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 Celebrates 1 Million Lives Insured

Long Island-based insurance wholesaler hits milestone one million lives insured and announces continued growth and future plans

While many of our Long Island neighbors celebrated with fireworks and barbecues earlier this month to commemorate the birth of our nation, DBL Center had a small celebration of our own.

And it was all thanks to our loyal brokers and network of carriers.

On July 3, 2018, the DBL Center was excited to write an insurance policy that put us over the mark for 1 million lives insured. Dr Evil utters his famous line, "One million dollars."

This prompted our copywriter to respond to the announcement, of course, with an Austin Powers gif. (Given president Michael Cohen’s affiliation with the Friar’s Club, having a sense of humor is virtually a requirement for working with The DBL Center.)

It was especially exciting that such a landmark accomplishment occurred on a landmark U.S. holiday, and it shows us that the future for the DBL market is strong.

But, we could not have done it without our brokers. And for that, we thank you all!

We love that our brokers recognize the advantages of working with us.

When you write short-term disability and ancillary benefits with DBL Center, you are not just getting an insurance wholesaler. You’re getting a partner with all the tools to help you convert your health and P&C customers into short-term disability clients and also earn extra commission with the sale of ancillary benefits.

Educate Your Market with Resources from The DBL Center

Brokers know insurance is a high-touch business. The more ways you can reach out to your customers and prospects with the information they need—before they even know they need it, in some cases — the better it is for your reputation as an insurance broker.

The DBL Center has always made it our business to keep our brokers informed of price changes, changes to short-term disability benefits law, and the overall state of the insurance market.

In recent years, we’ve ramped up these efforts with multiple touchpoints for reaching our loyal brokers.

This year, we introduced a webinar series discussing New York State PFL regulations, and we also launched our PFL resource center on our website.

In addition, we reach out with bi-weekly mailings, regular calls, and through our LinkedIn page.

In the fourth quarter, we will be expanding our Facebook presence, too. (You can stay ahead of the curve and “like” and “follow” our page now for the latest insurance industry news.)

We also hold Lunch & Learn events for those who prefer face-to-face interaction and education rather than virtual connections.

Read What Some Of Our Top Brokers Have Said About Us

“DBL Center is very aggressive with customer education, and that’s important when we’re selling ancillary lines,” says Richard Ambrose, senior vice president-practice leader, employee benefits, for Meeker Sharkey & Hurley, a New Jersey-based insurance broker and long-time customer of The DBL Center. “Michael Cohen and his team are very tapped into what’s happening in the industry, whether we are talking about Paid Family Leave in New York, TDB, or ancillary benefits,”

Gregory D. Singleton, principal at Connecticut broker ComTon, adds, “I thought we had a great knowledge of DBL coverage, and the DBL Center’s knowledge is as good—if not better—than ours. The DBL Center team is very good about explaining the capabilities of one insurance carrier over another, and of helping us market the benefits of various carriers to our clientele.”

Read more from our growing family of insurance brokers here.

Value-Added Services Satisfy Brokers’ Needs

With the introduction of our NRT Net Revenue Tracker app in the fall, as well as the incentives and opportunities we offer to brokers today, The DBL Center is not your typical insurance wholesaler.

Whether you would like to reward your top performers with exclusive sporting event tickets, give your agents a chance to learn about changes happening in the short-term disability market, or simply deliver the best service to your customers, The DBL Center is here — and has been for more than 40 years and 1 million lives insured.

What would you like to see from DBL Center in the way of education and outreach?

Drop us a line and let us know. Our marketing and sales teams are always hard at work finding better ways to serve our customers.

 

 

 


Are You Selling DBL Coverage With Your Other Business Insurance Lines?

Expert tips to build your book of business by promoting DBL with other business insurance lines

In preparing our new “Broker Spotlight” feature each month, we’ve been speaking to several of our top insurance brokers, who specialize in everything from homeowners’ policies to business insurance. And we are discovering that many of their customers still have questions about Paid Family Leave. The answers to these questions spark further discussions with their clients about other business insurance, including New York State-mandated DBL (Disability Benefits Law) coverage.

Some small business owners don’t know that they are not in compliance and could be subject to fines. They are running a business in New York with more than one employee and are missing an important business insurance line; they don’t have DBL coverage.

Others provide the state-mandated minimum benefit coverage limits to their employees, but don’t realize how affordable it is to enhance their employee benefits package with enriched DBL.

And yet, many insurance brokers don’t talk about DBL as much as they should. They fail to market DBL alongside their other lines of business insurance. Why not use DBL to expand your book of business, actively selling this mandatory benefit to employers (that is, your existing customers, as well as new ones) who didn’t know they needed it?

Who Needs DBL Coverage?

Every New York business owner with at least one employee who has worked full-time for a covered employer for four consecutive weeks or has worked part-time for a covered employer for 25 business day, is required to purchase a DBL policy covering those employees.

Additionally, previously covered employees returning to work after being on unemployment are eligible for DBL coverage. Finally, business owners who employ personal or domestic in-home workers (such as nannies, home health aides, housekeepers, and other staff) for at least 40 hours per week must provide DBL coverage.

As an agent, this means every day you could be talking to employers requiring a DBL policy along with their other business insurance policies. Those employers have the choice to purchase DBL coverage through the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) or through you, their trusted insurance broker.

Are You Missing Opportunities to Sell Disability Insurance and Enriched DBL?

With the right tools and resources in place, it is easy to sell DBL coverage. (You’re talking to the pros here, after all.)

Even brokers who focus on homeowners’ insurance, umbrella policies, and other personal insurance lines should talk about DBL to their customers who own businesses operating in New York State. If you are writing high value home insurance policies, umbrella policies, even boating insurance, those clients may be business owners or have full-time domestic help eligible for DBL coverage.

If you are writing health insurance, ancillary benefits, E&O policies, property insurance, auto insurance for business vehicles, worker’s compensation, or any other type of business insurance, you should make sure your customer has their state-mandated DBL requirements covered. If they do, it’s time to get them thinking about enriched DBL.

Take the First Step to Sell DBL with Other Business Insurance

It’s important to make NY State DBL coverage part of every conversation you have with new customers. Devote a page on your website to the basics of DBL coverage, which will give you a place to direct employers to gain the knowledge they need.

Even with the media coverage PFL received in the insurance trades, on premier carrier websites, and in business publications, New Yorkers may still not be aware of the new benefit and how it affects DBL coverage as a rider to existing policies. Make sure to mention DBL and PFL when people ask about your various personal and business insurance lines and open the door to a conversation.

DBL coverage and the new PFL benefits give brokers an opportunity to share their insider knowledge, educate customers, and expand their book of business with a policy that renews, almost without a second thought, year after year.

Want to make writing DBL coverage even easier? Ask us how our new Net Revenue Tracker can help you manage policies and measure and improve profitability for your insurance agency.


DBL Center Helps Brokers Track Revenue

New application gives brokers deep analytics and actionable business insights to grow their business


For 41 years, The DBL Center has provided brokers with white glove service and the lowest insurance premiums available for enriched DBL, ancillary benefits, group life, and more.  As the industry changes, we stay ahead of the curve to deliver greater value.

Measure and Improve

We’ve always believed in the adage, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” DBL Center Founder David Cohen had an almost-compulsive need to pay close attention to the details. In our office, we have a database that allows us to track every account, see at a glance when renewals are due, and track our total revenue. We’ve been doing this so long, we almost took the value of it for granted.

In talking with our customers, we learned that many insurance brokers have no simple way to track revenue, new business, or cancelled policies at a glance. Most agree this information would be valuable. They just don’t have the means to do it.

Other Software Solutions Don’t Work for the Insurance Industry

Conventional CRM software doesn’t work for insurance brokers. Accounting software can provide part of the picture, but not everything a broker needs. Most major industries, from healthcare to IT, have their own software that tracks and reports the information relevant to that specific field.

Why shouldn’t brokers have a way to track their statutory and group ancillary business?

That’s when we set our programmers on a new task: To create a software program for our customers that would give them actionable insights for business development in an easy-to-read interface.

DBL Center Prepares to Launch Net Revenue Tracker

For the past year, we’ve been working on a software application that will let our brokers manage their accounts and track their commissions from anywhere. Because we know our brokers spend a lot of time on the road, having this information at their fingertips makes it easier for them to serve their customers and write new business because every dollar counts in this industry.

Our new mobile-friendly broker dashboard, the NRT (Net Revenue Tracker) will help brokers who put their business with the DBL Center stay ahead of the competition and see their bottom line in real time. Because success is not created by what you earn, but by what you keep.

Net Revenue Tracker Provides the Answers You Need to Grow Your Book of Business

Would you like to:

  • Track new business and see where it comes from to determine your most successful salespeople?
  • See how much you’ve earned monthly, quarterly, and annually at a glance?
  • Determine what percentage of your revenue comes from new business vs. renewals?
  • Know exactly when each customer’s policy renews?
  • Find out, at a glance, what percentage of business lies with each major insurance carrier?
  • Have all this information available to you through a user-friendly application?

Our developers are hard at work, right now, creating the Net Revenue Tracker software, which will do all of this and more for DBL Center brokers.

The Net Revenue Tracker will allow brokers to:

  • View business metrics at a glance
  • Track profitability of specific accounts
  • Learn where you need to diversify your business between multiple carriers to protect yourself, and where it might pay to consolidate for better rates
  • Reduce your dependency on carriers by tracking renewals in your office
  • Spot trends in cancellations so you can improve customer retention
  • Track and improve business growth

Time-tested Platform Gives Our Brokers the Edge
The DBL Center has been relying on software to track our net revenue and growth for more than a decade now. Our time-tested platform of proven business development tools will give our brokers the edge. The Net Revenue Tracker provides deep analytics and actionable information for business growth in a convenient format.

With 41 years in the insurance business, The DBL Center has learned a few things about business processes. We know how important it is to pay attention to the finer details and track your results for consistent growth.

Isn’t It Time Be An Early Adopter?
If you aren’t tracking your revenue in a reliable way, or if your current platform falls short of what you need, we invite you to give us a call for a quick demo of our software solution.

Watch the video above and then book your free, one-on-one WebEx demo to learn how you can track your insurance agency revenue more effectively and efficiently.

Schedule Your NRT Demo Now


Let the DBL Center Help With Your Summer Events

Even in this age of internet marketing, insurance is still a high-touch business, where brokers look for opportunities to connect with their clients face to face. Although we highly recommend a strong Web presence and inbound marketing (an initiative The DBL Center has been pushing for more than a year now, since the revamp of our website), we also know the importance of personal networking. It’s one reason we recently joined The Business Council of New York and continue to look for unique and exciting ways to provide education and outreach to our clients, as well as new ways our clients can reach out to their customers.

Planning a Summer Networking Event?
For years, many insurance brokers have hosted events—from black tie affairs to golf outings—to welcome new clients and thank loyal customers. The summer is a great time to plan get-togethers. And now that the rainy spring is behind us here in the Tri-State area, everyone is eager to get outside.

In the summer, the entire insurance industry and most of corporate clients are a little more laidback. Offices may encourage more casual attire. It’s acceptable, even expected, to spend a day on the golf course or a night at a baseball game with business colleagues.

More than Year-Round, White Glove Service
The DBL Center is not only here year-round to provide your customers with the white glove, white-label concierge service they deserve. In the past, we’ve provided luxury suites at Yankee Stadium, lined up comedic entertainment for a corporate dinner after a golf outing, and organized celebrity meet-and-greets. We can help you take your corporate events to the next level through our partnerships with Steiner Sports and the Friar’s Club of New York.

We are excited to be able to leverage these relationships and line up events as incentives and rewards for our top performing brokers and their clients. We can also help our brokers organize events to draw in new customers, recognize their best clients, or network with leads they’ve met throughout the year.

Reconnect with Your Customers this Summer

There’s no better time to organize an event than right now. With the introduction of Paid Family Leave in New York, the announcement of the rates, and the opportunity for businesses to start withholding for PFL coverage on July 1, many insurance customers have questions. Why not meet with your existing customers and top prospects in a fun and laidback setting, bond over laughs provided by a top name comedian, and share their options for PFL coverage?

If you’ve opted not to sell PFL, it’s crucial, right now, to connect with your customers and show them all you offer as their DBL and ancillary benefits broker, remind them of the high-level of service you have always provided, and reinforce that business relationship.

Whether it’s sports celebrity signings, entertainment after your golf outing, or baseball tickets to the Mets or Yankees, The DBL Center can provide experiences you won’t find from anyone else in the insurance industry. We look forward to helping you bring a little fun into your summer, even as you work to increase sales and expand your book of business.

Let us know how we can provide you with the service you deserve.


Steiner Sports Partnership: DBL Center Rewards “Power Hitter” Brokers

Partnerships with Steiner Sports and The Friar’s Club make it possible for The DBL Center to provide exclusive access to luxury sports and celebrity events

Being a P&C or Life & Health insurance broker in the Tri-State area isn’t easy. Constant regulatory changes in healthcare, taxation related to estate planning, and, most recently, new Paid Family Leave (PFL) laws, make it harder than ever for even the best brokers to keep up. A consultative selling approach is crucial to grow your book of business and, for that to occur, brokers must stay educated about regulatory changes. This leaves less time for sales, putting brokers in a tough spot. Steiner Sports, Friar's Club and DBL Center provide a gateway to luxury experiences

Bringing Back the Fun of the Insurance Industry with Steiner Sports and the Friar’s Club

If you’re a veteran to this industry, you know things aren’t what they used to be. In the 1980s and 1990s, insurance companies offered exciting bonuses beyond the usual financial rewards, which made all the hard work and hustle worth it. From luxury trips to sporting events, black-tie dinners, and more, these bonuses made the industry fun, and helped create a tight-knit community of carriers and brokers with a true passion for the insurance industry and everything it offered.

It’s virtually impossible, today, for an individual broker working on their own to achieve the kind of sales figures that warrant these rewards. Due to diminishing margins, carriers have made bonus qualifications more difficult, while brokers find it harder to write new business. Most of the incentives that carriers offer today go to their own employees, not their broker clients.

But here at The DBL Center, we remember how it was, and we want to bring the spark of excitement that once helped the insurance industry thrive. Most importantly, we want to reward the brokerage community that works so hard to sell important insurance products.

The DBL Center, as an insurance wholesaler, can leverage group buying power, as well as our relationships in the entertainment industry and specifically with Steiner Sports and the Friar’s Club, to bring back the bonuses and perks industry veterans remember and younger brokers will love.

With high commission rates, white-glove service, and unique incentive packages from Steiner Sports that you won’t find with any other insurance wholesaler, The DBL Center goes above and beyond to help our brokers succeed —and reward them when they do.

High Commissions, Big League Rewards

We offer industry-high commission rates based on sales. Our brokers don’t have to struggle to meet new business production goals and we have no high-level persistency requirements.

We also provide a host of tools, including a 24/7 mobile broker application scheduled to be released in September and a frequently updated blog and newsletter, to help brokers stay on top of the latest news and developments. We also provide free educational seminars for our brokers, held at top New York Tri-State area venues like the Friar’s Club in midtown Manhattan and conveniently located Long Island hotels and wineries.

We also provide one-of-a-kind incentives that top-performing brokers won’t find anywhere else, thanks to our partnerships with The Friar’s Club and Steiner Sports Collectibles.

DBL Center Incentive Package Is Easy to Understand

We offer our incentives based on premiums alone. We don’t require new business quotas to be filled each year which means, we don’t expect a minimum number of lines to be written, nor minimum production percentages to be met.

Simply meet the DBL Center’s tiers for premiums, and gain access to a choice of star-studded galas, up-close sports experiences and more.

Concierge Service Provides Access to All-Star, A-List Events through Steiner Sports and the Friar’s Club

Dinner with Harvey Keitel or Regis Philbin? We can do that. A uniquely New York comedy night with writers from the Jimmy Fallon and Howard Stern Shows? You’ve got it. A black-tie affair honoring Martin  Scorsese? These are all events DBL Center brokers have enjoyed—on us—as a reward for meeting minimum premium tiers. If you prefer to gift one of your best customers with one of these experiences of a lifetime, we can arrange that, too.

In the past, we’ve provided all-inclusive luxury suites at Yankee Stadium, Steiner Sports celebrity meet-and-greets, seats in the Coaches Club at MetLife Stadium for a Giants game, or field-level seats and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to take batting practice with the New York Yankees.

Three Tiers, Three Opportunities to Win Big

We don’t make our incentive packages complicated with a minimum line count or complicated retention factors. Meet one of our three premium tiers and become a DBL Center VIP, earning an experience of your choice commensurate with your success.

  • Tier 1: Platinum VIP Experience Package, $700K + in total premiums for the year
  • Tier 2: Gold VIP Experience Package, $300K to $500K in total premiums for the year
  • Tier 3: Silver VIP Experience Package, $125K to $275K in total premiums for the year(Premiums include statutory and group ancillary coverage.)

Big Plans for High Earners

We have a number of other plans in the works to reward our top DBL performers, too. We can offer an intimate DBL Center luxury sporting event for our brokers and their clients through Steiner Sports or tickets to a Friar’s Club roast, which only takes place twice a year.

White-glove, Concierge Service

For years, The DBL Center has been providing white-glove, concierge-like service to our brokers and their customers, serving as a back-office staff for our brokers, freeing them to write more business instead of spending time servicing existing accounts.

Our incentive packages take our philosophy of concierge service one step further. Our life-long relationships with some of the most famous names in sports and entertainment allow us to help top brokers enjoy the experience of a lifetime or even fulfill a celebrity or sports related dream.

To us, concierge service means taking those extra steps to ensure our brokers and their customers always feel like VIPs.

Call The DBL Center today to find out how we can help you reach one of our VIP tiers even faster.


NY Paid Family Leave: What DBL Brokers Need to Know

 With days left to review the proposed NY Paid Family Leave regulations, what should you know?

NY Paid Family Leave, the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave program in the country, is set to go into effect January 1, 2018. But for employers and brokers preparing for the moment, the date isn’t as far off as it sounds. And employers can begin making payroll deductions as early as July 1, 2017. NY Paid Family leave gives this family time together.

A Quick Recap of NY Paid Family Leave

First, a quick recap of the proposed regulations:

NY Paid Family Leave provides employees with the income they need to enable them to stay home and care for:

  • a newborn, adopted or foster care child within the first 12 months
  • an ill or aging family member
  • children while a spouse is serving in the military

Paid Family Leave will be phased in over the next four years, until 2021, when PFL will pay out the maximum coverage of 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage for 12 weeks. Coverage will be community rated to promote a fair and efficient market, and coverage will be written as a rider to existing DBL policies.

You can learn more about the specific details of the law in this blog post, when The DBL Center blog broke the news to our network last April.

What We Know

In the past year, we’ve been staying on top of the news and we’ve discovered some interesting facts:

  • Many employers don’t even know these new regulations were introduced.
  • Some P&C brokers are considering leaving the DBL insurance industry because they are worried about the new regulations
  • Brokers are turning to those in the know, such as reputable carriers and The D.B.L. Center, to answer questions they have and find the best ways to educate their customers

Embracing the Opportunities NY Paid Family Leave Offers to Brokers

Because PFL coverage will exist as a rider to current New York State mandatory DBL coverage, these changes affect P&C brokers who write DBL coverage. Brokers SHOULD look at the coverage as an opportunity.

The DBL Center and our carriers are here to help you leverage this opportunity for increased commissions (whatever the actual amount may be!) on mandatory, employee-funded PFL coverage. The process is one of education and consultative selling, rather than hard sales. And The DBL Center is here to assist every step of the way, with the information our brokers and their customers need to make the best decisions and guide you in this new claim process.

Our soon to be released mobile app, combined with the technical infrastructure provided by preferred vendors to process policy riders, gives our brokers the tools they need to be successful in this new venture.

It’s also a good time for our brokers to review and enrich existing DBL policies beyond the state minimum, in preparation for the Governor’s office to potentially increase the DBL benefit.   After all, Governor Cuomo’s father Mario was the last one to increase the weekly indemnity back in 1989.  We never know. Changes are ahead, and they promise to be good ones for brokers who work with The DBL Center as their insurance wholesaler and have the tools to take a consultative approach to selling DBL in New York.

Deadlines Approaching

But what are the rates for NY Paid Family Leave? And how much do brokers stand to make from the new PFL coverage? These are the top questions on the minds of many of our brokers. Certainly, the state acknowledges that brokers’ workloads will increase as a result of the new coverage, and industry experts believe rates will be fair to enable reasonable broker commissions. But right now, all we can do is expect the best.

The good news is that all the uncertainty ends on June 1, when the state announces the coverage rates. Soon after that, carriers will announce broker commissions. And employers are permitted to begin deducting payments for  NY Paid Family Leave premiums beginning July 1.

In addition, brokers have until April 8 to read the draft regulations and make comments. The full text of the regulations can be found here.

Meanwhile, We Wait…

As we wait for the proposed regulations to pass and the State of New York to set the rate, it’s important to continue educating employers on the law. That way, when the time comes for them to purchase this mandatory coverage and, even before then, to begin making payroll deductions on July 1, they will know where to turn.

Stay tuned for further information regarding our Q&A seminar at The Friar’s Club next month in conjunction with The New York Business Council and one of our preferred vendors. With The DBL Center behind you, our brokers are poised to make the most of NY Paid Family Leave.


Digital Networking Helps Insurance Brokers Build Strong B2B Relationships

Insurance brokers should claim their Google listing and build a LinkedIn profile to connect with business owners and win new clients.

by Brian Lindamood, Manta Content Director

Networking with other business owners used to be straightforward: You could join fraternal clubs, trade or social groups, get involved in community causes or local events, and build lasting relationships with others in your community. When a potential client needed to discuss their coverage needs, they already had your number.

While these connections are still important, they are no longer enough. Today, “networking” for insurance brokers just as often means digital networking, and it starts with a robust presence on search engines and social media platforms.

Don’t be intimidated. Many of these tactics are new — and sometimes it seems that they’re constantly changing — but it’s not hard to get started. By following these tips, you can build your digital network and learn how to connect with other business owners online.

Make Sure Clients Can Find You With Local SearchYoung couple dealing with their agent. Smiling man and woman taking documents of argeement. Side view of a woman sitting in front of them taking the papers. As background windows, shelves with boxes and folders, a bike. On desk tools, sticky notes and papers.

Imagine, 10 or 15 years ago, a business owner saying they didn’t have time to list their telephone number in the phone book. Crazy, right? They’d certainly have plenty of time on their hands when their phone stopped ringing. Yet that’s the attitude many now have about online listings.

A recent Manta poll found that 48% of small business owners are not interested in boosting their business’ visibility on Google, with nearly half saying they don’t have the time or money to devote to search engine listings.

If you don’t have a website, you might think you don’t need to worry about search engines. You just want phone calls. But the solution is the same: Many phone calls start with an internet search to find a number, either with a smartphone or desktop computer.

Simply put, search engines like Google are how clients find you—your website, your business address, or your phone number. If you don’t spend the small amount of time it takes to claim and update your online listings, you can expect your phone to stop ringing eventually.

Fortunately, it’s easy to fix. The most important first step is to search for and claim your Google My Business listing. If you don’t have a Google listing for your business, you can create a new one. Once you’ve claimed your listing, you should correct any errors, add important information like your business hours and a description of your business, and, if you have a storefront, add photos of your location.

Best of all, once updated your business listing info will be populated throughout Google’s many platforms: Google search, Google’s local listings, smartphone searches and Google Maps. It’s the best way to ensure that potential clients in your community can find you whenever they’re searching for a nearby insurance broker.

Connect With Business Owners On Social Media

The benefits of social media may be clear for consumer-oriented businesses. You expect to see restaurants and retailers on Facebook and Instagram. The opportunity for business-to-business service providers like insurance brokers may be less obvious, but social media can be an effective way to meet new clients.

Starting with LinkedIn will typically yield the most success. The professional-oriented network is a great place to promote your expertise and connect with other business owners.

When you create a LinkedIn profile, use relevant keywords like “disability insurance,” “ancillary benefits” and “group life insurance” to describe your skills and experience. This will help local decision-makers find you when they’re searching for the services you provide.

You can search for and connect with your current clients, friends and associates, or import contacts from your address book. Once connected, you’ll be able to see their connections—friends of friends and your clients’ associates. Ask them for an introduction! This is one of the easiest ways to get a referral directly from a current client to another business owner.

Finally, promote your expertise on LinkedIn by posting links to articles, commenting on industry trends, or writing your own posts with your advice and observations on insurance-related issues. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, share advice with current connections and get the attention of new clients.

Digital marketing tactics like Google listings and LinkedIn profiles may be new, but the goal of marketing remains the same: Like the networking you’ve always done face-to-face in your community, digital networking allows you to connect with other business owners, demonstrate your expertise and get found by potential new clients.

Bio Brian Lindamood is director of content for Manta, one of the largest online resources dedicated to small business. Manta educates, coaches and empowers small business owners to succeed on their own terms by helping them compete, connect with customers, and grow their businesses. You can reach him on Twitter at @BrianLindamood.


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.


Booking Entertainment for your Holiday Parties

Are you planning a holiday party for your hard-working employees? Whether you’re the head of HR or the owner of the business, there’s a lot of pressure this time of year to create a holiday celebration your employees will love. A holiday party is a great way, after all, to thank your employees for all their work throughout the year, as well as to showcase the strength of your organization. After all, if you can afford a high-end venue and top-level entertainment, the implication is the company is doing well and your top talent can feel secure in their positions.The right venue and right entertainment make your holiday party one to remember.

Even if you aren’t in a position to break the bank with your holiday festivities, you can still make it look as if you invested in the best. Trust us – here at The DBL Center, our employees and their spouses talk about our parties for months after the event. We aren’t extravagant and we certainly don’t waste money. But we maintain the same white-glove ambiance we’re known for providing our customers, and we throw a party to remember.

But wait – we know what you’re saying. It’s only October! To give your team the opportunity to book the best—from the venue to the entertainment—it’s not too early to start the party planning process now.

Choose the Right Venue

Select a venue that reflects your company culture, whether that’s a microbrewery or an elegant banquet hall. Where will your employees be most comfortable? Make sure to book a room that’s large enough to hold your whole party… Consider last year’s attendance to see what percentage of employees will show up.

Select an Appealing Menu

Just like the venue, the food should reflect your employees’ tastes. Is a Vegan, raw-food craze going around your office? Does lunch lean toward ethnic cuisine? Unless you run a small office where you may be able to find a consensus for some unusual choices, it might be best to pick a varied menu with something for everyone, from vegetarian options to prime rib.

Book Entertainment That Will Wow the Crowd

All that’s left is the entertainment. A DJ or band is always the old stand-by when it comes to holiday office parties. But a successful night then rests on having a group of people who want to dance.

Why not consider a comedy act, instead? Your guests will be riveted—and will brag to their friends about how their office party had the best comedy show. Laughter can even help individuals bond, so you may find your employees growing closer through the night. Those bonds of friendship will last into Monday morning and into next year.

A Way to Thank Loyal Customers with a Memorable Gift

Through our partnership with Steiner Sports, The DBL Center now offers celebrities bookings—including sports stars and top comedians. We can set it up for you with just a phone call. It’s one way to make sure your holiday party stands out.

If you are an insurance broker with a client you want to thank in a big way, you can offer to book a comedy guest for their office party. It’s a gift that will build loyalty and friendship. Your customer—and their employees—will remember it all year long.

Here at The DBL Center, disability insurance is just the beginning. Our goal is providing white-glove service to our brokers and their customers in every way we can.