If you’re shopping around for a wholesale insurance broker for your statutory disability benefits and ancillary employee benefits — or if you’re already working with DBL Center — you may wonder what makes us different from other general agencies. Brokers gain a number of advantages working with The DBL Center for DBL and PFL coverage in New York, TDB coverage in New Jersey, TDI in Hawaii, and other statutory benefits across the country. In this season where we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and the eight days of Hanukkah, let’s look at seven reasons why you’ll love DBL Center. 1. Create Happier Customers DBL Center can backdate policies more than a year, helping your clients avoid hefty fines or coverage gaps. Best of all, we do not charge for this process. 2. Earn Higher Commissions You can earn more when you write your NYS DBL policies and NJ TDB with DBL Center as your wholesale insurance broker. Our sub producing brokers receive Flat 22.5% commission directly from all our DBL carriers for risks between 1 and 50 lives. And you’ll have opportunities to earn even more when you bundle ancillary benefits for your customers. In addition to our industry-high commissions, DBL Center hosts happy hour networking events to show our appreciation to our top brokers. We also provide cross-marketing opportunities, including the chance to appear on our highly regarded video series, On the Mic with Mike, or to be spotlighted as a top broker on our industry blog. 3. Build Trust and Support Your Brand with our White Label Service DBL Center is a white-label wholesale insurance broker, which means your name goes on every application. We do the work; you get the credit and collect the commissions. Having your name on every application proves you own your brokerage, which is important to build trust with your clients. It also helps build your brand, so that you are top of mind for your customers. We know many of our brokers sell other types of insurance, and your clients should think of you for any of their personal or business insurance needs.
4. Earn More Money Selling Ancillary Benefits In addition to our role as a top wholesale insurance broker for DBL and TDB
across the northeast, we also specialize in ancillary benefits, including Group
Life AD&D, LTD, Dental and Vision coverage. We will manage the marketing and account management for these niche products for
you, enabling you to expand your book of business with clients who already know
and trust your company. You can even save your customers money while increasing your commissions by
bundling ancillary benefits with statutory disability insurance.
5. Gain Important Business Insights with our Broker
Dashboard Since its launch, our broker dashboard has helped our clients gain crucial business
insights that help them retain customers and earn more commissions. As DBL
Center Founder David Cohen used to say, “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you
keep.” We’ve taken his philosophy and merged it with the latest technology to provide
our brokers with an overview of all their accounts, commission history, and
access plan documents. As a DBL center customer, you’ll be able to see clients
who did not renew, clients who are pending cancellation, and clients who are
paid, as well as how much you’ve earned from each customer. This powerful tool aids in retaining customers, which will increase your bottom
line with less work.
6. Save Time by Binding DBL Applications Conveniently Online DBL Center has always been on the cutting edge of technology as a wholesale insurance broker. Even before we launched our state-of-the-art Broker Dashboard, we made it easy for brokers to bind DBL applications online. Simply visit our “Get a Quick Quote” page to bind your applications under 50 lives online. 7. Relax with Unmatched, White Glove Customer Service Since its founding in 1976, DBL Center has believed in providing top-notch customer service for its brokers. David Cohen modeled DBL Center’s expert, personalized service and family atmosphere after the service at the boutique hotels he loved to stay in while traveling. (For those who wonder, that is what the image on our home page represents.) Having the DBL Center team by your side is like having a luxury hotel concierge at your service. We are not just a wholesale insurance broker. We are a general agency that acts as your full-service back office for your statutory disability needs, as well as ancillary benefits. From our personalized service to your custom Broker Dashboard, DBL Center has the people, connections, and the technology to meet your needs as your wholesale insurance broker into 2020 and beyond.
by Dawn Allcot
“No one gets into the insurance business because they want to,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen in his trademark tongue-in-cheek fashion. Cohen had aspirations of being an entertainment attorney and then honed his craft of writing and producing while attending Boston University, which led him to performing stand-up comedy. He now combines all these talents, and more, as the leader of the largest niche insurance wholesaler in the Northeast. Mike’s father, DBL Center Founder David Cohen, was driving to his dental school interview at Stony Brook University when he got into a car accident with a life insurance representative, who coerced him into joining Canada Life as a salesman instead of going into dentistry. Simon Klarides, one of ShelterPoint’s most familiar faces, thought he was applying for a job as a financial trader when he wound up in the Claims department at Prudential. A
And Louis Ortiz of Principal Financial Group turned down a job as a morning anchor at an ABC affiliate to work in insurance. He says, in part three of our Rep Roundtable, that when he realized what was in front of him, he was scared to life about what he was about to take on. While all three men in this edition of our Rep Roundtable reminisce about “roads not taken,” none regret entering the insurance industry. The work merges their talents for entertainment, sales, and—perhaps most importantly—finding the stories amidst the data. “If you like working with people, and you like the educational process, the solving-the-problem process, I think it’s a great business,” Klarides says. Work-Life Balance in the Mobile Age At the 3:30 mark of the video, Cohen, Klarides and Ortiz talk about the effects of mobile technology on work/life balance and the growth of the insurance industry. Like so many professionals today, they find it hard to shut down when they leave the office due to always-on mobile technology. And although sales have increased with more ways than ever to connect with potential customers, they haven’t grown at the rate you may expect. In fact, Klarides attributes growth to the sale of ancillary benefits to statutory DBL customers. “That’s where a lot of our business has grown over the years – getting our brokers to shift gears and teach their clients about a new product – dental, vision.” Ortiz adds that technology, such as DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard comes into play to increase efficiencies and workflow, giving brokers 24/7 access to the data that affects their business. “You can access the broker dashboard from so many multiple points: laptop, desktop computer, your phone. Having that access facilitates positive change because you’re having these fluid, real-time conversations. It just helps you to have a better business discussion when you’re trying to grow your book of business.” “The data tells a story,” Cohen agrees. “I say the biggest goal, and what the Broker Dashboard really highlights, is retention. At the end of the day, it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.” View more… For more wisdom from Cohen, Klarides, and Ortiz, make sure to watch the video to the end. Cheers! Missed Rep Roundtable Parts 1 and 2? Watch them here! And subscribe to our YouTube channel to see all our videos as they go live.
Camaraderie and friendship drives success for DBL Center’s brokers and carriers
With countless DBL brokers in the New York tri-state area and several carriers for statutory benefits, there is tremendous competition for accounts. But that doesn’t stop top insurance reps on both the broker and carrier sides from becoming friends. Part 2 of DBL Center’s first-ever Rep Roundtable focuses on the spirit of friendly competition that drives the industry and sustains friendships. We share some excerpts below, but you’ll have to watch the whole video to get all the goodies from ShelterPoint’s Director of Business Development Simon Klarides, Senior Sales Representative at Principal Financial Group Louis Ortiz, and DBL Center’s Michael Cohen. 4th Quarter Camaraderie After talking about how the three insurance professionals met, the Rep Roundtable conversation shifted to the camaraderie and mutual respect that permeates the industry. “We want to win all day long. But there’s enough meat on the bone where we can all eat,” Ortiz says. “It’s just a matter of being respectful and courteous to each other.” Klarides adds, “At the end of the day, you don’t do anything to hurt each other. You do everything to support each other. You compete, but you don’t go over the line.” This spirit of friendly competition is particularly evident at the DBL Center’s annual holiday party, now going on year three at The Founder’s Room VIP section of the famed Paramount in Huntington. Not only is it a great place for the DBL Center family to catch up with the people they haven’t seen in like an hour, Cohen says, but it’s the place for people who compete throughout the rest of the year to eat, drink, and be merry. “Even though my brokers and carriers are all competing, they’re all friendly and work well with one another,” Cohen says. Changes in the Insurance Industry The relationship-building that is so strong in the tri-state area insurance market hasn’t changed in the 45+ years since DBL Center was founded. But virtually everything else about the industry has evolved dramatically. “Like my father told me before he passed away, more has changed in 15 years than in my first 30 in the business,” Cohen says. Listing just some of the changes, including Zurich exiting the market, the introduction of Paid Family Leave, and, most recently, AmTrust Wesco exiting the DBL market, Cohen points out that DBL Center is well-positioned to face the future of insurance in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, where Paid Family Medical Leave was recently introduced. Note: Make sure to read last week’s post to learn more about AmTrust Wesco leaving the DBL market and watch Part 1 of our Rep Roundtable. Nickels and Dimes Make Dollars This fall, as DBL Center is prepared to shift statutory DBL policies with PFL riders from AmTrust Wesco to ShelterPoint, Cohen and Klarides agree that DBL Center’s state-of-the-art technology has made all the difference. It will be a smooth transition for brokers to write their DBL policies with ShelterPoint, and they will also gain the benefit of the DBL Center’s free Broker Dashboard. While DBL Center introduced the Broker Dashboard technology less than a year ago, it was decades in the making. The Broker Dashboard exists as the culmination of Founder David Cohen’s emphasis on doing the math, tracking the numbers, and showing brokers exactly what they can expect from each deal. Cohen often espoused, “Nickels, dimes, and quarters make dollars.” The Broker Dashboard brings David’s philosophy to life on the screen for brokers. But years before there was a Broker Dashboard, there was David Cohen with his calculator, pad, pen, and general ledger. “Dave always had a calculator and a pad and a pen at every meeting,” Klarides recalls. “You knew you were having a good discussion with Dave when he started working the keys.” “We talk about data,” Klarides continues. “That’s what you’re doing, Mike, with your Broker Dashboard. You’re telling brokers what they have, and where they want to get. There are a lot of brokers who do not line-item the DBL cases. Now you’re aggregating that data for them. And when they realize what they have, they realize it’s a pretty nice block.” Share the Laughs and Lessons Here Find out more about the camaraderie, technology, and people that make DBL Center a top insurance wholesaler in the New York Tri-state area for more than 45 years in Part 2 of our Rep Roundtable here.
Founded in 1972, ShelterPoint Life, formerly First Rehabilitation Life, has provided businesses in New York with statutory DBL and enriched DBL coverage for decades. ShelterPoint’s Director of Business Development Simon Klarides notes that the book is predominantly small group business of under 100 lives. The insurance carrier also provides ancillary benefits including dental, vision, and life insurance, to these organizations. Over the past 11 years, ShelterPoint has gone through a name change and extensive growth, standing at the leading edge of DBL and PFL coverage in New York. ShelterPoint remains a top-rated insurance carrier because of the company’s ability to stay one step ahead of change, and to be there to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Introducing… The Rep Roundtable In a new video feature from DBL Center, The Rep Roundtable, our own Michael Cohen and ShelterPoint’s Simon Klarides talk about how they partnered when Zurich exited the statutory market seven years ago, which represented one such opportunity for ShelterPoint and DBL Center. “I was at my desk in Great Neck, Long Island, at the time, and I got the call from [DBL Center’s] Eugene [Puleo],” Klarides recalls. “And Eugene said, “’You’re never going to believe this.’” In an early morning meeting, Michael Cohen, his father and DBL Center Founder David Cohen, Puleo, and Klarides, along with ShelterPoint CEO Richard White, plotted a course of action that would enable ShelterPoint to take the lion’s share of Zurich’s business for statutory, which included both under and over 50 Lives. DBL Center was tasked with transferring 6000 policies, worth over $8.8 million in premium. However, with the deal coming as it did at the time of Hurricane Sandy, property & casualty brokers in New York had larger concerns. DBL Center President Michael Cohen turned this obstacle into an opportunity. Most of the brokers permitted DBL Center to not just write the policy, but to enrich their DBL coverage at the time of the transfer to offset the minimum premiums, which makes even more sense now that PFL has become a law. Hear the whole story from Simon and Michael starting at timestamp 3:44 in the video. You’ll also see Louis Ortiz, senior sales representative for Principal Financial Group, weigh in on changes to the industry, which we’ll cover in a future blog post. AmTrust Wesco Exits Statutory Market in New York Now, almost seven years to the day that Zurich exited the statutory DBL market, Wesco, a member of the AmTrust Financial Services Group, announced its exit from statutory DBL and PFL in New York. AmTrust Wesco, however, agreed to allow ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company (Shelter Point Life) the opportunity to offer their brokers coverage to fulfill the need for New York statutory short-term disability (DBL) and Paid Family Leave (PFL). As a result, the DBL Center replaced the DBL / PFL policies for all its brokers’ impacted clients with Shelter Point Life, effective January 1, 2020. DBL Center took this step to protect business owners from non-compliance with the State of New York’s statutory disability and PFL benefit requirements. The transition will be much smoother than it was for brokers shopping their former Zurich policies seven years ago. DBL Center, like ShelterPoint insurance, has been growing incrementally over the past decade and is positioned to assist with all statutory DBL and PFL, enriched DBL and ancillary benefits policies. As an added benefit, brokers will gain free access to DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard, which enables brokers to view all active cases and receive monthly reminders for cases that are pending non-pay status. The Rep Roundtable video, where Cohen and Klarides recap Zurich’s exit, was produced weeks before AmTrust Wesco announced its exit from the statutory DBL market. Sometimes, history repeats itself in unusual ways. Let’s just hope there are no hurricanes on the horizon for the tri-state area this time. DBL Center brokers, at least, with the support of A+ rated carrier ShelterPoint, can count on clear skies ahead.
DBL Center’s Ancillary Benefits Account Manager Annette Sperandio joined the company three years ago, at the start of a tremendous growth phase. In part one of this two-part interview, Annette and DBL Center President Michael Cohen discussed the company’s past and present. This week, in Part 2, they talk about the future of the company and how, although DBL Center continues to change and grow rapidly, the company’s ethics and vision remain consistent, strong, and in line with founder David Cohen’s beliefs and philosophies. Keep reading to discover Annette’s passion, her favorite word, and her pet peeve. Then, watch the video to find out what Annette would be doing if she wasn’t working at DBL Center, and the one place she considers “home.” Michael Cohen: From your point of view, what’s next for DBL Center? Annette Sperandio: Well, there’s always something on the horizon. There’s always the technology piece to it. We have our Broker Dashboard, which you are working on. And TDB expansion, which is huge. Aside from that, it’s always been about honoring your dad, keeping what we have. It’s making sure the brokers know we’re thankful for their business and always showing them the proper respect. That’s something that’s very big. That’s the way I was raised. You take care of the people who take care of you. Mike: How is that reflected in your work? Annette: If we have a case for 15 years, we do the diligence. We make sure the market study is done and the claim issues are handled in a timely manner. Retention is huge. As we show our broker community what we’re capable of and what we’re able to develop, the sky’s the limit. That’s really what it comes down to. I always tell you what a natural salesperson you are because it’s the truth. You’re able to sell. You’re able to talk. People don’t really have the gift of gab anymore. Michael: And there’s that aspect of coming full circle. You said you want to pay homage, and my dad had that talent, too. Unfortunately, you lost your father, as well, before I did. There’s an undertone that resonates between the two of us, an understanding. We’re also both fans of the arts. You’re familiar with Inside the Actor’s Studio. You may know these questions, but I trimmed them down. Mike: What is your favorite word? Please say cook? Annette: I’m going to quote one of my favorite – Mike: It’s a word, not a phrase Annette: It’s a word. It’s not an English word… Mike: Italian or Latin? Annette: Italian. Attraversiamo Mike: What does that mean? That could mean anything. Annette: To cross over. And if anyone’s watching this and they [don’] understand what it is, it’s a reference to [the book] Eat Pray Love. Mike: What is your least favorite word? Annette: Bulbous. I hate that word. Mike: What motivates you? Annette: My family. My family is everything. And anybody that knows me knows that I am fiercely in love with my family. Mike: How many children do you have? Annette: I have two beautiful boys, 7 and 3. [I would do] anything to make their lives better and to do better than the last generation. Mike: What turns you off? Annette: I just want you to be straight. I want you to always tell the truth. I want you to always be upfront, because that’s how I carry myself. And that goes for all aspects of my life. I’m an open book. If I give you that respect, I expect that in return. And I feel like sometimes people get afraid to tell the truth. Truth isn’t always easy to talk about. And it doesn’t hurt to tell someone and be upfront. I’d rather a broker tell me, “Look I’m shopping [the policy], too.” If you do that, then I’m aware, and the hunger is there. And maybe we can get a better quote because let’s say our book is slightly bigger. We’re going to leverage it accordingly, so you get exactly what you need. Also, it’s an art form. People that bring honesty and open communication are willing to come to the table and say, “Listen, I’ll work as hard as I can to get you exactly what you need.” I know full well I may not be able to do it. But at least you know, I went through every single check and balance and hoop to try. We’re always going to do our best to get our clients exactly what they need, to get it done.
Learn more about Massachusetts PFML from your Paid Family Leave experts At the beginning of the summer, DBL Center reported on Massachusetts and Connecticut introducing Paid Family Leave benefits programs for employees, similar to—but more robust than—New York State PFL. New York State brokers already familiar with writing PFL as a DBL rider may find expansion opportunities in Massachusetts, as the New England state announced the details of its plan this month. Unlike NY PFL, Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (MA PFML) is written independently. Businesses can opt to write their insurance through the state or apply for a private plan exemption to secure coverage through top-rated private carriers. Employers wishing to write coverage through a private plan must provide employees with private plan details along with posting information about the state-run plan. Employers can download state employer posters and written employee notices from the MA PFML website. Although the plan doesn’t begin until January 1, 2021, the state of Massachusetts requires that all employers post notices as of September 30, 2019. Accurate Census Simplifies Billing Unlike NYS PFL, employers must provide a census to the state or to their private carrier by September 1, 2020, in order to secure the correct amount of coverage. The use of a census will help streamline billing and enable brokers to provide a higher level of service to Massachusetts businesses purchasing PFML, while also improving profitability. Employers should have fewer questions about premium costs, since they are paying for the coverage needed based on the actual number of employees, not estimates.
Best of all, business owners have the option to defer paying into the pool for one year, while remaining eligible for PFML coverage. Massachusetts businesses can enjoy PFML benefits without making any payments until January 2021. How to Apply for Private Plan Exception As a New York tri-state area or New England-based insurance broker, you are probably already seeing the opportunities available to shift customers from the state plan to a private plan in Massachusetts. PFML represents an entirely new line of coverage and an opportunity to expand your business. DBL Center has conveyed the profit potential in New Jersey, which recently waived the signature requirement to shift from a state-funded plan. Massachusetts makes it even easier for business owners to opt for private coverage. Massachusetts’ state government provides a tutorial on how to request a private plan exemption. Brokers should share this tutorial with prospective customers and walk them through the steps, if necessary. Employers will need to provide the estimated size of their workforce, including W-2 employees and 1099 contractors, the type of paid leave plan (Family and Medical, in most cases), and the plan provider’s company name. From there, employers will also need to answer questions regarding specific aspects of the plan. Brokers can assist with this step while selling the benefits of the private plan to prospective customers. If the employer provided the correct information and the private plan meets the state requirements, the application should be approved. DBL Center Service Makes the Difference As with PFL and NJ TDB, DBL Center brokers have the advantage when it comes to selling this statutory benefit. Our team has been writing PFL in NY since its inception. We understand the challenges, pitfalls, and profit potential of this powerful statutory product. As your insurance wholesaler, we are uniquely qualified to steer you through the process, permitting you to provide stellar white-glove service to your customers. We already have a footprint in Massachusetts, providing benefits packages for Fortune 500 companies. We will be following MA PFML developments closely to assist our brokers as this important benefit becomes reality in yet another state.
by Michael Cohen
As we return to our offices following Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, the New York and New Jersey state insurance departments have made some important announcements for business owners and insurance brokers in the two states.
Read on to find out the new premium rates and coverage levels for Statutory Disability and Paid Family Leave plans across the U.S., New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits (TDB), and New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI).
New York Announces New PFL Employee Contribution
As announced in early 2017, New Yorkers can receive up to 60% of their average weekly wage for up to 10 weeks to care for and bond with a newborn (less than one year old) or newly adopted or newly fostered child, to care for an ill or aging family member, or to take care of the household while a military spouse is deployed. The increased benefit (up from 55% in 2019) comes with an increased premium of 0.270% of an employee’s wages each pay period, not exceeding an annual maximum employee contribution of $196.72. These rates make NYS PFL benefits some of the most generous in the country. Take a look at this chart to compare benefits and premiums across the U.S.
Policy forms and rate submissions are due October 1, 2019. If you need assistance with PFL coverage for any of your customers, the DBL Center is here to help. As your white-glove, white-label back office staff, we want to make it as simple as possible for your customers to phase in PFL coverage as a rider to their DBL policy and provide you with opportunities to enrich DBL coverage to offer benefits that make good financial sense for all your customers.
New Jersey Announces New Employee Rate for 2020
The New Jersey state insurance fund has also introduced a rate hike increase for 2020, from 17 cents to 26 cents for every $100 in taxable wages. Earlier this year, New Jersey introduced expanded Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits as part of its TDB package.
Under the new FLI regulations, the benefits period has expanded from six weeks to 12 weeks, beginning July 1, 2020. In addition, the definition of “family” has increased to include any blood relative of the employee or any individual shown to have a close association that is the equivalent of a family relationship with the employee.
In addition to the rate hike increase, the limit on wages on which taxes are levied for TDB and FLI has increased from 28 times the statewide average weekly wage ($33,700) to 107 times the statewide AWW (approximately $131,100), beginning January 1.
Concurrent with the rate hike, the maximum TDB or FLI benefit has also increased, from $638 to $860 per week. Partial TDB benefits will also be available.
Good News for New Jersey Insurance Brokers
The New York premium and benefits increase is predictable and in line with prior increases since the introduction of PFL. A broker’s best move continues to be selling enriched DBL to provide a benefit that makes sense to top company executives and decision makers within an organization.
The New Jersey hike represents an opportunity for New Jersey insurance brokers to beat the state rate, while providing benefits equal to or better than the state insurance fund, with a higher level of customer service. When New Jersey waived the signature requirement earlier this year, it became easier than ever to get businesses to switch to privatized TDB.
This is the moment New Jersey insurance brokers have waited for; when you break it down, you realize it’s here because of New York’s generous PFL policy.
With family leave enhancements sweeping across the Northeast, employers will want to find ways to stay competitive and recruit working families, millennials, and the future generations of employees. Robust yet low-cost benefits packages, especially in the face of an impending recession, remain one of the best ways to recruit and retain top talent.
Give us a call to take advantage of the white-glove service and support DBL Center offers our tri-state area brokers and expand your book of business as we head into autumn.
The State of New Jersey legislature recently voted to waive the signature requirements for companies to switch from a state plan to privatized TDB (Temporary Disability Benefits). Previously, brokers needed signatures from 50% + 1 of all employees within a company to switch.
DBL Center reported on the proposed legislation in October 2018, and the bill passed in February 2019. It goes into effect this month.
DBL Center is making sure our brokers are ready for the change, with our Assistant VP of Ancillary Benefits, Lori Rose leading the charge. For two years now, Lori has helped DBL Center expand its brand and presence over the bridges into New Jersey and provide the level of customized service our New York brokers have come to expect. Using TDB as a doorway to sell more ancillary benefits, including dental, life, and vision, Lori has helped brokers increase their book of business.
Now, as it becomes even easier to write privatized TDB, the opportunities for New Jersey brokers expand. Lori is ready for the challenge – which involves broker education and lots of hustle. The word “can’t” is not in Lori’s vocabulary. She views the new legislation as an opportunity to help her customers – and all New Jersey brokers – earn more with privatized TDB.
Her desire to help others, her willingness to hustle, and her “team player” attitude is why DBL Center President Michael Cohen calls Lori “a hybrid between a ‘fantabulous’ account manager and a superior sales manager.”
Lori sat down with Mike to talk about privatized TDB and also share some fun facts about herself. Watch the video here.
You can learn even more about Lori in Part 1 of Mike’s interview here.
Mike: What are your goals going into January 1, 2020, due to the changes in New Jersey, where privatized TDB will no longer require employee signatures? Lori: That’s a great question. That signature requirement has always held companies back, because it was difficult to make a change from a state plan to a private plan. With that going away starting in August 2019, all employers will get the experience from the state — it’s called the AC-174.1. Once they have that information, I’m going to be working with my brokers to help their customers privatize TDB.
A lot of it is training and education to teach brokers about selling New Jersey TDB. My goal is showing them how easy it is for them to work with their clients to see if it makes sense to go to a private plan, not only to save the employer some money, but to get better claims service.
Mike: Tell us about how easy it is for employers to switch to privatized TDB. Lori: Once upon a time, we had an easy TDB program at [insurance carrier] CNA. We were able to guarantee savings to an employer based on the experience on the AC174.1. That has moved forward in the industry from CNA; Zurich took that program, and now other carriers have jumped onboard. That makes it easy for employers to see their savings with privatized TDB. Now, with no signature requirement, it will help brokers write even more business in 2020 for New Jersey TDB.
Mike: What is your favorite word? Lori: Fantabulous. And it’s a made-up word.
Mike: What is your least favorite word? Lori: The word can’t.
Mike: I had a feeling you were going to say that. I really did. Lori: Because everything is do-able. I consider myself a professional problem solver, and I can get anything done. And when I get it done, it’s fantabulous.
Mike: What motivates you? Lori: I like helping people. I like providing solutions. I find when I can bring value to the table, that motivates me to do a better job every day. Working as a team.
Mike: What turns you off? Lori: Negativity. I have to be around that positive energy and surround myself with it, and bring that to others, as well.
Mike: What profession other than yours have you always wanted to do? Lori: Once upon a time, I was a psychology major. I had always thought I’d go into child psychology. I find that even in this business, it’s all about relationships. It’s about talking to each other. It’s about understanding a person, knowing their needs, and really listening. Being a good listener.
Most of The DBL Center family works out of the Melville, New York, office. But the newest addition, Associate VP of Ancillary Benefits Lori Rose, works in New Jersey close to her clientele. Helping to expand the DBL Center brand and presence with her knowledge and expertise, Lori focuses on ancillary benefits, primarily with TDB customers in New Jersey.
Lori took the trip to Long Island to chat with DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen about her history in the insurance industry and her favorite part about selling ancillary benefits.
Watch the full video here.
Michael Cohen: Tell people how you got here, to DBL Center, and where you came from in the industry.
Lori Rose: I have a long history in the insurance industry on the employee benefits side, starting once upon a time at CNA, doing statutory. New Jersey TDB was the focus. Then I moved into employee benefits, and then moved over to Zurich. From there I moved onto Principal, doing employee benefits – dental, vision, life, disability – and then focusing on the dental / vision with Ameritus.
Mike: What is your favorite product to sell?
Lori: I love selling Dental / Vision, because employees can really appreciate the value of these benefits. I sell a lot of it on a voluntary basis. When I go to an open enrollment meeting with employees, and sit down with them, they can see the value of having a dental plan for themselves and their families, as well as Vision coverage. It’s something they can use every year.
I also like selling voluntary life, and [other] voluntary products. Families don’t realize the financial protection they need and how affordable it is. Very little comes out of their paycheck for them to have a full suite of employee benefits.
Mike: What is the most important thing you see that brokers aren’t doing, that they should be? What advice would you have for them?
Lori: I think brokers could do a better job with cross-selling. They may only write a basic life product and take care of the basic needs. They can appeal to their clients, their accounts, to extend the employee benefits. And that’s where we come in at The DBL Center, helping cross-sell, helping their clients see the value of having a full employee benefits package.
Mike: This is your first time selling on the wholesale level. Is it different?
Lori: It’s different. When I was on the carrier side, I represented one carrier and only their products. Now as a wholesale broker, I can bring solutions to my brokers, to their clients, with preferred carriers, with multiple lines of coverage, and really take care of all their employee benefit needs.
Mike: And how do you feel the broker dashboard has helped your brokers in that process?
Lori: The dashboard has helped my brokers because now they can go onto our website, onto our portal, and look up their accounts. They can track what’s going on, not only with their commissions, but with nearly every aspect of their accounts.
Let’s say they need a highlight sheet or a policy or some information– it’s at their fingertips. They don’t have to wait to go to their particular carrier and get that information. It’s easily accessible to them 24/7. They have access to their accounts and can see what’s going on. That’s what’s great about it. I’ve never had this kind of tool before.
Massachusetts and Connecticut follow New York in adopting paid family leave benefits
Tri-state area insurance brokers, take note. Big changes are afoot again when it comes to employee benefits, paid leave, and family leave insurance.
New York’s Paid Family Leave has been in full swing since January 2018 and is set to reach the maximum benefit of 67% of the employee’s salary for 12 weeks by January 2021. With New York as a model, Massachusetts and Connecticut have become the next states to roll out comprehensive medical and family leave insurance programs.
Family Leave Insurance Programs: More Inclusive and Expansive than NYS PFL
The programs in Massachusetts and Connecticut are even more inclusive than New York’s policy, allowing time off for more expansive reasons than New York permits.
Both Massachusetts and Connecticut expand on New York’s PFL policies, which allow employees to take time off following the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child within the first year; to care for injured, ill, or disabled family members; or to care for children and take care of household duties while a military spouse is deployed.
Connecticut’s plan also fills the role of DBL in New York, allowing for paid time off when an employee has a serious health condition. In addition, the new law allows paid time off for an employee:
The Massachusetts law, slated to go into effect on October 1, 2019, is an employer-funded program that permits leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a loved one (and 26 weeks if that loved one suffered a health condition as a result of active duty military service) and up to 20 weeks for an employee’s own illness or injury. Understanding Massachusetts’ Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) Massachusetts rushed the legislation through on June 28, 2018, and it went into effect on January 1, 2019. The start date to begin collecting taxes for the benefits was originally stated as July 1, 2019, but Massachusetts has delayed the start time to collect funds to October 1, 2019. Benefits will go into effect January 2021, with some caregiving benefits becoming available that July.
Massachusetts PFMLA covers paid medical leave for employees as well as for caregivers, similar to NYS DBL with the PFL rider. PFMLA pays 80% of an employee’s average weekly wages up to one-half of the state’s average weekly wage (AWW), which is currently $1,338.05.
Here’s where it gets confusing. For employees earning an average of more than half the AWW, they receive an additional ½ of their average weekly wages that are in excess of the cap, up to a total of $850 per week, or 64% of the state’s AWW.
Essentially, the maximum allowable benefit for PFMLA in Massachusetts is $850 weekly, more than New York’s maximum weekly benefit for 2019, which is $746.41.
More About Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
Connecticut is the most recent state to launch a paid family leave insurance program and, like Massachusetts, it combines leave to care for family members with paid leave for employees who are injured or ill.
The law goes into effect as of June 25, 2019, but contributions won’t start until January 1, 2021, with benefits becoming available January 1, 2022.
Employees may collect up to 95% of the employee’s base weekly earnings, up to 40 times the state minimum fair wage. Employees who earn more than 40 times the state minimum fair wage receive an additional 60% of their base weekly earnings above that minimum, not exceeding the weekly maximum benefit, which is 60 times the minimum fair wage.
When minimum wage reaches $15/hour in 2023, the maximum allowable PFML benefit in Connecticut will be $900 per week.
Employers may opt out of the state plan if the private plan they intend to adopt meets or exceeds the state plan, with contributions not higher than the state’s rate. Additionally, 50% + 1 of the employees must approve the plan.
What All This Means to Tri-State Area Employers and Insurance Brokers
There’s little doubt that Connecticut adopted the plan to compete with neighboring New York in terms of employee benefits. As a suburb of New York City, Connecticut draws from the same talent pool as downstate New York. Providing a robust medical leave and family leave package to rival DBL with the PFL rider can help Connecticut industries grow with high-value employees.
For tri-state area insurance brokers, Connecticut FMLA, and even Massachusetts PFMLA, could represent new opportunities to expand your book of business. New York-based businesses with offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut will need to revisit employee benefits packages in these states. Bundling FMLA and PFMLA with ancillary benefits such as vision, dental, and group life can help these companies save money while recruiting and retaining top talent.
Connecticut offers options for self-insured and fully insured plans. The Massachusetts plan, which won’t go into effect for a few years, has yet to announce these finer details.
In both cases, tri-state area insurance brokers are wondering: Will the new paid family and medical leave benefits be commissionable?
The DBL Center was here to walk you through New York’s PFL roll-out. We will continue to be your source for details on employee benefits, and paid family medical leave across the tri-state area.
Reach out with any questions you may have about the new family leave insurance: FMLA in Connecticut or PFMLA in Massachusetts. We will keep you up-to-date as new details are announced.