DBL Center Discusses PTO and PFML with Arch Insurance’s Sonja Spruiel

How does PTO work in states with disability and family leave benefits?

As a growing number of states roll out statutory Paid Family and Medical Leave programs and short-term disability insurance benefits, employers, HR managers, benefits advisors, and insurance brokers, alike, are trying to understand how PTO and PFML interact in terms of claims.

In some states, employers can require workers to use their PTO first, but some states do not allow that.  Understanding all the rules can be complicated, especially for insurance brokers selling these new PFML benefits across multiple states.

Fortunately, said Sonja Spruiel, who serves as the Regional Business Development Manager, Accident and Health, for Arch Insurance, “The broker doesn’t have to be the expert.”

She added, “I position myself as the expert because I read into the laws and create spreadsheets for my company. If brokers bring an expert to the table who is knowledgeable about the products and can really be consultative to the client, it can help them navigate the transition into these mandated paid leave programs.”

That’s just one of the ways insurance brokers can benefit from using an insurance wholesaler with close relationships with top carriers. Spruiel sat down with The DBL Center marketing team to unravel the different paid family and medical leave benefits in different states and how they affect PTO for employees in those states.

Understanding PTO and PFML / State Disability Laws

“Some states allow employers to require the employee to use PTO first, and some states do not allow it,” Spruiel said as the starting point to a deeper, state-by-state dive.

In places like New Jersey, it’s desirable to use PTO to fill in gaps, she explained.

The state has a one-week waiting period for disability benefits paid through the New Jersey State Insurance Fund, so employees may be able fill in their missing income with PTO. “A lot of employees elect to receive PTO so they can receive pay for those seven days,” Spruiel said.

Additionally, New Jersey employees may use PTO in increments to make their weekly earnings whole. “In New Jersey, if an employee is earning 85% of their wages up to a cap, they can use PTO to get paid up to 100% of their pre-disability earnings,” Spruiel said.

Connecticut employers are allowed to require their employees to use PTO – or allow them to opt to use PTO concurrently with Connecticut Paid Leave – as long as the total compensation doesn’t exceed the employee’s full regular pay. The Connecticut law also permits employers to mandate that workers use their accrued vacation time, but must allow the worker to retain at least two weeks of PTO or vacation time, according to CTPaidLeave.org.

In Massachusetts, an employee can opt to use PTO to receive income during the seven-day waiting period for PFML, but they aren’t required to. They can also opt to use PTO instead of PFML at any time during leave if the benefit is higher.

However, employees in Massachusetts, cannot use PTO concurrently with PFML on the same day to make their salary whole. They can, however, collect PTO and PFML benefits within the same week, but not on the same day, according to Mass.gov.

As you can see, rules vary across states and, in some states, employees may not have a need to use their PTO.

“States like Oregon and Colorado, which do not have a waiting period and benefits start on day one, cannot require an employee to use PTO. If an employee elected to take PTO, it would be an offset to the benefit,” Sprueil said.

The Future of Paid Family Medical Leave

As we spoke, the topic came up regarding a federal paid family and medical leave program and how this may (or may not) affect the disparate state programs. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides employees in companies larger than 50 lives with unpaid, job-protected leave. But, so far, there has been no federal paid leave program.

If legislation passes, Spruiel said it would be a “minimal benefit,” and that states would still have the option to meet – or exceed – the requirements through their own programs. “States with programs in place would not be subject to the federal plan.”

This would leave the future of privatized FMLA and PFL benefits secure as a revenue stream for insurance brokers and as a recruiting and retention tool for employers, as well as for states that are competing for tax revenue from homeowners and employees.

FMLA Benefits as a Recruiting and Retention Tool

With skilled office workers able to work from virtually anywhere, many states are trying to prevent “brain drain,” or the phenomenon of skilled workers relocating from more expensive regions. Robust, state-mandated benefits can help attract higher income workers and, therefore, tax revenue, to specific states with competitive FMLA laws in place.

“Many of the bigger states already have plans,” Spruiel said. “A smaller state may not see a desire for the expense of administration of a program, so they may let the federal program reside in their state. But there are a lot of other states to compete with in this world of remote working, so there’s a big edge for states who choose to be competitive on this.”

We can expect to see more state plans introduced, even if federal paid leave legislation manages to pass through Congress within the next few years.

With that in mind, Spruiel emphasized that it is usually a worker’s “payroll state,” or the state where they complete the majority of their work and pay taxes, that determines their statutory benefit eligibility and the state where they would file a paid leave claim. “Remote work is changing the landscape of everything,” Spruiel said.

It’s more important than ever for statutory insurance brokers to position themselves as a resource to employers and benefits supervisors. In many cases, that means fostering relationships with carriers through The DBL Center. As a concierge for brokers, we can act as your back-office staff and help guide your clients through this ever-evolving landscape of employee benefits.

 


Massachusetts PFML: Help Your Clients Privatize Now

Paid Family and Medical Leave went into full effect in January 2021 and benefits were fully rolled out by July 1, 2021. As of last summer, any eligible employees could file a claim to receive benefits. Maximum leave time varies depending on the reason for leave.

Qualified employees could receive:

  • Up to 20 weeks off for a serious health condition
  • Up to 12 weeks for birth, adoption or new foster event within the first year
  • Up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a serious medical condition
  • Up to 12 weeks related to the deployment of a family member in the military
  • Up to 26 weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition who is in the military

Although it was optimal for employers to privatize Massachusetts PFML benefits within the first year in order to avoid pre-paying their first year of premiums to the State Fund, there’s still plenty of opportunities to make the switch for 2023.

As Fall approaches, it’s the perfect time for New England insurance brokers to approach current clients and new business, alike, to share the tremendous advantages of privatizing Massachusetts PFML.

Identify Your Warm Market for PFML

While you should always be prospecting for new business, it makes sense to reach out to your clients who already trust you and rely on you for other lines of coverage. You may be able to help them save money by bundling statutory PFML in Massachusetts with voluntary worksite benefits and ancillary benefits.

First, identify your clients mandated to provide PFML coverage to their employees. This includes any organization with more than 25 covered workers. Covered workers include all W-2 employees, regardless of part-time or full-time job status and any 1099 contractors in an organization with a workforce made up of more than 50% independent contractors.

Businesses with less than 25 lives can also offer PFML to employees on a voluntary, employee-funded basis.

Share the Advantages of Private PFML

Once you’ve identified clients who already write their health insurance, life insurance and other ancillary benefits, or voluntary worksite benefits such as accident insurance, through your agency, remind them that it’s almost time to renew their statutory PFML coverage for 2023.

If they have a policy with the state, they may have experienced claims delays, slow customer service, or a lack of flexibility in how they receive payments. Or maybe they are just wondering if they can find a lower rate with a private policy.

Private PFML policies in Massachusetts must provide benefits equal to or better than the state plan, with the same or greater duration, at premiums equal to or lower than the state plan.

In our experience, private plans have delivered better customer service and more flexibility at rates equal to or less than the state plan. Plus, clients can save money by bundling other benefits with their PFML policy.

All you need to write their policy is a census of lives in the organization, male and female, plus their salaries. Private plans must be approved by the state, so it’s a good idea to start providing quotes now in time for the January 1, 2023 deadline.

Demonstrate Your Expertise

By relying on The DBL Center as your back-office staff, you can share your knowledge as an expert in Paid Leave. Since New York introduced the groundbreaking PFL Act in 2017, The DBL Center has led the way in statutory paid family and medical leave.

Our partnerships with carriers that write paid family and medical leave in a growing number of states help us provide the lowest premiums and greatest options in statutory, ancillary, and voluntary benefits.  

Your access to our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker makes it easy for you to let your customers know when their renewal is due, helping you to better manage cash flow and track commissions along with renewals and cancellations.

Reach Out to New Clients

New businesses open every day in Massachusetts, and many don’t understand the complicated process of statutory employee benefits. Use multiple marketing tactics, including direct email, social media advertising, paid search, and local networking to find new businesses and start the important conversation about statutory benefits with them.

The same goes for attracting businesses who have been around a while but may not realize how much your insurance agency can offer them. Today’s company owners and benefits managers are more demanding than ever before when it comes to receiving the best customer service. They want an insurance broker who has their best interests at heart and can help identify gaps in coverage that could be hurting their business – and their bottom line.

The DBL Center has the tools, resources, knowledge, and industry connections that can help you set your insurance brokerage apart.

New England brokers have the unique opportunity to discover what New York tri-state area brokers have known for years; statutory benefits are a great way to expand your book of business, build relationships, and open the door to commission-boosting ancillary benefits.

At The DBL Center, we are always here to help you build your reputation as a statutory benefits expert.


Stand-Alone PFL Coverage Offers Expanded Profit Potential to New York Insurance Brokers

New York broke ground and made waves when it introduced the nation’s most generous Paid Family Leave legislation in 2016. By 2021, benefits had been fully phased in to provide up to 67% of an employee’s average weekly wage for up to 12 weeks. And, on January 1, 2023, PFL coverage will be expanded to include paid time off to care for siblings.

Under the law, most private employers are required to provide PFL coverage to full-time employees after they have put in at least 26 consecutive weeks of 20 or more hours per week and part-time employees who have worked at least 175 days.

Until now, PFL has been written as a rider to NYS DBL coverage. But the State of New York recently made it possible to write stand-alone PFL coverage through select insurance carriers. This makes PFL coverage available on a voluntary basis to public employees, self-employed workers, and independent contractors, as well as union employees as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

Who Qualifies for Stand-Alone PFL?

Stand-alone PFL provides access to this important benefit for employers who are not required – and don’t desire – to offer short-term disability benefits to their workers. Employees who opt in will receive the same benefits as other workers who have access to statutory PFL as a rider to their DBL coverage.

Union employees can gain access to stand-alone PFL benefits only as part of a collective bargaining agreement. Employers with union workers should understand that they must file an opt-in notice with the Worker’s Compensation Board and then provide 90 days notice any non-represented employees. They must also identify employees who qualify for a waiver for the benefits.

PFL insurance premiums are employee-funded through payroll deductions established by the employer.

How to Use PFL As a Doorway to Enhanced Employee Benefits Packages

PFL is an important benefit, especially with so many members of the “sandwich generation” caring for aging parents or even siblings as well as young children at the same time. But short-term disability benefits are equally important.

The pandemic taught many of us important lessons about strength and resilience and our own mortality. If you get ill or injured, how will you provide for your family? This is the question New York insurance brokers need to be asking their clients – especially in an inflationary period, where borrowing money from investments could be a losing proposition.

Enriched DBL coverage protects all the employees in a company – not just those with older adults or younger children in their care.

A recent survey from the Bipartisan Policy Center found that, on average across income levels, 30% of employed American adults do not have an emergency savings account available to cover unexpected expenses or job loss. Those calculations include 12% of Americans with household income exceeding $100,000 annually, and 26% with income between $50,000 and $100,000. Even workers in upper management positions can benefit from enriched DBL to help them make ends meet if they become ill or suffer an injury off the job.

Today’s employees need better, more robust benefits than ever before to fight the economic uncertainty so prevalent in the U.S. Enriched DBL, coupled with Group Life / AD&D and other ancillary benefits, can give workers the peace-of-mind they need to remain at their most productive.

Stand-alone PFL Opens a New Market

Stand-alone PFL represents a new market for DBL Center insurance brokers. As your insurance wholesaler in New York, the DBL Center has the carrier relationships to help you write stand-alone PFL or bundle it with Enriched DBL and ancillary benefits for even greater savings.

Let The DBL Center help you increase your profits for the second half of 2022 while creating satisfied customers who trust you for their insurance needs.

 


Ancillary Benefits: Did You Know The DBL Center Offers These Benefits?

Our brokers have come to trust us for the lowest premium rates and white glove service when it comes to statutory benefits, including DBL in New York, TDB in New Jersey, TDI in Hawaii and, now, Paid Family and Medical Leave in the New England states.

But, through our long-term relationships with top-rated carriers, we also provide a variety of other benefits to assist not just employees, but executive employees and business owners. After all, when accident, illness, or injury strikes, financial hardship does not just affect middle management or hourly wage workers. The pandemic taught us a stark lesson. Financial misfortune can strike anyone, at any time.

For many executive level employees, the right group benefits and disability insurance can help them avoid tapping into retirement investments or high-yield investments for day-to-day expenses. Instead, they can pay low premiums over time and receive the money they need to maintain their standard of living or, in the case of business owners, meet overhead costs to stay in business.

Bundling these executive benefits with ancillary benefits for all workers is often an easy sell. The ones who benefit most from executive carve-outs for life and disability, key person insurance, and enhanced dental and vision benefits are also the decision makers when it comes to employee benefits. They will want to take advantage of the products that not only increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention, but also benefit themselves.

Take a look at seven areas The DBL Center can help you serve your customers with group life, enhanced disability, long-term disability and other ancillary benefits. Then give us a call so we can help you quote the lowest rates and appropriate coverage levels for your clients.

Carve-Outs for Individual Life and Disability

Hiring employees at any level is difficult right now. But your clients recognize that their most important employees are their moneymakers – the high-earners who bring in the business, generate the profitable ideas, and contribute to the DNA of the company and its brand.

Carve-out plans enable businesses to provide individual life insurance and disability coverage beyond what the organization’s group benefits provide. These benefits can help entice top talent to remain within your organization. There may also be tax advantages to executive carve-out plans.

Disability or Life Insurance to Fund Buy-Sell Agreements for Partnerships

Partners and co-owners within a business often have buy-sell agreements that stipulate terms in case one partner dies. But if a person should suffer a long-term disability, the buy-sell agreement may not cover that contingency.

A disability insurance policy that includes a buy-sell agreement can provide the funds for salary replacement in the case of short-term or long-term disability. It can also be used to buy out the business if the disability is deemed permanent. Executive partners and co-owners should consider enhancing their policy with these benefits to protect themselves, their family, and their income in the event of accident or illness.

Buy Up Coverage for Long Term Disability or Life Insurance

Buy-up coverage is similar to executive carve-outs, but can be offered on a voluntary basis to any high-income earners or executives. It is not for an elite group that the company owners may deem “irreplaceable,” but to any executive employee who wants to pay for the additional coverage.

Buy-up coverage could deliver as much as 66.67% of an employee’s earnings, up to a maximum benefit of $10,000 in some cases. Depending on the carrier and plan, these numbers may vary. Your DBL Center representative can help you find the plans that are best for your top employees, and they can be provided on a cost-share or completely voluntary (employee-funded) basis.

Business Overhead Insurance

Sole proprietors and small business owners face unique needs and challenges when it comes to their own health and mortality. Business overhead insurance, written as a rider to long-term disability benefits, can help pay a business owner’s expenses to keep the business running even if they are unable to work or an extended time period due to disability.

Key Person Insurance

Similar to executive carve-outs for the individuals who are most valuable to a company’s bottom line, key person insurance covers the business if something should happen to an owner, key executive, or top moneymaker.

If a business could not run, or would not be successful, without a certain individual, key person insurance protects the company if that person dies or becomes disabled. The company is named as the beneficiary of the insurance. Sometimes, this product is called “business life insurance,” as it protects your business in the event of the death of key personnel.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance is becoming more popular than ever as people recognize the value of not having to rely on family members to care for them as they age. Long-term care insurance protects the employee or executive’s assets, and provides a daily amount of money for care should they become ill or disabled.

LTC can be offered as a group benefit, bundled with other ancillary benefits to keep premiums low. Like other benefits, it can be fully funded by the employer, funded by the employee on a voluntary basis, or the premium costs can be shared.

Individual Dental and Vision Coverage with No Waiting Period

When employers shop for dental and vision coverage, they want to know that they can work with their choice of providers locally. They want low deductibles, coverage for most services (including preventative treatments and regular check-ups) and no waiting period for new employees.

If you’d like to offer your clients these advantages with dental and vision coverage, The DBL Center can help. Thanks to our decades of carrier relationships and the ability to bundle ancillary benefits with short-term disability and other statutory benefits, we can help you write the policies that deliver what your clients want in today’s competitive business environment.

Reach out today for more information. 


Deadline to Write Disability Benefits Across New England and New York Tri-State Area Approaches on April 1

Increase your productivity and close more sales before the disability benefits deadline.

Are you looking at your business 120 days out? What you do now will reap rewards in the next quarter. As the April 1 deadline approaches to write NYS disability benefits, as well as New Jersey TDB, Paid Family Leave in Connecticut, and PFMLA in Massachusetts, the work you do today – and what you’ve done throughout 2022 so far – will directly affect your second quarter results.

Sure, there’s only 30 or so days left until April 1 – not 120 – but there’s still time to make a big impact for your customers and boost your bottom line.

April 1, 2022, is the second quarterly opportunity in 2022 for New York business owners to switch or renew their short-term NYS disability benefits packages. They can also enhance benefits packages with enriched DBL, ancillary benefits like dental, vision, group life / AD&D, and accident benefits.  The same goes for businesses affected by statutory and paid family leave benefit laws in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Most business change these coverages or write new coverage lines on the first day of every quarter: Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1.

So, you want to start taking these important steps to write new business, manage renewals, and write enriched DBL packages, along with ancillary benefits, in New York today. In New Jersey and New England, your focus should be on saving your clients money on their TDB and PFL as a door-opener to obtaining their ancillary benefits.

Many brokers in Connecticut cannot write PFL as a standalone benefit. The DBL Center can, but we can offer business owners in any state substantial savings by bundling statutory benefits with ancillary benefits.

We Can Handle It All

When it comes to employee benefits, there isn’t a lot we can’t do. We can write ancillary benefits and accident insurance:

  • Fully funded by the employer, with the organization paying 100% of the premium
  • By cost-sharing with employees on a 50/50 basis
  • On a 100% voluntary basis through employee payroll deductions

Best of all, we can provide a simple executive carve-out for the owners and management. The only reason your clients would say no is if they simply don’t want the coverage. And in today’s tight labor market, employee benefits are table stakes – not enhancements. Employees expect a certain level of benefits, including ancillary coverage, before they will even consider a job.

If you’re the owner of an insurance agency dealing with employee benefits of any kind, you may want to assign these tasks to the appropriate members of your team. And if you’re an insurance broker reading this, you can take action right now to improve your bottom line for the spring.

If you’re a client of The DBL Center, you’re in luck. We act as your back-office staff to help you manage new business, renewals, and cancellations. You also have access to our online Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to put all the information you need at your fingertips.

Let The DBL Center manage your book’s retention so you don’t have to worry about hitting new business requirements or persistency requirements with carriers. Meanwhile, writing your policies through The DBL center, you’ll earn the same commissions or more.

Make a plan and start working that plan throughout March to give as many business owners as you can the opportunity to get the best premium rates and better, more flexible benefits with enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.  Rely on The DBL Center to help you make more money now so you can enjoy your summer and relax more during the 4th quarter. That will put you looking at new business in August, which is 120 days out from January 1 renewals. You focus on new business and let your insurance wholesaler manager the rest.

  1. Review your Broker Dashboard and begin by approaching current cancellations and pending renewals.

Renewals are the low-hanging fruit when we’re talking about statutory disability benefits across the Northeast. Your goal should be not just to keep these clients with an easy renewal, but showing them the tremendous advantage of offering enriched DBL, ancillary benefits, and accident insurance to their workers.

Especially in today’s highly competitive labor market, every additional perk or benefit companies can provide their workers can help improve employee satisfaction, boost productivity, and reduce attrition rates.

  1. Make sure to ask for a complete census and copy of the group’s latest bill in order to write benefits for Q2, 2022, which begins April 1. 

States require an employee census detailing the number of lives, male and female, in an organization in order to write PFL, TDB, or DBL coverage. Obtaining that census form is a great way to start a conversation with your clients.

  1. Approach new business with an eye on a total benefits package to help them recruit and retain talent.

If you’ve been continuously prospecting through inbound marketing, local advertising, or in-person networking, you probably have many leads in your sales funnel. Working from your hottest prospects – those closest to the bottom of the funnel – set up meetings now to show them how much they can save by writing their ancillary employee benefits with you.

Because The DBL Center leverages our relationships with top carriers, we can provide insurance brokers with the lowest rates and best benefits on enriched DBL and ancillary benefits including dental, vision, Group Life / AD&D, and accident insurance.

So, you want to start taking these important steps to write new business, manage renewals, and write enriched DBL packages, along with ancillary benefits, in New York today. In New Jersey and New England, your focus should be on saving your clients money on their TDB and PFL as a door opener to obtaining their ancillary benefits.


Expand Your Book of Business and Help Clients with Absence Management

Vision CoverageAlong with employee retention and finding the right employee benefits to keep and retain workers, absence management has become one of the biggest challenges for business owners and human resource departments in 2022.

Paid time off becomes more difficult to manage as employees work from home or request flex-time. Managers deal with employees taking time off due to COVID, quarantines following exposure, and childcare issues if children are forced to stay home from school in quarantine.

Amidst all of these challenges, workers are suffering burnout at increasing rates, leaving managers unsure of how to improve company morale and retain high-quality talent.

One study from Indeed.com, reported by Forbes, found that 52% of survey respondents said they were experiencing burn-out in 2021, compared to 43% in a pre-pandemic survey.

Managing employee absences becomes a big part of the puzzle to improving morale. Having the right systems in place can ensure employees are receiving the time off they need and deserve, being compensated for that time, and also returning to work in a timely manner once their leave is done. This helps ensure financial security for workers, while making it easier for managers to ensure that duties are fulfilled and jobs are completed in the workplace.

How DBL Center Can Help Your Clients with Absence Management

The DBL Center recently partnered with a top absence management firm to deliver absent management services to our broker’s clients. Your brokerage can become a one-stop shop for paid family and medical leave, short-term and long-term disability, ancillary benefits, and – now – absence management services. Best of all, you don’t have to administer the services, since The DBL Center and our partners are your back-office staff.

How To Use Absence Management to Improve Your Service and Increase Commissions

You may not have considered selling absence management services to your insurance clients in the past. But generous employee benefits combined with absence management services can help improve retention rates and make it easier to recruit employees in today’s tight labor market. Your clients need these services now more than ever.

While some companies will not write ancillary benefits on a stand-alone basis, The DBL Center can. We can provide short-term disability, vision, dental, and Group Life / AD&D down to 50 lives. With the money your clients save, you can present them with absence management and leave administration services to save additional time, money and resources.

Benefits of Outsourcing Absence Management

Companies who outsource absence management do not have to struggle to keep up with ever-changing federal, state, and local laws. They might experience less employee abuse of paid time off and sick leave policies. They can be certain they are maintaining adequate records of sick leave and absenteeism. Most importantly, they can be confident they are in compliance with regulations related to the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Consistent, well-managed sick leave and paid time off policies can help boost morale by ensuring adequate coverage for employees who are off and ensuring employees do not abuse time off.

If you can provide your clients with these services – at substantial discounts – you will continue to build their trust and grow your book of business through easy renewals and expanded benefits packages.

Let The DBL Center Do The Work So You Can Reap the Rewards

The DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard software can help track leave administration, as well as your commissions, renewals, and cancellations for short-term disability policies.

You have probably seen the need for solid, professional, outsourced absence management services in your own organization, as well as for your clients.

Give us a call to discuss new absence management services provided through The DBL Center.

 

 


5 Things Insurance Brokers Need to Know About Cybersecurity

 

The data of more than 100 million Americans was hacked due to cyberattacks on the insurance industry in the past two years. As the keepers of our customers’ important personal and financial data, insurance brokers have an obligation to keep that data safe. Otherwise, you could be opening yourself and your company up to fines, lawsuits, and costly ransomware incidents – where a cybercriminal locks your systems so you can’t access data and requests a large sum of money to free it. Also, a data breach, if publicized, could lead to lack of trust for your brand, a scenario that has immeasurable hidden costs.

We aren’t saying this to scare you. Data breaches are part of the world we live in. They’ve happened to companies as large as Target and Twitter. It’s quite possible to recover from a cyberattack – but if you can reduce the risk of an attack, you’ll have greater peace-of-mind.

Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate all risks. But it’s critical that brokers who deal in employee benefits, including DBL and ancillary benefits, take steps to protect their clients’ information. What do you need to know about cybersecurity and how can you work to make sure your company is as protected as possible against threats in 2022?

Set Up Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication, which requires two logins for users to access your company network or specific software systems, has been shown to reduce the risk of cyberattacks. Even if a password is stolen, the account cannot be accessed without a second means of authorization, such as a code sent to a user’s phone or  email.

Update Software Systems for the Latest Protection

Legacy software systems often don’t have the security technology available to provide the highest level of protection. Moving to cloud-based systems, where data is housed on servers removed from your location, can help prevent the theft of data if someone breaches your network.

Delete Unnecessary Client Data

Hackers cannot steal sensitive data if that data is not available. Delete unnecessary client data, including outdated information or that of former customers, and lock down other data so that only professionals in your organization who need to access it have the capability.

Perform Audits of Network Systems and Software

Many insurance brokers do not think about cybersecurity. But it’s important to keep it at the forefront of your mind with regular audits of your system security. Even if you have an in-house IT team, you’ll want to bring in an outside firm to perform the audit, identify weaknesses in your systems, and make recommendations to close those gaps.

Cybersecurity professionals should assess your company’s security at every level, including your employees’ processes and best practices; the security of the software, apps, and services you use; and your overall network security.

Train Internal End Users

Cybersecurity experts agree that the “weak link” in the security chain for most organizations – including insurance brokers – are the internal end users: the company employees. Train both in-house and remote employees about best practices. Show them the importance of taking an active role in preventing data breaches. After all, it’s their data stored in your network systems, as well as their clients’. Next month we’ll cover more about end-user best practices and training, which includes how to establish and protect passwords and how to maintain network security wherever they might be working from.

 

 


No Healthcare? Why The DBL Center Specializes in Statutory and Ancillary Benefits

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Stay in your lane.” One of DBL Center founder David Cohen’s favorite quotes was “Stick to sewing.”

Both expressions relate to finding what you’re good at, honing your skills and knowledge in that area, and not wasting time on diversions outside that field. Find the right people to support you in your business who can provide the skills you don’t have – or don’t have the time to pursue.

The DBL Center has always held to this adage, using it to build a national sales force specializing in specific regions or specific areas of coverage.  We used it to build a top-notch outsourced marketing team that works in collaboration with our president and CEO Michael Cohen to keep our website one of the top-ranked in the industry. We used it to create an IT and cybersecurity department that, in the future, will be offering tips to our brokers to help ensure their systems and security are where they should be as we enter 2022.

Most importantly, for 45+ years, we have focused on building our niche as a wholesale/General Agency for statutory insurance and ancillary benefits in a growing number of states.

When David Cohen launched The DBL Center in 1976, he chose a nascent niche that didn’t have many competitors. DBL and TDI were statutory benefits, which should have made for an easy sale. But the real challenge was customer education. No one knew they needed these benefits in New York and New Jersey. Shortly after growing in the New York tri-state area, Cohen took the business to Hawaii, becoming the only TDI insurance company on all the islands.

But: Why Not Offer Health Insurance Policies?

Over the years, many of our brokers have asked why we don’t write health insurance. Impressed by the rates we negotiate with top carriers and our concierge-level customer service, our brokers would love to write all their policies with us, giving them a one-stop shop for employee benefits.

But the nuances of the health insurance industry would require stepping out of what we’ve known for 45+ years. It would require hiring specialists in those fields and diverting our attention away from the areas where we excel.

The carriers in the health insurance field are, largely, different. The policies differ dramatically. And the products, themselves, are more complex than anything we offer today.

Our Expertise In Statutory and Ancillary Benefits Can Increase Your Profitability

By staying in our niche, we can continue to provide concierge-level service in a highly focused field. Our brokers don’t have to know everything about DBL and TDB coverage, because we do. They can turn to us with any questions and to be their full-fledged back-office staff.

When the New York State governor introduced Paid Family Leave in 2017, The DBL Center was on the cutting edge of the news. We were able to get up-to-speed quickly and guide our brokers through one of the most confusing closing periods in our history. We collected censuses, billed premiums, and wrote the necessary riders to DBL policies in New York. All while giving our brokers opportunities and tools to upsell customers to enriched DBL to provide a better benefits package to all employees – not just those who were parents or expecting to become parents soon.

We even provide a platform enabling our brokers to easily track commissions, cancellations and renewals, and we can email reports on demand or on a weekly or monthly basis so they can follow up with their clients.

Our expertise in statutory benefits and ancillary benefits and now, voluntary worksite benefits, enables our brokers to focus on health insurance and other products, knowing that statutory benefits virtually sell themselves. Ancillary benefits, too, are an in-demand addition to benefits packages right now to improve employee morale and combat high quit rates.

Branching Out in Ways that Make Sense

However, through partnerships with other companies, The DBL Center is now in a position to make referrals for healthcare coverage. Through our vast industry connections, we can now introduce you to wholesale insurance agencies and carriers that share our philosophy and values, which we’ve upheld since 1976.

We have always guided our brokers to the best rates and coverage for their clients seeking statutory and ancillary benefits. Now, we can help you grow your business and increase commissions in other ways when it comes to employee benefits and human capital management or absence management.

Hang on, because 2022 is going to be an exciting ride for all of us. We’re glad to have you along for the journey.


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

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

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

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

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

Take Inventory and Understand Your Market

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

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

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

Choose One or Two Marketing Strategies and Focus on Them

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

Possibilities for digital marketing include:

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

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

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

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

Get Back to Basics with Follow-ups

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

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

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

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

Leverage Technology to Track Renewals and Cancellations

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

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

Schedule your free demo of the Broker Dashboard today.


Critical Illness Plans and Disability Insurance Could Provide Workers with Financial Peace of Mind

 

Employee benefits like critical illness plans cost more than workers expect; brokers can help with bundled coverage and client education

More than half of workers in a recent survey said they have “no understanding” or they “only somewhat” understand the insurance benefits their employer offers, how they can enroll, and what is covered. As new variants of the COVID-19 virus enter the news, employees are more concerned than ever about not just their health, but their financial well-being. Additionally, workers said they spend more money than they expect on benefits – even without being certain of their value.

The past two years have been a struggle for businesses on every front, but smart insurance brokers can – and should – view employee fears and lack of knowledge as an opportunity for outreach and education. What products do you write that can help provide a sense of financial security at a better value, while making it easier for business owners to recruit and retain workers?

It Starts with Outreach

With so many employees confused about their benefits plan, it’s time to start thinking about where they are getting their information: either their employers or their human resource departments. That’s where your education initiatives should begin as a broker.

Outreach to these decision makers can help make it easier for them to convey crucial and relevant details about statutory benefits and voluntary worksite benefits such as critical illness plans to their employees. Even as we start meeting face-to-face again at business lunches and networking events, consider leveraging technology to educate employers through:

  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Explainer videos
  • Blog posts

Not only does this marketing collateral make it easy for your customers to understand the benefits you offer but it can also help boost your brokerage’s visibility and brand online, which can help you find new customers. Our brokers can rely on the tremendous resources and information The DBL Center provides to educate their clients and stay on top of industry news and changes to be better informed. Our marketing team consistently creates top-ranking infographics, blog posts and videos designed to simplify complicated topics such as paid family leave, statutory disability, and voluntary worksite benefits.

Critical Illness Plans and Other Voluntary Benefits Offer the Financial Security Employees Want

Forty-two percent of workers surveyed said they were seeking greater peace-of-mind from their employee benefits. For many workers, this could come in the form of critical illness plans, accident insurance, and even life insurance to provide for their families in the event of their death.

Yet, many employers and their workers don’t know about these benefits or how they can provide supplemental coverage alongside DBL or TDB claims in New York, New Jersey, or the growing list of states that now provide statutory PFML coverage.

Critical illness plans can cover hospital costs, loss of income, and medical bills for a list of diseases that include cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, among others. Accident insurance provides cash benefits for accidental injuries either on or off the job. The money is paid directly to the employee and can be used to cover virtually any living expenses, medical bills and co-pays, and even childcare.

Best of all, these benefits can be written as voluntary coverage funded by the employees with pre-tax dollars, funded by the employers as a recruiting and retention tool for top performers, or on a shared cost basis. This flexibility means they can easily fit into any company’s benefits budget and help employers meet or exceed their competitors’ benefits packages to recruit talent in today’s tight labor market.

Reduce Costs by Relying on The DBL Center for Bundled Employee Benefits Packages

In the survey conducted by an online life insurance company, 45% of workers said they think it’s fair to spend less than 10% of their paycheck on benefits. However, 59% spend more than that. Insurance brokers who work with The DBL Center are in a unique position to bridge that gap between employee expectations and the cost of employee benefits.

We leverage our relationships with top-rated carriers to get our insurance brokers the best deals on statutory benefits as well as critical illness plans, accident insurance, and other ancillary benefits like life insurance, dental, and vision coverage. You can save your clients money by bundling statutory benefits with voluntary employee benefits plans and give them top-notch service all through one point-of-contact.

With The DBL Center as your back-office staff and our best-in-class Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app available to help you track renewals, cancellations and commitments, you can focus on what you do best: Building relationships and selling insurance.

Interested in learning more about how The DBL Center can help you offer your clients better pricing on statutory benefits, critical illness plans and more? Reach out today.