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. 


Short Term Disability, Explained

Because different benefits have different definitions and the devil is in the details…

As more states add legislation for paid family leave and the federal government introduces programs to help manage Covid-related disability claims, short-term disability has become more confusing than ever.

To help brokers understand the profit potential in these benefits and to help business owners sort through the “alphabet soup” of STD (short-term disability), The DBL Center offers your complete guide to short term disability offerings.

What is Short Term Disability (STD)?

Short-term disability is the all-encompassing phrase to describe disability benefits for employees who are unable to work due to illness or injury that did not occur at work. (Workers’ compensation covers work-related illnesses and injuries.)

What is New York State Disability Benefits Law (NYS DBL)?

Disability Benefits Law is New York’s statutory temporary disability insurance coverage. Business owners can write their policies through the state or privately. DBL pays employees 50% of their salary to a maximum of $170 per week of benefit up to 26 weeks.

What is Enriched DBL?

Increasing benefits that extend beyond the statutory DBL (Disability Benefits Law) coverage in the form of a higher maximum benefit. It can also include shorter waiting periods or a longer maximum duration. All eligible employees must be included.

What is NJ TDB?

Temporary Disability Benefits cover New Jersey employees out of work for illness or injury up to 26 weeks. Effective July 1, 2020, the NJ TDB benefit increased to 85% of a worker’s average weekly salary to a maximum of $881 per week. To pay for these benefit increases, for the first time, employees are contributing premiums for the NJTDB coverage on a different taxable wage base than employers. As of 1/1/2020 employees are contributing .26% on the first $134,900 of earnings (maximum annual contribution of $350.74). Employers are contributing based on employees’ earnings capped at $35,500.  As in New York, NJ business owners can write their policies privately or through the state.

What is NYS PFL?

New York State Paid Family Leave covers individuals up to 67% average weekly wage replacement for up to 12 weeks for the birth, adoption or foster care of a child; to care for a seriously ill family member; or to manage the household while a spouse is deployed. It’s written as a rider to DBL.

What is Massachusetts PFML?

Covered individuals are eligible for no more than 26 total weeks in the aggregate of paid family and medical leave in a single benefit year under the new Massachusetts PFML (Paid Family and Medical Leave) legislation. This was introduced to cover individuals out of work to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child in the first year; to care for a family member; or to manage the household while a spouse is deployed. PFML adds medical leave, to care for a family member unable to work due to illness or injury as of July 1, 2021.

What is DI?

Disability Income is private disability coverage offered to individuals or sold as a group plan in states that do not mandate statutory STD.  It encompasses paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits (STD), and long-term disability benefits (LTD).

What is FMLA?

Unlike the benefits above, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that guarantees an employee’s job if they are out for family or medical leave. It does not pay benefits.

What is FFCRA?

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) provides income replacement at 2/3 the regular rate of pay for up to 80 weeks for employees in quarantine as a result of Covid-19 or seeking treatment for coronavirus, and an additional 10 weeks for employees whose school or childcare provider has closed due to the pandemic. This is paid by employers, with federal tax credits to offset the costs.

The DBL Center has also created a handy slide of this information for easy reference. You can view the it below and on our LinkedIn feed.

 

 

 


5 Ways The DBL Center Delivers Better Service

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. Contract

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.


New Jersey Raises TDB Insurance Premiums and Coverage

State of New Jersey announces big news about mandatory TDB insurance for business owners.

If you’re an insurance broker or a business owner in New Jersey or across the New York Tri-State area, this month brought some breaking news you should be aware of. And no, it’s not about the election…. In fact, it relates to mandatory TDB insurance, a product with potential to earn insurance brokers more money.Graphic of the State of New Jersey - TDB insurance

What You Should Know About NJ TDB Insurance

The State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has increased the cap for mandatory Temporary Disability Benefits (New Jersey TDB) and Paid Family Leave up to $633 per week, a modest increase of $29 per week. The Taxable Wage Cap increases to $33,500. And the employee contribution portion of the premium increases by 20 percent. These changes are slated to go into effect January 1, 2017.

The increase also affects New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut businesses with employees who reside in New Jersey—as well as businesses across the country that may hire telecommuters. These companies are required to pay NJ TDB insurance premiums for their employees based in New Jersey.

What This Means to Employers and their Employees

The TDB Insurance increase sounds like a good thing: It means a few extra dollars for workers who are out due to an illness or injury that is not work-related or for someone who has just given birth. But the benefit increase also brings a premium increase of 20 percent, to be covered by employees.

TDB is a shared-cost benefit, where the employee pays a portion of the premium and the employee covers the balance with pre-tax dollars. Benefit premiums often become a part of salary negotiations for highly valued employees. Lower premiums may also aid in recruiting top talent in highly competitive fields. With many businesses and their employees still reeling from health insurance premium increases as a result of the Affordable Care Act, employees may not be happy to hear about a NJ TDB premium increase—especially for a mandatory benefit they might never use.

What This Means for Insurance Brokers

Insurance brokers in New Jersey (and beyond) do have choices when it comes to who writes your customers’ TDB insurance policies. By helping your corporate customers buy TDB insurance in the private market, you can save them thousands of dollars per year—hundreds of dollars in savings per employee—depending on the size of the business.

How You Can Earn 10 Percent Commission Selling TDB

If you are already writing your customers’ P&C insurance policies, health insurance, ancillary benefits, or life insurance, you can shift their State Fund TDB coverage to a private carrier, earn a flat 10 percent commission, and provide your corporate customers substantial savings when they bundle insurance.

You’ve already established the relationship, so you don’t have to invest time and money prospecting for new customers. With a few simple phone calls, you can save your customers money and provide them enhanced value—and earn 10 percent commission.

Selling NJ TDB insurance requires a level of specialized knowledge—and that’s where The DBL Center comes in. Give us a call and supply one of our agents with the group’s Fed ID # and main address location, so we can determine where the account is currently placed.  Whether it’s with the State Fund or a private insurer, one of our agents will tell you exactly what to say to sell privatized TDB insurance and save your customers money on their premiums, while receiving the exact same benefits if they need it.

Business Owners Have Choices

The State Fund automatically writes TDB insurance coverage for all business owners. But most business owners, CEOs, CFOs, and HR directors don’t realize they have a choice and can purchase their TDB insurance privately to enjoy lower premiums and a higher level of customer service with a broker they already know and trust.

It’s up to you, the broker—with the constant support of The DBL Center’s expert staff—to share this information and show your customers the savings.

Sell NJ TDB Insurance, Earn Commission: It’s that Easy

Adding private TDB insurance coverage to your offerings is easy with The DBL Center by your side. We even have a website set up to assist. Visit www.eztdb.com for more information on how you can expand your book of business with TDB insurance. Simply print and fill out this form to start providing your customers with lower premiums on TDB insurance and the level of white glove service they deserve.


Disability Insurance Reduces Workers' Comp Claims, Studies Show

Disability insurance can reduce costs for employers.

No matter how diligent an employer is about workplace safety, accidents happen. Workplace accidents—and employees who lose time due to workers’ compensation claims—can damage company morale and cost employers additional time and money. HR Executive Thinks About Disability Insurance Benefits

However, a recent report shows that 47 percent of large companies who offer disability insurance (DI) show a decrease in workers’ comp claims. In addition, 43 percent of small businesses and 33 percent of mid-sized companies reported a drop in claims. The reduction in claims was substantial for all companies: 15 percent of all employers reported declines of 50 percent or more, and 15 percent reported declines of 25 to 49 percent.

Disability insurance, including mandatory or enhanced DBL coverage in New York, TDB in New Jersey and TDI in Hawaii, as well as private Short Term Disability and Long-Term Disability, typically pays faster than workers’ comp cases, and it’s easier for employees to file a claim. It’s no wonder employees would rather be paid through insurance coverage, especially when the broker can walk them through the claims process and provide white-glove service every step of the way!

In addition, employees could wait months for a workers’ compensation claim to begin paying. Most people cannot live without a paycheck—especially as medical bills begin to add up. After a one-week waiting period in New York, employees can begin collecting DBL benefits for up to 26 consecutive weeks.

Disability Coverage: A Smart Financial Choice for Employers

It’s faster and easier for employees to file disability insurance claims than workers’ compensation claims. And it’s also faster and easier for employers, with less paperwork to fill out. Additionally, many workers’ compensation cases end up in court to prove the extent of the injuries. Disability insurance claims do not require the business to retain legal counsel to defend itself in a workers’ comp case, saving employers both time and money.

While it should be obvious that workers’ comp only applies to on-the-job injuries, the reduction in claims when other options, such as state-mandated disability coverage, short-term disability, or long-term disability insurance—is offered might make HR directors and other business leaders wonder about the incidence of workers’ compensation fraud. Fraudulent claims hurt everyone, costing employers in real dollars, wasted time, and damaged employee morale.

Disability Insurance Protects Employees from Any Illness or Injury

It’s important to reiterate that workers’ comp should only cover on-the-job accidents or injuries. But off-the-job injuries are far more likely to occur, with 729 people injured every 10 minutes, according to the National Safety Council. Businesses collectively lose more than $15 million from these injuries.

While a good disability benefits package won’t eliminate these costs, it can improve employee retention following an accident, and alleviate some of the financial burden on an injured or ill employee—perhaps resulting in a faster recovery and return to work.

Explore Your Disability Options with The DBL Center

If you own a business in the state of New York, New Jersey or Hawaii, you already provide your employees with mandatory disability coverage (DBL, TDB, and TDI, respectively.) An enhanced benefits package may help reduce workers’ comp claims further by enabling better claim service and greater benefits. Businesses in other states should also consider offering STD or LTD coverage to their employees to reduce workers’ comp claims and save money.

The DBL Center Ltd. can help.