If you are a broker who sells ancillary benefits such as life, dental, and vision coverage, you are already familiar with the paperwork required to complete a company census. Your customers have to submit a company census showing the number of employees, their ages, genders, and salaries.
Now, with the introduction of Paid Family Leave, some insurance carriers may require a company census for their DBL insurance, too.
Even if it isn’t required by your carrier, having an accurate and up-to-date census can benefit brokers and their customers, alike, resulting in money savings for customers and increased opportunities for brokers to cross-sell ancillary benefits with DBL coverage. Read on to find out how.
With a census in hand, business owners will receive more accurate insurance rates that are based on the exact head count of covered employees. They won’t overpay for their insurance coverage, which can enable the company to better manage cash flow without tying up funds needlessly.
And if you have to break the bad news that their insurance premiums will go up slightly, at least your commission will rise proportionately. They will now be paying for the actual coverage they are receiving, which is difficult for any business person to argue.
With a company census for each one of your customers in hand, it is easy to request a quote for ancillary coverage through the DBL Center. In order to accurately quote ancillary coverage, you need the census. Now that your customers have that information, you can show them how affordable it can be to sweeten their employee benefits package with group life, vision, or dental coverage.
If you’ve already shown your customers you can save them money on their DBL and PFL, now you can show them how to take that extra money and invest it into ancillary policies that will make all their employees happy, build loyalty, and help attract top talent.
For small business owners, completing a census shouldn’t take much time at all. They can delegate the task to an office manager or set aside a few hours to gather the information from their employees. It could even be as fast as sending out a company-wide email.
For larger corporations with more than 50 lives, and even up to thousands of employees, gathering census data will, admittedly, take more time. But the cost savings could really add up for larger companies.
Once the census data is in place, it doesn’t take long to update it, annually, with new employees and to remove employees who no longer work for the company.
“It makes sense to calculate accurate insurance premiums based on the actual number of lives in a company and can result in cost savings for customers,” says DBL Center’s Selena Kutschera. “It also makes it easier for brokers to get an accurate quote in order to enrich their customers’ benefits packages with ancillary benefits.”
Pinpoint a few customers, especially corporations over 50 lives, who would benefit the most from a census and be most amenable to ancillary benefits if it was fast and easy to get a price quote. If carriers begin requiring a census for DBL coverage with a PFL rider, these customers will have the information in hand.
“Filling out census forms for more accurate insurance billing is new and unfamiliar to many brokers,” says Kutschera. “But the DBL Center is here to help our brokers and their customers complete a company census. It’s also important to remember that this a one-time-only process that will allow the carrier to better serve brokers and their customers.”
by Dawn Allcot
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.
Insurance brokers can receive better service working through the right insurance wholesaler.
Being an insurance broker isn’t easy, especially in these challenging times. Will Obamacare stay or will it go? How will that affect health insurance brokers, as well as those who provide ancillary benefits? The industry could be facing another major shake-up–but even that’s not guaranteed.
One way to prepare yourself for success in uncertain times is to build a reliable team. That team should include an insurance wholesaler who provides the white-glove, white-label service you and your customers deserve. Here are five ways The DBL Center sets itself apart as a wholesale insurance broker providing disability insurance, ancillary benefits, and more.
1. Enjoy a single point-of-contact for most benefits.
From disability insurance, which is mandated in New Jersey, New York, and Hawaii, to up-sell benefits, which can help brokers increase their earnings, The DBL Center provides what today’s brokers need to service small to mid-size businesses and larger firms.
Your customers come to you for disability coverage. You can help them increase their employee benefits packages with enriched DBL in
New York, and ancillary benefits such as vision, dental, and Group Life/AD&D coverage.
2. Bind quotes quickly and easily online.
You can compare rates and bind DBL coverage for businesses with under 50 lives in just a few clicks online. Our AA+ rated carriers also permit customers to easily begin and track claims online.
At DBL Center, our technology sets us apart and makes it easier for you, as the broker, to do your job and provide your customers with a higher level of service.
3. Book entertainment to thank special clients or give your employees a nice bonus.
Whether it’s the holiday season, start of summer, or any other occasion, it’s nice to take a break. Through our partnerships with The Friar’s Club and Steiner Sports Marketing, we can book comedic and sports guests for any occasion. Thank a special customer by adding entertainment to their corporate outing, or host an event yourself to thank all your top-tier customers. When we say we are more than just disability insurance, we really mean it. We are here to serve our brokers.
4. We can provide investment options for your customers.
From Roth IRA’s to 401Ks, we have an investment advisor on staff that can help you provide the best options to your employees. You can also add a revenue stream to your brokerage by offering retirement benefits to the HR directors you already work with. Best of all, there’s no added work on your part—just added commission. Connect our investment expert to your customers, and we’ll steer them down the right path for retirement savings.
5. Use our app to manage your book of business from anywhere.
The DBL Center already provides the capability of managing your book of business online, with our account representatives at your service when you need a more personal touch or have questions.
Now in development, our new mobile app for Android and iOS will permit you to manage your book of business from anywhere. Don’t wait until you’re back in the office to process that new account; do it immediately so your customers can have their Certificate of Insurance sooner. Take care of business on the road, at home, or from the coffee house. Wherever you happen to be, our mobile app makes it easy to check in and manage your insurance sales.
White Glove Service, High Tech Capabilities
DBL Center blends the best of old-fashioned concierge service with the latest technology to enable our brokers to do more in less time and focus on increasing their commissions.
We may not be sure what direction the industry will take in the next two to four years, but The DBL Center will be by your side, providing the tools you need to thrive as an insurance broker.
Effective January 1, 2018, New York joins the progressive states of California, New Jersey and Rhode Island to require mandatory Paid Family Leave for all qualifying employees. This affects all business owners in New York State, not just those with 50+ employees.
If you’re an insurance broker already providing Disability Benefits Law (DBL) coverage or enhanced DBL, your clients may have questions about this new benefit. First, it’s important to understand that PFL is not the same as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA only secures an employee’s job and does not provide additional funds should an employee have to take a leave of absence due to childbirth, caring for a disabled child or caring for an older family member. A federal program, FMLA only applies to employers with 50+ employees.
Unlike FMLA, PFL mandates up to 12 weeks of job-protected, paid leave for all New York employees, regardless of the size of the company, for any of the following reasons:
-bonding with and caring for a newborn, adopted, or foster care child during the first 12 months
– caring for a seriously ill family member
– addressing important needs related to a family member’s military service.
To qualify for PFL benefits, a full-time employee must have worked 26 or more consecutive weeks. Part-time employees must have worked 175 days. PFL benefits will be phased in over time to reach the maximum paid leave, never exceeding a percentage of the state’s average weekly wage (AWW), beginning January 1, 2018. Benefit amounts are as follows:
Beginning January 2018: 50 percent of the employee’s AWW for 8 weeks
Beginning January 2019: 55 percent of the employee’s AWW for 10 weeks
Beginning January 2020: 60 percent of the employee’s AWW for up to 10 weeks
Beginning January 2021 and on: 67 percent of the employee’s AWW up to 12 weeks
Employees are permitted – but not required – to use their accrued vacation time or PTO in addition to PFL benefits, but cannot claim DBL and PFL at the same time. PFL benefits begin on the first full day the employee requires paid family leave. When possible, the employee should give 30 days’ notice, but if this isn’t possible, such as in the event of a family emergency, or a premature birth, they should let the employer know as soon as possible. In either case, benefits can start on the first day off. The PFL benefit is funded by a nominal employee contribution; employers are not required to fund any portion of the PFL benefit. However, employers must invest in a policy that covers both DBL and PFL benefits under the same policy, but, as of right now, New York State Disability Benefits Law will not change under this new legislation. This could be the first step in legislation that would increase the statutory benefit in phases. That’s why it’s a great opportunity to evaluate your customers’ DBL coverage now to prepare for what may come.
As you re-write your customers’ DBL policies to cover PFL in preparation for January 2018 and beyond, this represents an opportunity to employ consultative selling techniques to increase your customers’ DBL policies with Enhanced DBL coverage.
Keep in mind: Employers are not required to fund PFL coverage, so no money comes out of their pockets as their employees’ benefit coverage improves. This is a great time to re-evaluate your customers’ DBL coverage. Are they doing enough for their loyal employees? What if you could increase the employees’ nominal contributions just a bit more, beyond PFL coverage, and provide an enhanced DBL policy that offers expanded benefits and more flexibility in how employees collect those benefits? Employers might even be willing to match employee contributions for a more robust enhanced DBL policy.
These are pre-tax benefits, and with the 2016 presidential election coming up, the future remains uncertain. Will taxes go up for the working middle class to fund programs the new president may support? Employees and employers alike will be looking for additional ways to reduce their tax liability. Increasing insurance coverage for events that are likely to occur (and may even be planned), such as the birth of a child, a spouse’s military service, or the illness of an aging parent, provides a peace-of-mind that is hard for middle class, working Americans to find in today’s economic climate.
The new PFL requirements fill an important space today. These benefits affect every generation of worker, as “sandwich generation” or Generation X, and Baby Boomer employees face hardships caring for aging loved ones, and younger GenX and Millennial workers may plan to start families through childbirth or adoption.
Today’s insurance brokers are in a unique position to support a program that supports American families, while increasing their own commissions through consultative selling of PFL and enhanced DBL benefits in New York.