New York and New Jersey Announce New Premium Rates and Coverage

Father and son on beach

As we return to our offices following Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, the New York and New Jersey state insurance departments have made some important announcements for business owners and insurance brokers in the two states.

Read on to find out the new premium rates and coverage levels for Statutory Disability and Paid Family Leave plans across the U.S., New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits (TDB), and New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI).

New York Announces New PFL Employee Contribution

As announced in early 2017, New Yorkers can receive up to 60% of their average weekly wage for up to 10 weeks to care for and bond with a newborn (less than one year old) or newly adopted or newly fostered child, to care for an ill or aging family member, or to take care of the household while a military spouse is deployed. The increased benefit (up from 55% in 2019) comes with an increased premium of 0.270% of an employee’s wages each pay period, not exceeding an annual maximum employee contribution of $196.72.
These rates make NYS PFL benefits some of the most generous in the country. Take a look at this chart to compare benefits and premiums across the U.S.

Policy forms and rate submissions are due October 1, 2019. If you need assistance with PFL coverage for any of your customers, the DBL Center is here to help. As your white-glove, white-label back office staff, we want to make it as simple as possible for your customers to phase in PFL coverage as a rider to their DBL policy and provide you with opportunities to enrich DBL coverage to offer benefits that make good financial sense for all your customers.

New Jersey Announces New Employee Rate for 2020

The New Jersey state insurance fund has also introduced a rate hike increase for 2020, from 17 cents to 26 cents for every $100 in taxable wages. Earlier this year, New Jersey introduced expanded Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits as part of its TDB package.

Under the new FLI regulations, the benefits period has expanded from six weeks to 12 weeks, beginning July 1, 2020. In addition, the definition of “family” has increased to include any blood relative of the employee or any individual shown to have a close association that is the equivalent of a family relationship with the employee.

In addition to the rate hike increase, the limit on wages on which taxes are levied for TDB and FLI has increased from 28 times the statewide average weekly wage ($33,700) to 107 times the statewide AWW (approximately $131,100), beginning January 1.

Concurrent with the rate hike, the maximum TDB or FLI benefit has also increased, from $638 to $860 per week. Partial TDB benefits will also be available.

Good News for New Jersey Insurance Brokers

The New York premium and benefits increase is predictable and in line with prior increases since the introduction of PFL. A broker’s best move continues to be selling enriched DBL to provide a benefit that makes sense to top company executives and decision makers within an organization.

The New Jersey hike represents an opportunity for New Jersey insurance brokers to beat the state rate, while providing benefits equal to or better than the state insurance fund, with a higher level of customer service. When New Jersey waived the signature requirement earlier this year, it became easier than ever to get businesses to switch to privatized TDB.

This is the moment New Jersey insurance brokers have waited for; when you break it down, you realize it’s here because of New York’s generous PFL policy.

With family leave enhancements sweeping across the Northeast, employers will want to find ways to stay competitive and recruit working families, millennials, and the future generations of employees. Robust yet low-cost benefits packages, especially in the face of an impending recession, remain one of the best ways to recruit and retain top talent.

Give us a call to take advantage of the white-glove service and support DBL Center offers our tri-state area brokers and expand your book of business as we head into autumn.


On the Mic with Mike: Lori Rose Talks about Privatized TDB in New Jersey

New legislation broadens opportunities for brokers and DBL Center is ready

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.


On the Mic with Mike: Lori Rose Talks About Ancillary Benefits

DBL Center’s newest family member, Lori Rose, shares the one thing brokers could be doing better.

Most of The DBL Center family works out of the Melville, New York, office. But the newest addition, Associate VP of Ancillary Benefits Lori Rose, works in New Jersey close to her clientele. Helping to expand the DBL Center brand and presence with her knowledge and expertise, Lori focuses on ancillary benefits, primarily with TDB customers in New Jersey.

Lori took the trip to Long Island to chat with DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen about her history in the insurance industry and her favorite part about selling ancillary benefits.

Watch the full video here.

Michael Cohen: Tell people how you got here, to DBL Center, and where you came from in the industry.

Lori Rose: I have a long history in the insurance industry on the employee benefits side, starting once upon a time at CNA, doing statutory. New Jersey TDB was the focus. Then I moved into employee benefits, and then moved over to Zurich. From there I moved onto Principal, doing employee benefits – dental, vision, life, disability – and then focusing on the dental / vision with Ameritus.

Mike: What is your favorite product to sell?

Lori: I love selling Dental / Vision, because employees can really appreciate the value of these benefits. I sell a lot of it on a voluntary basis. When I go to an open enrollment meeting with employees, and sit down with them, they can see the value of having a dental plan for themselves and their families, as well as Vision coverage. It’s something they can use every year.

I also like selling voluntary life, and [other] voluntary products. Families don’t realize the financial protection they need and how affordable it is. Very little comes out of their paycheck for them to have a full suite of employee benefits.

Mike: What is the most important thing you see that brokers aren’t doing, that they should be? What advice would you have for them?

Lori: I think brokers could do a better job with cross-selling. They may only write a basic life product and take care of the basic needs. They can appeal to their clients, their accounts, to extend the employee benefits. And that’s where we come in at The DBL Center, helping cross-sell, helping their clients see the value of having a full employee benefits package.

Mike: This is your first time selling on the wholesale level. Is it different?

Lori: It’s different. When I was on the carrier side, I represented one carrier and only their products. Now as a wholesale broker, I can bring solutions to my brokers, to their clients, with preferred carriers, with multiple lines of coverage, and really take care of all their employee benefit needs.

Mike: And how do you feel the broker dashboard has helped your brokers in that process?

Lori: The dashboard has helped my brokers because now they can go onto our website, onto our portal, and look up their accounts. They can track what’s going on, not only with their commissions, but with nearly every aspect of their accounts.

Let’s say they need a highlight sheet or a policy or some information– it’s at their fingertips. They don’t have to wait to go to their particular carrier and get that information. It’s easily accessible to them 24/7. They have access to their accounts and can see what’s going on. That’s what’s great about it. I’ve never had this kind of tool before.


Family Leave Insurance Programs Extend Across Northeast

Massachusetts and Connecticut follow New York in adopting paid family leave benefits

Tri-state area insurance brokers, take note. Big changes are afoot again when it comes to employee benefits, paid leave, and family leave insurance.

New York’s Paid Family Leave has been in full swing since January 2018 and is set to reach the maximum benefit of 67% of the employee’s salary for 12 weeks by January 2021. With New York as a model, Massachusetts and Connecticut have become the next states to roll out comprehensive medical and family leave insurance programs.

Family Leave Insurance Programs: More Inclusive and Expansive than NYS PFL

The programs in Massachusetts and Connecticut are even more inclusive than New York’s policy, allowing time off for more expansive reasons than New York permits.

Both Massachusetts and Connecticut expand on New York’s PFL policies, which allow employees to take time off following the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child within the first year; to care for injured, ill, or disabled family members; or to care for children and take care of household duties while a military spouse is deployed.

Connecticut’s plan also fills the role of DBL in New York, allowing for paid time off when an employee has a serious health condition. In addition, the new law allows paid time off for an employee:

  • serving as an organ or bone marrow donor,
  • who is the victim of family violence
  • who is caring for “any blood relation or “the equivalent of a family member.”

The Massachusetts law, slated to go into effect on October 1, 2019, is an employer-funded program that permits leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a loved one (and 26 weeks if that loved one suffered a health condition as a result of active duty military service) and up to 20 weeks for an employee’s own illness or injury.

Understanding Massachusetts’ Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA)

Massachusetts rushed the legislation through on June 28, 2018, and it went into effect on January 1, 2019. The start date to begin collecting taxes for the benefits was originally stated as July 1, 2019, but Massachusetts has delayed the start time to collect funds to October 1, 2019. Benefits will go into effect January 2021, with some caregiving benefits becoming available that July.

Massachusetts PFMLA covers paid medical leave for employees as well as for caregivers, similar to NYS DBL with the PFL rider. PFMLA pays 80% of an employee’s average weekly wages up to one-half of the state’s average weekly wage (AWW), which is currently $1,338.05.

Here’s where it gets confusing. For employees earning an average of more than half the AWW, they receive an additional ½ of their average weekly wages that are in excess of the cap, up to a total of $850 per week, or 64% of the state’s AWW.

Essentially, the maximum allowable benefit for PFMLA in Massachusetts is $850 weekly, more than New York’s maximum weekly benefit for 2019, which is $746.41.

More About Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Connecticut is the most recent state to launch a paid family leave insurance program and, like Massachusetts, it combines leave to care for family members with paid leave for employees who are injured or ill.

The law goes into effect as of June 25, 2019, but contributions won’t start until January 1, 2021, with benefits becoming available January 1, 2022.

Employees may collect up to 95% of the employee’s base weekly earnings, up to 40 times the state minimum fair wage. Employees who earn more than 40 times the state minimum fair wage receive an additional 60% of their base weekly earnings above that minimum, not exceeding the weekly maximum benefit, which is 60 times the minimum fair wage.

When minimum wage reaches $15/hour in 2023, the maximum allowable PFML benefit in Connecticut will be $900 per week.

Employers may opt out of the state plan if the private plan they intend to adopt meets or exceeds the state plan, with contributions not higher than the state’s rate. Additionally, 50% + 1 of the employees must approve the plan.

What All This Means to Tri-State Area Employers and Insurance Brokers

There’s little doubt that Connecticut adopted the plan to compete with neighboring New York in terms of employee benefits. As a suburb of New York City, Connecticut draws from the same talent pool as downstate New York. Providing a robust medical leave and family leave package to rival DBL with the PFL rider can help Connecticut industries grow with high-value employees.

For tri-state area insurance brokers, Connecticut FMLA, and even Massachusetts PFMLA, could represent new opportunities to expand your book of business. New York-based businesses with offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut will need to revisit employee benefits packages in these states. Bundling FMLA and PFMLA with ancillary benefits such as vision, dental, and group life can help these companies save money while recruiting and retaining top talent.

Connecticut offers options for self-insured and fully insured plans. The Massachusetts plan, which won’t go into effect for a few years, has yet to announce these finer details.

In both cases, tri-state area insurance brokers are wondering: Will the new paid family and medical leave benefits be commissionable?

The DBL Center was here to walk you through New York’s PFL roll-out. We will continue to be your source for details on employee benefits, and paid family medical leave across the tri-state area.

Reach out with any questions you may have about the new family leave insurance: FMLA in Connecticut or PFMLA in Massachusetts. We will keep you up-to-date as new details are announced.


DBL Center History: Words of Wisdom from Founder David Cohen

DBL Center's Founder, David Cohen

As many of us get set to celebrate Father’s Day with cookouts, laughter, and gifts for Dad, the DBL Center family decided it would be appropriate to look back at The DBL Center’s history and, especially, reminisce about founder David Cohen.

At a recent broker appreciation event at Oheka Castle, a few guests suggested we share David’s endless font of wisdom in a blog post. They didn’t know we already had the idea in the works, but their suggestions moved the topic to the top of our list.

We went from “Hey, we should…” to “Let’s do this. Now.” You can watch the video here:

It seemed right to share this post in the week leading up to Father’s Day, as David was not just a role model for his son, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen, but also to the many brokers he worked with over four decades.

These financial tips and valuable wisdom will make you think, make you laugh, and give you a new perspective on growing your book of business in the insurance industry.

“Dave was like the Don Rickles of the insurance business. He tried to make it fun and I’m trying to continue that legacy,” Michael Cohen said, before sharing the anecdotes and adages that he’s used to pick up where David left off in growing the DBL Center into a top insurance wholesaler in the tri-state area.

How did David Cohen get started in insurance?

A lot of people don’t know this, but my father wanted to be a dentist, which I think was probably what most Jewish parents at the time. Back in the ‘60s [they all] wanted their kids to be a dentist or a doctor.

He went the dentist route, and one day he got into a car accident on his way to Stony Brook dental school. The guy he hit was a life insurance salesman who said: “Hey, listen, it was clearly your fault. But I overheard you speaking to the cop and it sounds like you have half a brain because you’re going to Stony Brook’s dental program. I happen to be looking for an underwriter that has a salesman’s mouth, so why don’t you come work for me? I sell life insurance.”

It was that simple. And that life-changing.

After that he sold life insurance for a year until he met someone who introduced him to estate planning; a company called Alexander & Alexander that ended up becoming AON. They asked my father if he had thought about selling DBL, and that’s when he started to segue out of life insurance to get into statutory disability.

What was David Cohen’s best advice?

When he first knew that I would be starting [at DBL Center], his initial advice to me was: “If you think of it like a restaurant, you’re going to grab the mop and you’re going to start from the bottom before you get into the kitchen. There are different levels and you have to work your way up.”

I didn’t want people to think I was coming in like the prince of the kingdom. That was the first obstacle I had to get over: Proving myself to the organization. That was 15 years ago this July.

David Cohen was the king of words of wisdom. What were some of your favorite bits of business wisdom that he shared?

He always used to tell me, “Grow out like Los Angeles, not up like New York.” If you’re too top heavy and you’re in a very short and narrow city where everything is upwards and falls, you can lose a tremendous amount of revenue. Instead, you should focus on your nickels, dimes, and quarters and build your base and foundation that way.

He also shared many tips on finance. What were some of the best?

The rule of 72, which is something we have written about in the past, is about how your money doubles every ten years. We’re trying to tell people that the statutory benefit hasn’t gone up in 30 years. But inflation has, so why don’t you enrich your DBL to mitigate and bridge that gap between DBL and paid family leave? That’s what we’ve been trying to do.

It’s about more than just recruiting new customers, though. What did David Cohen mean when he said, “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep?”

It’s all about retention, which is exactly what we are tracking in our broker dashboard. Our brokers receive email notifications twice a month letting them know which policies are potentially going to be canceled for non-pay. It’s one thing to know where you’re growing, but do you really know what you’re keeping or retaining?

That brings us back to a phrase you use a lot: “Nickels, dimes, and quarters make dollars.” Can you explain that one?

It’s the small, steady accounts that build your foundations. That’s why David always said, “Grow out like L.A.” Take care of all your nickels, dimes and quarters, because they all make dollars; they all add up.

Too many people today don’t want that $15,000 dollar commission. They want the $100,000 commission. But my father taught me that all those $15,000 accounts add up to $100,000, and you should always treat a smaller account as if it’s worth a million dollars.

What did David mean when he said, “Stick to sewing?”

Work at what you’re good at. Do what you do best and don’t get outside of the box.

This is exactly why we do statutory disability in New York, New Jersey, Hawaii. My father opened up shop in Hawaii in 1986, and his biggest dilemma there was a cultural difference. He had to convince a Japanese guy to deal with a Jewish kid from Brooklyn in the ‘80s. It was a bit of an obstacle, but he overcame that.

We also do ancillary benefits. group life, long-term disability, dental and vision, that’s it. No major medical, no workers’ comp.

We stick to what we know best at DBL Center and we’ve been doing that since 1976.


The Rule of 72 and Why Your Customers Need Enriched DBL

In our last post, we spoke about using ancillary benefits to help reduce the financial stress that’s placed on employees.

This is especially crucial for employees in the New York tri-state area, which includes regions with the highest cost of living in the country. An accident or illness can leave an employee’s finances depleted. The New York State minimum for DBL coverage hasn’t kept up with inflation and isn’t enough to live on. In fact, the statutory disability benefit in New York has not increased since 1989.

The Rule of 72, for example, states that a specific dollar amount invested at an annual fixed interest rate of 10% would take 7.2 years to double. Yet, in 30 years the DBL benefit has remained the same.

Why not enrich DBL for a very low cost, ramping up the ROI on the investment?

Enriching DBL helps this important benefit keep pace with inflation to cover more of an employer or employee’s living expenses if they are ill or injured.

Consider the Needs of Your Customers

While it’s important to consider hourly workers who may be living paycheck to paycheck, it’s also important for brokers to consider the needs of company owners and top-level employees, including CEOs, CFOs, and HR managers, who make the buying decisions when it comes to employee benefits.

Of course, c-level executives want the best benefits for their employees to improve morale, maximize productivity, and aid recruiting and retention. But if you can also sell decisionmakers on the benefits that also serve their best financial interests, you’ll earn their lifelong trust.

Twenty years ago, Governor Mario Cuomo voted to increase the statutory disability benefit. His son, Andrew Cuomo, decided not to increase DBL. Instead, he introduced Paid Family Leave as a statutory benefit in New York.

But PFL – while it’s undoubtedly an important benefit – doesn’t apply to a vast majority of workers. Many middle-aged and older employees are past child-raising years and have already faced the loss of their parents. People in these demographics, especially middle managers and top executives, need benefits that will appeal to their needs.

Enriched DBL is a “set it and forget it” benefit. Once a business owner enhances their short-term disability benefits in New York, they will renew automatically each year. They aren’t likely to go back to the state minimum benefits.

Why Is Enriched DBL Such a Good Investment for Company Executives?

Many business owners and executives have savings and investments to cover a worst-case scenario such as an accident or illness that could leave them unable to work.

But, in fact, enriching DBL can be the smartest investment company leaders can make.

If it takes 7.2 years to double your income from investments at a rate of 10%, you don’t want to pull that money out to cover your living expenses.

Enriched DBL allows employers and employees – from c-level executives to hourly wage workers – to keep their savings where it is and receive a rate-of-return on their insurance premium that is far beyond any investment.

If a company enriches DBL by 5X, they will only pay $9.75/mo/male in premium and $11.50/mo/female, and if they need to make a claim, receive $850 per week for up to 26 weeks.

When you show your customers the math – and the benefit of leaving their investments growing – they will ask you to enrich DBL for their own financial peace-of-mind.

Build Relationships with the Right Advice

Smart insurance brokers are serving two customers – the employees who use the benefits, and the company owners and HR executives who are making the decisions on what benefits to offer.

When you can open doors to give them a low-cost, high-return benefit that appeals to employers and employees alike, you can gain trust and earn their business for life.

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Brokers: Are You Following Cybersecurity Best Practices?

If you’re a New York insurance broker, you could be subject to new regulations for protecting your customers’ digital data under the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Regulations.

Fortunately, insurance brokers with fewer than 10 employees, less than $10 million in year-end total assets, or less than $5 million in gross annual revenue are not subject to the regulations, which reached their final transition phase on March 1, 2019.

Working Toward Enhanced Cybersecurity Best Practices for All Insurance Brokers

In addition to the new cybersecurity regulations for larger New York brokers, all insurance brokers who accept digital payments of any kind must follow applicable Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards, established by the PCI Security Standards Council. The organization was founded to develop, enhance, disseminate, and assist with the understanding of security standards for payment account security.

Whatever the size of your brokerage, following basic cybersecurity measures can help you build the trust of your customers, and prevent your company from financial loss and loss of business if there is a data breach.

In short, keeping your customers’ data safe is a significant responsibility that insurance brokers shouldn’t take lightly. If you have questions about cybersecurity in your organization, it’s best to speak with a professional who can help your company undergo a security audit, spot weaknesses in your network and overall IT operations, and help you establish cybersecurity best practices.

These three steps can be a good start.

1. Assess Your Cybersecurity Strengths and Weaknesses

If you accept digital payments from your customers, you can complete a Self-Assessment Questionnaire to determine if you meet PCI Data Security Standard requirements. Checking for things like encryption software and up-to-date firewalls can give you an idea of whether or not your brokerage is in PCI compliance.

“If you’re accepting credit cards, debit or digital payments, you must be in compliance with up-to-date firewalls and other security standards to protect your customer data,” says Sunny Naqvi, President of CMIT Solutions of Mid-Suffolk, the award-winning technology firm that helps keep The DBL Center’s data safe.

It’s important to note that the PCI self-assessment only applies to your customers’ payment data, not other important customer information stored on your server. It is also not a complete measure of your organization’s security. PCI controls should continue to be implemented as part of your company’s overall security strategy.

2. Undergo a Security Audit

A security audit, performed by IT and networking professionals, ensures that your company is following cybersecurity best practices. Your auditors should be able to identify vulnerabilities in your network that could lead to a breach and offer a plan of action to fix those security risks.

Naqvi notes that firewalls and anti-virus software should all be up-to-date, and traffic on your network should be limited to only necessary users. Multiple security layers can ensure employees can access the documents they need while keeping customer data secure.

3. Employ the Right Training for Cybersecurity Best Practices

Ultimately, your cybersecurity tools are only as strong as the people using your network.

“Whenever you have to tighten the security, you have to take into account the weakest link in the security chain, which is the human factor,” says Ahmad Mirza, network engineer at CMIT Solutions.

“Training employees how to avoid phishing emails, how to recognize the latest cybersecurity scams, and how to protect their passwords should all be covered as part of cybersecurity best practices,” Mirza says.

He recommends password manager applications to make it easy to set secure, hard-to-crack passwords and then login to all your applications with a single key.

Just be sure to choose a password manager you can trust, with multi-key encryption and multi-factor authentication. “Your passwords should be strong,” Mirza says, “but however you’re storing your passwords should be even stronger.”

How Secure Is Your Brokerage Against a Cyber Attack?

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Hospital Cash: Help Your Clients Relieve Out-of-Pocket Burdens

Even as a P&C broker, you can help your customers relieve the pain of out-of-pocket medical costs

The DBL Center is always on the lookout for creative tools to help you address your clients’ pain points when it comes to essential insurance coverage. While we specialize in DBL coverage and other temporary disability benefits, we know that many of our brokers also deal with major medical.

Even if you don’t, P&C brokers are in a unique position to help their clients address the painful medical renewals they face every year, as coverage levels decrease and premiums rise. In fact, the solution may be easier than you think, and it’s right in the wheelhouse of P&C brokers.

DBL Center President and CEO Michael S. Cohen sat down with Simon Klarides, Director of Business Development at ShelterPoint Life1 to answer our questions on how ShelterPoint Life’s recently updated Hospital Cash program fits in the picture – and to help you sell this commissionable coverage.

Michael S. Cohen: Simon, why do you think Hospital Cash indemnity insurance is a good option?

Simon Klarides: Let’s face it: Looks like high deductible medical plans are here to stay and they are placing more and more of a financial burden on the employees. Although Supplemental Medical Gap policies are not available as a solution in New York, simple, indemnity-based Hospital Cash insurance may present an option. In fact, we’ve configured our Hospital Cash2 product so that you don’t have to go through the full, traditional underwriting process: an alternative, much more streamlined way to get it is by selling it with DBL.

That sounds intriguing, but before we go into those mechanics, can you explain what exactly Hospital Cash indemnity insurance is?

Sure. Hospital Cash pays a fixed amount per day while confined to the hospital for at least 24 hours. This helps with expenses that result– such as copays and deductibles. I remember a Business Insurance article stating that 43 percent of adults said their deductible is difficult or impossible to afford.3

Anyway, our Hospital Cash benefits are paid for an unlimited continuous number of days per hospital stay, and they are paid independently from any other insurance. The nice thing is that benefits are paid directly to covered individuals and can be used however they choose, whether to help with medical bills or everyday expenses like groceries or the phone bill. And what’s even better – our plans cover not only the employee but the whole family!

So how much does Hospital Cash indemnity insurance pay?

New York State regulates the maximum daily benefit by region. The maximum for NY metro areas is $240 per day and $165 per day everywhere else in New York.4 As I mentioned before, there’s no cap for the number of continuous days per hospital stay. Skilled Nursing Facility stays are covered at the same benefit level but are limited to a maximum of 5 consecutive days.

Let’s circle back to how Hospital Cash indemnity insurance can be sold by brokers and in conjunction with DBL. Can you explain, Simon?

Yes! The easiest way of giving clients this coverage is by getting it at time of DBL application. We’ve created a simplified version as part of our BaseLine suite of products that is issued on a non-roster basis with flat per-capita rates – just by checking a box. This means, no enrollments are required while all active employees and their family members are automatically covered.

While Hospital Cash may certainly benefit groups regardless of how robust their medical coverage is, we typically see the sweet spot for this coverage with micro groups that have minimal medical coverage with high deductibles, if any coverage at all. Many times, these types of groups don’t have a benefit broker at all and look to their business insurance broker for guidance. That’s where you can differentiate your approach as a P&C broker to be more consultative and provide extra value to your clients, all while making more commission.

That’s very insightful. Now, for brokers who are looking to sell Hospital Cash, what if their clients already have DBL, whether through ShelterPoint or not?

The BaseLine version of Hospital Cash can be added at time of DBL renewal for existing ShelterPoint customers, and I know your team, Mike, can help with that. For groups with DBL elsewhere or groups that want customized benefits and riders, we still offer Hospital Cash on a traditionally underwritten basis.

Hospital Cash indemnity insurance will help differentiate yourself from other brokers. Call us here at The DBL Center to add this coverage for your existing clients or chat with us about options how to assure that this gets added to your future cases.

Learn more about ShelterPoint Life’s Hospital Cash here.

Reference Notes:
1 ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, a NY-domiciled insurance carrier with principal office in Garden City, NY
2 BaseLine version of Hospital Cash policy available in NY only and underwritten by: ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, Form# SPL GHC115 P NY. The policy described in this post provides limited hospital cash benefits only. It does not provide basic hospital, basic medical or major medical insurance as defined by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Lack of major medical coverage (or other minimum essential coverage) may result in an additional payment with your taxes. Policy provisions, conditions, and exclusions apply. Download this BaseLine Hospital Cash brochure for more information on the BaseLine (non-roster) version. Download this brochure for details and state availability of the FlexLine (traditionally underwritten) Hospital Cash version; this version is available in and underwritten by ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company in NY (SPL GHC115 P NY) and MI; ShelterPoint Insurance Company (licensed in 48 jurisdictions, not including NY) in all other available states outside NY and MI.
3 Livingston, Shelby. Business Insurance 11/25/15 and Commonwealth Fund & Kaiser Foundation, 2017
4 Metro New York area: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Manhattan, Nassau, Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. All other New York counties are considered non-Metro.

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NJ State Disability Maximum Benefit 2019: Do Your Customers Know Their Rights?

Make sure your customers understand the NJ state disability maximum benefit 2019 and more

The NJ state disability maximum benefit 2019 is in full effect as of January 1, 2019, for workers who have become injured, disabled, or given birth any time within the 2019 calendar year.

The NJ state disability maximum benefit 2019 is $650 per week. The maximum benefit for 2019 is up from $637 in 2018. The new rate is applicable only for employees who make a claim in 2019 and is not available retroactively or for injuries or illnesses from 2018.

How Are NJ TDB Benefits Calculated?

The employee’s maximum weekly benefit amount is calculated based on two-thirds of their average weekly wage, based on earnings in the eight calendar weeks before disability began. The weekly wage may include overtime, tips, and cash value of other renumeration, such as employee bonuses.

If the average weekly wage is less than the average weekly wage for the past 26 weeks, the employment may request a recalculation in writing to the Division of Temporary Disability Insurance. This assures payment is fair and remains close to a living wage for the temporary disability benefits applicant.

Disability payments will not begin until seven days after the disability claim is filed and disability begins, and payments cannot exceed 26 weeks within one disability period. Covered government workers must first use all available sick leave.

If combined with renumeration from the employer, the weekly NJ maximum disability benefit cannot exceed the regular weekly wages immediately prior to the disability. For instance, if an employee is paid weekly, and goes out on disability mid-week between the pay cycle, his first disability check plus his next paycheck cannot exceed the prior weekly paycheck.

In addition to the new, higher NJ state maximum disability benefit for 2019, there are a few things your customers should know about NJ TDB, to ensure they are in compliance with New Jersey state laws and treating their employees fairly.

NJ TDB Regulations Your Customers Should Know

As an insurance broker in the state of NJ, whether you are selling health insurance, life insurance, or ancillary benefits, you can take this opportunity to help your customers understand NJ TDB compliance laws. This can help set up a conversation about the benefits of privatizing their TDB policies for enhanced benefits, faster payouts, and better service.

Employers and HR directors should know that a notice outlining employee’s rights under NJ TDB, including the NJ state disability maximum benefit 2019, should be posted in a place where all employees can view and read it, typically an employee break room or other gathering place.

Employees should also be informed about NJ temporary disability benefits when they are first hired, if an employee notifies the employer that they are taking time off for a situation that could be eligible for NJ TDB benefits, or any time an employee asks for information about their temporary disability benefits.

Does It Pay to Privatize TDB for Your Customers?

Many New Jersey business owners aren’t aware they can privatize TDB for better service and the equal (or better) benefits at the same rates.

The state of NJ is backed up on processing temporary disability claims, resulting in benefit delays. If an employee needs help filing the forms or isn’t sure which form to file, it can be difficult to reach someone in the State of New Jersey Department of Labor Division of Temporary Disability Insurance.

In addition, a private TDB policy gives your customers many other benefits, including disability payments in the form of direct deposit rather than a debit card. By privatizing their TDB package with a major carrier, they may be eligible for rate discounts on ancillary benefits, too.

As a broker, when you privatize your customers’ TDB and write the policies through DBL Center, you’ll gain access to our Broker Dashboard to track revenue, commissions, and renewals. Using our Broker Dashboard puts all your clients’ information in one place, under one password, in an easy-to-use app that you can access from your office or on-the-go from any mobile device.

Right now, only 2 percent of all businesses in New Jersey write their TDB policies through a private carrier.

The market is wide open.

The opportunity is there.

Start the conversation by letting your customers know about the new NJ state disability maximum benefit 2019. Then show them what they have to gain with private TDB coverage, because the advantages go far beyond the amount of money claimants receive.

Want more tools to help you sell NJ TDB? Check out our new NJ TDB Resource Center here.


DBL Center Celebrates the Season in Style

Highlights from our holiday party at the Founder’s Room in the Paramount

The DBL Center had an exceptionally successful year and celebrated the holidays in exceptional style. In what has become a DBL Center tradition, DBL Center family, staff, contractors, colleagues and friends gathered in the Founder’s Room, the VIP room of Huntington’s historic Paramount Theater, a 1,500-seat venue that regularly hosts A-list bands and comedic acts.

The Founder’s Room below the theater is themed out in the décor of a 1920s speakeasy, creating an upscale yet laidback environment for guests to enjoy drinks, music and deliciously creative hors d’oeuvres.

DBL Center guests talked about business, their families, and their plans for the holidays to the backdrop of holiday tunes and big band era hits played by saxophonist Danny Bascher. Bascher, along with DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen, is a member of New York City’s exclusive Friar’s Club.

Michael Cohen Takes the Founder’s Room Stage

Cohen took the mic at one point for a short, yet heartfelt speech. Cohen channeled his talents as a stand-up comic to evoke laughs from the audience. The tone of the night was light and casual. His speech exemplified the true family spirit of the DBL Center and its staff. Mike mentioned the company’s continued success in 2018, the new office space in Melville, and a future acquisition to take place by the end of the year.

After the party, he elaborated on The DBL Center’s many successes in 2018 and what makes the insurance wholesaler such a special place to work.
“This is a team of people who really enjoy working together,” Cohen observed. “We work hard, and we also have a lot of fun. My in-office staff is top-notch, best in the business. As we expertly handled the PFL roll-out, we continued to view every challenge as an opportunity and grow the business. The team accomplished great things in 2018 and I know our founder David Cohen would be proud.”

He continued, “I also have a team of independent contractors who are the best in their field, helping to keep DBL Center’s technology systems running and to guide our marketing. We are always trying to stay two steps ahead in these areas, and 2019 will bring continued evolution, innovation, and outreach.”

As We Enter 2019, We Give Our Thanks to DBL Center Carriers and Brokers

DBL Center carriers, too, warrant recognition this time of year. “The carrier relationships we have built allow us many opportunities, from the best pricing and product options for our brokers to cross-marketing to expand our presence,” Cohen says.

Finally, it is the DBL Center’s customers, top brokers across the New York Tri-state area and beyond, who deserve thanks in the holiday season and throughout the year.

“Every DBL Center broker has their own strengths and areas of expertise. We have highlighted some in our new Broker’s Spotlight columns this year,” Cohen says. “As we grow and expand our family of brokers through sales and acquisitions in 2019, we are excited to continue providing exemplary levels of service to all our customers, new and existing and to get to know all our brokers even better. Our success is built on the relationships we nurture and the support we provide. That business philosophy will only continue to grow in the new year.”

See a clip of Danny Bascher as he performs live at The Founder’s Room…


The DBL Center wishes you the happiest of holidays, from our family to yours.