The DBL Center’s Michael Cohen Talks About Getting Through the Pandemic


The DBL Center marketing team “Turned the Tables” on President and CEO Michael Cohen to put Michael in the hot seat for a three-part interview. In the first and third videos, he offered tips for insurance agents and talked about the value The DBL Center provides to its network of brokers.

In this video, Michael discusses the impact the pandemic has had, the creation of the Covid-19 Claim Qualifier, and what he sees for 2021. Plus, he shares one of DBL Center Founder David Cohen’s favorite expressions. Read (and watch the video) to the end for advice from two generations of business leaders in the Cohen family.

Dawn Allcot: How did you come up with the idea for the Covid-19 Claim Qualifier to reduce the number of Covid-related claims and the financial burden on insurance carriers?

Michael Cohen: I was in actually in my son’s room near the start of the quarantine. I think it was March 24. I was speaking to my programmer. I said if there’s a way something can be tweaked, now would be the time. We took something we were already utilizing, the Broker Dashboard Net Revenue tracker, and transformed it into something that could help our preferred insurance carriers. It’s a way to help prequalify claims, to bring the number of Covid-related DBL and PFL claims down.

Everything is volume. If I’m tracking volume for businesses, I can use that same algorithm to track the volume for claims, specifically in the short-term disability segment as a result of Covid.

Dawn: You were in your son’s room, on a call with your programmer. That’s a sign of the times…

Mike: I like being able to work from home. I’ve been working from home since 2007. I’ve got friends and family members that have said to me, “It’s great; I’m not traveling. I get to see my kids.”

My wife has been a healthcare professional for 16 years. The days she would work 12-hour shifts, I was that guy at home. And still am. Nothing has really changed in that regard.

Dawn: Looking ahead, what new initiatives does the DBL Center have planned for 2021?

Mike: Franchising the technology we have created and taking it out to every Paid Family Leave state that’s available.

So, stay tuned for that. That should be a new and exciting venture, which should begin in January. We’re laying the groundwork now.

Dawn: That’s what it’s all about. We’ve been laying the groundwork for this moment for three years now, and it’s coming to fruition. It’s been fascinating to watch you, Mike, and it’s a great case study for business growth.

Mike: Think about it. With the amount of time businesses have been closed during this pandemic, if you add another hundred days onto that, it’s already Halloween.

If we’ve been doing this for three years, what’s another four months? When you’ve been up against the ropes and done what we’ve done over 36 months, with all the highs and lows and peaks and valleys. It’s a breath of fresh air to know we’ve been through all that, already. Now we know what to expect.

You give yourself a goal. And if you accomplish that, then you give yourself another goal. And once you tackle it, get that notch in your belt, you let that ride, and then move on to the next thing. Just keep building upon that and getting to the next level. You want to get to a point where the business sustains itself or you’re ready to sell it.

Dawn: What’s your advice to brokers to get through this time?

Mike: Stop talking about a potential second wave! I don’t want to hear it. It’s negative energy. Let’s just stick to what we know. And that is today.

Now’s not the time to project what will be as far as the pandemic. We don’t know. And it’s too much stress to worry.

I try to tune out a lot of the news media. And I do what’s best for my company.

If I do what’s best for my company, I’m impacting my employees. And if I do what’s good for them, maybe they can take that into their real-world experiences.

I’ve got a lot of friends who are business owners, too. We’re in a bubble of what we do.

As long as we do it best, whether it’s writing or selling insurance or whatever it is, it’s that old adage my father used to say, which is, “Stick to sewing.” It means stick to what you’re good at and do not be a jack-of-all trades.

Dawn: What’s your next goal for The DBL Center?

Mike: We’re more than halfway through the year. Anything I talk about in the fall is going to be for 2021 at this point.

My goal is to be the most state-of-the-art, tech-savvy general agency in the Paid Family Leave statutory space. Case closed. End of story.


Selling NY State Disability Insurance: Getting Creative in the Time of Covid-19

The insurance business, especially for those involved in selling statutory benefits like NY State disability insurance (NYS DBL coverage), has always been based on relationships.

The relationships between brokers and their customers, carriers and general agencies, and the wholesale insurance agency and its brokers, all make it easier to create the best benefits packages with the lowest premiums.

Just before New York started Phase 1 of its reopening initiative, Michael Cohen, DBL Center President and CEO, sat down – remotely – with Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, and Michael Pelligrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative. The three pros talked about maintaining relationships and selling NY state disability insurance in the time of Covid-19.

You can watch part 1 of the video here.

Cohen took the call to record the Remote Rep Roundtable from his Melville office before his employees had come back to work, while Callery admitted he’d been fielding video conferences from his son’s bedroom.

Pelligrino quipped, “I’m sitting here just hoping my one-year old baby doesn’t wake up crying,” reflecting one of the familiar challenges faced by parents suddenly forced into working from home, often without viable daycare for little ones.

Although they were in different locations, the NY state disability insurance experts displayed the camaraderie they’d shared over the years. They shared how they first met, and then got to talking about how they’re modifying their businesses to remain relevant – and successful – amidst the challenges of a global pandemic that requires social distancing and remote work.

Callery advised brokers and reps: “Lean into your style. Don’t do anything out of your comfort level. Don’t force it.”

Lincoln Financial began developing podcasts and increasing their social media presence, but Callery also encouraged reps to find what works for them. “The folks who were accustomed to using LinkedIn continued to do that and they enhanced their presence. We had other reps establish weekly WebEx-type meetings,” Callery said.

Pelligrino, on the ground regularly as a sales rep, said he’s seen remote work increasing over the past five to seven years, and the pandemic has accelerated the trend. “I’d been seeing a lot more offices where maybe only 50% of the people are there, because a lot more people were starting to work from home. You have to be more creative, as a rep, to get that captive audience, and WebEx is one way to do it.”

“Experiencing [the pandemic] was almost like the five stages of grieving,” said Cohen, adding that he feels the industry has entered the “acceptance” phase. “We are all entrepreneurs and driven salespeople, type A personality. Let’s get creative and figure this out, because we’re all hungry to get back to work.”

Callery said he remains optimistic about business picking up in the late third to fourth quarter. “I think we will get back to close to where we were,” he said. “I do believe some creative aspects of doing business differently will come out of this experience, for sure.”

Watch the video to learn more about the shared history between Lincoln Financial and DBL Center and to hear the rest of their tips for connecting during Covid-19.

 


DBL Center Hosts Broker Appreciation Event at Oheka Castle

President and CEO Michael Cohen invites top brokers to celebrate recent successes and a bright future

Long Island, home of DBL Center’s corporate office, is rich with history many residents take for granted.
Oheka Castle in Cold Spring Harbor, for instance, celebrated 100 years in 2019.

It’s been 100 years since the original owner, Otto Kahn, paid to truck dirt to the North Shore to create the highest point of Long Island. From that vantage point, he built a golf course and luxurious castle in the style of a French Chateau on Long Island’s Gold Coast.

DBL Center’s Michael Cohen chose the site for his 2019 Broker Appreciation event. The exclusive cocktail party recognized top insurance brokers, introduced DBL Center customers to the new Broker Dashboard app, and celebrated a beautiful (and long-awaited) spring day on Long Island’s North Shore.

Sean Brady Jr. of Brady Risk Management, Michael Cohen of DBL Center, and George Bucur of MarshBerry (l-r)

DBL Center, like Oheka Castle, is a Long Island success story, making the location especially suitable to celebrate the success of the insurance wholesaler, now in its 43rd year, and its growing network of insurance brokers.

With the sun shining and temperatures in the 70s, the event was held outdoors on a spacious terrace adjacent to the castle’s restaurant and bar. Although largely focused on Long Island insurance agents, brokers came from as far as Westchester to enjoy the ambiance, eat and drink together.

Local artist John Herz, recently featured in Newsday, displayed his artwork, including striking full-color depictions of big cats from his African safari and numerous framed prints.

At the centerpiece of his display was a pencil drawing of DBL Center Founder David Cohen, who once called Herz “the Michelangelo of the Number Two Pencil.”

Several attendees commented that the senior Cohen was looking over the event with pride at how much his son, Michael Cohen, has evolved and advanced the family-owned business in just a few short years.

The event included long-time DBL Center brokers and newcomers to the DBL Center family. Some had passing familiarity with the new Broker Dashboard app, while others had been using it for several months to streamline managing DBL accounts.

DBL Center’s Selena Kutschera and Melissa Gallo of Alliant Insurance Services

This was not a lunch-and-learn event or a seminar. The emphasis was on networking and celebration. “I considered doing a Broker Dashboard demo, but that would have meant holding the event inside,” Michael Cohen said. “Instead, we can be outdoors enjoying the weather and the scenery. This is really just an event to appreciate my brokers and say thank you for their support and loyalty.”

“This is probably the best insurance event I’ve been to in a while. Mike always takes care of his customers and their clients, and his knowledge of the business is amazing,” said Marc Salerno, a long-time client of DBL Center and account executive for Salerno Brokerage Corp in Syosset. “I feel very appreciated.”

Many other brokers echoed Salerno’s sentiments regarding the service the DBL Center team provides, making the event one of mutual appreciation.

“The DBL Center is second-to-none when it comes to the services they provide,” said Jason Cavallo of The Hotaling Group, a New York-based independent insurance firm with a national presence. “They assist in ways no other company could ever match, let alone surpass. They’re the best.”

Brokers new to the DBL Center family also touted the advantages of working with the insurance wholesaler to streamline operations and get the most out of DBL and PFL policies.

“As a property & casualty broker, billing the DBL and PFL policies is cumbersome, and it’s a smaller line-item. It’s helpful to have an expert who wants to get in the weeds with us and make sure that whole process is streamlined,” said Matt Avellino from AC Risk Management in Melville, NY. “We believe in the team, we believe in the staff, and we’re off to a great start in the beginning of this soon-to-be longstanding relationship with Michael and DBL Center.”

While this event was focused on brokers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, The DBL Center hosts quarterly events across the New York tri-state area, including celebrations at prestigious New York City venues. “We’ve gotten great feedback about this event,” said Cohen. “Our next one will be held this summer in New Jersey as we increase our focus on TDB.”

Jason Cavallo of The Hotaling Group and DBL Center’s Michael Cohen

Nancy and John Herz, long-time friends of The DBL Center family

(l-r) Donna Cody, Avanti Associates; Lori Rose, DBL Center; Marc Salerno, Salerno Insurance; Annette Sperandio, DBL Center; Thomas Tubridy, Principal Life Insurance; Chris Metzger, Blair Insurance Agency

 

DBL Center’s Eugene Puleo and Charlie Montana of Montana Agency


NYS Brokers: Are You Prepared for PFL in 2019?

What brokers, HR directors, and company executives need to know about PFL in 2019


The new year is almost upon us, and that means more changes for HR directors, business owners, and insurance brokers in New York, once again, as they get up to speed on PFL in 2019. Look for PFL contributions to increase along with the payout and total weeks of leave permitted with benefits.

What’s New for PFL in 2019

PFL benefits will be phased in until they reach the maximum payout of 67 percent of an employee’s Average Weekly Wage for 12 weeks in 2021.

For 2019, the maximum allowable deduction will be 0.153 of the employee’s average weekly wage. Benefits will equal 55% of an employee’s AWW for 10 weeks, up from eight weeks in 2018. The benefit will max out at $746.61 weekly.

It’s important to note that wages are no longer taken with a weekly max. If someone is making $3000 a week, they will pay $3000 x $.00153 – $4.59 weekly deduction until their salary reaches the $70,569.72 max. Then they stop paying for the year.

You can use our handy PFL calculator to determine PFL premiums for your company – or for your customers – based on the number of employees eligible for PFL and the total annual payroll base.

What Brokers and HR Professionals Need to Know About PFL in 2019

Policyholders will have to reconcile PFL premiums for 2018 as part of the necessary premium calculation steps, similar to how it is done for DBL. Brokers who use the DBL Center’s free broker dashboard can easily help their customers reconcile premiums with figures from the database.

If you need help with this important step, contact the DBL Center for guidance on setting up and using the Broker Dashboard to calculate premiums, track renewals and cancellations, and much more.
In addition to the above changes, the state of New York has provided new DBL and PFL posting notices to hang in a prominent spot where employees can view them.

HR directors and company owners should ask their brokers for a new 120 Posting Notice and a DB120.1 Certificate of Insurance.

DBL Center brokers can contact our office for links to these forms to provide to your clients.

Keep Learning About PFL

2018 was a transition year for DBL brokers in New York, and PFL proved to have a steep learning curve.

The DBL Center has provided the resources our brokers need to stay on top of PFL, including webinars, handouts, and our online PFL resource center.

Be prepared to answer all your customers’ questions about PFL in 2019 by browsing our Paid Family Leave Resource Center, which has been updated for the new year.

You may also like these articles that can help your customers better understand PFL in the workplace:

Learn how PFL and DBL are related, but different: DBL vs PFL

Learn how PFL is different from FMLA: PFL vs. FMLA

Help your customers ensure they are in compliance with DBL: PFL Compliance

Calculate PFL premiums for 2019: PFL Calculator

Remember, the DBL Center is here to help answer all your questions about PFL in the new year.


Dbl Center Adds Broker Incentives

Brokers who consolidate their business with DBL Center can earn up to $15,000 

The DBL Center held some in house celebrations last week as we settled into our new Melville, Long Island office. But it’s not just our employees who benefit from our continued growth.

Thanks to the industry relationships we have fostered over the past 40 years as a wholesale general agency, we are in a position to offer brokers industry-high base commissions as well as bonuses for consolidating their book of business with DBL Center.

Broker Incentives by the Numbers

When you consolidate your book of business with DBL Center through select carriers, you’ll receive a 22.5% base commission, and a one-time bonus based on the dollar value of the new business.

When you move between  $20,000 and $99,999, you’ll earn a 5% bonus on all new business. Earn a 10% one-time bonus if your book, including DBL policies under and over 50 lives, is between $100,000 and $149,000.

It’s Easy to Consolidate

DBL Center is making it easy for you to move your book of business. Simply reach out to us for a spreadsheet detailing the information we need from you to help your customers make the switch. There is no need to fill out a new application for each case. Once the new policies are issued, you can cancel the existing in-force policies, save your customers money, and cash in on bonuses and generous commissions.

Earn More with PFL 

These broker incentives are a direct result of the introduction of PFL, a mandatory benefit written as a rider to DBL coverage in NY.

Not every carrier is writing PFL riders, so you may be in the process of helping your customers switch carriers. By letting DBL Center shop around for DBL policies for both under and over 50 lives, you may earn better commissions on PFL. DBL Center rewards you for a business move you may have to make, anyway.

PFL has had a huge learning curve for everyone, and our brokers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and knowledge they provide to their customers. Together with our carrier partners, we are helping PFL pay off for our brokers.

Why It Pays to Consolidate Your Book of Business 

If you aren’t using DBL Center for DBL over and under 50 lives, you could be missing out on high commissions, bonuses, white-glove service, and the convenience of using one wholesale general agency for your whole book of statutory business. Having one point of contact, a professional you can trust if you have questions or need personalized service, is always easier. As DBL Center continues to grow, we can offer even more to our loyal brokers.

This fall, we will introduce our new broker dashboard, making it even easier for you to track all your DBL business and revenue from one intuitive app.

The DBL Center team keeps working hard to offer our brokers more and to make it easy to do business with us.

With our new broker incentives package, there was never a better time to trust us to write your disability policies, ancillary benefits packages, and more.

Let us know how DBL Center can serve you today.


Do Your Clients Understand their Maternity Leave Benefits?

Customer education goes a long way when it comes to selling employee benefits

As an insurance agent, you understand the intricacies of the employee benefits you sell, including maternity leave benefits available through Paid Family Leave (PFL) in New York. You can show customers how to file a DBL or PFL claim, tell them when their disability leave benefits will kick in, and how much money they are eligible to receive.

When you don’t know the answer, The DBL Center Ltd is just a phone call, email, or text away.

We sell employee benefits packages to the decision-makers, but employees don’t always receive the information they need to make important life decisions. For instance, maternity leave benefits may be a deciding factor in how soon a parent returns to the workplace, or even whether a couple can afford to have a child or not.

As an industry, we have an obligation to ensure that information on PFL and other benefits is being passed on to our customers – the company executives, HR departments, and the employees we serve.

An Insider Look at Maternity Leave Mistakes

An eye-opening article in Glamour magazine shares a “worst-case scenario” of what can happen when an employee doesn’t understand their maternity leave benefits.

Like any employee would do, the writer of the article spoke to her boss regarding her maternity leave benefits. She found out that she was eligible to receive 60 percent of her salary through her company’s short-term disability insurance plan. (The writer lived in Florida, so DBL was not a “given” as it is here in New York.)

She also learned she was entitled to 12 weeks off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which protects employees’ jobs while they are out on leave after having a baby or to care for a sick, aging, or disabled family member.

However, the writer never thought to ask (and her employer didn’t volunteer the information) if her insurance paid for a 12-week leave. When she realized it didn’t, it was too late. The couple’s savings had run out. She began freelancing when her son was only four weeks old to supplement her husband’s income and make the money her family needed to live.

The story resonated strongly with us here at The DBL Center, as a family-friendly company with many employees who are also parents. It underscored the importance of educating not just brokers, but the employers and employees who use PFL benefits.

3 Ways to Educate Customers About Maternity Leave

As a broker, you can (and should) take steps to educate your customers on maternity leave / PFL and other employee benefits. You’ll become a trusted resource, and the company they turn to when they want advice on other insurance-related topics.

If you aren’t already being proactive about educating your customers about paid family leave, here are some steps you can take.

  1. Work with HR Departments to Host a Lunch-and-Learn

There is nothing like making yourself available to your customers, in person, to answer their questions and explain their employee benefits packages. Set aside an hour of time to host a live seminar with the HR department and any employees who would like to hear about their options for employee benefits.

  1. Host a Webinar

You can also reach out to your customers without ever leaving your office. Host a webinar detailing the new PFL benefits, as well as any other ancillary benefits your customers receive.

Invest in low-cost, cloud-based software like Zoom or GoToMeeting to host webinars for up to 100 people. Or your organization may already have videoconferencing and webinar software already in place. Most of these programs are easy to set up and simple to use.

Hosting a webinar makes it easy to accommodate the schedules of multiple employees and eliminates travel time and expenses. You may even be able to provide recordings of the webinar, afterwards, for employees who could not attend.

  1. Provide Resources for Your Customers to Read or Watch Online

A personalized touch, either through live meetings or webinars, is often best to connect with your customers and upsell enriched DBL or ancillary benefits.

But you can make the information your customers need available to them when they need it by launching a resource center or blog on your website. Providing written information explaining the differences between PFL and FMLA and the extent of PFL benefits will help establish your insurance agency as a trusted resource.

You can even get creative and produce videos that you post on your website as well as on YouTube and Vimeo.

Not only do these articles and videos deliver the information your customers need when it’s convenient for them. It can also give your search engine rankings a boost, making it easier for people in your area to find you when they do a Google search for an insurance agency.

When it comes to marketing, it’s a win-win.

Join the DBL Center in Taking a Leadership Role in Customer Education

PFL is so important on so many levels, and it is crucial for employers and employees to understand the benefits. It is the responsibility of brokers to educate their customers, and the Glamour article details what can happen if insurance brokers don’t take a proactive stance. Employees don’t necessarily know the right questions to ask to make the right decisions for their financial future.

Fortunately, what is good for employee retention and for working families is also good for your bottom line. And customer education in the digital age is easier than ever.

If you can be the resource your customers need, your business will continue to grow through the sale of enriched benefits packages and word-of-mouth referrals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Are You Profiting from Insurance for Non Profit Organizations?

Follow these tips to grow your book of business in the nonprofit insurance sector

More than 1.5 million non profit organizations are registered in the U.S., says the National Center for Charitable statistics. And they all need nonprofit insurance coverage.

With 20.3 million people living in the New York Tri-State area, it’s safe to say a proportionate number of those non profits are based right here. And, just like your small business and large corporate customers, they are looking for low premiums, high-quality insurance coverage, and stellar service from their non profit insurance brokers.

Employee Benefits Help Compensate for Lower Pay

Non profit workers are traditionally paid less than their counterparts at for-profit companies. Owners of non profit organizations must tread carefully because they could face fines if the IRS deems their employees’ salaries “excessive.” Not only do nonprofits have less money to pay out—because their funding comes from supporter donations—but employers opt to err on the side of caution with employee salaries.

In order to find the best people to help them achieve their mission, non profits must look at other ways to attract and retain top employees. And that’s where insurance for non profit organizations comes in, especially when you are talking about enriched DBL and ancillary benefits. Most non profits have smaller operating budgets than corporations, including less money to pay out for employer-funded benefits like healthcare. But voluntary, employee-funded benefits like group life, vision, and dental coverage deliver great value at a low cost to employees.

Why You Should Consider Selling Insurance for Non Profit Organizations

Non profits go beyond foundations and mission-specific charitable organizations. They may include hospitals and universities, and other important business-oriented organizations with large teams and hefty operating costs.

Not only can non profits be a valuable sector by themselves, but selling not for profit insurance can also attract local business leads and new clients when your non profit customers spread the word to their members and volunteers about the service you deliver. Local networking groups such as your Chamber of Commerce, Lions’ Clubs, and Kiwanis are all non profit organizations.

Are you ready to start selling insurance for non profit organizations?

4 Easy Steps to Selling Insurance for Non Profit Organizations

To successfully sell not for profit insurance benefits, you need to understand what motivates the employees. Value-driven millennials often seek work with non profit organizations, because they want a career that makes a difference in the world along with providing a paycheck.

Employees are often willing to accept less pay because the intrinsic benefits of the job win out in the end. But, once reality sets in and the rent comes due, top talent may quickly be recruited away with promises of a hefty salary, ancillary benefits, and exciting perks in the corporate world.

A non profit may not be able to match a Fortune 500 in terms of pay. But non profit insurance brokers can offer something equal in intrinsic value and help organizations recruit and retain top talent by following these four steps.

  1. Research the mission and values of the organization.

Any good salesperson knows how it important it is to understand your audience. And the non profit group tends to be passionate about their beliefs. If you are working with an animal rights organization, for instance, mention your family pets you adopted from a rescue.

If you are working with an organization that supports eco-tourism,, and can off-handedly mention your Prius, they will understand you are aligned with their values. They will also love the efficiency of getting nonprofit insurance quotes online, without the hassles of paperwork.

Once you’ve made that personal connection, how do you make the leap to insurance products? By tapping into what’s important to non profit employees, you can show them the employee benefits that will help enhance their lifestyle by saving them money.

  1. Sell employees on the lifestyle benefits.

Millennials — especially those who choose to work for non profits—treasure a work/life balance and want to make a difference at work and at play. Saving money on dental and vision costs may free up cash so they can travel more, for instance, or adopt another pet from the animal rescue.

A good life insurance policy will provide peace of mind to employees starting a family. And a 401K will give them the financial freedom they need to continue supporting their favorite causes, through donations or volunteerism, into their retirement.

  1. Educate employers about the advantages of low-cost ancillary benefits.

Recruiting and retention is a major challenge for executives in the non profit sector. Smaller organizations may not have an HR director who understands the specifics of employee benefits packages, how they are structured, or what’s available.

They need a non profit insurance broker they can trust to explain how ancillary benefits can be bundled with mandatory coverage for maximum savings, and how these benefits can be used as important recruiting and retention tools to keep top talent.

  1. Make sure employees and employers understand exactly what they’re getting, how much money it can save them, and how it can enhance their lives.

Don’t assume anyone in the organization understands the value of employee benefits. Hold a lunch-and-learn seminar, make information available on your website, let employers and their employees, alike, know you are available for questions.

Bottom line: Making insurance for non profit organizations part of your book of business involves a large amount consultative selling. Make sure prospective clients understand that these are employee-funded, voluntary benefits that cost very little compared to the money they will save over their lives.


DBL Broker Spotlight: Coastal Insurance of Rocky Point, NY

DBL Center helps Coastal Insurance navigate the rocky waters of New York Paid Family Leave

The story begins 14 years ago, as many Long Island stories do, in a diner. Through a referral from another local business owner, David Clausen of Coastal Insurance, an independent insurance agency in NY, met with Michael Cohen of DBL Center. Founded in 2001, Coastal was just three years old at the time, and Clausen was looking for a better way to wrCoastal Insurance logoite DBL coverage for his New York business customers.

Fourteen years later, Clausen still visits that same diner on Long Island’s North Shore, and still writes his DBL and enriched DBL policies through The DBL Center. “Whenever we need something, Michael is there,” says Clausen. “It’s a product that works at a great price. The process is efficient for our staff and the service is great. What more could you ask for?”

Paid Family Leave Opens Doors for Coastal Insurance

New York State’s Paid Family Leave Act, introduced in 2017, gave The DBL Center an opportunity to over-deliver and exceed Clausen’s high expectations for exemplary service. When one major carrier exited the DBL market to avoid writing PFL riders, Clausen filled that void, strengthening his business relationship with the carrier and opening doors for Coastal Insurance.

“When PFL became mandatory, some carriers had a lot of other business lines they didn’t want to lose, but they no longer wanted to write DBL,” explains Clausen. “They felt that if they canceled DBL they’d lose the other lines of business.”

Clausen took on one carrier’s DBL lines, writing the policies through The DBL Center to provide a friendlier and more robust alternative to the New York State Insurance Fund. He promised the carrier he would not market other lines of business to the carrier’s existing customers.

Through this mutually profitable relationship, the other carrier began sending referrals to Clausen’s office for high-risk homeowners insurance and other business and personal lines. Coastal Insurance also gained the opportunity to write the DBL policies for the insurance carrier’s 30+ offices across the New York Tri-State area. “It was great to reconnect with the agents, and it opened doors to additional streams of revenue for my agency,” says Clausen. “It was a win-win all the way around.”

The DBL Center Makes Business Insurance Easy for Coastal Insurance

Coastal Insurance serves individuals and businesses across the New York Tri-state area, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, and even as far south as Florida. With a focus on high net worth individuals on Long Island’s North Shore, 70 percent of Coastal’s business is made up of personal insurance, including home/auto umbrella policies. The other 30 percent of Coastal’s customers are small businesses, from $1 billion retailers to pizzerias, doctor and dentist offices and other small businesses. Clausen describes the bulk of this clientele as “the Main Street USA business owner.” And this is where Clausen’s relationship with DBL Center plays an important role.

With its online “quick quote” interface to bind DBL policies under 50 lives in minutes, The DBL Center excels in serving small businesses under 50 lives. “It couldn’t be easier to go online and quote and bind a policy,” says Clausen. “Some other insurance products are a bit more labor intensive.”

He adds, “DBL Center makes it easy to get the product at the right price, quickly and efficiently. I’ve been with The DBL Center for nearly 15 years. Michael and his team make great partners for the independent agent on Long Island and we value that partnership.”


Creating An Employee Wellness Culture In Your Organization

Focusing on employee wellness can reduce disability insurance claims

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.

Reduce Productivity Losses, Improve Profitability through Employee Wellness

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.

 

 


7 Important Ways PFL Differs from DBL Insurance

From the duration to the benefit payouts, DBL and PFL differ significantly.

Credit: Choreograph

Brokers in New York can now sell a new mandatory benefit: Paid Family Leave. We’ve been talking about this new coverage since New York State announced the law in April. As January approaches, the benefit becomes reality in two short months.

As news of the coverage begins to spread, employers and employees have questions. It’s important for brokers to establish themselves as trusted experts and to explain the benefits in a simple, straightforward manner to company executives and HR professionals.

What’s The Difference between PFL and DBL?
The main difference is that employees take DBL if they are injured or ill. Employees take PFL to care for someone else. That’s the most important thing to remember.

However, there may be some overlap. For instance, a new mom may file for DBL if she needs time off for her body to recover from childbirth. When that coverage ends, she can collect PFL to spend time with her new baby.

In most cases, it’s pretty obvious to determine which benefit an employee should collect. And there are some pretty big differences between the two benefits.

Let’s explore seven ways DBL and PFL are different.

1. Eligibility Requirements
Both full-time and part-time employees may qualify for PFL or DBL coverage. Requirements vary.

Full-time employees must work 20+ hours a week and have been employed at least 26 consecutive weeks at their current employer to qualify for PFL.

To qualify for DBL, employees must work the number of hours that the employer considers a full-time work week, and have worked at least four consecutive weeks for any covered employer.

Important to Note: DBL coverage eligibility transfers from one job to another in many cases. PFL does not.

Part-time employees must have completed at least 25 work days at any covered employer to qualify for DBL. To qualify for PFL, 175 days at their current employer is required.

2. Waiting Period
The waiting period for DBL is seven days from the date of filing. Paid Family Leave has no waiting period, so employees can begin collecting benefits immediately.

3. Maximum Leave
DBL has the edge here. Employees can take up to 26 weeks in any consecutive 52-week period.

PFL provides 8 weeks of benefits beginning in 2018, increasing to 12 weeks in 2021 in any consecutive 52-week period.

It’s important to note that employees cannot collect PFL and DBL benefits at the same time. One must stop when the other begins. In that situation, the combined duration for both benefits is capped at 26 weeks during any 52-week time span.

4. Job Protection
As part of the Family Medical Leave Act, which is a national law, employees who take Paid Family Leave receive job protection for the duration of their leave, regardless of the size of the company. Employers must hold their position or provide a comparable position when an employee returns from PFL.

DBL offers no job protection for ill or injured employees.

5. Benefit Offsets
You can collect DBL benefits concurrently with Paid Time Off, such as sick days or vacation time. This can help employees make ends meet by collecting a full paycheck plus DBL benefits for a time.

On the other hand, you cannot use PFL with other PTO.

6. Funding
Employee contributions for DBL are capped at 60 cents per week, regardless of the employee’s average weekly wage.

PFL benefit contributions are capped at 0.126 percent of the employees’ weekly wage, to a maximum of $1.65 per week in 2018.

7. Benefit Payouts
DBL pays 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage up to $170/week. PFL has a more generous benefit, phased in to start at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage in 2018, and topping out at 67 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage by 2021.

The major difference is the cap. While DBL caps out at a less-than-living wage of $170/week, PFL is capped at New York’s Average Weekly Wage, currently $1,305.92.

Enrich DBL Now
In New York, although the maximum employee contribution for DBL is much lower than PFL, so is the benefit payout. In other states that mandate PFL, disability insurance and Paid Family Leave provide comparable benefits.

Employers are wise to consider enriching New York State DBL coverage now. Enriched DBL benefits packages that are more in line with PFL benefits can help reduce fraud, improve employee morale, and increase retention rates. (We’ll talk more about this in a future post, so stay tuned.)

It’s up to you, the broker, to educate your customers on the options today. DBL Center is here to help.

Contact our disability insurance experts about PFL riders and enriched DBL coverage now.