On the Mic with Mike: Selena Kutschera Talks About PFL, DBL and the Benefits of the Broker Dashboard

Working with the top insurance wholesaler in NY gives Selena a chance to make a difference for brokers

Selena Kutschera, DBL Center’s Director of DBL and TDB never actually applied to work at DBL Center. She joined the family when DBL Center acquired competitor Combined DBL, a competitive insurance wholesaler in NY, in 2014.

How she got the job at Combined DBL, straight out of college with no insurance industry experience, is quite a story.

“I found the job listing in the newspaper,” she tells DBL Center owner and president Michael Cohen. “I begged for an interview, but they had already closed out their interviews because they knew who they were going to hire.”

Kutschera didn’t stop pushing for the interview, however, and, ultimately, got the job. Through her hard work and perseverance, she’s become a leader in wholesale TDB and DBL sales.

It was this tenacity that impressed DBL Center founder David Cohen at the time of the acquisition. “That was the kind of personality my father was looking for,” Michael Cohen recalls. “I remember him saying, ‘I don’t know if we’ll get the deal, but Selena will join us.’ We did make the deal and here we are, five years later.”

Read on to learn how Selena Kutschera is helping DBL Center brokers manage the challenges of PFL and prepare for new opportunities in New Jersey.

Then watch the video to find out Selena’s (second) favorite word, what musician she’s not-so-secretly obsessed with, and what she’d be doing if she wasn’t serving the DBL and TDB insurance needs at one of the top insurance wholesalers in NY.

Michael Cohen: What’s the most exciting thing that we’ve done as a team, in your opinion, since the acquisition?
Selena: The program – the Broker Dashboard. Just coming together and building something, changing the game.

Michael: How has that been an upside for you?
Selena: We can track now. We can track the business. We can track what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained, the brokers, who’s writing, who’s not writing. It just makes it easier.

Michael: Can you describe the process we use when we get together and track retention and new business?
Selena: When we look at our book through the Broker Dashboard, we look at what we can keep out of what’s lost. Our cancellations. We know DBL’s a moving target. Your DBL’s come on, they come off, there are non-pays all the time. That’s the first thing we address, the non-pays. Can we get them reinstated? If we can, that puts business back into the books.

Any time coverage is replaced, we want to find out why it was replaced. Was it something we lost? Did the broker lose it? Did they replace it on us, and why did they replace it? We have to analyze what happened—and why—to get that business back.

Michael: What has the feedback been from the brokers since we implemented the dashboard?
Selena: They’re surprised about their non-pays and what’s cancelled and what’s not.

Michael: Everyone thought Paid Family Leave was going to be a home run, but in the beginning, it wasn’t. Why? And what have you been doing to help overcome those challenges?
Selena: It just added another layer of tracking. Who doesn’t want to pay their PFL [rider]? Who didn’t think they needed Paid Family Leave? They pay the DBL; they don’t pay the PFL. That’s really been the issue. Now, we’re getting the complaints that the insured made the payment, but they only paid a portion of it, or they shortchanged it. So now it’s a matter of them understanding how to pay the bills.

Mike: What do you feel is the biggest dilemma in the overall statutory environment? You’re in the trenches and you’re also involved in commissions. What’s an issue for us that’s outside of our control as a wholesale insurance broker in NY?
Selena: I guess what’s outside of our control is just the insureds making payments. That’s out of our control as an insurance wholesaler in NY. Is the $170 [weekly] benefit in New York State for disability low? Absolutely.

What I do find is some employers want to buy up and some employers don’t want to hear it. I agree with the buying up because the reality is the Paid Family Leave is for somebody else—to take care of a baby, child, or family member—and the disability is for yourself. And if you need to go out on disability, why do you need to go out at a $170, when the PFL benefit is $750 and change? It’s $752 [for 2019].

Mike: Are you excited about what’s happening in Jersey? Explain that.
Selena: Absolutely! Jersey just lifted its signature requirement—there’s no more signature requirement to move to a private carrier. So, it makes it easier for us to write this product, as 98% of it sits with the state right now. And the benefit is going up tremendously.

If you’re shopping for a new insurance wholesaler in NY or NJ or need help writing TDB or DBL, let Selena Kutschera and DBL Center help you. Reach out today.


DBL Center Acquires DBL Advantage, Starts the New Year with Major Growth Initiative

Top New York insurance wholesaler announces the acquisition of DBL Advantage Etc. Ltd

Effectively immediately on January 1, 2019, the DBL Center Ltd. has acquired DBL Advantage Etc. Ltd., a New York-based licensed General Agency specializing in NYS DBL, Paid Family Leave,  NJ TDB and group ancillary benefits. The synergy between the two company’s insurance lines, as well as the mutual carriers and industry partnerships developed by both firms over several decades, made the acquisition the next logical step in The DBL Center’s growth.

DBL Center: Celebrating a Rich History and a Strong Future

The DBL Center was founded in 1976 by David J. Cohen. Now under the guidance and leadership of Michael Cohen, the company is one of the largest insurance wholesalers in the New York Tri-state area. In 2014, The DBL Center Ltd. acquired Combined DBL, a Long Island-based General Agency, to expand its ability to serve customers in the NJ TDB, NYS DBL, and group ancillary markets.

In addition to these noteworthy acquisitions, the past decade has brought unprecedented growth, market expansion, and new technologies to the company. The acquisition of DBL Advantage is a testament to, and a direct result of, DBL Center’s rapid expansion and market position.

How the Acquisition Will Affect NJ TDB and NYS DBL Brokers

Expanding The DBL Center’s market share and increasing the general agency’s leverage in the marketplace, the acquisition provides outstanding benefits to new and existing DBL Center brokers. The acquisition promises to strengthen the position of The DBL Center and its brokers in the statutory disability, PFL, NJTDB, and group ancillary markets, resulting in lower rates, higher commissions, and more options.

“The combination of premium between DBL Advantage and the DBL Center enables the DBL Center to provide brokers with higher compensation on new DBL and PFL business placed after the first of the year and moving on through 2019,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen.

“New brokers that came to us as part of the acquisition will enjoy additional office staff to answer all their questions and to provide the full, white-glove back-office support DBL Center is known for,” Cohen says. “With generous commissions, multi-line discounts, and the most advanced technology available to P&C brokers, we have no doubt that our newest customers will view the acquisition as a favorable transition, and we welcome DBL Advantage brokers to the DBL Center family.”

White-Glove Support and the Latest Technology

The DBL Center will provide new customers with a designated account manager for over- and under-50 employee cases, as well as sales representatives to assist in the cross-selling of ancillary product lines.

“Working with DBL Center, brokers will discover multiple ways to round out their book of business and earn additional compensation through the sale of Group Life / AD&D coverage, group long-term disability, dental, and vision benefits,” Cohen says.

In addition, new brokers will gain free access to the DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard, a cloud-based app that enables brokers to track accounts and renewals, receive monthly reports on cancellations and reinstatements, and receive an earnings report on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

With the white-glove service brokers have come to expect for more than 40 years, along with the latest technology and innovative solutions to the challenges today’s NJ TDB and NYS DBL brokers face, DBL Center is ready to move to the next phase of growth.

“To say we are excited about the future is an understatement,” Cohen says. “As the NYS DBL and NJ TDB markets change and evolve, The DBL Center keeps pace, providing our brokers with all the support they need to thrive.”

 


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.


3 Ways DBL Insurance Opens Doors for P&C Brokers

New York business owners need more than just DBL insurance coverage

The DBL insurance industry recently experienced a shake-up when New York State passed a law requiring mandatory Paid Family Leave coverage, to be written as a rider to NYS DBL policies. Several carriers exited the DBL insurance market because they didn’t want to write PFL riders, which left many brokers looking to replace their DBL policies.

Brokers had two choices: Lose the DBL business or leave their existing carriers to write DBL insurance policies elsewhere. DBL Center brokers who relied on DBL Center as their back-office staff were able to move those DBL policies with ease, impress their customers, and strengthen their position in the marketplace.

DBL Policies Open Doors

These brokers found that DBL insurance policies open doors to more business. This has always been true, but it’s even more relevant now, in 2018, when fewer carriers are writing DBL insurance coverage.

If you are the broker who can write these policies for New York State business owners, provide exemplary service, and build trust with your customers, they will come to you for all their insurance needs.

For P&C brokers, DBL insurance can act as your foot in the door, giving you the chance to write high-commission policies like home, auto or even umbrella policies for business owners and their employees.

Let’s look at some of the opportunities available to P&C brokers to expand their book of business with new and existing DBL insurance customers.

1. Smart business owners will consider expanding employee benefits packages with ancillary lines of coverage.

We’ve talked in-depth about enriching DBL coverage in light of the new PFL law. But business owners can also improve employee retention with ancillary benefits such as vision, dental, and life insurance.

The DBL Center can provide a discounted benefits package when you bundle these ancillary lines with an enriched DBL package, allowing you to provide your customers with even more value.

2. Business owners will rely on someone they can trust to write their personal insurance policies.

In addition to business insurance and employee benefits, business owners also need insurance for their personal assets. As an insurance broker, you know that many business owners possess one or more of the following: high-value homes, vacation homes, automobiles, recreational vehicles, or boats.

Once you’ve established trust as their broker of choice for mandatory DBL insurance or enriched DBL coverage, it’s easy to ask your business customers if they’d like a quote on an umbrella policy to cover their home/auto and other possessions requiring insurance. They might also consider purchasing life insurance through your brokerage.

Most consumers understand that when they do business through one company, they can get the best deals and preferred service as a loyal customer. It’s your job, as their broker, to remind them about your other insurance lines and the savings you can offer them. A new sale and a large commission check could be just that easy.

3. Business owners may refer their employees to you for their personal insurance coverage.

Not only do business owners have cars, homes, and boats to insure, so do many of their employees. What if you could earn referrals from your biggest accounts, just by providing excellent service and low rates to the owner of the company? You can increase your commission checks by writing homeowners’ insurance, auto insurance, umbrella policies, renters’ insurance, or whole- or term-life insurance policies.

More Than Just DBL Insurance

In New York, DBL Center specializes in DBL, PFL and ancillary benefits. We couldn’t tell you how to sell your P&C lines or where to go for the best rates.

But we can remind you that almost every business owner needs DBL coverage. And with our back-office staff providing white-glove service, as well as our new Net Revenue Tracker app giving you fast, convenient access to all your accounts, we make it easy for you to sell DBL and maintain your DBL accounts.

By doing so, the DBL Center opens doors for you to expand your book of business with the lines that you know best such as health, life, home and auto insurance and umbrella policies.

Need more information about DBL and PFL? Need tips on marketing DBL insurance coverage? We are here to help. Give us a call at (631) 293.5100 or get a quick quote now.


PFL Claim Forms and More - DBL Center Launches Paid Family Leave Resource Center

 

New Paid Family Leave Resource Center presents PFL claim forms and more

 

We are well into 2018 and, as a New York insurance broker, you’ve got the basics of Paid Family Leave down.

It’s the new comprehensive, mandatory insurance that provides the financial support needed for new parents, military spouses, and those caring for aging or ill loved ones. It’s added as rider to your customer’s existing DBL policies in New York. That part should have already been done.

But now the fun for brokers begins, because your customers still have questions.

  • How do I make a PFL claim?
  • Where can I find PFL claim forms?
  • Should I file for DBL or PFL?
  • Where does the Family Medical Leave Act fit in?

This is new territory for CEOs, HR directors, and insurance brokers, too.

But the DBL Center, with our commitment to white glove service, has the answers and PFL claim forms our brokers and their customers need.

We recently launched a new Paid Family Leave resource center. It’s a single-scroll page within our InsuranceWholesaler.net website that provides a host of information about Paid Family Leave in New York, including PFL claim forms, handy PDFs, and more.

The PFL Claim Forms and Documents You Need

We’ve heard from our brokers that many of their customers are looking for PFL claim forms. It’s important to note that The DBL Center does not process insurance claims. We are an insurance wholesaler dedicated to providing the best service to our brokers.

Because our job is to serve our brokers, we’ve stocked our Paid Family Leave Resource Center with handy links and PDFs, including the IRS form that describe the tax ramifications of PFL, and a document showing the current PFL rates.

We’ve also provided links to PFL claim forms. There are multiple PFL Claim forms. Which one you use depends on whether the paid leave is for bonding with an infant or adopted child, caring for a sick or aging relative, or caring for a family while a military spouse is deployed. We’ve provided links to all of them.

Finally, we’ve uploaded PFL claim forms branded for each of the three major carriers and have them housed in Dropbox for easy download. Get Shelterpoint, AmTrust, and Standard Security PFL claim forms here.

How Much Will PFL Cost Your Employees?

The DBL Center is proud to be the first insurance wholesaler to provide an interactive PFL calculator right on our website. HR directors, accountants, and CEOs can know the costs of PFL coverage before they call their broker.

Using our PFL calculator, employers will know how much their premiums will be so there are no surprises. After using our calculator, they will have gathered all the necessary information they need to provide so you can write the policy quickly and easily.

Partnering with Carriers to Give Our Brokers the Information They Need

Change can be scary. We started talking about changes in our industry back in February 2017. Now it’s here.

In addition to publishing our PFL Resource Center, we are also partnering with top carriers like Standard Security, Shelterpoint, AmTrust, Hartford, and Guardian to present webinars explaining the specifics of PFL coverage and to better help their brokers answer specific customer questions.

Our marketing team is hard at work sharing our knowledge on LinkedIn and on our blog, and we are even publishing consumer-facing articles on top insurance carriers’ websites to provide actionable insights on transitioning to a world with Paid Family Leave while keeping workflow consistent and maintaining employee morale.

In short, we are deploying all our resources to make it easier for our brokers to continue providing stellar service to their customers, answers to their questions, and the resources and PFL claim forms they need to make a smooth transition.


FMLA vs PFL: What’s the Difference?

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.


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.


In the Winds of Change, DBL Center Brokers Prevail

History (nearly) repeats itself with the introduction of Paid Family Leave

Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project

October 29, 2012: It was a sad day for many New Yorkers as properties were swept away in Superstorm Sandy, businesses went under, and more than 8.1 million homes across the U.S. were left without electricity for a week or more.

Superstorm Sandy caused losses totaling $19 billion dollars, resulting in delayed payouts and financial hardship to the insurance agencies that paid out more than they’d earned in premiums.  Many P&C brokers struggled to survive.

Meanwhile, Zurich Insurance Company, a leading global business insurance carrier, had just left the New York State DBL market a week prior due to a number of factors. Turmoil and uncertainty plagued the industry, as New York tri-state area business owners struggled to pick up the pieces and adopt a “new normal” after Sandy.

Here we are almost exactly five years later,  and the entire U.S. is banding together to assist those suffering from the aftereffects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida.

In New York, as we write this, the wind whips outside the windows of our Long Island headquarters, and the nearby Costco parking lot is packed as Long Islanders brace for a tropical storm —which could be the first of many this ominous hurricane season.

In the disability insurance sector, changes are once again brewing that have nothing to do with Mother Nature’s wrath.  Paid Family Leave, a necessary insurance coverage that will provide employees with a living wage as they take time off to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child, care for an elderly parent, or hold down the fort while their spouse serves in the military, may burden some disability insurance carriers past their breaking point.

We don’t want to be alarmist. We only want to report the news with our analysis as we see it.

The Problems with PFL that No One Else Is Talking About
There are only a few select carriers that have committed to write PFL, which is offered as a mandatory rider to DBL coverage in New York State beginning January 1, 2018. Fortunately, those carriers are doing an excellent job of educating small business owners and HR directors about the implications of the coverage, as well as giving brokers what they need to know about the policies. DBL Center brokers have the added advantage of our industry experience and knowledge, along with access to educational webinars and live informational sessions. We’ve worked hard to make the transition to mandatory PFL coverage easy for brokers and small business owners alike.

But some challenges remain. Because PFL coverage is mandatory and written with DBL coverage, brokers will be left with fewer choices for DBL. Some carriers have already left the market, just as Zurich did five years ago. We expect many more to exit in the beginning of 2019, after the numbers come in for the first year of PFL coverage.

PFL, as it stands, is not profitable for insurance carriers. Payouts could easily total more than premiums, leaving carriers in the same position P&C brokers faced immediately following Superstorm Sandy. Some carriers will write PFL riders—because the only other choice is to leave the game altogether. But they may not offer commissions on the riders. Some carriers are recommending that brokers write enriched DBL on their existing policies to earn the commissions they expected from PFL.

Enriched DBL: The Answer to Bigger Commissions
There are a number of reasons to enrich DBL coverage right now. Not only is enriched DBL one of the more profitable products for brokers to write, it also provides customers with the best coverage for their money.

As an example, small business owners can enrich DBL coverage in $50 increments for just 44 cents every $50, up to $850 total. For an investment of just $5 a year, employees can get $50 more per week for up to 26 weeks. It doesn’t make sense not to enrich DBL. Paid Family Leave was carefully designed to provide employees with a living wage while they are out on leave. Mandatory DBL coverage only pays a maximum of $170 per week. Who can live on that in New York?

Most states that offer Paid Family Leave offer comparable benefits for disability claims. This helps reduce fraudulent claims and helps maintain employee morale by leveling the playing field and offering all employees comparable benefits if they need them.

DBL Center Brokers: Weathering the Storm
With Harvey and Irma on our minds, New Yorkers last week prepared for a storm that never came. Just like Mother Nature, the insurance industry is fickle. And, in both cases, it’s important to be prepared.

Carriers can exit at any time, for any reason, just as Zurich did in 2012. Who will be next? Brokers who align with DBL Center preferred carriers who are writing PFL riders are protecting themselves against changes in the marketplace.

Educate your customers about PFL riders before someone else does. Be their authoritative source and guide them to the right decisions, including enriching DBL so it is in line with PFL benefits.

Fortunately for brokers working with The DBL Center as their insurance wholesaler, we make it easy to write enriched DBL policies and earn greater commissions. Stay tuned, because next week we talk with our Director of DBL and TDB Benefits, Selena Kutschera, to show you just how simple it is to increase commissions with enriched DBL in three easy steps.

Meanwhile, stay safe and dry. The best protection against any storm is the right preparation. Our thoughts are with those across the country affected by this season’s hurricanes and storms.


Paid Family Leave Makes DBL Insurance “Relevant Again”

Bold statement from DBL Center President Michael Cohen leads into how brokers can grow their book of business with PFL
 

 

P&C and health brokers know that enriched DBL in New York can be a tough sell.

As a mandatory benefit, DBL is a no-brainer, but let’s face it: The commissions aren’t making anyone rich. That’s why we promote enriched DBL, as well as ancillary benefits, including vision, dental, and even life insurance as a way for brokers to expand their book of business and make more money.

But with the introduction of the Paid Family Leave Act, DBL is finally relevant again. That is to say, it’s not only making headlines everywhere in New York, it’s also become profitable. “Health brokers, life brokers, P&C brokers, even estate planners and CPAs are using PFL as a tool to broaden their book of business. And, of course, here at The DBL Center, we love it,” says Michael Cohen, DBL Center President.

Questions about PFL?

If you’re reading this, you probably know that PFL coverage, which goes into effect in New York on January 1, 2018, will be written as a rider to existing DBL policies. And that employers were allowed to begin deducting premiums as of July 1, 2017. “A lot of brokers and employers face some confusion or hesitation about the payroll deductions,” says Michael Cohen. “I’m telling people not to get hung up on the deduction, but instead think about how you are marketing PFL to grow your book. As brokers, at the end of the day, it’s all about taking advantage of these opportunities to increase profits.”

The DBL Center is taking a multi-faceted, multi-tiered strategic plan to marketing PFL which, in turn, helps their brokers. “We’re relying on our relationships with top carriers, and differentiating ourselves with educational content, including webinars and thought leadership articles. We are building an even stronger social media presence on LinkedIn, and we are leveraging the relationships I have in the entertainment industry to organize seminars and talks with celebrity tie-ins,” says Michael Cohen. “In essence, we are working hard to make the industry fun again while sharing information and promoting a very profitable – and important – product.”

Still have more questions about PFL and how to use it to grow your book of business?

DBL Center President Michael Cohen recently recorded a video with ShelterPoint that tackles many of the toughest questions about PFL coverage in New York.

Make sure to watch to the end, because you won’t believe what Michael Cohen says about how PFL will change the DBL industry —for the better. Watch the video here, and use the information to drive PFL marketing campaigns within your own brokerage.


Brokers: Are Your NYS DBL Customers in Compliance with PFL?

One of The DBL Center’s preferred carrier partners, AmTrust, offers the information you need to help your clients get ready for PFL and ensure compliance.

“At the early stage of any new insurance regulation, education is key.” This is how Joy Maas, Director of Marketing, Sales, and Accountant Management for AmTrust Financial Services, a top provider of New York and NJ state disability benefits, began our recent conversation about the Paid Family Leave regulations going into effect January 1, 2018.

For employers, education means learning how to ensure compliance with the new regulations, understanding what the PFL benefit covers, and knowing where to turn with questions they might have.

For our insurance brokers, it means partnering with carriers, through The DBL Center, who are prepared to offer PFL as a rider to existing DBL policies. More importantly, it means taking advantage of the tools and resources available so that you can continue to educate your clients on what they need to know.

“One of the best ways brokers can get more attention and write more business, right now, is to be the expert on the topic of PFL,” Maas continues. “Be the educator.”

Resources for Brokers
Since the day the news broke about PFL, The DBL Center has kept our brokers updated with information via our blog, newsletters, and a seminar series hosted and sponsored by The DBL Center and featuring our top carriers.

Brokers who show their customers they are well-versed in PFL will be in a position to earn additional business by writing PFL riders to existing DBL policies, and brokers who write their business with The DBL Center have a choice of top carriers and a host of resources at their fingertips.

PFL Compliance is Key
Of all the details available about PFL, compliance is, perhaps, the most critical. Brokers can use consultative selling techniques to build trust and explain how employers can purchase PFL coverage to avoid hefty fines and liabilities.

Employers should know, PFL compliance requires that they:

  • Post the NYS Workers’ Comp Board’s prescribed notice(not released yet) explaining PFL benefits in a conspicuous place
  • Share the NYS Workers’ Comp  Board’s handouts on PFL
  • Update Employee Handbooks to discuss PFL
  • Remind employees out on FMLA that they may be eligible for PFL benefits
  • Continue providing health insurance to eligible employees out on PFL
  • Notify employees that they must give 30 days notice to take PFL if possible—for instance, in the event of a birth, adoption, foster care, or military deployment

Penalties for Non-Compliance
Additionally, employers should know that the Workers’ Comp Board is allowed to assess non-compliance penalties up to ½ of 1 percent of the employers’ weekly payroll for the period of non-compliance, as well as mandating that the employer pay any PFL claims. An additional penalty of up to $500 may also be assessed.

Non-compliance is pricey, while PFL compliance is simple. And although we don’t know the premium rates at this time, we should know soon. When the rate is announced, you’ll be sure to read about it here on The DBL Center blog and in our newsletter.

Let the Education Continue
Maas asserts that the brokers who are willing to educate their clients on PFL are the ones who will win the business—and possibly even sell enriched DBL policies at the same time. “Let your clients know what PFL means, how it looks, and what they can do to prepare,” she tells brokers.

Maas and her colleague, David Clark, will co-present a seminar sponsored by The DBL Center Ltd. and hosted by DBL Center Partner Michael Cohen on June 7, 2017, from 2 to 4 PM at The DBL Center headquarters in Melville, NY. For details please send an email to info@dblcntr.com.  Space is limited.

At this fun and informative event, both AmTrust and DBL Center representatives will answer our brokers’ questions about PFL  and share all the details you need to sell this new mandatory benefit knowledgeably.