Corporate Synergies is a full-service insurance brokerage, providing health, ancillary benefits, P&C coverage, and DBL / PFL for companies with as many as 10,000 employees.
“We have about 600 customers total and we have office in Melville, Long Island; New York City, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida,” says Peter Tonna, vice president and benefits consultant for Corporate Synergies. “We primarily operate in the middle market, serving businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees, but we also have customers with 5,000 to 10,000 employees, especially in the fields of not for profits, education, and financial services.”
Digging Deep into Practical Matters Concerning PFL
Experts in the field of health and ancillary benefits, as well as DBL, Corporate Synergies has relied on DBL Center’s knowledge and expertise when it came to navigating the often-muddy waters of New York State’s new PFL coverage. “The DBL Center has come to us many times with educational materials to help us understand the new law and how it’s implemented. If I have questions, I can pick up the phone and Mike [DBL Center President Michael Cohen] will explain it,” says Tonna.
“It’s one thing to talk about PFL in broad strokes, but when you get into the weeds, talking about a specific situation or a real-life experience, Mike has helped explain the differences and overlap between PFL and FMLA in ways we can convey to our customers,” he continues. “Most importantly, DBL Center gives us ways to make sure that knowledge and insight is communicated to the employees and HR directors.”
Analyzing Ancillary Benefits
Corporate Synergies also leverages DBL Center’s relationships with carriers to get the best rates by bundling DBL and ancillary benefits. “We promote dental and group life as the power players for ancillary benefits,” Tonna says. “Voluntary group life is typically low cost, and employees many not have to go through medical underwriting, which saves time and hassles.”
Corporate Synergies and DBL Center: A Mutual Focus on Service
With a new website focused on educating customers about the ever-changing landscape of employee benefits, Corporate Synergies shares DBL Center’s philosophy of providing exemplary service and consultative selling to drive repeat business and referrals.
With offices just minutes away from each other in Melville, The DBL Center and Corporate Synergies have maintained a relationship any business owner dreams of. The DBL Center is more than just a wholesaler for Corporate Synergies, but a trusted partner, sharing advice and referrals.
“The whole DBL team is local, knowledgeable and experienced,” Tonna says. “And that translates into increased value for my customers. My customers are the most important thing in my world, and I want to make sure they are educated and informed. DBL Center has been a great resource to help us cut through the fog and confusion surrounding DBL and PFL in New York.”
Brokers: Is Your Insurance Firm Ready to Be Next?
Are you enjoying our Broker Spotlight series? Reach out and let us know!
If you have a unique and interesting story to tell about your relationship with DBL Center or how we have helped you grow your business, contact us now to be featured as our next “Broker Spotlight.”
by Dawn Allcot
ComTon Inc. in Fairport, NY, specializes in Employee Benefits insurance for organizations with over 200 lives. Serving upstate and western New York, from Rhinebeck to Lake Placid and across the state to Buffalo and Rochester, ComTon has been in business since 1998. “Most of our business is through word-of-mouth and referrals,” says ComTon Principal Gregory D. Singleton.
“One of our biggest compliments is when we have an HR director or a finance person who leaves an organization we’ve worked with and moves to another organization and immediately brings us in,” adds Principal Rob Commisso.
ComTon has carved out a successful niche working with large organizations to provide employee benefits, including DBL / PFL, group life, health insurance, dental insurance, workers’ compensation, short-term and long-term disability, and other voluntary benefits. Unlike many brokers, ComTon offers packages for self-insured businesses and is certified by the state of New York as a third-party administrator of workers’ compensation and DBL / PFL benefits.
As an administrator for self-insured DBL policies, ComTon faced an unusual challenge when PFL was first introduced in the beginning of 2018. “Some of our self-insured clients weren’t necessarily comfortable with the unknown costs of PFL, so they wanted to pursue fully insured options,” recalls Commisso.
That’s when ComTon realized the true benefits of working with The DBL Center as their white-glove, white-label insurance wholesaler. “DBL Center provided us with a lot of help so we could offer our clients options for a fully insured program,” says Singleton. “Because DBL Center has such a big book of business and great relationships with the existing carriers, they were able to get us very good rates for our clients who wanted to move to a different carrier or to go from self-insured to fully insured.”
Singleton reveals that ComTon provided quotes for all their existing clients to transition to fully insured benefits, so that their customers could choose the best path for their situation. The DBL Center expedited the process, shopping around for the best rates.
ComTon clients who decided to switch to a fully insured program reaped the rewards of low rates as well as fast claim payments and the stellar service that ComTon has been known to provide to its self-insured clients for two decades. The DBL Center made it easy for ComTon to quote rates from a variety of carriers, write the policies, and deliver excellent service through top-name carriers capable of writing DBL policies with the PFL rider.
“DBL Center streamlined our quoting process for our DBL prospects and existing clients considering fully insured options,” says Singleton.
“But what it really came down to is the cost,” adds Commisso. “DBL Center was able to help us get better rates than we may have been able to do on our own, with a variety of carriers.”
He continues, “The whole team has been wonderful to work with, very responsive to our questions and our needs, and helpful in offering solutions or ideas we may not have thought of. The DBL Center team is very good about explaining the capabilities of one insurance carrier over another, and of helping us market the benefits of various carriers to our clientele.”
Singleton adds, “I thought we had a great knowledge of DBL coverage here at ComTon, and the DBL Center’s knowledge is as good—if not better—than ours.”
Total Management Corporation, an independent insurance agency with offices on Long Island and Manhattan, has built a successful business for more than 40 years by focusing on two things: stellar service and customer education. TMC wants to be the first to tell their customers about new benefits and opportunities.
Likewise, TMC recognizes the advantages of selling DBL insurance to every business customer. Many small business owners are unaware of this mandatory benefit. TMC serves their customers’ best interests by educating them about DBL coverage. For the broker, DBL provides residual commissions every year, and represents opportunities to grow their book of business through consultative selling.
“DBL business never goes away,” says Total Management Corporation’s Phil Bilello. “The client gets a bill once a year, pays it, and doesn’t think twice. We insist all our business clients carry disability insurance. We won’t write an account without it.”
Rather than ignoring the mandatory coverage, TMC puts disability insurance side-by-side with other group benefits packages, providing a page on their website where small business owners can request a disability insurance quote online.
It sounds simple, but in a world where DBL coverage is often a forgotten benefit, this page helps keep disability insurance on the minds of busy business owners and HR directors who visit the TMC site.
To increase DBL revenue, the Total Management team has become adept at recognizing customers, usually higher end service professionals like real estate agencies, doctor’s offices, and law firms, who may be amenable to enhanced DBL coverage.
“We find that service professionals are the most likely to agree to enhanced DBL benefits, so we come back to them every year and discuss the possibility of providing a better benefits package to their employees,” says Bilello. “We will also discuss it over the course of the year. You want to have multiple touchpoints when you’re trying to enhance a policy.”
These customers who recognize the value of robust business insurance policies, Bilello says, are his ideal customers. “We want to sell to the true business professional who values insurance, values the coverage and values the services an independent insurance agency can provide,” he says.
For more than 40 years, Total Management Corporation has focused on delivering exemplary service to business professionals, as well as individuals and not-for-profit organizations.
“It’s hard to say what differentiates one insurance agency from another,” Bilello admits. “But we have a hard-working, conscientious staff that takes ownership of their accounts and cares about the agency. We work hard for our clients, earning their business every year, and maintaining their trust and loyalty. Those are the keys to our success and our future success. If you don’t work hard every day to keep your business growing, you won’t be in business much longer. You can never get complacent.”
Total Management Corporation recognizes that DBL Center shares these values of hard work and exemplary service, resulting in a 20+ year partnership between the independent insurance agency and the wholesaler. “We started out working with [founder] David Cohen and [VP of Sales] Richard Slavin, and now we have the whole team behind us,” says Bilello.
“DBL Center has been wonderful because they get out in front of their brokers, and let us know they’re supporting us,” says Bilello. “They’re always very helpful, very professional, and very educated about their products.”
The DBL Center provided support when New York State first implemented Paid Family Leave laws, permitting Total Management Corporation to better educate their customers, show their knowledge, and build trust. The DBL Center offered seminars and lunch and learn programs, sent out informational emails, and launched its Paid Family Leave Resource Center to educate brokers about the upcoming mandatory benefit.
“If it weren’t for DBL Center, we wouldn’t have known anything about Paid Family Leave,” says Bilello. “Michael [Cohen] and his staff took the ball and ran with it. PFL is confusing enough, but they made the transition so much easier for all of us.”
In Q2 2018, Total Management Center will be looking to The DBL Center for additional resources in the form of an app that enables brokers to track all of their accounts from one intuitive, easy-to-access dashboard. “We’re looking forward to Net Revenue Tracker,” says Bilello. “Real-time information is always important and having data and analytics at your fingertips is invaluable for an insurance agency.”
He concludes, “DBL Center has become a trusted partner and we look forward to a continued relationship.”
Want to become our next Broker Spotlight? Contact us today.
In preparing our new “Broker Spotlight” feature each month, we’ve been speaking to several of our top insurance brokers, who specialize in everything from homeowners’ policies to business insurance. And we are discovering that many of their customers still have questions about Paid Family Leave. The answers to these questions spark further discussions with their clients about other business insurance, including New York State-mandated DBL (Disability Benefits Law) coverage.
Some small business owners don’t know that they are not in compliance and could be subject to fines. They are running a business in New York with more than one employee and are missing an important business insurance line; they don’t have DBL coverage.
Others provide the state-mandated minimum benefit coverage limits to their employees, but don’t realize how affordable it is to enhance their employee benefits package with enriched DBL.
And yet, many insurance brokers don’t talk about DBL as much as they should. They fail to market DBL alongside their other lines of business insurance. Why not use DBL to expand your book of business, actively selling this mandatory benefit to employers (that is, your existing customers, as well as new ones) who didn’t know they needed it?
Every New York business owner with at least one employee who has worked full-time for a covered employer for four consecutive weeks or has worked part-time for a covered employer for 25 business day, is required to purchase a DBL policy covering those employees.
Additionally, previously covered employees returning to work after being on unemployment are eligible for DBL coverage. Finally, business owners who employ personal or domestic in-home workers (such as nannies, home health aides, housekeepers, and other staff) for at least 40 hours per week must provide DBL coverage.
As an agent, this means every day you could be talking to employers requiring a DBL policy along with their other business insurance policies. Those employers have the choice to purchase DBL coverage through the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) or through you, their trusted insurance broker.
With the right tools and resources in place, it is easy to sell DBL coverage. (You’re talking to the pros here, after all.)
Even brokers who focus on homeowners’ insurance, umbrella policies, and other personal insurance lines should talk about DBL to their customers who own businesses operating in New York State. If you are writing high value home insurance policies, umbrella policies, even boating insurance, those clients may be business owners or have full-time domestic help eligible for DBL coverage.
If you are writing health insurance, ancillary benefits, E&O policies, property insurance, auto insurance for business vehicles, worker’s compensation, or any other type of business insurance, you should make sure your customer has their state-mandated DBL requirements covered. If they do, it’s time to get them thinking about enriched DBL.
Take the First Step to Sell DBL with Other Business Insurance
It’s important to make NY State DBL coverage part of every conversation you have with new customers. Devote a page on your website to the basics of DBL coverage, which will give you a place to direct employers to gain the knowledge they need.
Even with the media coverage PFL received in the insurance trades, on premier carrier websites, and in business publications, New Yorkers may still not be aware of the new benefit and how it affects DBL coverage as a rider to existing policies. Make sure to mention DBL and PFL when people ask about your various personal and business insurance lines and open the door to a conversation.
DBL coverage and the new PFL benefits give brokers an opportunity to share their insider knowledge, educate customers, and expand their book of business with a policy that renews, almost without a second thought, year after year.
Want to make writing DBL coverage even easier? Ask us how our new Net Revenue Tracker can help you manage policies and measure and improve profitability for your insurance agency.
by Michael Cohen
Hometown Insurance Agency, based in Bohemia, New York, has been serving Long Island, upstate New York, and parts of the New York tri-state area since 1979. Hometown provides a full line of insurance products, with a 50/50 split of personal and commercial customers. Hometown’s business insurance lines include individual and group health, ancillary benefits, and, of course, New York State mandatory DBL insurance.
Within that commercial demographic, Hometown serves a wide range of businesses, from Main Street small businesses to municipalities, fire departments, towns and villages, local libraries, as well as not-for-profit organizations, and larger companies including manufacturers and contractors.
But one thing is consistent in the way Hometown approaches every one of its clients. “One of the areas we pride ourselves on is educating our customers,” says Hometown President and CEO Rebecca Weber, noting that DBL coverage and especially Paid Family Leave still require a lot of attention when it comes to customer education.
“I still am convinced that not everybody is talking about it like they should be,” says Weber. “And that education we provide is what sets us apart. Most agents go in and are focused on the meatier parts of the policy, so it is very easy to overlook DBL coverage.”
She adds, “At Hometown, we’ve made it part of our routine. Our agents need to go in and talk about enriched DBL—and the new PFL rider is a great place to start.”
As a female executive in a male-dominated industry, Weber sees the appeal in the personal stories behind the groundbreaking and culturally significant benefit. “We have two family members who work in our company, in two different departments. When the mother returned after eight weeks taking care of her newborn, her husband was able to take time off. We see, as a company, how important this benefit is to our employees. To be able to share that story with our business owners really brings it home to them.”
Hometown Insurance Agency has worked with DBL Center for two generations; Rebecca’s father, Dan Weber, began doing business with DBL Center President Michael Cohen’s father, David, decades ago. “Our relationship has grown along with our management and ownership,” says the younger Weber, who took over leadership of Hometown in 2007.
Even as both companies have grown, they remain focused on personalized service. “In working with DBL Center, there is a sense of dealing with people that you trust, and people that you know. You’re not treated like a number,” says Weber. “Invariably, the service is absolutely wonderful and exceeds our expectations.”
Weber notes that DBL Center caters to small to mid-size agencies, providing not just exceptional service but bleeding-edge technology to help the agency operate more efficiently.
Hometown Insurance Agency is one of a handful of DBL Center brokers who have already previewed the proprietary Net Revenue Tracker (NRT) software.
“We are very excited to begin using the software,” says Weber. “We believe it is going to help streamline our process and be more efficient. Our reports will be more reliable.”
By automating renewal notifications and tracking functions, the software will free up employees who are currently focused on manual data entry so they can complete more complex, high-touch tasks.
“It’s a win-win for our agency,” Weber says. “And we are very fortunate to have access to the software and to have The DBL Center in our corner.”
Would you like to be featured in our next DBL Broker Spotlight? Reach out today.
It’s tax season once again and for insurance brokers, it’s also a good time to reflect on ways to improve business efficiency in your insurance agency.
For small to mid-size businesses in New York and New Jersey, including many DBL Center brokers, March means working with your tax accountant, sorting through receipts and expenses, running QuickBooks reports, and reviewing your annual revenue.
But there is a lot of data hidden inside those numbers besides just how much you owe the I.R.S. Are you tracking and leveraging your business analytics to their full capacity? The DBL Center is introducing a tool that will allow property & casualty and other licensed agents the ability to do just that.
QuickBooks and other accounting software provides reports to help you track income and expenses, but it is not tailored to an insurance agency. You can’t view the profitability of different types of insurance or different types of customers. You can’t track cancellation trends so you can improve customer retention. And you can’t reliably predict cash flow or opportunities for growth without a way to track renewals.
CRM software can help your insurance agency sales team track leads to generate new business. But someone in your office has to input the data and your sales team has to be invested enough in the process to use it.
Our new Net Revenue Tracker is tailored to P&C insurance brokers to help you manage all your accounts and spot opportunities for growth. It connects directly to your DBL Center back office so all the analytics you need are at your fingertips at any time, wherever you may be. The cloud-based software functions seamlessly and securely on any internet-enabled device, including a desktop PC or Mac, laptop, or Android- or iOs-based smartphone or tablet.
The Net Revenue Tracker provides the information most important to help you grow your book of business, enabling you to track the profitability of specific accounts, track policy renewal dates so you can be proactive about renewals and up-sells, and view important business metrics at a glance.
You can view accounts by carrier to see where you might want to diversify to protect your business interests, and where it might benefit your customers to consolidate for better coverage and lower premiums.
And because it is based on software we’ve used here at The DBL Center for years, we know it is user-friendly to help you increase efficiency and streamline your business processes.
As you’re assessing your business processes to increase efficiencies and track your revenue more effectively, it’s also important to begin thinking about tax strategies for 2018.
This year’s tax season should be straightforward for most insurance brokers, or at least business as usual. The big changes went into effect beginning this year and will be reflected on corporate taxes filed in March 2019. Talk to your tax accountant about the new tax laws and how they may affect your business — and your customers’ businesses, for that matter.
With reduced or eliminated deductions for fringe benefits like transportation, meals and entertainment, employers and HR directors may be looking to enrich disability coverage and ancillary benefits to recruit and retain top talent. Our Net Revenue Tracker can help you spot these opportunities for increased sales with existing customers at your New York insurance agency.
Be one of the first brokers to catch a sneak preview of the software in a live webinar demonstration.
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For 41 years, The DBL Center has provided brokers with white glove service and the lowest insurance premiums available for enriched DBL, ancillary benefits, group life, and more. As the industry changes, we stay ahead of the curve to deliver greater value.
We’ve always believed in the adage, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” DBL Center Founder David Cohen had an almost-compulsive need to pay close attention to the details. In our office, we have a database that allows us to track every account, see at a glance when renewals are due, and track our total revenue. We’ve been doing this so long, we almost took the value of it for granted.
In talking with our customers, we learned that many insurance brokers have no simple way to track revenue, new business, or cancelled policies at a glance. Most agree this information would be valuable. They just don’t have the means to do it.
Conventional CRM software doesn’t work for insurance brokers. Accounting software can provide part of the picture, but not everything a broker needs. Most major industries, from healthcare to IT, have their own software that tracks and reports the information relevant to that specific field.
Why shouldn’t brokers have a way to track their statutory and group ancillary business?
That’s when we set our programmers on a new task: To create a software program for our customers that would give them actionable insights for business development in an easy-to-read interface.
For the past year, we’ve been working on a software application that will let our brokers manage their accounts and track their commissions from anywhere. Because we know our brokers spend a lot of time on the road, having this information at their fingertips makes it easier for them to serve their customers and write new business because every dollar counts in this industry.
Our new mobile-friendly broker dashboard, the NRT (Net Revenue Tracker) will help brokers who put their business with the DBL Center stay ahead of the competition and see their bottom line in real time. Because success is not created by what you earn, but by what you keep.
Would you like to:
Our developers are hard at work, right now, creating the Net Revenue Tracker software, which will do all of this and more for DBL Center brokers.
The Net Revenue Tracker will allow brokers to:
Time-tested Platform Gives Our Brokers the Edge
The DBL Center has been relying on software to track our net revenue and growth for more than a decade now. Our time-tested platform of proven business development tools will give our brokers the edge. The Net Revenue Tracker provides deep analytics and actionable information for business growth in a convenient format.
With 41 years in the insurance business, The DBL Center has learned a few things about business processes. We know how important it is to pay attention to the finer details and track your results for consistent growth.
Isn’t It Time Be An Early Adopter?
If you aren’t tracking your revenue in a reliable way, or if your current platform falls short of what you need, we invite you to give us a call for a quick demo of our software solution.
State-mandated DBL (New York) and TDB (New Jersey) insurance provide employees with income if they are sick or disabled for an extended period of time. Overall, this insurance coverage can increase employee job satisfaction and overall company morale.
But, even with insurance coverage sick employees still take a toll on the business. You can fight these negative effects by fostering an employee wellness culture within your organization.
Productivity losses linked to employees who miss work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year, according to CDC statistics. Of that lost money, more than half ($153 billion) is a result of sick time used by full-time workers who are overweight or obese or have chronic health issues.
Reducing excess weight, high blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels by just 1 percent are employee wellness measures that can save up to $103 annually in medical costs per person.
One way to encourage healthier lifestyles for your workers is by building an employee wellness culture within your organization, modeled by executives and carried down to every employee.
There are many ways to do so—and these small changes don’t have to cost a fortune. And certainly less than the $1,685 spent per employee when people get sick).
1. Make healthy snacks available in the break room.
We all cringe that first week back to work after the New Year. Many of us might be trying to eat healthy or even starting new diets. But others decide to bring those leftover cookies, pies, chocolates, and fruitcake to the office, where “someone will eat them.”
As a leader in your organization, you don’t have to be that “someone.” You can even provide an alternative for everyone and encourage employee wellness through healthy foods.
Stock a mini-fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, provide herbal teas for those who need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, and even consider bringing in a healthy catered lunch once a week.
Or send an email to organize a mid-day potluck on a Friday, where everyone brings in their favorite healthy meal and shares the recipe.
2. “Challenge” your employees.
“Challenges” are the new fitness craze, and they work to get people moving by motivating them through the thrill of competition. Oh, and cash prizes.
Here’s how it works: Collect a small amount of money from everyone who wants to participate. Set rules, such as being active for 30 minutes each day. Employees show proof of their activity through a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or even a free downloadable app like MyFitnessPal. At the end of the challenge (typically 30 days) everyone who completed the challenge as per the rules is entered into a random drawing to win the money.
You can also divide the office into teams. The team that shows the most total minutes of physical activity over 30 days wins the challenge.
3. Plan an active office outing.
Color runs. Obstacle races. Walkathons. 5K events. There’s an activity for employees at nearly any ability level. And while the weather may not be conducive to running for anyone but the diehards right now, spring is on the way.
It’s time to catch the early-bird registration pricing for a team-building physical challenge. You can even get healthy while helping others, and engage in a race or event that donates proceeds to charity.
If you’re looking for a winter activity, consider indoor rock-climbing, laser tag, or even bowling.
4. Provide health-related perks
From free or discounted gym memberships to in-office massages, two-thirds of all U.S. workplaces today offer wellness-related benefits. But it’s not enough to provide the benefits.
You must let employees know they are available and make it easy for them to take advantage.
When you get half the office talking about last night’s boot camp, and the other half want to know where to sign up, you know you’ve created an employee wellness culture within your organization.
Mandatory DBL and TDB coverage is there when you need it. But taking small steps toward a healthier workplace can make a big difference in your organization’s overall productivity.
The DBL Center wishes all our brokers, clients, and readers a happy and healthy 2018.
Taking over a private VIP room below the theater, the DBL Center hosted a Speakeasy Holiday Party.
For those who’ve never visited, the Founder’s Room at the Paramount features décor of the 1920s, along with music memorabilia for those who wax nostalgic about the earlier days of rock and roll. Absolutely perfect for The DBL Center employees, clients, friends, and peers who were invited to the party. It’s a cliché, but it’s also accurate to say “a good time was had by all.”
In the tradition of The DBL Center, the venue, the food, and of course, the people created an incredible atmosphere of first-class fun.
The DBL Center was founded by David Cohen to offer insurance brokers the type of highly differentiated, personalized service provided by “boutique” companies in other industries.
Those who knew David knew he loved to travel. He loved staying in luxury boutique hotels instead of the bigger chains. He enjoyed not just the personalized service, but the original and unique touches these hotels provided.
The concept of “concierge service” provided at boutique hotels was the inspiration for our website cover photo. And that philosophy of providing white glove service translates into everything we do.
From giving our brokers the latest resources to help them understand new legislation such as Paid Family Leave, to our app that puts control of our broker’s accounts right at their fingertips, on the road or in the office, everything we do is designed to provide a higher level of service to our brokers and their clients.
No doubt, it takes a lot of work to maintain that level of service and stay ahead of the pack.
But we also have a lot of fun along the way, with our holiday party as just one example!
The family atmosphere that we nurture within the organization welcomes an open exchange of ideas to help The DBL Center continue to improve. Whether in the office or after-hours at a gathering like our holiday party–we listen to our employees and our customers.
We are continually brainstorming new ways to service our agents in areas that matter to them. Our technology, our back-office staff, and the resources we offer can help agents expand their book of business and increase their profits in less time.
President and CEO Michael Cohen, of course, didn’t stand still during the party. He traveled the room sharing stories, always with a crowd around him, eagerly awaiting the punchline.
Mid-way through the night, Michael took the time to gather everyone near the bar and shared his gratitude and appreciation for The DBL Center family — employees, brokers, clients, contractors, and friends.
No doubt, 2018 has been a year of changes and adaption – for The DBL Center family and for the insurance industry as a whole.
Armed with determination, knowledge, and a team that is stronger than ever, The DBL Center moves forward into 2018 with unprecedented optimism, new ideas to implement, and more opportunities than ever before for our brokers to expand their book of business and make more money with us.
Happy Holidays, from our family to yours.
Find out how we can help you get the best rates on enriched DBL coverage, ancillary benefits, and more.
FMLA vs PFL: The DBL Center explores the differences
Since New York introduced Paid Family Leave, there has been a lot of confusion. Brokers, HR directors, employers and employees are just beginning to understand what PFL means and who it will affect.
One point of confusion: Many people believe the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the federal law put into place during the Obama administration, is the same as New York’s PFL.
In fact, the two are loosely related, and can be applied in conjunction with each other.
But they are not the same thing.
FMLA vs PFL: What Is The Difference?
For starters, FMLA is a federal level law, while PFL provides benefits to employees at the state level.
The key difference in FMLA vs PFL is that FMLA is not a paid leave. It offers no compensation to employees taking time off. PFL in New York, on the other hand, provides both job protection and income for employees on leave.
Read on as The DBL Center, your expert in Paid Family Leave in the New York Tri-State area, explains more you should know about FMLA vs PFL.
What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The Family Medical Leave Act was signed into law by the federal government to protect the jobs of employees who have to take time off for medical reasons of their own or to care for a sick or disabled family member.
When the employee returns from leave, the employer must be able to provide that employee with the same position they had before or one that is equivalent in pay, benefits, and status. While the employee is out on leave, the employer must also maintain their benefits at the same level as when they were working.
FMLA vs PFL: Who Can Make a Claim?
FMLA legislation applies to people who take medical leave for themselves or take time off to care for a loved one.
On the other hand, Paid Family Leave applies only to employees taking time off to care for family members. Employees can make a PFL claim to take time off to care for ill or disabled family members, infants, adopted or foster children within the first year of care, or any family member while a spouse in the military has been deployed.
Employees who are ill or injured, themselves, would need to file a DBL claim in New York to receive income while they cannot work. They are not eligible for PFL. However, the employee’s job would be protected on the federal level by FMLA if they meet the other requirements, such as total number of hours worked for that employer.
Eligibility Requirements for FMLA vs PFL
FMLA applies to companies with 50+ employees. PFL is available to any eligible employee working for a business with one or more employees. This makes PFL available to more New Yorkers than FMLA.
The employment requirements for PFL are also less stringent. Employees working 20+ hours per week must have worked for 26 consecutive weeks at their current, covered employer to make a PFL claim. Part-time employees who work less than 20 hours per week must have worked at least 175 days for their current employer.
On the other hand, employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours each month for the past 12 months at their current employer to qualify for job protection under FMLA.
FMLA vs PFL: Other Important Differences
There are a few other differences in FMLA vs PFL, such as how the federal government and the state government define family. For instance, the FMLA does not protect the jobs of employees who take time off to care for an in-law. Employees would make a PFL claim, instead, for income and job protection.
The rules of FMLA vs PFL also differ slightly for members of the military and their spouses.
Finally, the federal government offers FMLA time off in increments of 15 minutes, while employees make a PFL claim for time in days, which will gradually increase to a maximum of six weeks by 2021.
NJ Family Leave Act: What Is It?
To further complicate things, if you live in the New York tri-State area, you may also have heard of the New Jersey Family Leave Act. Where does NJ FLA fit in?
New Jersey’s FLA, similarly to the federal FMLA program, does not provide New Jersey workers with paid leave. It only offers job protection to those employees. New Jersey employees would make a TDB (Temporary Disability Benefits) claim to receive income if they are unable to work due to medical reasons.
Similar to PFL in NY, the FLA is broader than the FMLA in its definition of “parents.” New Jersey employees can take time off to care for in-laws, step-parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, or anyone with a parent-child relationship with the employee.
Putting It All Together
New York’s new PFL coverage puts our home state on the cutting edge of protecting and providing for employees caring for family members. It exceeds FMLA coverage in many ways, including a broader scope and paid benefits for claimants.
However, the FMLA was an important stepping stone toward PFL adoption. It is also important to protect employees in other states, who may not have access to PFL benefits to protect their jobs and provide them with a living wage during leave.
As a broker, it’s important to understand the difference in FMLA vs PFL. If your customers ask, you want to be prepared with the right answers. Presenting yourself as an expert in PFL coverage will help you gain the trust of your customers and pave the way to referrals and increased profits through the sale of enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.
PFL is Almost Here:
Visit our PFL resource center to be sure you are ready.