Insurance Brokers: Gain the Advantage with a More Productive Routine

As children across the northeast return to classrooms, many for the first time since March 2020, working parents everywhere also settle into new routines. With workplaces now open again and in-person networking events, business lunches, and other opportunities for connection expanding, many insurance brokers’ workdays are shifting to a “new normal.”

It’s the same for us here at The DBL Center, where we are planning in-person meetings and events and looking forward to reconnecting with loyal clients we may not have seen face-to-face in nearly two years.

Whether you’re struggling with a new routine or looking forward to being back in the office, these tips can help.

Consider What Worked During the Pandemic and Maintain Those New Habits

The pandemic brought many struggles and challenges, but there were also a few bright spots for individuals and businesses for those who knew where to look. For instance, the work-from-home revolution sparked by the pandemic may have actually brought about increased productivity for some workers.

In a January 2021 report, more than 66% of employers said they saw increased productivity amongst their remote workers, while 83% of employees agreed they don’t need to be in the office to be productive. If you’ve noticed you can complete deep focus work better outside the office – especially with the kids at school and not home to interrupt – consider taking one day a week to work from home. You may also offer employees flex-time or remote working hours to garner the same results. You might save money on office overhead costs and create happier, more productive employees.

During the pandemic, businesses also embraced new technologies to stay productive and connected. The DBL Center had just begun distributing a webinar about our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker just prior to the pandemic. We ramped up those efforts during the pandemic and we intend to continue that trend to ensure that insurance brokers can access the information they need about the Broker Dashboard in an easy way.

Reach Out to Rebuild Connections

We missed our annual summer soiree the past two years and, of course, our 2020 holiday party. In general, we’ve missed face-to-face connections with our insurance broker community over the past year-and-a-half.

While not everyone is ready for large-scale networking events or even business lunches, make it a point to reach out by phone and gauge the interest of your best clients and closest colleagues to meet in person at some point this fall.

Leverage Technology Designed to Keep Insurance Brokers More Organized

Of course, it’s the small, daily activities that keep your business running full throttle and ready to grow. Stay on top of renewals and cancellations and make it a point to touch base with clients whose policies are up for renewal.  If you haven’t taken advantage of our free software, click here to book a demo today.

The workplace is changing and employees are demanding more than ever. See if now is the time to upgrade your clients’ ancillary benefits packages, provide Group Life / AD&D, or introduce them to voluntary worksite benefits and critical illness insurance, which can help alleviate financial burdens if someone is hospitalized or facing high medical bills due to illness or injury.

Our Broker Dashboard makes it easy for you to get into the habit of reaching out to clients facing renewals, as well as track your overall revenue as you grow your book of business.

Get Ready to Embrace Change – Again

With a new governor in New York and paid family leave programs gaining traction across the country, the last quarter of 2021 could bring even more changes and opportunities within the statutory insurance industry.

Getting into a routine now can help you act quickly and pivot to embrace opportunities as they open. As always, The DBL Center remains your number one source for information on the statutory insurance industry, DBL in NY, New Jersey TDB, and Paid Family and Medical Leave programs across the U.S.

Read on to learn more about opportunities for statutory insurance brokers now and in the future.

DBL Center President Michael Cohen Live: The Secret Life of a New York Insurance Wholesaler

The DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen recently appeared as a guest on Model FA, a podcast for fiduciary financial advisors, hosted by David DeCelle.

Many insurance brokers who work with Michael know his background as a stand-up comedian. But you may not know that he was very close to becoming a writer on The Drew Carey Show. He shares this story, and many others, on the podcast, along with offering his best tips for brokers to grow their book of business and pondering the future potential of a federal Paid Family Leave or Family and Medical Leave policy.

You can listen to the podcast here or download it through Apple Podcasts with your iTunes account.

We’re sharing some key moments here. But make sure to listen to the end to hear about one of Mike’s first jobs as a comedy writer and an insightful session of “Would You Rather?” where David DeCelle puts Mike in the hot seat.

How Michael Cohen Got into Insurance

Michael Cohen had no interest to get into the family business. His father, DBL Center founder, wanted him to get his insurance license in order to carry on the family legacy. But the more his father pushed, the more Mike resisted. Instead, he went to Boston University to get a degree in film and television.

One of Mike’s professors suggested he move to Los Angeles to write for The Drew Carey Show. But by the time the semester ended and the opportunity arose, Carey had already signed on to host The Price is Right.

“It was all these tipping points and I come home for spring break and my dad said, ‘Insurance is looking pretty good right now, isn’t it?’”

Michael finished up his insurance license and started working for his dad part-time while doing stand-up comedy around Long Island and New York City at night. The skills he developed on stage, however, became a crucial part of his success in the insurance industry.

Michael Cohen’s Favorite Book

Mike told DeCelle that he believes the book The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene should be taught in school. “It’s about how to charm people,” he said. He talks about the impact reading the book had on his life, recalling something an astrologer told him.

“I went to this astrologer at a party and she told me, ‘You do a lot of things that are similar. You run track, where it’s you in the lane against everybody else. You do stand-up comedy, which is your back against the wall. And you’re in sales, which is also a lonely, independent type of position.’”

Mike continued, “All of those things helped me realize how I could prove myself to be trustworthy with other individuals. That book may have helped me connect all those dots into becoming who I am today.”

Why Face-to-Face Beats Out Zoom

Mike internalized the things he learned in the book, and from his father – who he affectionately called “the Don Rickles of insurance” – to focus on forging personal connections with his workers, his customers, and his carriers.

Noting that he prefers face-to-face meetings over Zoom calls, which are more “corporate and structured,” with less time to chat and make connections, Mike said he likes to go out walking with his employees to chat and connect. “As long as it’s not raining, we’ll go outside and just chat casually,” he said.

Forging Personal Connections to Build Business

Mike learned how to make connections early in his insurance career out of necessity. “When I would do an enrollment meeting with my dad, he would be throwing me to the wolves,” Mike recalls.

When he encountered a question he didn’t know how to answer, he’d shift the conversation to find common ground. “I’d say, ‘Well, I don’t know, but I’m performing Friday night at Governor’s in Levittown, if you want I’ve got two tickets.’ I would make people feel comfortable.”

When Mike left the meeting and got into the car with his dad, he was nervous. But it turns out they got the business and Mike is friends with that broker to this day. “My father said, ‘You figured it out. You made people like you. You can always learn the products. The toughest part is making people like you.’ I used comedy as a door opener and took my passion to increase my profits.”

Check out the podcast here.


Save Your Customers Money By Privatizing New Jersey TDB

In past years, DBL Center insurance brokers didn’t write private New Jersey TDB (temporary disability benefits) past the first quarter. Business owners had already paid the bulk of the premiums into the New Jersey State Insurance Fund and there wasn’t a lot of cost savings to be realized writing policies mid-year.

But with the New Jersey TDB premium rate hike (and benefit increase), more business owners are looking to privatize coverage into the summer. Business owners can switch plans up until July 1, 2021 and realize substantial cost savings along with superior service and flexible payment options.

Are you ready to let your customers in New Jersey know about this important change?

This year’s premium bill for New Jersey TDB coverage is enough to give any business owner sticker shock – especially when so many businesses are just beginning to recover from the pandemic and seeing an increase in profits as consumer spending starts to rise. We’re seeing this in every sector, but especially in travel, entertainment, hospitality, and clothing retail, where shoppers seem to be opening their wallets as fitting rooms open.

Of course, business looking up is good news, but for employers looking to increase staffing in anticipation of profit growth, the TDB premium increase can hit hard when they aren’t quite ready for it.

As in 2020, the taxable wage base is different for employers than for employees in 2021. Employees contribute 0.47% on the first $138,200 of earnings, which maxes out at $649.54. Employers contribute based on employees’ earnings, with a maximum of $36,200 annually for the company.

Insurance brokers can save the day with a private policy that:

  • Reduces the premium rate for employer contributions
  • Covers the assessment fee up to $10 per employee per year
  • Saves business owners up to 20% or more on premiums

Ten dollars per year may not sound like a lot, but if the business has just 100 employees, that adds up to an extra $1,000 in savings per year – plus up to 20% savings on premiums. With the current labor shortage, reducing employee contributions can also put money in workers’ pockets, which can help attract talent in virtually any business.

As David Cohen used to say, “Nickels, dimes, and quarters make dollars.” Show your customers this wisdom, and how it can boost their bottom line, and you will earn their trust, loyalty, and future business referrals.

Help Business Owners Provide Workers with Greater Peace-of-Mind

Quality insurance coverage is still on workers’ minds. As we’ve seen during COVID-19, an unexpected accident or illness can set families back financially for months or even years. Employers can give their best workers peace-of-mind with high-quality short-term disability coverage.

When your customers work with you to privatize TDB coverage, they receive:

  • Premium white-glove, white-label service through the DBL Center
  • Flexible payments in their choice of debit card, check, or direct deposit
  • Opportunities to bundle ancillary benefits for added cost savings.

Statutory insurance brokers who help their customers switch to a private TDB policy in New Jersey through one of our top-rated carriers also gain access to our exclusive Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker to better manage renewals and cancellations and to track commissions with a click from any internet-enabled device.

How to Help Your Customers Make the Switch to Private TDB

The DBL Center will be there for you and your customers every step of the way as they make the important, money-saving decision to privatize their TDB coverage in New Jersey. However, your clients must take an important first step by downloading their AC174.1 form from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Employer Accounts. They can login with their password or create a new account here: Employer Access account (formerly called TWES).

They will also need to provide you with a census that includes the number of lives in their organization, genders, dates-of-birth and salaries for every qualified employee. With that information, the DBL Center will work directly with you, the broker, to shop their policy around for the lowest rate. We’ll also see if they can garner even more savings – and boost your commission – with ancillary benefits, too.

Since New Jersey waived the signature requirement for employees to opt-in to private coverage, it’s easier than ever to privatize TDB. We’ve even created a handy infographic that shows customers how to obtain their AC174.1 from the New Jersey Department of Labor website. Once they’ve got that information, you can let The DBL Center team do the rest.

6 Steps Insurance Brokers Should Take Today to Start 2021 Right

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.

Make a Plan for 2021

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.

Set SMART Goals

My actions for the past three years were driven by solid, tangible goals. Goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Do your goals for 2021 fit this criteria?

Build a Strong Team to Help You Meet Your Goals

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?

Maximize Your Space for More Video Conferences

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.

Find Ways to Diversify Beyond New York and New Jersey

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!

Leverage Technology to Manage Your Accounts

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.

Opportunities Grow for Statutory Insurance Brokers

Map of United States

The past year has brought shake-ups for statutory insurance brokers.

  • Record-high rate hikes for temporary disability benefits (TDB) in New Jersey
  • New Family Leave Insurance benefits for New Jersey
  • Increased benefits for Paid Family Leave in New York
  • The introduction of family and medical leave coverage in two more New England states

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.”

Statutory Disability Coverage Across the U.S.

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.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Plans Across the U.S. at a Glance

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.

2020 Brought Changes to Statutory Disability and Paid Family and Medical Leave

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.

After Waiving the Signature Requirement to Privatize TDB, New Jersey Increased Premiums and Benefits

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 Increased PFL Coverage as Per Initial Plans

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 Signed the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

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.

Connecticut Introduced Family and Medical Leave Insurance

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.

Private Plans Create Happy Customers

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.




In Addition to NJ Disability Insurance Rate Hike, New Jersey Expands Family Leave Insurance Coverage

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.

What Brokers Need to Know About FLI

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.

The SAFE ACT and NJ Family Leave Insurance

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. 

Why It Pays for Business Owners to Privatize NJ Disability Insurance

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’s Michael Cohen Talks About Getting Through the Pandemic

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.

Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Payment Deadline Approaches

Members of the sandwich generation benefit from the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical LEave Act
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.

How Much Do Employers Need to Pay?

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.

What About Furloughed Workers?

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.

Need Help Calculating Premiums for the Paid Family Medical Leave Act Coverage in Mass?

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.

Brokers’ Coronavirus Questions about Short Term Disability, Answered

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, business owners in New York and New Jersey may be wondering if short-term disability insurance will cover their absence from work if they are diagnosed with the virus and must stay home from work.

They might also wonder if they can make a disability claim if they have not been diagnosed with the virus but were placed under a precautionary quarantine.

Finally, with schools closing across the country, they might wonder if they can make a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim to stay home and care for school-age children if they don’t have other childcare arrangements.

These are dilemmas many Americans are facing today. DBL Center is working hard to provide our brokers with the answers they need to give their clients’ guidance about what does, and what does not, constitute a short-term disability claim when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

The policies of our carriers do vary, but you can always reach out to one of our team if you or your clients have urgent questions. You can reach us 24/7 through the new chat feature on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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

In short, a coronavirus diagnosis or a quarantine related to the pandemic does not constitute automatic approval of a short-term disability claim in New York or New Jersey. Some policies from certain carriers, however, may carry quarantine provisions.

Short-term and long-term disability policies typically do not include treatment for a cold or the flu under short-term disability coverage. If an employee is sick and unable to work due to COVID-19, these claims will be determined on a case by case basis, depending on the severity and length of the illness. In some situations, cases requiring hospitalization may qualify for short-term disability in New York and New Jersey.

Claims submitted with a diagnosis of Coronavirus will be evaluated based on all applicable contract provisions. The insured will need to provide proof that they are under the care of a Health Care Provider that can certify the disability and unable to perform their job duties either in the work place or at home via remote access.

PFL and the Coronavirus

Similarly, covered employees cannot make PFL claims to care for children over a year old who are home from school because the school closed as a precautionary measure. Since the virus doesn’t seem to be affecting children severely, it would be unusual for a parent or guardian to require a PFL claim to care for a child who is ill from the virus, unless the child is immune compromised. Again, that would be decided on a individual basis depending on the length and severity of the illness, as with any cold or the flu.

Working from Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

DBL Center understands that, at this time, many of our brokers may be working from home to limit the spread of the virus. Here at DBL Center, we will remain open and are doing everything to maintain the clean and sanitary conditions or our workplace and protect our employees.

Fortunately, DBL Center is also set up to work remotely. We have employees in New York and New Jersey offices who frequently connect virtually, and our cloud-based systems transition well to a work-at-home environment.

Our brokers can even Bind DBL Over 50 lives right from any internet-enabled computer, whether at home or in the office. Our exclusive broker Dashboard gives our brokers access to all their policies and preferred carriers from any internet-enabled device, as well.

Throughout the pandemic and after, the DBL Center will continue to be your back-office staff, answer any questions related to disability coverage and the coronavirus pandemic, and help you bind DBL policies from home.


Technology Helps your Insurance Wholesaler in NY Offer Superior Service

Insurance wholesaler in NY tracks commisions Broker Dashboard

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.

24/7 Chat Feature Ensures We’re Here to Help

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.

Broker Dashboard Provides the Insights You Need to Retain Business

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.

Faster Website Gives You News, Insights, and Quotes Faster from Any Device

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!

Disruptive Technology, Traditionally Personalized Service

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.