With the introduction of Paid Family Medical Leave in Massachusetts, along with mergers, acquisitions, and the launch of robust software to help brokers manage it all, 2019 was an exciting year in statutory employee benefits and group ancillary products.

At the close of 2019, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen sat down the John Puglisi, sales rep for The Hartford, to talk about what to expect in 2020.  Be sure to watch the video, because our summary doesn’t catch every amazing moment.

Michael Cohen: What do you feel has changed the most in our industry since you started?
John Puglisi: One of the biggest changes is the introduction of technology. You’ve been ahead of the curve on that.

Voluntary worksite benefits are exploding right now. The right employers have less money to pay, so everybody wants critical illness, accident, hospital. But nobody has the resources to handle enrollments, so all of a sudden you have enrollment companies, technology vendors, and all this new stuff that you have to learn so you can re-enroll customers.

We were just talking about how you and I feel very comfortable standing in front of a group of people doing an enrollment meeting and walking away with 40% participation just on the basis of being able to tell the story in an entertaining way. Right now, everybody’s so focused on technology and having it be easily outsourced by an entire enrollment platform, resource, HRIS, etc. That’s been a huge change.

Cohen: Speak to me about what’s going on in Massachusetts.
Puglisi: What’s interesting about PFML in Massachusetts is the disability component to it, also. We’re dealing in statutory space, with New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts now joining the roster of states that are adding PFL. But they’re also adding a disability component to it.

Cohen: Which state do you favor? Most people are more excited about Massachusetts than New Jersey.
Puglisi: Okay, so Massachusetts is not a large part of my market because I deal mostly in central western NY except for you guys, who I insisted on [keeping] when I moved out of your area. So, I’ve heard the Massachusetts process is building with the Hartford.

Cohen: We’re growing in Massachusetts, as well. We have a group business there, we have LTD and life, and dental… I think Massachusetts is unique for a lot of brokers because they don’t understand if there’s no underlying statutory plan, How’s it gonna work? It’s almost being underwritten like STD. But there’s been a lot of changes. It’s been exciting. Someone once asked me would you ever want to sell health insurance? How do you feel about that?
Puglisi: Personally, I would not. There are very narrow players in the field, as far as carriers are concerned. Business is always bouncing from one of the four carriers every year. It sounds like a really intense business.

Cohen: How is it going with the AETNA merger? The takeover?
Puglisi: The Hartford purchased AETNA’s group ancillary block.

Cohen: That seems like a seamless transition.
Puglisi: The acquisition of CNA back in 2011 prepared Hartford. A lot of learning went on to make the AETNA transition much smoother. We’ve adapted. wWe’ve taken the best of their system, combined it with ours, and created a whole new Web portal that’s state of the art.

Cohen: So it’s all integrated, one system?
Puglisi: We’re converting the in-force business over to the AETNA system now. All new business effective January 1, 2019, started on the Hartford Ability Platform.

Cohen: If a broker of mine has the Broker Dashboard system and they want to look up both AETNA and Hartford business, they can go in now through my Broker Dashboard, go to the carrier portal, and they can see all their business all in one?
Puglisi: Right. It’s a very robust portal. [There are] 400 different kinds of reports, which is a huge advantage. [There is] a lot more self-service capability, which seems to be the direction it’s going. But one of the ways the system has helped us–the same way your system has helped you–is the ability to persist and retain. Once you continue adding lines onto that site, customers tend to stick. And the system provides such good functionality, people are inclined to stay. That, I think, is what you’ve built with the Broker Dashboard.