Human capital manager ponders voluntary benefits as a retention tool

Larry Estridge, DBL Center’s Regional VP of Group Worksite Benefits shares why disability insurance is just the beginning for our brokers…

Several years ago, The DBL Center redesigned its website and strategized a content marketing campaign to boost visibility and search engine rankings. Along with the new look and fresh content, our team came up with tagline “Disability insurance is just the beginning…”

The tagline spoke to the depth and breadth of The DBL Center’s product lines, including dental, vision, Group Life / AD&D and other ancillary benefits. In February 2017, New York State rolled out the most robust Paid Family Leave package our country had ever seen, and our tagline gained even more relevance.

This summer, The DBL Center brought on Larry Estridge, Regional Vice President of Group Worksite Benefits, to usher in a new era of expanded coverage for our brokers and their clients. His consultative sales approach fits in perfectly with the rest of The DBL Center team. He sat down with us to share his thoughts on voluntary worksite benefits, how these products can help new and current DBL Center brokers, and his future plans with The DBL Center.

Brokers have multiple options in voluntary benefits. What are some of the coverage lines available for DBL Center brokers?

Larry Estridge: Voluntary benefits can range anywhere from accident insurance, short term disability, long term disability, life insurance, critical illness, dental and vision.

Are certain voluntary benefits better suited for specific types of companies or specific demographics?

That’s an interesting question. In my experience, the size of the company really isn’t a trigger for the benefits. It starts with a conversation with the broker, and then a conversation between the broker and their client.

From our side, we help the broker start to determine what the employer’s needs are. Are there any gaps in their coverage? That’s where our expertise will come in.

We ask for a census to better understand the make up of the group. We also look and make sure added coverage makes sense. We don’t want to duplicate coverage. We just want to make sure the broker is doing the consulting they should be doing. We can help them look stronger – and increase their revenue and book of business – in an area where they might not have that expertise. That’s what we bring to the table.

Are there areas of coverage employers should look at to protect themselves, apart from providing coverage to their employees?

Larry Estridge: There are opportunities to look at executive carve-outs, which are things like income protection, disability insurance for executives, funding a buy-sell agreement for the partners, business overhead protection for business owners, key-personnel coverage is also important. These are benefits that are often overlooked because people don’t know to look for these things. We, at The DBL Center, offer this expertise to our brokers and their clients.

What would you tell brokers about the advantage of working with DBL Center for voluntary benefits packages?

Larry Estridge: For those already doing business with us, they already know who we are, what sets us apart, and how great our service is.

For those already doing business with us, they already know who we are, what sets us apart, and how great our service is. For those reading this who are not yet working with us, I want them to see and experience our strong serviceWe have a top-notch veteran team and access to some of the best carriers in the industry.  In both cases, it’s a chance for cross-sell opportunities. The more products they can offer their clients, the more stickiness the broker will have. That means the client is less likely to move onto another broker.

Clients are more apt to stay when you have more lines. Customers are more dedicated to you. As long as the broker is doing their job, the clients aren’t looking to move, because you offer what they need. You don’t have to hear, “We moved someplace else because we didn’t know you offered that product.” 

We can also offer more commissions to our brokers in some cases, because of our relationships with carriers. Our technology helps brokers work more efficiently. And, most importantly, they know we’re doing what we do best, and that allows them to concentrate on their area of expertise.

“Stickiness” is a word I haven’t heard in a while; we used it in the early days of social media. And it’s an appropriate term because it extends beyond customer loyalty. It means you’re the first option the customer considers and they “stick with you” longer – perhaps forever. Wouldn’t you agree?

Larry Estridge: Yes. It means customers are more dedicated to you. As long as the broker is doing their job, the clients aren’t looking to move.

In my more than 20 years of working with brokers, there have been times they’ve confessed that they lost someone because they came back and said their client didn’t know they had access to a specific product. And that’s sad. This is less likely to happen if you can have a conversation with a broker, and look over their business, and notice gaps… It’s a consultative approach and the client is less likely to move onto another broker.

Clients are more apt to stay when you have more lines. You don’t have to hear, “We moved someplace else because we didn’t know you offered that product.”

You mentioned earlier about not looking to duplicate coverage. Can you talk a little bit about that philosophy?

Larry Estridge: I always back off, rather than add duplication or unnecessary coverage. Forcing an unneeded benefit and losing a relationship because of that benefits no one! I know Mike and the team has that reputation of doing the right things and offering the right coverage at the right time. I’ve seen it in my short time here already.

It already sounds like you already fit right in with the team! What are some of your short- and long-term goals with The DBL Center?

Larry Estridge: Short term goals, I’d love to round out this fantastic team we have by growing the business for The DBL Center – bringing in new relationships I’ve nurtured for 20+ years and help them identify the selling opportunities with our carriers. I really want to establish us as a key player in the voluntary worksite and executive markets, so people see us growing and offering more.

From a long-term basis, I’d like to make us an industry standard in the voluntary benefits world, the way we already are with DBL, TDI, and Paid Family Leave. I want to make sure people know we are so much more than a DBL Center.