Most of us are happy to close the door on 2020, a year with multiple challenges from different fronts. While 2021 may not come in carrying a magic wand that will end the pandemic and the economic struggles of small business owners, it carries hope for a stronger future.
Insurance brokers can follow these six steps to get the new year started right.
Three years ago, I had a vision to grow The DBL Center, expand our online presence, and introduce Software-as-a-Service for our insurance brokers that would replace my father’s pen-and-paper ledger with a streamlined way to track commissions, cancellations, and renewals.
Last year, we purchased another insurance wholesaler in the area to grow our business. We expanded our website to serve as a resource for insurance brokers across the Northeast, and we now provide regular content to help insurance companies expand, too. We have a network of more than 40,000 people on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
We’ve achieved our goals, so far, and I continue to work with my team weekly to solidify plans for future growth.
My actions for the past three years were driven by solid, tangible goals. Goals should be:
Do your goals for 2021 fit this criteria?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the power of cooperation. We need to continue to work together to stop the spread of coronavirus, with everyone doing their part. But we also learned the crucial role collaboration plays in the workplace. When we couldn’t work side by side, we used Zoom meetings to fill the void.
It takes a lot of work to create a cohesive remote workforce. The DBL Center stayed strong and continued to grow through a reliable team of in-house employees and contractors who are all experts in their fields. With an organization of less than 50 people, we are accomplishing things that many companies much larger haven’t done.
What roles do you need to fill in your organization for 2021 to help you meet your goals?
The pandemic also emphasized the need for work-at-home technologies. A survey from Upwork revealed that 36 million of the U.S. workforce will be working from home by 2025 – a drop from the numbers we saw in April 2020, but higher than pre-pandemic numbers.
With this in mind, we have to admit those Zoom meetings aren’t going away any time soon. Take a look around your office space to optimize your background and lighting for video conferencing.
Here at The DBL Center, we took some time when we first started our video series two years ago to determine the best angle and lighting to shoot in my office. During the pandemic, many of us have been holding video calls from home. Set up a quiet space that projects your brand and how you want to be seen.
The pandemic, sadly, also shut down many small businesses in New York and New Jersey – especially Main Street mom and pop shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. This has affected many insurance brokers in the tri-state area, particularly those in New York City’s boroughs.
At the same time, Massachusetts and Connecticut have introduced Paid Family Leave laws that could prove very profitable for P&C insurance brokers selling statutory benefits. Let The DBL Center help you branch out as more states begin to offer statutory Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits. By helping business owners privatize these benefits, you can diversify your business for increased growth and profitability!
So much has changed in the past year. One thing that hasn’t changed, but has increased, is our reliance on technology to run a successful business. If you are a DBL Center broker and still haven’t signed up for our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker, you’re missing out on an important tool to help you track your direct billed policies to increase profits by delivering a higher level of customer service and retaining more of your customers.
Watch our video here or sign up for a free demo to start the new year with an advantage.
by Michael Cohen
The past year has brought shake-ups for statutory insurance brokers.
Smart insurance brokers can easily find a silver lining in much of the new legislation. Opportunities exist for statutory insurance brokers to expand into new regions, upsell enriched coverage, and guide business owners toward the benefits of a private plan rather than writing their insurance through their state’s fund.
In fact, 37 states threw their hats in the ring this past election to pass Paid Family Leave acts on a state level. As more states embrace paid family leave legislation, it could ultimately become federal, where it would work in conjunction with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers unpaid job protection for those who are out of work due to illness or to care for family members.”
Moving into 2021, nine states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico offer statutory disability plans to employees. Of those states, only Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York provide options to privatize statutory disability through an independent insurance carrier.
Take a look at this chart to see which states offer self-funding options in lieu of the state plan, and also which states permit private coverage through an insurance company.
California, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island offer Paid Family Leave as subsets of statutory disability plans. For instance, PFL in New York is written as a rider to DBL coverage.
In New Jersey, Family Leave Insurance is included automatically with TDB premiums. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act covers both family leave and medical leave. It can be written through the state fund or through a private insurance carrier.
It is important to note that workers cannot collect statutory disability or paid family leave concurrently with unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation benefits.
Let’s take a look at the year in review and some of the changes that were instituted for statutory disability and family medical leave coverage across the U.S.
In 2019, New Jersey waived the signature requirement for employers to obtain temporary disability benefits coverage through a private carrier. In the past, employers needed to obtain signature consent from 50% + 1 of employees to privatize TDB in New Jersey.
This presented opportunities for brokers, since it became easier than ever to convince business owners to switch to a private carrier for superior service, more flexible benefits, and up to 20% cost savings.
In 2020, New Jersey increased TDB insurance premiums, but also expanded disability coverage up 85% of a worker’s average weekly wage, up to $881 per week. The state also expanded its Family Leave Insurance benefits and eliminated the 7-day waiting period to begin collecting FLI benefits.
The increased premiums give business owners more reasons than ever to write their TDB coverage through a private insurance broker.
New York State made headlines in 2017 when it introduced one of the most robust Paid Family Leave plans in all 50 states, rivaling California’s generous policy.
Benefits continued to increase through 2021, when they will reach a high of 67% of the current statewide average weekly wage (AWW). Workers can collect up to $971.61 per week in 2021.
With PFL benefits at their maximum, it’s more important than ever for New York business owners to consider enriching DBL coverage so it is in line with PFL.
Massachusetts announced the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act, PFML, in the middle of the year, with coverage beginning January 1, 2021. These benefits cover paid leave to care for infants, or children newly adopted or fostered within the past 12 months. Additional benefits will roll out July 1, 2021, with time off to care for any family member with a serious health condition.
Following in the steps of neighboring New York and Massachusetts, Connecticut also introduced a Paid Family Medical Leave Act that goes into effect January 1, 2022, but employers must register with the CT Paid Leave Authority by December 31, 2020. Payroll deductions for PFML begin on January 1, 2021 for the state plan.
As more states add paid family leave benefits to their statutory disability programs, it’s important to understand the opportunities insurance brokers have to give their customers top-notch service, flexible claims, and potentially lower premiums through private coverage.
Reference the PDF here for clarity on the states currently offering PFL, FMLA and statutory disability or rolling out programs in the new year so you can be prepared to provide your customers with the best statutory disability benefits for their money.
To provide quotes for statutory disability for new customers, you’ll need a census containing the ages, genders, and salaries of all the owners and employees of the corporation. Reach out to The DBL Center through our chat box or call us at 631.293.5100 to get started.
by Dawn Allcot
Insurance brokers in the tri-state area know that New Jersey recently expanded its NJ disability insurance (TDB) to create one of the most competitive disability coverage packages in the country. The new TDB coverage provides income replacement of up to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary, capped at $903 per week for 2021.
As of January 1, 2021, New Jersey employees must contribute .47% on the first $138,200 of earnings (capped at $649.54 annually). Meanwhile, employers contribute based on employee earnings, capped at $35,500 total annually.
While the NJ disability insurance premium increase may not have made New Jersey business owners happy, it represented an opportunity for brokers to present the advantages of privatizing TDB coverage for better service, expanded benefits, and cost savings of up to 25%.
As you approach New Jersey businesses to make the transition to a private plan for temporary disability benefits insurance, business owners may have questions about other changes to statutory benefits legislation in New Jersey.
Knowledge is power, and can help you build trust with your customers and prospects when you can answer their questions not just about TDB coverage, but about Family Leave Insurance (NJFLI) and changes to the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act. The SAFE Act protects victims of domestic violence or violent sexual attacks with 12 weeks of job-protected leave.
Previously, New Jersey business owners with more than 50 employees (living in any state) were required to provide 12 weeks paid leave and job protection to their New Jersey employees to care for an ill or injured family member or to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child.
Changes to NJFLI legislation have expanded the definition of a family member to virtually anyone with a “close association equivalent to a family member.” In addition, employers with 30 or more employees (not 50) must provide FLI coverage to their employees who live in New Jersey. The state has also waived the 7-day waiting period to begin collecting FLI benefits. Finally, NJ employees do not have to use two weeks of PTO before filing an FLI claim; they can collect benefits and PTO concurrently or wait until their FLI has run out to use their PTO.
Employees who file for leave under the SAFE Act now also qualify for FLI benefits, without having to use their PTO first. Again, they can use PTO concurrently or after FLI benefits run out. The SAFE Act applies to any New Jersey employer with 25 or more employees in the organization.
The new FLI legislation isn’t putting any money in brokers’ pockets. But it’s important to know how it works to guide your customers toward the right benefits for their employees
Privatizing NJ disability insurance (TDB) does not affect FLI coverage, but does provide New Jersey business owners with the white-glove service they deserve, a chance to bundle ancillary benefits for added savings, and benefits that match or exceed the state plan at an equal or lower cost.
Contact The DBL Center to learn more about how benefits have changed for New Jersey business owners – and how you can use this knowledge to expand your book of business.
The DBL Center marketing team “Turned the Tables” on President and CEO Michael Cohen to put Michael in the hot seat for a three-part interview. In the first and third videos, he offered tips for insurance agents and talked about the value The DBL Center provides to its network of brokers.
In this video, Michael discusses the impact the pandemic has had, the creation of the Covid-19 Claim Qualifier, and what he sees for 2021. Plus, he shares one of DBL Center Founder David Cohen’s favorite expressions. Read (and watch the video) to the end for advice from two generations of business leaders in the Cohen family.
Dawn Allcot: How did you come up with the idea for the Covid-19 Claim Qualifier to reduce the number of Covid-related claims and the financial burden on insurance carriers?
Michael Cohen: I was in actually in my son’s room near the start of the quarantine. I think it was March 24. I was speaking to my programmer. I said if there’s a way something can be tweaked, now would be the time. We took something we were already utilizing, the Broker Dashboard Net Revenue tracker, and transformed it into something that could help our preferred insurance carriers. It’s a way to help prequalify claims, to bring the number of Covid-related DBL and PFL claims down.
Everything is volume. If I’m tracking volume for businesses, I can use that same algorithm to track the volume for claims, specifically in the short-term disability segment as a result of Covid.
Dawn: You were in your son’s room, on a call with your programmer. That’s a sign of the times…
Mike: I like being able to work from home. I’ve been working from home since 2007. I’ve got friends and family members that have said to me, “It’s great; I’m not traveling. I get to see my kids.”
My wife has been a healthcare professional for 16 years. The days she would work 12-hour shifts, I was that guy at home. And still am. Nothing has really changed in that regard.
Dawn: Looking ahead, what new initiatives does the DBL Center have planned for 2021?
Mike: Franchising the technology we have created and taking it out to every Paid Family Leave state that’s available.
So, stay tuned for that. That should be a new and exciting venture, which should begin in January. We’re laying the groundwork now.
Dawn: That’s what it’s all about. We’ve been laying the groundwork for this moment for three years now, and it’s coming to fruition. It’s been fascinating to watch you, Mike, and it’s a great case study for business growth.
Mike: Think about it. With the amount of time businesses have been closed during this pandemic, if you add another hundred days onto that, it’s already Halloween.
If we’ve been doing this for three years, what’s another four months? When you’ve been up against the ropes and done what we’ve done over 36 months, with all the highs and lows and peaks and valleys. It’s a breath of fresh air to know we’ve been through all that, already. Now we know what to expect.
You give yourself a goal. And if you accomplish that, then you give yourself another goal. And once you tackle it, get that notch in your belt, you let that ride, and then move on to the next thing. Just keep building upon that and getting to the next level. You want to get to a point where the business sustains itself or you’re ready to sell it.
Dawn: What’s your advice to brokers to get through this time?
Mike: Stop talking about a potential second wave! I don’t want to hear it. It’s negative energy. Let’s just stick to what we know. And that is today.
Now’s not the time to project what will be as far as the pandemic. We don’t know. And it’s too much stress to worry.
I try to tune out a lot of the news media. And I do what’s best for my company.
If I do what’s best for my company, I’m impacting my employees. And if I do what’s good for them, maybe they can take that into their real-world experiences.
I’ve got a lot of friends who are business owners, too. We’re in a bubble of what we do.
As long as we do it best, whether it’s writing or selling insurance or whatever it is, it’s that old adage my father used to say, which is, “Stick to sewing.” It means stick to what you’re good at and do not be a jack-of-all trades.
Dawn: What’s your next goal for The DBL Center?
Mike: We’re more than halfway through the year. Anything I talk about in the fall is going to be for 2021 at this point.
My goal is to be the most state-of-the-art, tech-savvy general agency in the Paid Family Leave statutory space. Case closed. End of story.
Earlier this year, Massachusetts introduced the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) for W-2 employees as well as some 1099 independent contractors. Benefits won’t go into effect until 2021, but employers can begin paying into the plan now.
July 1, 2020 marks the first deadline for payments.
As a shared benefit, MA Family Medical Leave Act premium costs are split between the employer and employees or contractors. Organizations with fewer than 25 employees can offer the plan to their workers as a voluntary, employee-funded benefit.
The DBL Center can write FMLA policies independent of other lines, so you can privatize policies under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act affordably and provide your customers high levels of service.
With the first MA PFML payments coming up, your customers may wonder how much they owe for their plan, whether it’s funded by the state of Massachusetts or written privately.
Your premiums are based on the total number of your lives in your company, which includes all W-2 employees:
You do not need to count 1099 contractors, as they are responsible to write their own policies and pay the full 0.75% contribution.
When clients provide you with the active employee count and wages earned, they should report figures for the prior 3-month period. Contributions made by July 1, 2020 should include the total headcount from April, May, and June.
As COVID-19, the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to strike across the U.S., many employers have laid off or furloughed workers. If furloughed employees or workers on unemployment have earned at least $4,700 in the prior 12 months before filing, they may be eligible to file a PFML claim in January if they meet all other requirements.
In most cases, employers would still pay into benefits packages for furloughed employees, so these workers would count toward the organization’s number of active lives. However, unemployed workers would not.
During the pandemic, many organizations laid off employees and then brought them back to meet the June 1 deadline for loan forgiveness on a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan issued as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Employees re-hired by June 1 would need to be counted as part of Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act premium payments.
With so many changes going on for business owners right now, calculating Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act premiums can be complicated. It depends on employers’ total lives for the past three months. These numbers may have varied wildly as employees were furloughed or laid off and then brought back as Massachusetts begins its phased reopening this week.
The DBL Center works with top Massachusetts statutory insurance carriers to provide the best service you’ll find. We’ll help you deliver the best rates and superior service to your customers with privatized Massachusetts PFML insurance policies.
Contact The DBL Center today.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, business owners in New York and New Jersey may be wondering if short-term disability insurance will cover their absence from work if they are diagnosed with the virus and must stay home from work.
They might also wonder if they can make a disability claim if they have not been diagnosed with the virus but were placed under a precautionary quarantine.
Finally, with schools closing across the country, they might wonder if they can make a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim to stay home and care for school-age children if they don’t have other childcare arrangements.
These are dilemmas many Americans are facing today. DBL Center is working hard to provide our brokers with the answers they need to give their clients’ guidance about what does, and what does not, constitute a short-term disability claim when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
The policies of our carriers do vary, but you can always reach out to one of our team if you or your clients have urgent questions. You can reach us 24/7 through the new chat feature on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
In short, a coronavirus diagnosis or a quarantine related to the pandemic does not constitute automatic approval of a short-term disability claim in New York or New Jersey. Some policies from certain carriers, however, may carry quarantine provisions.
Short-term and long-term disability policies typically do not include treatment for a cold or the flu under short-term disability coverage. If an employee is sick and unable to work due to COVID-19, these claims will be determined on a case by case basis, depending on the severity and length of the illness. In some situations, cases requiring hospitalization may qualify for short-term disability in New York and New Jersey.
Claims submitted with a diagnosis of Coronavirus will be evaluated based on all applicable contract provisions. The insured will need to provide proof that they are under the care of a Health Care Provider that can certify the disability and unable to perform their job duties either in the work place or at home via remote access.
Similarly, covered employees cannot make PFL claims to care for children over a year old who are home from school because the school closed as a precautionary measure. Since the virus doesn’t seem to be affecting children severely, it would be unusual for a parent or guardian to require a PFL claim to care for a child who is ill from the virus, unless the child is immune compromised. Again, that would be decided on a individual basis depending on the length and severity of the illness, as with any cold or the flu.
DBL Center understands that, at this time, many of our brokers may be working from home to limit the spread of the virus. Here at DBL Center, we will remain open and are doing everything to maintain the clean and sanitary conditions or our workplace and protect our employees.
Fortunately, DBL Center is also set up to work remotely. We have employees in New York and New Jersey offices who frequently connect virtually, and our cloud-based systems transition well to a work-at-home environment.
Our brokers can even Bind DBL Over 50 lives right from any internet-enabled computer, whether at home or in the office. Our exclusive broker Dashboard gives our brokers access to all their policies and preferred carriers from any internet-enabled device, as well.
Throughout the pandemic and after, the DBL Center will continue to be your back-office staff, answer any questions related to disability coverage and the coronavirus pandemic, and help you bind DBL policies from home.
Since my father, David Cohen, first founded The DBL Center back in 1976, we have always focused on concierge-level service for our brokers. My father liked to frequent boutique hotels on vacation, and he wanted to model that personalized service as an insurance wholesaler in NY.
That level of service wasn’t seen in the insurance industry at that time. Now, more than four decades later, The DBL Center continues breaking new ground as a wholesale insurance broker.
In the past few years, we’ve begun leveraging technology to provide the best service to our brokers, staying on the cutting edge of industry news, and delivering resources brokers need to retain business, remain competitive, and deliver the highest level of service to their clients.
You may have noticed some new features and functionality added to our website recently. Let us walk you through the ways we are using technology to help our insurance brokers grow their book of business.
Chat-bots are all the rage on customer service-oriented websites today. They make it easy for customers to get answers to their questions round-the-clock.
The problem? You never know if you’re speaking to a real, knowledgeable company representative or a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) program with only basic, high-level answers.
The 24/7 chat feature on The DBL Center website always connects you directly to a wholesale insurance expert with answers to every question you might have. We don’t outsource the service. You are always chatting with one of The DBL Center team. We can answer questions or take it to the next level and jump on the phone to help you write your NJ TDB, New York DBL or enriched DBL coverage, or Massachusetts PFML policies immediately, along with Group Ancillary Benefits.
If you reach out after business hours, we may have to wait until the next business day to provide you with an accurate quote from our top-rated carriers. But we can get the process started at any time. It’s just one more way we are able to provide personalized service as an insurance wholesaler in NY and beyond.
Our proprietary Broker Dashboard continues to grow in popularity, giving insurance brokers a way to track renewals, cancellations, and commissions easily. This became extremely valuable during the Q4 2019, when we helped Shelterpoint transition 5,000+ Statutory policies from Wesco to their company.
Brokers receive bi-monthly reminders about cases that are pending non-pay, helping carriers like Shelterpoint and Standard Security receive payment in a timely manner. This also helps our brokers avoid losing business due to non-paying customers who might decide to write the policy somewhere else. Not only are we a full-service insurance wholesaler in NY, but your back-office team. Just think of Broker Dashboard as your “friendly neighborhood bill collector.”
We’re also using the data from Broker Dashboard to gain insights that will help us serve our brokers better. Your information – and your customers’ information – remains completely secure and confidential in the Broker Dashboard app. But we can track trends that will help us provide the best products, be more proactive about pending cancellations, and learn why clients switch carriers. This knowledge will help us provide more of the products and service your clients need and want.
Maintaining our position as a top insurance wholesaler in NY means being as responsive as possible to our clients’ needs – and that includes our website. No one has time to sit around waiting for pages to load anymore. Whether you want to read our latest blog post, need information on Massachusetts PFML or need a quote for enriched DBL under 50 lives, you need our site to load in a snap – wherever you might be.
We recently updated our website with the latest technology, enabling it to load more quickly on mobile devices so we can serve our brokers better – even faster!
The DBL Center prides ourselves on combining disruptive technology with the personalized service that was so important to David Cohen when he started the company. From our new chat function to our video series, we are on top of the trends that make it easier to stay connected to our brokers, delivering the service you’d expect from a top insurance wholesaler in NY and beyond.
With the introduction of Paid Family Medical Leave in Massachusetts, along with mergers, acquisitions, and the launch of robust software to help brokers manage it all, 2019 was an exciting year in statutory employee benefits and group ancillary products. At the close of 2019, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen sat down the John Puglisi, sales rep for The Hartford, to talk about what to expect in 2020. Be sure to watch the video, because our summary doesn’t catch every amazing moment. Michael Cohen: What do you feel has changed the most in our industry since you started? John Puglisi: One of the biggest changes is the introduction of technology. You’ve been ahead of the curve on that. Voluntary worksite benefits are exploding right now. The right employers have less money to pay, so everybody wants critical illness, accident, hospital. But nobody has the resources to handle enrollments, so all of a sudden you have enrollment companies, technology vendors, and all this new stuff that you have to learn so you can re-enroll customers. We were just talking about how you and I feel very comfortable standing in front of a group of people doing an enrollment meeting and walking away with 40% participation just on the basis of being able to tell the story in an entertaining way. Right now, everybody’s so focused on technology and having it be easily outsourced by an entire enrollment platform, resource, HRIS, etc. That’s been a huge change. Cohen: Speak to me about what’s going on in Massachusetts. Puglisi: What’s interesting about PFML in Massachusetts is the disability component to it, also. We’re dealing in statutory space, with New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts now joining the roster of states that are adding PFL. But they’re also adding a disability component to it. Cohen: Which state do you favor? Most people are more excited about Massachusetts than New Jersey.Puglisi: Okay, so Massachusetts is not a large part of my market because I deal mostly in central western NY except for you guys, who I insisted on [keeping] when I moved out of your area. So, I’ve heard the Massachusetts process is building with the Hartford. Cohen: We’re growing in Massachusetts, as well. We have a group business there, we have LTD and life, and dental… I think Massachusetts is unique for a lot of brokers because they don’t understand if there’s no underlying statutory plan, How’s it gonna work? It’s almost being underwritten like STD. But there’s been a lot of changes. It’s been exciting. Someone once asked me would you ever want to sell health insurance? How do you feel about that? Puglisi: Personally, I would not. There are very narrow players in the field, as far as carriers are concerned. Business is always bouncing from one of the four carriers every year. It sounds like a really intense business. Cohen: How is it going with the AETNA merger? The takeover? Puglisi: The Hartford purchased AETNA’s group ancillary block. Cohen: That seems like a seamless transition. Puglisi: The acquisition of CNA back in 2011 prepared Hartford. A lot of learning went on to make the AETNA transition much smoother. We’ve adapted. wWe’ve taken the best of their system, combined it with ours, and created a whole new Web portal that’s state of the art. Cohen: So it’s all integrated, one system?Puglisi: We’re converting the in-force business over to the AETNA system now. All new business effective January 1, 2019, started on the Hartford Ability Platform. Cohen: If a broker of mine has the Broker Dashboard system and they want to look up both AETNA and Hartford business, they can go in now through my Broker Dashboard, go to the carrier portal, and they can see all their business all in one?Puglisi: Right. It’s a very robust portal. [There are] 400 different kinds of reports, which is a huge advantage. [There is] a lot more self-service capability, which seems to be the direction it’s going. But one of the ways the system has helped us–the same way your system has helped you–is the ability to persist and retain. Once you continue adding lines onto that site, customers tend to stick. And the system provides such good functionality, people are inclined to stay. That, I think, is what you’ve built with the Broker Dashboard.
DBL Center brokers can make tax time easier for their customers
Happy New Year! As we get back to the grind after the
holiday season, NY DBL insurance brokers may have taxes on their mind – as do
their customers. Tax forms, including W-2 forms and third-party Sick Pay statements, are due to
employees by January 31, 2020 for benefits received and services selected for
the 2019 tax year. DBL Center brokers, including those who write their business with the carrier
ShelterPoint, can give their NY DBL insurance clients a helping hand in
prepping for the 2019 tax season. DBL Center brokers can access information about benefits and payouts for their
customers, in real time, on the Broker Dashboard. If you are new to DBL Center
as a result of ShelterPoint’s acquisition of AmTrust Wesco, our Broker
Dashboard is one of the many advantages you’ll gain working with us. Here are a few tips and things you should know about the forms your clients
will need in relation to NY DBL insurance and Paid Family Leave (PFL), courtesy
of top-rated carrier ShelterPoint. 1. Advise your clients to ensure their information is up to date with their
carrier. All information on file, including mailing address, contact name, the legal
name of the business, and the Tax Identification Number (TIN) should be
accurate and current. Incorrect information can lead to delays in receiving
forms or filing taxes. It’s easy to update information with a quick phone call
to the carrier or by creating an online account. 2. Remind your clients to look for
their Informational Third Party Sick Pay statements prior to generating W-2
forms. Any NY DBL insurance benefits received by your clients’ employees is reported
on Third Party Sick Pay statements mailed out by the carrier quarterly.
Companies should receive their annual Third Party Sick Pay statement from their
carrier by mid-January. ShelterPoint mails these statements the week of January
6, 2020. The statements summarize benefit payments made and taxes withheld.
Employers then report that information on employee W-2 forms.
3. Advise your ShelterPoint customers to be aware of forms mailed directly to employees. Customers who use ShelterPoint’s FICA Remittance Service should be aware that employees will receive a separate W-2 form from ShelterPoint showing the total benefits received for the 2019 tax year. Employers will still receive a Third Party Sick Pay statement and brokers can also view the details in the Broker Dashboard. Employers should not double report the information received on W-2 forms they prepare. Similarly, employees who received PFL benefits totaling $600 or more in 2019 will receive Form 1099-MISC from ShelterPoint Life before January 31. These benefits are not reported on W-2 forms and are considered taxable non-wage income. Businesses who use W-2 Preparatory Services from ShelterPoint should look for their employees’ W-2 forms to be mailed directly to the employer for review. It is the employers’ responsibility to file and distribute the tax forms before the January 31 deadline. Moving into a Strong New Year with DBL Center and Our Top-Rated NY DBL Insurance Carriers “The DBL Center family has grown rapidly as a result of ShelterPoint’s acquisition of AmTrust Wesco,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “We are excited about the opportunities our relationship with ShelterPoint brings our brokers and their customers. From our proprietary Broker Dashboard to services that help brokers grow their book of business, we are moving forward in 2020 prepared to meet the challenges of an ever-changing NY DBL insurance market.”
Legal Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. DBL Center does not provide tax advice. Readers should consult with a tax professional with any questions.
Personal connections hold the insurance industry together – especially when it comes to Northeast statutory insurance. The theme arises time and again in our videos and Rep Roundtable discussions. “I don’t ever feel like there’s a strong competition [between our carrier reps] to do well, because we know we will all succeed anyway,” says DBL Center CEO and President Michael Cohen. “It’s easy because it’s such a seamless relationship.” The DBL Center’s annual Christmas party, held in the Founder’s Room VIP area of the famed Paramount Theater in Huntington Village, exemplifies this point. Employees from multiple carriers, colleagues, family, and friends gather every December to reminisce about the past year and celebrate The DBL Center’s bright future. Directly before the 2019 party, John Puglisi, sales representative for The Hartford, met up with Michael Cohen and The DBL Center’s camera crew for the latest Rep Roundtable installment.
Reinforcing the theme of personal connections, Puglisi traces his friendship with Michael Cohen and, before that, his relationship with DBL Center Founder David Cohen. In this must-see video, John and Michael discuss Bill Cosby, retention in the insurance industry, and the secret to more successful enrollment meetings. Be sure to watch to the end because there are poignant moments you won’t find in our synopsis below. Michael Cohen: Isn’t it funny that we’re recording this video here at the Paramount Theater, given our mutual love for comedy. Do you remember who we saw last time we were here together? John: Yes. Last time we were here we saw Bill Cosby. Mike: A lot of things have changed… Bill’s in jail… The end of Dr. Huxtable. And a lot has changed in our industry, as well. We were with your wife and my father. How did you meet us? John: I’ve been thinking about this, actually. You were with another rep, and that other rep was leaving The Hartford. It’s as simple as that. I met your dad because we had classes in the city that your father participated in. That’s where I met Dave. Mike: I remember you and my dad immediately hit it off. And it was funny because the connection has always been the comedy. Dave would always tell the-one liners. And your passion has always been in entertainment. You have an interesting past there. Tell us about it? John: I’ve done theater. I’ve done singing. I vocalized Sinatra acts. Performing was where I came from. It’s interesting – a lot of guys in this industry tend to come from athletics. They’re sports guys. You’re one of the guys I know who came from comedy, which was always a passion of mine. Mike: Our backgrounds in comedy and entertainment enhance the enrollment meeting, which is half the battle. John: Yes! When you’re presenting your case [directly] to the client, it’s very easy to be compelling. If you can do that in an entertaining way, with vitality and humor, I think you close a ton of business. Mike: The turnover rate was so high when I first got into the business, and it’s gotten even worse. I feel like that revolving door hurts you. A big part of my success has been that my staff has been there a long time. There’s a long tenure. The shortest person is three years, because we’ve made a lot of changes in the past three years. I’m starting to grow the business. Aside from that, it’s 10 years, 20, 30, 34. And people have this common denominator of comfort when they know you’re not going anywhere. John: What your father started, and what you’ve done, is that over the time I’ve worked with you guys, since 2010, you guys are a family.
I walk through the door and see Annette Sperandio and I think, “That’s my daughter in 20 years.” She’s just like her. Have you ever had an experience where you meet somebody and you’re immediately comfortable with them because they remind you of somebody else? That’s the way I was with Annette. And Lisa reminds me of a younger aunt of mine. Your dad – it would be five minutes of him with a Number 2 pencil doing Euclidian mathematic, and then 2 minutes of the most raucous jokes you could tell. Mike: The last time you and I were here at the Paramount it was with my father. Is there anything you want to add? Memories of him? John: Dave’s passing was – and continues to be — just a great shock. He’s a guy that I miss regularly, in the way that I miss my parents.
Obviously, as you get older, you lose people. It’s part of life. He represents somebody whose loss hurt when it happened, and I continue to feel his loss. There were conversations Dave and I had, where he would make suggestions. I would ask him for career advice. I would ask him for mentoring. I remember very clearly – I get goosebumps thinking about it – he looked at me and he said, “I want you to think about this because you’re better than what you’re doing.” I absolutely remember him saying those words to me. You’re better than what you’re doing. Mike: And that’s why you’re here. We love working with you and we love the Hartford. We consider you family, too.