find the standards for PFML less restrictive. MA PFML is not a “disability” standard, per se, so it provides benefits more frequently and is more likely to pay for certain health conditions not covered by STD.

For instance, the following conditions, which may require ongoing treatment or a hospital stay, would often be covered under MA PFML but not under short-term disability plans in Massachusetts:

  • Migraines
  • Physical therapy
  • Asthma
  • Overnight hospital stay for monitoring with next day release

If STD and MA PFML claims happen concurrently, such as in the case of the childbirth recovery period, which provides STD for six to eight weeks for people who have just given birth, MA PFML pays first.

The STD benefit then offsets with the amount received by the claimant under MA PFML. This can get complicated, but The DBL Center is here to walk you and your clients through specific circumstances, leveraging our years of insurance industry experience and carrier relationships with the best disability insurance companies that write this new benefit.

Three More Facts You Need to Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act in Massachusetts

Below are some more key points about the Family and Medical Leave Act that brokers should understand in order to knowledgeably field client questions:

  1. Under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, employees who are covered can expect to get as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, newly fostered, or newly adopted child; or family members who are ill or injured beginning July 1, 2021.
  2. Employees can use up to 20 weeks of paid leave per year if they are suffering from a serious illness or injury incurred off the job starting January 1, 2021. (On-the-job injuries and illness are covered by Workers’ Compensation claims.)
  3.  Companies in Massachusetts with at least 50 employees are required to provide PFML coverage for any employee who has worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months. It is a shared benefit, where employers and employees both pay a portion of the costs.

It’s important to understand both the “medical” and “family” portions of FMLA to answer employers’ questions knowledgably. Through consultative selling and building relationships, you can turn this new benefit in Massachusetts into a profit opportunity for ongoing commissions.

Remember, employers have the option to write PFML plans through private firms and receive not only the same benefits provided by the state PFML plans, but concierge-level service and access to state-of-the-art technology and customer portals to make managing benefits plans easier.

Contact The DBL Center to learn more about FMLA Certification for a family member and other aspects of the new MA PFML Act in Massachusetts.


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.


PFML And Employer PFML Contribution Requirements In Connecticut

Even if your business is exempt from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you might still have to participate in the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML). FMLA provides certain employees with unpaid protected leave for specific family or medical-related reasons. PFML, on the other hand, provides paid protected leave to workers for family and medical-related reasons (similar to those covered by FMLA). To know more about paid FMLA in Connecticut, contact DBL Center Ltd today! 

Difference Between PFML & FMLA

Because the benefits look quite similar, people often confuse PFML with FMLA. However, the two laws are very different from each other, especially when it comes to who and what they cover. First of all, FMLA is a federal law as opposed to the state-offered PFML and only applies to employers with over 75 employees. PFML applies to all employers regardless of the size of their workforce. If we talk about Connecticut in particular, PFML requires employers to provide paid leave for reasons covered under the existing Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA). The PFMLA covers all private employers including those with just as few as one employee.

PFML Law — Contribution Guidelines in Connecticut

The Connecticut PFML law does not require employers to contribute towards the program. State government employees who belong to unions are also exempt. However, employers are responsible for withholding the payroll deductions for each employee and submitting the funds quarterly to the CT Paid Leave Authority. An employer’s failure to submit the contributions may result in an assessment of penalties in addition to the required withholdings. No matter the size of the workforce, you will always be responsible for withholding the covered individual share.

Coming to family leaves, all employers can withhold the entire family leave contribution from their covered individuals but it’s up to them to set the withholding rates for their workforce. Using an online contribution calculator, you can determine whether you’re required to pay the employer share and estimate how much must be withheld from wages based on your workforce and payroll.

Go for a Private Plan to Get the Most Out of Your Coverage

Though PFML is underwritten and paid by the state of Connecticut, employers can go for a private plan. This provides you with a variety of benefits, such as faster underwriting, better service, lower premiums, and more savings. Offering better benefits to your employees can also help in improving employee retention.

Depending on their preference, employers in Connecticut can use FMLA as a stand-alone benefit or bundle it with ancillary benefits, including dental, vision, and group life insurance — to save more money. The latter option also offers you access to a wide range of insurance carriers, allowing you to choose the best plan for yourself.

Looking for private plans, fast and flexible payouts, and great discounts on PFML benefits? Let DBL Center Ltd write your Paid Family and Medical Leave plan in Connecticut! Give us a call today!


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.


Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) In Connecticut: How It Works

The CT Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) provides “covered” employees in Connecticut access to paid leave for life events covered under:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act

Covered employee means a worker who is currently employed, has been employed within the last 12 weeks, self-employed, a sole proprietor, or a Connecticut resident enrolled in the PFML program. The employees are eligible for benefits under PFML if:

  • They have earned wages of at least $2,325.
  • The wages need to be earned in the highest-earning quarter of the first 4 of the 5 most recently completed quarters.

There are many health needs covered under the PFML, allowing employees to take leave without worrying about lost income.

Employers

All employers with one or more employees are covered under the PFML law. The law also provides employers with the tools and resources to comply with the applicable laws and promote a happy, healthy, and positive workplace.

Role of Employers

Employers in the State of Connecticut play a crucial role in helping workers access to paid time off to meet their various personal and family health needs under the Paid Family and Medical Leave law. They have to:

  • Make Payroll Deductions – Beginning January 1, 2021, the funding to support the CTPL program will come in the form of employee payroll deductions. The employers have to makepayroll deductions that are capped at 0.5%. One important thing to notice is because contributions are only based on earnings up to the social security cap, the calculation might require estimations in some cases.
  • Submit Employee Contribution – Employers are responsible for withholding as well as submitting the payroll deductions for each worker quarterly. These deductions are submitted to the CT Paid Leave Authority. Failure to make appropriate contributions can lead to penalties.
  • Communicate with the Authorities and employees to Discuss Leave Requests – Employees need to apply for time away from work to their employers. Also, they need to apply to the CT Paid Leave Authority for paid leave benefits to receive income replacement benefits while they are on leave. In some situations, the employee, the employer and the Paid Leave Authority might need to communicate with each other in order to establish the reason for the leave or to verify the duration and frequency of the leave.

Choose a Private Plan to Save Big on Premiums & Get Better Services

Employers can say no to a state PFML plan and instead, go for a private plan to take advantage of various benefits, such as faster underwriting, better service, lower premiums, and more savings. The option also allows you to get access to and choose from a wide range of insurance carriers. Let DBL Center Ltd write your Paid Family and Medical Leave plan in Connecticut today and uncover new possibilities!


Privatize NJ Temporary Disability Insurance: As Easy as 1-2-3


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:

  • Potentially lower rates when bundled with other coverage
  • Superior customer service from a private carrier
  • Faster payouts, choice of payment methods
  • Choice of carriers
  • Easier claims process
  • Less red tape

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.

State Increases Premiums for NJ Temporary Disability Insurance

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.

Is It Time for Business Owners to Privatize New Jersey TDB?

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.


DBL Center Helps Its Carriers with COVID-19 Pre-screening Software

Within the first few days of the coronavirus pandemic and the New York On Pause order, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen felt the same as many of those in the insurance business did.

“When I first got news of this being a reality in New York, which is now a hot spot, I felt like I was back up against a wall,” he recalls. “I was nervous.”

He sprung to action immediately, though. He took what he learned from his decades in the statutory insurance industry and his knowledge of what technology can accomplish to create a solution to slow the onslaught of PFL claims. “I felt I had to do something to mitigate the claims,” Cohen says.

Within days of schools and businesses closing across New York State, and shortly after, through Massachusetts and New Jersey, Cohen and The DBL Center launched the COVID-19 Pre-Screening Software for PFL Claims.

PFL or FFCRA? COVID-19 Pre-Screening App Pre-Qualifies Claims

A tool for insurance carriers to manage PFL claims that may not qualify, the COVID-19 pre-screening software requires employers to answer a series of questions to determine if their PFL claim is valid before requesting a claim form from the carrier. Many statutory PFL claims actually qualify for federal help under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was enacted April 2, 2020.

The DBL Center also created a document to help show when an employee may qualify for PFL and when an employee would qualify for FFCRA aid, instead.

“Even though the changes related to PFL and FMLA [in Massachusetts] have been clearly stated, you’re still going to have some confusion at the employer level in terms of what is a valid COVID claim and what is not a valid COVID claim,” says Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, one of DBL Center’s many preferred carriers. “I thought the software was perfect for that scenario.”

He added that he also sees it having long-term applications once the pandemic ends. “In general, it can help cut down on some of the administrative costs that we incur, and that others occur, taking in paper claims. I bet the industry still sees the majority of our claims in paper form, versus electronic, and this is a good first step to enter the electronic environment. It’s something the industry could use, because it pre-qualifies a lot of claims upfront.”

Following in the Footsteps of the Broker Dashboard Net Revenue Tracker

The Broker Dashboard Net Revenue Tracker was the first technological innovation from The DBL Center, an electronic version of the paper and pen ledger that Founder David Cohen brought to every meeting.

Designed specifically for DBL Center brokers, the Broker Dashboard helps agencies track cancellations and pending cancellations, new policies, and commissions, at a glance. A cloud-based app that gives brokers actionable insights to improve retention rates, the Broker Dashboard brings David Cohen’s paper ledger into the digital age and delivers it to the hands of every broker.

Michael Pellegrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative, reminisced about the way DBL Center tracked revenue when he first entered the industry. “I remember I’d come into your father’s office,” he tells Michael Cohen in the latest Rep Roundtable video. “He’d put down his pen and paper. He was keeping everything in order, but how time-consuming it must have been. “The fact that you took that pen and paper ledger and made that electronic is awesome!”

Watch the Video to Learn More

In addition to discussing the technology that sets The DBL Center apart, Cohen, Callery, and Pellegrino reminisce about summer get-togethers and talk about how the economy and the industry have changed in the past 20 years. Michael Cohen also reveals his secret to surviving the pandemic … all in the latest Rep Roundtable, brought to you by The DBL Center.


Federal “Families First Act” Should Relieve Pressure on PFL Claims Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

In an attempt to keep the economy moving and provide Americans with the financial relief they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal government has introduced the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

Beginning April 2, this act provides emergency paid sick leave benefits to employees unable to work for a variety of reasons. Employees may be eligible for paid leave if they are unable to work because they are:

  • In quarantine or isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and in quarantine
  • Caring for someone in quarantine or isolation as a result of COVID-19
  • Have children in schools or daycare that have closed because of the pandemic

Employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide two weeks’ worth of paid sick leave. Employers will receive tax credits to offset these costs, hopefully minimizing the financial impact on their business.

Employees are also entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick time at 2/3 the regular rate of pay, and an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave if the employee is unable to work because they need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s important to note that this paid leave coverage is from the federal government and is not related to NYS PFL.

The legislation also ensures that employees do not have to use any other paid time off in lieu of federal paid leave benefits. Employers also cannot mandate that employees find replacement workers.

NYS PFL Claims in Light of Coronavirus Pandemic

Until April 2 when Families First goes into action, New York State has stepped in to help employees with COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave, compensated in many cases through New York State DBL and PFL benefits. To help employees stay afloat during this challenging time, the state has waived the five-day waiting period before PFL benefits kick in.

Employers with fewer than 10 workers and less than $1 million in annual net income will still rely on DBL and PFL benefits for their employees, paid concurrently for a combined $2,884.62.

Those with 10 or fewer employees but net revenue exceeding $1 million, or employers with 11 to 99 employees must provide workers with at least 5 days paid sick leave, not counting any PTO they have accrued in the past. After that, employees can make a concurrent PFL / DBL claim for paid leave from Day 6 onward.

Businesses with 100+ employees and public employers are fully responsible for full salary continuation for a minimum of 14 days.

PFL programs only pay out for the intended duration of the quarantine period, which is 14 days. However, if the employee has not exhausted their paid leave from New York State by April 2, those benefits will end regardless. Employees will have to file a federal claim to begin collecting benefits again, this time under the Families First Act. Benefits under the Families First Act apply to companies with fewer than 500 employees.

Stimulus for Business Owners During the Pandemic

It is not easy balancing the economic well-being of our nation with the health and safety of our residents. It’s a challenge many business owners grapple with, as well, during this trying time.

In addition to lowering the federal interest rate, the U.S. government has introduced – or is in the process of introducing — legislation that will help small and large businesses stay afloat while we fight the pandemic with social distancing and isolation.

Last week, the Federal Reserve introduced the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, a program that lends money to banks to purchase assets from money market funds. Lending will not affect bank capital requirements, according to finance site Investopedia.

The government also introduced the Term Asset-Backed Security Loan Facility (TALF), enabling the purchase of asset-backed securities backed by auto loans, student loans, and small business loans to unfreeze credit and help stabilize the economy throughout the pandemic and during the economic recovery period afterwards. These measures will run until September 30, 2020, unless they are extended at that time.

The Fed is also working on a Main Street Business Lending Program. We will reveal details as they become available.

Ultimately, avenues will be available to keep large and small businesses afloat and give them access to the funds they need through loans and tax credits. Here at DBL Center, we will do our best to keep you apprised of changing legislation as it pertains to our brokers and their customers.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and know that the DBL Center is here, as always, to serve as your back-office staff as we get through these trying times together – remotely.


Brokers’ Coronavirus Questions about Short Term Disability, Answered

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.

Coronavirus and Short Term Disability Policies: What You Need To Know

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.

PFL and the Coronavirus

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.

Working from Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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.

 


Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act Opens Doors for Brokers to Privatize Coverage

Massachusetts becomes the fourth state in the Northeast to mandate benefits under a paid family and medical leave act

DBL Center is ready to offer Massachusetts insurance brokers incredible savings on PFML plans under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

The MA Paid Family and Medical Leave Act applies to individuals who need time off:

• Due to a serious health condition
• To care for a newborn, newly adopted, or new foster child within the first year of the event
• To care for family while a spouse is deployed in the Armed Forces
• To care for a family member of any age with a serious health condition

Help Your Customers Privatize Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act Coverage

As in New York and New Jersey, states which have offered short-term disability and paid family leave for several years, business owners in Massachusetts have the option to privatize their FMLA policies for substantial cost reductions.

By law, private FMLA plans must offer benefits of the same amount and duration – or better – than plans underwritten and paid for by the state. That’s why it’s important for business owners to find a source they can trust to write their family and medical leave act coverage in Massachusetts. And that’s where DBL Center insurance brokers come in, offering stellar customer service and lower premiums thanks to the relationships their wholesale general agency has developed over five decades.
Bundle PFML to Save Even More

PFML is a stand-alone benefit, but not every carrier can write PFML as a stand-alone policy. DBL Center has the industry connections and the volume to help Massachusetts insurance brokers get the best deals for their customers.

DBL Center delivers white-glove service, low premiums, and superior benefits packages. Your clients can save even more by bundling FMLA coverage with group ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and group life / AD&D.


DBL Center Enhances Focus on Customer Service and Technology

As testament to the company’s dedication to customer service and education, DBL Center recently launched a Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Resource Center on its website.

DBL Center also recently introduced 24/7 live chat on its website. Simply type in the chat box and a knowledgeable representative will answer your questions about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Act, short- or long-term disability insurance, and group ancillary benefits.

“Massachusetts in the fourth state in our region to introduce paid family leave. As experts in short-term disability and paid family leave in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, DBL Center is poised to become the number one source for brokers to privatize PFML in Massachusetts for their customers,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “We’re looking forward to the profit potential the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act presents to our brokers.”