The past year has brought shake-ups for statutory insurance brokers.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
by Dawn Allcot
Things are changing rapidly across the country with new legislation related to PFL for coronavirus. Besides maintaining our position as one of the top insurance wholesalers in New York (and beyond), we are striving to be your COVID-19 insurance resource center in New York and across the northeast U.S.
Even before COVID-19 hit the U.S., the DBL Center had been on top of changing paid family leave benefits in Massachusetts and Connecticut – leading to relationships with brokers in new regions.
Whether you’ve been part of the DBL Center family for decades or have recently started writing your policies through us, we compiled a list of 10 things we bet you didn’t know about DBL Center, one of the top insurance wholesalers in New York, serving the tri-state area, New England, and insurance brokers across the U.S.
1. DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard app makes it easy to remotely manage policies wherever you’re working.
By now, most insurance brokers in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have transitioned to remote work as part of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders from the governors in their states.
As a cloud-based app, DBL Center’s Broker Dashboard makes it easy for our brokers to log in from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection. We introduced our Broker Dashboard three years ago to make it easier for brokers to manage their policies in a world just beginning to embrace a mobile workforce.
Now, the Broker Dashboard has become an essential tool during the pandemic, enabling brokers to continue to bind policies and manage accounts while they practice social distancing and work from home.
2. When you bind DBL / PFL in real time, it is automatically linked to your personalized Broker Dashboard.
Even as we fight COVID-19, business continues. Brokers can bind DBL and PFL in real time through our website and new accounts are automatically linked to your personalized Broker Dashboard for easy remote management.
3. DBL Center brokers receive customized Broker Dashboard reports of renewals, cancellations and reinstated policies every two weeks, making it easier to track what you earn – and what you keep.
Reports are automatically emailed on the first and 15th of every month, enabling you to provide your customers with proactive service and also see where your book of business stands at a glance.
4. DBL Center’s chat feature makes it easy to reach a knowledgeable DBL Center rep to answer questions or write policies at any time.
Pandemic or not, we are here to answer your questions and help you bind new policies. You can start a chat with us any time, from any page of our website. Get answers to questions about new legislation related to coronavirus, insurance claims during the pandemic, or anything else related to PFL or DBL in your state.
5. In the past three years, DBL has expanded its offerings from NY, NJ and Hawaii into Massachusetts and Connecticut as a result of new Paid Family Leave policies.
Our home state of New York set the precedent for generous Paid Family Leave policies three years ago and DBL Center was at the forefront of helping brokers transition to DBL policies with PFL riders. Now, we are here to help Connecticut and Massachusetts brokers write Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage in their own states.
6. DBL Center is your go-to source for ever-changing COVID-19 legislation as it relates to paid leave and disability benefits.
We recently launched a COVID-19 resource center for brokers writing DBL and PFL in New York. We were one of the first in our industry to report on the federal Families First Act and how it will affect insurance claims. We are working virtually round-the-clock to provide updated news and information as it happens.
7. DBL Center’s COVID-19 Claim Pre-screening software can save brokers time by weeding out ineligible PFL or DBL Claims related to the coronavirus.
Many people are trying to make PFL claims due to the coronavirus. But the legislation is very specific as to who qualifies for PFL during the coronavirus. Our pre-screening software saves brokers time by enabling business owners, HR representatives, and individuals determine if they or their employees qualify for PFL as a result of coronavirus. In many cases, the answer is no and they should be applying for aid through the Families First Act or filing for unemployment.
8. DBL Center’s video series, Rep Roundtable, spotlights top insurance carriers discussing industry trends.
Our highly regarded video series helps you get to know the people behind the policies you write, follow emerging industry trends, and get ideas to improve your business.
9. DBL Center is a second-generation, family-owned business founded by David Cohen and now owned by his son Michael Cohen.
David Cohen launched the DBL Center in 1976. Michael Cohen took over as President and CEO after his father’s passing. Michael has expanded the business to provide FMLA coverage in Massachusetts. He has also introduced state-of-the-art technology making it even easier for brokers to “keep more of what they earn,” in the words of the late David Cohen.
10. DBL Center is your white-label, white-glove back office team to get your customers the lowest premiums and best service.
David Cohen started The DBL Center based on a business model that followed the boutique hotels he loved to visit on vacations, delivering white-glove, concierge-level service to brokers in a way that was unprecedented at the time.
David Cohen’s legacy lives on in the creativity, vibrancy, and innovation Michael brings to the company. DBL Center continues to deliver the same level of customer service as it always has, leveraging carrier relationships and cutting-edge technology to provide brokers with the lowest premiums available and the highest levels of service.
FMLA vs PFL: The DBL Center explores the differences
Since New York introduced Paid Family Leave, there has been a lot of confusion. Brokers, HR directors, employers and employees are just beginning to understand what PFL means and who it will affect.
One point of confusion: Many people believe the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the federal law put into place during the Obama administration, is the same as New York’s PFL.
In fact, the two are loosely related, and can be applied in conjunction with each other.
But they are not the same thing.
FMLA vs PFL: What Is The Difference?
For starters, FMLA is a federal level law, while PFL provides benefits to employees at the state level.
The key difference in FMLA vs PFL is that FMLA is not a paid leave. It offers no compensation to employees taking time off. PFL in New York, on the other hand, provides both job protection and income for employees on leave.
Read on as The DBL Center, your expert in Paid Family Leave in the New York Tri-State area, explains more you should know about FMLA vs PFL.
What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The Family Medical Leave Act was signed into law by the federal government to protect the jobs of employees who have to take time off for medical reasons of their own or to care for a sick or disabled family member.
When the employee returns from leave, the employer must be able to provide that employee with the same position they had before or one that is equivalent in pay, benefits, and status. While the employee is out on leave, the employer must also maintain their benefits at the same level as when they were working.
FMLA vs PFL: Who Can Make a Claim?
FMLA legislation applies to people who take medical leave for themselves or take time off to care for a loved one.
On the other hand, Paid Family Leave applies only to employees taking time off to care for family members. Employees can make a PFL claim to take time off to care for ill or disabled family members, infants, adopted or foster children within the first year of care, or any family member while a spouse in the military has been deployed.
Employees who are ill or injured, themselves, would need to file a DBL claim in New York to receive income while they cannot work. They are not eligible for PFL. However, the employee’s job would be protected on the federal level by FMLA if they meet the other requirements, such as total number of hours worked for that employer.
Eligibility Requirements for FMLA vs PFL
FMLA applies to companies with 50+ employees. PFL is available to any eligible employee working for a business with one or more employees. This makes PFL available to more New Yorkers than FMLA.
The employment requirements for PFL are also less stringent. Employees working 20+ hours per week must have worked for 26 consecutive weeks at their current, covered employer to make a PFL claim. Part-time employees who work less than 20 hours per week must have worked at least 175 days for their current employer.
On the other hand, employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours each month for the past 12 months at their current employer to qualify for job protection under FMLA.
FMLA vs PFL: Other Important Differences
There are a few other differences in FMLA vs PFL, such as how the federal government and the state government define family. For instance, the FMLA does not protect the jobs of employees who take time off to care for an in-law. Employees would make a PFL claim, instead, for income and job protection.
The rules of FMLA vs PFL also differ slightly for members of the military and their spouses.
Finally, the federal government offers FMLA time off in increments of 15 minutes, while employees make a PFL claim for time in days, which will gradually increase to a maximum of six weeks by 2021.
NJ Family Leave Act: What Is It?
To further complicate things, if you live in the New York tri-State area, you may also have heard of the New Jersey Family Leave Act. Where does NJ FLA fit in?
New Jersey’s FLA, similarly to the federal FMLA program, does not provide New Jersey workers with paid leave. It only offers job protection to those employees. New Jersey employees would make a TDB (Temporary Disability Benefits) claim to receive income if they are unable to work due to medical reasons.
Similar to PFL in NY, the FLA is broader than the FMLA in its definition of “parents.” New Jersey employees can take time off to care for in-laws, step-parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, or anyone with a parent-child relationship with the employee.
Putting It All Together
New York’s new PFL coverage puts our home state on the cutting edge of protecting and providing for employees caring for family members. It exceeds FMLA coverage in many ways, including a broader scope and paid benefits for claimants.
However, the FMLA was an important stepping stone toward PFL adoption. It is also important to protect employees in other states, who may not have access to PFL benefits to protect their jobs and provide them with a living wage during leave.
As a broker, it’s important to understand the difference in FMLA vs PFL. If your customers ask, you want to be prepared with the right answers. Presenting yourself as an expert in PFL coverage will help you gain the trust of your customers and pave the way to referrals and increased profits through the sale of enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.
PFL is Almost Here:
Visit our PFL resource center to be sure you are ready.