Insurance Brokers: Gain the Advantage with a More Productive Routine

As children across the northeast return to classrooms, many for the first time since March 2020, working parents everywhere also settle into new routines. With workplaces now open again and in-person networking events, business lunches, and other opportunities for connection expanding, many insurance brokers’ workdays are shifting to a “new normal.”

It’s the same for us here at The DBL Center, where we are planning in-person meetings and events and looking forward to reconnecting with loyal clients we may not have seen face-to-face in nearly two years.

Whether you’re struggling with a new routine or looking forward to being back in the office, these tips can help.

Consider What Worked During the Pandemic and Maintain Those New Habits

The pandemic brought many struggles and challenges, but there were also a few bright spots for individuals and businesses for those who knew where to look. For instance, the work-from-home revolution sparked by the pandemic may have actually brought about increased productivity for some workers.

In a January 2021 report, more than 66% of employers said they saw increased productivity amongst their remote workers, while 83% of employees agreed they don’t need to be in the office to be productive. If you’ve noticed you can complete deep focus work better outside the office – especially with the kids at school and not home to interrupt – consider taking one day a week to work from home. You may also offer employees flex-time or remote working hours to garner the same results. You might save money on office overhead costs and create happier, more productive employees.

During the pandemic, businesses also embraced new technologies to stay productive and connected. The DBL Center had just begun distributing a webinar about our Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker just prior to the pandemic. We ramped up those efforts during the pandemic and we intend to continue that trend to ensure that insurance brokers can access the information they need about the Broker Dashboard in an easy way.

Reach Out to Rebuild Connections

We missed our annual summer soiree the past two years and, of course, our 2020 holiday party. In general, we’ve missed face-to-face connections with our insurance broker community over the past year-and-a-half.

While not everyone is ready for large-scale networking events or even business lunches, make it a point to reach out by phone and gauge the interest of your best clients and closest colleagues to meet in person at some point this fall.

Leverage Technology Designed to Keep Insurance Brokers More Organized

Of course, it’s the small, daily activities that keep your business running full throttle and ready to grow. Stay on top of renewals and cancellations and make it a point to touch base with clients whose policies are up for renewal.  If you haven’t taken advantage of our free software, click here to book a demo today.

The workplace is changing and employees are demanding more than ever. See if now is the time to upgrade your clients’ ancillary benefits packages, provide Group Life / AD&D, or introduce them to voluntary worksite benefits and critical illness insurance, which can help alleviate financial burdens if someone is hospitalized or facing high medical bills due to illness or injury.

Our Broker Dashboard makes it easy for you to get into the habit of reaching out to clients facing renewals, as well as track your overall revenue as you grow your book of business.

Get Ready to Embrace Change – Again

With a new governor in New York and paid family leave programs gaining traction across the country, the last quarter of 2021 could bring even more changes and opportunities within the statutory insurance industry.

Getting into a routine now can help you act quickly and pivot to embrace opportunities as they open. As always, The DBL Center remains your number one source for information on the statutory insurance industry, DBL in NY, New Jersey TDB, and Paid Family and Medical Leave programs across the U.S.

Read on to learn more about opportunities for statutory insurance brokers now and in the future.


Opportunities Grow for Statutory Insurance Brokers

Map of United States

The past year has brought shake-ups for statutory insurance brokers.

  • Record-high rate hikes for temporary disability benefits (TDB) in New Jersey
  • New Family Leave Insurance benefits for New Jersey
  • Increased benefits for Paid Family Leave in New York
  • The introduction of family and medical leave coverage in two more New England states

Smart insurance brokers can easily find a silver lining in much of the new legislation. Opportunities exist for statutory insurance brokers to expand into new regions, upsell enriched coverage, and guide business owners toward the benefits of a private plan rather than writing their insurance through their state’s fund.

In fact, 37 states threw their hats in the ring this past election to pass Paid Family Leave acts on a state level. As more states embrace paid family leave legislation, it could ultimately become federal, where it would work in conjunction with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers unpaid job protection for those who are out of work due to illness or to care for family members.”

Statutory Disability Coverage Across the U.S.

Moving into 2021, nine states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico offer statutory disability plans to employees. Of those states, only Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York provide options to privatize statutory disability through an independent insurance carrier.

Take a look at this chart to see which states offer self-funding options in lieu of the state plan, and also which states permit private coverage through an insurance company.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Plans Across the U.S. at a Glance

California, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island offer Paid Family Leave as subsets of statutory disability plans. For instance, PFL in New York is written as a rider to DBL coverage.

In New Jersey, Family Leave Insurance is included automatically with TDB premiums. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act covers both family leave and medical leave. It can be written through the state fund or through a private insurance carrier.

It is important to note that workers cannot collect statutory disability or paid family leave concurrently with unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation benefits.

2020 Brought Changes to Statutory Disability and Paid Family and Medical Leave

Let’s take a look at the year in review and some of the changes that were instituted for statutory disability and family medical leave coverage across the U.S.

After Waiving the Signature Requirement to Privatize TDB, New Jersey Increased Premiums and Benefits

In 2019, New Jersey waived the signature requirement for employers to obtain temporary disability benefits coverage through a private carrier. In the past, employers needed to obtain signature consent from 50% + 1 of employees to privatize TDB in New Jersey.

This presented opportunities for brokers, since it became easier than ever to convince business owners to switch to a private carrier for superior service, more flexible benefits, and up to 20% cost savings.

In 2020, New Jersey increased TDB insurance premiums, but also expanded disability coverage up 85% of a worker’s average weekly wage, up to $881 per week. The state also expanded its Family Leave Insurance benefits and eliminated the 7-day waiting period to begin collecting FLI benefits.

The increased premiums give business owners more reasons than ever to write their TDB coverage through a private insurance broker.

New York Increased PFL Coverage as Per Initial Plans

New York State made headlines in 2017 when it introduced one of the most robust Paid Family Leave plans in all 50 states, rivaling California’s generous policy.

Benefits continued to increase through 2021, when they will reach a high of 67% of the current statewide average weekly wage (AWW). Workers can collect up to $971.61 per week in 2021.

With PFL benefits at their maximum, it’s more important than ever for New York business owners to consider enriching DBL coverage so it is in line with PFL.

Massachusetts Signed the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

Massachusetts announced the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act, PFML, in the middle of the year, with coverage beginning January 1, 2021. These benefits cover paid leave to care for infants, or children newly adopted or fostered within the past 12 months. Additional benefits will roll out July 1, 2021, with time off to care for any family member with a serious health condition.

Connecticut Introduced Family and Medical Leave Insurance

Following in the steps of neighboring New York and Massachusetts, Connecticut also introduced a Paid Family Medical Leave Act that goes into effect January 1, 2022, but employers must register with the CT Paid Leave Authority by December 31, 2020. Payroll deductions for PFML begin on January 1, 2021 for the state plan.

Private Plans Create Happy Customers

As more states add paid family leave benefits to their statutory disability programs, it’s important to understand the opportunities insurance brokers have to give their customers top-notch service, flexible claims, and potentially lower premiums through private coverage.

Reference the PDF here for clarity on the states currently offering PFL, FMLA and statutory disability or rolling out programs in the new year so you can be prepared to provide your customers with the best statutory disability benefits for their money.

To provide quotes for statutory disability for new customers, you’ll need a census containing the ages, genders, and salaries of all the owners and employees of the corporation. Reach out to The DBL Center through our chat box or call us at 631.293.5100 to get started.

 

 

 


Is Virtual Selling Enough for Insurance Brokers?

We all know 2020 presented major challenges for insurance brokers. I discussed some of these challenges with Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, and Michael Pelligrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative in the video, “Getting Creative in the Time of Covid-19.”

So much has changed this year – but adapting is an important part of success.

Heading into Thanksgiving we would look forward to The DBL Center’s Annual Holiday Party the first week in December. Of course, we aren’t holding the event this year due to the pandemic. 

A few months ago, I would have connected with brokers, carriers, and colleagues at our summer gathering. I’d been planning a get-together in Manhattan, instead of one of our usual Long Island venues. The location would have made it easier for those out of state to join in the fun and would have given my employees and favorite people a unique and memorable experience. (Needless to say, we had to cancel.)

We all understand that insurance is a commodity. We aren’t selling DBL or TDB or PFML, specifically. We are selling a white glove experience. Stellar customer service. State of the art technology. 

Aside from reduced premium rates and better, more flexible coverage, it’s the service that sets private disability insurance apart from the state plans.

And with that service comes perks for your best customers. Holiday parties. Sporting event or concert tickets. It’s all a part of the industry and it helps us build better relationships to grow loyal customers. After all, (you’ve heard it before) it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.

Connecting… Virtually

Insurance brokers can hold meetings by phone or video. We can host virtual Zoom gatherings, and even virtual Zoom happy hours to create a more casual environment for connection. But it’s still not the same as taking your favorite customers out for drinks, meeting courtside at a Knicks game, or sharing dinner overlooking the Long Island Sound.

As a father, I’ve watched my boys struggle with virtual schooling and being unable to see their classmates since March. Fortunately, they just went back full time. But we are all counting the days, knowing nothing is permanent as Long Island communities around us shift to “Yellow” status and… who knows what happens after that?

The teachers try their hardest to deliver a quality education online. But they are missing that personal connection. A hand on a shoulder. The nuances of facial expressions. Easy, convenient interaction without lag or household distractions. 

Insurance brokers, right now, face the same challenges as teachers in forging a personal connection with our customers. And, in the world of consultative selling, we do act as educators for our customers, imparting the information they need to make the best decisions for their businesses.

So what can we do to create personal connections when we can’t meet face-to-face?

Three Tips for Insurance Brokers to Connect to Clients During the Pandemic

Things are different right now. And not in a good way. But we have to keep going, just as teachers have done, to do our jobs and build success.

If you haven’t already done so, the pandemic is a good time to establish a strong digital marketing campaign. It’s more important than ever to deliver value to our customers and the business owners in our region.

Leverage email – Send touch-base emails more frequently than usual to stay front-of-mind. Mass emails that share helpful tips and information, as well as personalized emails to foster connections, are quick, easy, and effective to stay in touch with your customers.

Email generates $38 of revenue for every $1 spent, according to a Hubspot survey. Nearly 4 billion people use email daily. And 35% of online marketers send their customers 3 to 5 emails per week. So don’t worry about reaching out too often. You don’t want to be forgotten amidst all the other distractions your customers face every day.

Pick up the phone – As early as April 2020, just a month into the pandemic, workers started suffering from Zoom fatigue, which occurs due to the exhaustion of constant visual engagement forced by video calls. Instead of taking the extra time and energy to schedule a call and email the other party a conference link, pick up the phone for an old-fashioned voice conversation. 

This impromptu, casual conference can help create a better rapport, offering more time and energy for personal conversation. You might find a phone call is more efficient and, ironically, more personal and heartfelt, than a Zoom call initiated for the sole purpose of conducting specific business. 

Of course, arm yourself with the latest industry news to help customers understand how claims have changed in the time of Covid. As much as the personal connection, business owners will appreciate this type of valuable information and will rely on you as a trusted resource – which can result in future sales and upsells.

Plan for the future – We won’t always be on lockdown. The pandemic will end someday, especially with news of a vaccine on the horizon. 

Whether you’re on Zoom calls, the phone, or via email or social media, engage your customers with positive thinking and something to look forward to. Start talking about future plans for traveling when the pandemic ends. Even if you’re joking about putting meetings on the calendar for late 2021, you’re helping your customers see a light at the end of the tunnel.

This summer, as stores and restaurants started re-opening under strict guidelines, I kept saying, “Stop talking about a second wave.” I’m still saying it. Be realistic, but think positively, too. It’s all we’ve got right now as a community.

Are these virtual connections enough to keep customers and grow your book of business? Time will tell. What’s working for you? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts. 


New York PFL vs. New York State Sick Leave Act: What Insurance Brokers Need to Know

 

New York insurance brokers may be getting questions from customers about the New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) act, which went into effect September 30, 2020. However, employees cannot take paid sick leave through the state law until January 1, 2021, or at a time after that date if their employer requires them to accrue paid time off.

A direct result of the coronavirus pandemic to help contain the spread of the virus by encouraging employees to stay home, with pay, if they are not feeling well, the Paid Sick Leave Law mandates that employers of any size now provide paid sick leave to employees.

Unlike New York State DBL benefits or Paid Family Leave (PFL), New York State Sick Leave  (NYSSL) is funded entirely by employers through payroll. It is not an insurance benefit.

However, employers may have questions about when employees can use their paid sick leave and when they need to file a claim for DBL or PFL. It helps brokers to be aware of the new legislation to reduce unnecessary or unqualified DBL and PFL claims in New York.

New York PFL v. DBL v. NYSSL

The duration of NYSSL is much shorter than New York State’s short-term disability coverage or PFL coverage.

Here are a few other differences between the three types of leave:

DBL / Enriched DBL

DBL or enriched DBL insurance provides partial pay to employees who are seriously ill or injured and cannot perform their normal job functions for up to 26 weeks. The DBL Center can help you bind DBL & Enriched coverage under 50 lives easily online here.

New York State Paid Family Leave (NYS PFL)

Written as a mandatory rider  to statutory DBL coverage, PFL in New York provides partial pay to employees taking time off to care for an ill family member, a newborn (or newly adopted or newly fostered) child within the first year, or to manage family matters while a military spouse is deployed. The maximum duration for Paid Family Leave is 12 weeks. Learn more about New York State PFL coverage, first introduced in 2017, here.

NYSSL

Introduced in September 2020 and going into effect on January 1, 2021, Paid Sick Leave provides full pay for up to 56 hours (in some cases) for employees who are:

  • Sick or injured
  • Caring for family members who are sick or injured
  • Under quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19
  • Caring for minor family members under quarantine

The New York State Sick Leave law (NYSSL) also covers a host of other circumstances for which employees may need time off, including:

  • Preventative care
  • Mental health
  • Medical or mental health treatments
  • Domestic violence incidents

Other Differences You Need to Know About DBL/PFL and NYSSL

The reason for Paid Family Leave or DBL must be documented on the appropriate claims form. On the other hand, the reasons for taking NYSSL can remain confidential. Employers may not require employees to disclose any confidential information regarding their need for sick time.

In addition, the definition of a family member as it relates to paid sick leave extends beyond the PFL definition to include siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, and the children or parents of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.

How Employers Can Issue New York State Sick Leave

Business owners in New York have a choice to “frontload” employees’ sick time at the beginning of the calendar year, offering paid sick leave from day one that the benefit goes into effect (January 1, 2021). Or, employers may permit employees to accrue sick time at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 or 56 hours in total – depending on the company size.

Employers with at least 100 employees must provide 56 hours paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than 100 employees or fewer than five employees but a net income of $1 million for the prior tax year must provide 40 hours paid sick leave.

Businesses with fewer than five employees but less than $1 million in net income must allow 40 hours of unpaid sick leave with no disciplinary action permitted for employees who take that time off without pay.

Should Your Customers’ Employees File a DBL or PFL Claim?

The decision for an employee to take paid sick time or to file a DBL or PFL claim largely comes down to the duration of the time off required and, of course, the reason. See below:

  • DBL insurance claims provide partial pay for severe illnesses or injuries that require more than a few days or a week out of work.
  • PFL, on the other hand, covers employees when they need to care for someone else for an extended time period of up to 12 weeks.
  • NYSSL offers full pay up to the amount of accrued sick time. It permits parents to stay home for a short duration with a sick or feverish child without losing a day’s pay. It also makes it financially easier for employees who are feeling under the weather to call out sick and avoid spreading germs.

Help Your Customers Understand the New Laws

Until now, Paid Time Off remained the choice of New York State business owners. Many companies provided generous PTO while others didn’t. Some small business didn’t even have a written policy but trusted their workers not to take unnecessary time off.

By standardizing PTO under the NYSSL, and outlining specific permissible reasons for sick time, New York State has eliminated confusion, miscommunication, or gray areas surrounding PTO.

By understanding the new law, you can help your customers reduce unnecessary DBL or PFL claims and continue to act as a resource for them when it comes to managing employee benefits.


Schedule a Look into the Future of Disability Insurance Now

Schedule your Broker Dashboard webinar demo today. 

Watching the Yankees on TV with my sons the other night, I had the thought, for the first time in my life, that we’re living in the future. The future we grew up with in fiction – the Jetsons and the rest of the science fiction we watched as kids – is here now. With the changes the pandemic brought to Major League Baseball, the Yankees were playing the Tampa Bay Rays at a stadium in California for the American League East title – as holographic fans cheered in the stands.

We hold multi-person videoconferences seamlessly. We have voice-controlled, artificially intelligent personal assistants. We work from home with powerful Wifi signals keeping us in constant contact with coworkers and clients. We carry around voice-activated mini-computers more powerful than NASA computers from 50 years ago in the palm of our hand. The latest iPhone carries more than 100,000 times the processing power of the computers that took Apollo 11 safely to the moon in 1969.

We have TVs we hang on our walls and phones we put in our pockets! But where are our flying cars? For a variety of reasons, that probably wouldn’t end well. The vehicles of the future are likely to be autonomous but not airborne.

In essence: The world is changing quickly. While the P&C insurance industry has not usually been ahead of the curve when it comes to the adoption of new technologies that is changing, too.

The DBL Center: The Future of Statutory Disability Insurance

For years, The DBL Center has been breaking new ground when it comes to providing superior customer service and a tech-forward approach to statutory disability sales for our brokers.

We have to look back and laugh at this blog from January 2017, where we doubted the effectiveness of chat-bots and AI in the P&C insurance industry. The chat box we added to our site in 2019 keeps us in constant contact with our brokers to answer questions and improve the stellar white glove service we have always offered.

The chat-bot can answer basic questions 24/7 but can also put you in touch with a real live person from The DBL Center team to answer your questions in a timely manner. We love that technology helps us stay in touch with our brokers – so you can serve your customers better at any time of day in this “always-on” world.

Broker Dashboard App Revolutionizes Statutory Disability Insurance in New York and New Jersey

Back in spring of 2017, The DBL Center also teased the introduction of a cloud-based application that would allow brokers to:

  • Write quotes
  •  Track renewals and cancellations
  •  Track commissions

On August 8, 2017, the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker desktop app was born. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a dashboard that provides our brokers with everything they need from an account management basis to compare premiums and bind policies easily from anywhere they happen to be. It is available free to DBL Center brokers for accounts you write through us.

Accessible from mobile phone, PC, or desktop computer, the Broker Dashboard was met with accolades from our brokers as a great way to stay on top of renewals and cancellations and to manage their business from anywhere.

And then the pandemic hit.

The Broker Dashboard became more than just a “nice-to-have” resource, but a necessity to allow our brokers to access information about their customers from anywhere – including their home offices.  Brokers also receive bi-monthly reminders of cases that are pending non pay as a result of the extended grace periods due to the New York governor’s moratorium.

Broker Dashboard Increases Functionality and Adds New Features with iOS App

And then, in September 2020, nearly 3 years from the date of its launch, the Broker Dashboard got its own app in the Apple App store. Available for iOS users (iPhone and iPad mobile devices) the app brings all the functionality of the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker SaaS to your mobile device

When you’re on a mobile device, logging onto the web takes added bandwidth and can be slow to load. An app, on the other hand, is easy to access with just a click on your iPhone or iPad.

Just like the Broker Dashboard desktop app, the mobile app is free to our brokers for the accounts you write through The DBL Center.

User-friendly and intuitive, the app is the future of statutory disability insurance in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts – and beyond.

If you’re interested in a free demo of the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker and its new features, reach out today. You’ll gain free access to the Broker Dashboard for all your accounts.

The statutory insurance business is built on return customers and repetitive commissions. As my father, DBL Center founder David Cohen, used to say, “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”

Let The DBL Center help you retain more of your business – even in these challenging times. Schedule your Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker live demo with me today.


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.