FAQs

Accounting  |  General  |  Policy Underwriting  |  Auto Insurance  |  Office Package Insurance  |  NYS DBL  |  Disability Overhead  |  Disability Insurance  |  Homeowners/Renters Insurance  |  Life Insurance  |  Long-Term Care
Workers Compensation Insurance


Accounting

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Can I change the date my premium is due?

This depends on the type of insurance and the insurance company. If you will call or e-mail our office we can advise you of your options.

 

Are premiums guaranteed?

Some coverages have guaranteed premiums such as a whole life insurance policy. The reason for this is that insurance companies are able to guarantee premiums for certain types of coverage where they can reasonably calculate the probability of loss based on past experience. With other types of coverage it is impossible to guarantee premiums since the coverage period involves a long period of time or the likelihood of future losses for the line of insurance coverage is difficult to predict. If you want to find out whether the premium is guaranteed for the specific policy you own, please call our customer service department.

 

What is a "Pro-Rata” Premium?

A "Pro-Rata" premium is a proportional premium. When coverage is purchased on a group basis, the policy is billed on common group billing dates. Savings realized by group billing result in lower rates. When an individual buys coverage on a date other than a group renewal date, they are charged a "Pro- Rata" premium from the effective date of coverage up to the next group renewal date. Thereafter, premiums are billed on the regular group date.

 

What payment methods are available to me?

This depends on the type of coverage and the insurance carrier. Some individual policies allow payments monthly, quarterly, semiannually, annually, or on an installment basis. Most group policies allow payment on either a semi-annual or annual group billing date. The savings realized by using group billing are passed on to the insureds in the form of lower premiums. For more details concerning the payment method on a specific policy you own, please call or e-mail us.

 

Do I have a Grace Period on my policy?

Most life and accident and health policies have a thirty-day grace period in which to pay the premium. If you would like specific information as to the grace period, if any, on your policy, please call us.

 

I am past my Grace Period; can I reinstate my coverage?

Whether or not you can reinstate a policy depends on the type of coverage, the insurance carrier involved, and how long it has been since your coverage lapsed. If the coverage is one that involves medical underwriting, you must frequently fill out a reinstatement application with health related questions that is subject to the insurance company’s acceptance.

 

Can I pay all my premiums on one combined bill?

This depends on the type of coverage you own. Generally group coverages cannot be combined into one bill. If you have a homeowners and auto policy with the same company, the bills can frequently be combined. If you have a Workers’ Compensation policy, office package, or other business coverages with the same insurance company, these can also frequently be combined. For specific information on policies you own, please call or e-mail us.

 

Can I pay my premium via a charge card or on-line?

Yes, for most policies on-line payment by credit card or electronic check is available. For Property & Casualty policies, please call us for details based on which insurance company is involved. For most of the Life, Accident and Health coverages we offer, you may pay by clicking on the “Pay On-Line” button on our Home page.

 

 

General

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What is a "Safeguard" policy?

A Safeguard policy is a conversion of a former disability policy that could no longer be renewed due to age or retirement. The Safeguard policy provides daily hospital benefits regardless of other insurance. Benefits begin from the first day of hospitalization and can be used in any way you wish.

 

I am just starting a new business. What insurance do I need?

When starting a new business, it is important to contact an insurance agent who is familiar with the type of business you are conducting. An experienced insurance agent can make sure that you meet your needs for business related coverages such as Worker's Compensation, New York State DBL, and Office Packages including Liability and Property coverage. Our representatives are happy to help you through this process.

 

What happens to my insurance if I retire?

What happens to policies when you retire varies by the type of policy. If you would like information concerning retirement and how it affects your insurance coverage with our Agency, please contact us.

 

If I purchased my coverage through a Medical Society/Bar Association Group, do I need to retain my membership?

For most policies purchased through a Medical Society or Bar Association endorsement, you need to retain your membership to continue to qualify for the special benefits or lower rates provided by the group policies. These annually recurring Discounts often more than offset the cost of Society or Association dues. If you drop your membership, there is frequently an increase in rates and/or decrease in benefit when the policy is changed over to the individual form of the policy.

 

How can I get a Certificate of Insurance?

Please contact us during regular business hours. You can also e-mail, fax, or mail a request with the address of the requested certificate holder and the policy involved.

 

Policy Underwriting

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In applying for underwritten Disability or Life insurance, what tests are done in a routine blood or urine test? Can these be done at any laboratory?

When you apply for underwritten life and disability insurance over a certain amount, most insurance companies require blood and/or urine testing. The tests that are performed vary by insurance company. Tests generally include blood sugar testing, liver function testing, lipid testing, nicotine, drug and HIV screening. These tests must be performed at the designated laboratory, as some are specialized insurance tests. Tests can be scheduled at times and locations convenient to you. Insurance companies perform these tests to help keep claims experience for the group sound and premium costs reasonable. If the coverage that you applied for is declined based on the results of the tests, you can specify to have the test results sent to a physician of your choice. Your physician can then discuss these results with you.

 

In applying for Disability or Overhead insurance, why are prior tax returns requested?

Disability insurance is purchased to protect the earned income you would lose in the event of disability. The insurance company will ask for prior tax return when you apply for coverage over a certain amount. The Company needs to verify that the amount of coverage requested would be in proportion to the net income you would have after expenses, taxes, etc. In other words, the insurance company needs to make sure you would not be better off financially when you are disabled. With Overhead Insurance applications over a certain amount, the insurance company will request your prior business tax returns (personal tax returns if you are a sole proprietor) to verify that the amount of overhead insurance you are purchasing would not exceed what you need based on past overhead expenses. In both cases, these actions are taken to keep claims experience sound and premium costs reasonable.

 

In applying for Long-Term Care Insurance, what is a face-to-face assessment?

This is an assessment of your medical history and current activity level, conducted in your home or at a quiet location convenient to you. The assessment is administered by a trained clinician, either a registered nurse or a social worker. The clinician will call to schedule a convenient time for the interview and will provide appropriate identification upon arrival.

 

The clinician will ask you questions about your application, medical history, medications and current activities. There will be questions designed to screen for cognitive impairment. Your blood pressure will be taken and height and weight recorded. The interview will take approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

 

Auto Insurance

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I am adding/deleting a car or a driver. What do I need to do?

Please call our Property & Casualty customer service department during regular business hours.

 

What should I do if I have an accident?

Please call our Claims Department during regular business hours. You may also use the carrier contact number on your insurance card or at the numbers below. By letting us know about your claim, you give us the opportunity to make sure your claim is handled effectively.

 

Hartford Auto Claims

800-243-5860

 

New York Central Mutual Auto Claims

888-234-6926

 

Progressive Auto Claims

800-274-4499

 

Travelers Auto Claims

800-252-4633

 

What are some ways to save on my Auto Insurance?

There are several ways to save money on your auto insurance without sacrificing the levels of coverage and quality of service you get. If you insure your home and your auto with the same insurance company, there are account discounts that generally apply, which can bring premiums down significantly. If you take a driver safety course, you will receive a discount on certain coverage in your auto policy if you are the principal driver, typically for the next 3 years. A relatively inexpensive on-line driver safety class is offered by one of our carriers, New York Central Mutual. You do not need to be insured with New York Central Mutual to take this class. You may also want to look into raising your comprehensive and collision deductibles in order to save on your auto insurance premium. Some insurance companies also offer significant savings if you pay your auto insurance premium in full when your policy is initiated or renewed.

 

 

Office Package Insurance

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What is meant by a "Stretch" endorsement?

A Stretch endorsement is an optional endorsement that can be added to a Business Owners Policy. Generally, the Stretch endorsement provides a number of additional optional coverages packaged on to one endorsement at a lower cost than if each of those coverages were added individually.

 

What should I do if I add or delete a new location, new equipment, or contents?

Please phone our customer service department to report this change so that we can be sure your policy is adjusted accordingly.

 

 

NYS DBL

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New York State DBL Insurance (with Standard Security Insurance Co.)

 

What do I do if my number of employees change?

With Standard Security, any change in number of employees needs to be reported on renewal billing and your premium will be adjusted accordingly. Generally, there will be no additional charge for adding employees nor will there be a refund when reducing employees between billings. If you have a significant change in number of employees due to something such as a merger, please contact our customer service department so that we can be sure you are properly covered.

 

What happens if I close my office/business?

Please notify us as soon as this occurs. Once all payroll ceases, you will no longer need New York State DBL coverage. The Workers' Compensation Board will be notified and there will be a refund of unearned premium, if any.

 

What do I do if my business/ practice merges, changes names, ownership, incorporates or changes in a similar manner?

Please contact our customer service department as soon as you know any changes that involve a change in your name or Employer ID. When you make a change in your employer ID, the Workers' Compensation Board must be notified with a new form DB820. When you are insured with our Agency and notify our office, we will take care of this for you. If there is a significant change in the number of employees, there will be a premium adjustment as well.

 

What payment options are available to me?

With Standard Security, premiums are paid annually if you have seven employees or less. If you have more than seven employees, you can pay your premiums either annually or quarterly.

 

Who is required to carry DBL Insurance?

Most employers in New York State are required to carry DBL insurance for their employees. There are a few exceptions such as certain municipal employees.

 

How is the premium determined for DBL Insurance?

With Standard Security, the premium is determined by employee count, with specific rates for male and female employees.

 

 

Disability Overhead

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How much Disability Overhead Insurance do I need?

Generally we recommend determining your ongoing overhead expenses from your previous year's tax return. Most applicants insure a set percentage of their previous years' overhead expenses as shown on their tax return. Some expenses may go down while you are disabled. For this reason, applicants generally insure 80% to 90% of their continuing overhead expenses.

 

I practice in a Partnership or Corporation with other physicians or attorneys. Do we need this insurance?

Even in a group practice where partners can cover your workload, you still need to consider overhead business expense protection because (1) other partners could become disabled at the same time, placing increased financial pressure on the group and (2) you still need the funds to cover your portion of the group's ongoing business expenses.

 

 

Disability Insurance

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What is Disability Insurance and who needs it?

Disability insurance is a form of insurance designed to protect earned income that would cease in the event of disability. Most employees in New York State are covered by Workers Compensation for occupational related disabilities and New York State Disability Benefits Law (DBL) for non-occupational disabilities. These coverages provided limited benefits. There are some exceptions to who is covered by Workers’ Compensation and NYS DBL. Self-employed individuals and especially those with higher incomes generally need to purchase their own disability insurance. In addition, many municipal employees need to purchase disability coverage if they are not covered by NYS DBL. Most people believe they would be covered by Social Security disability in the event they were disabled. Even if they qualify, it does not protect them until after they have been disabled for more than six months with a disability that is expected to last beyond one year. It is important every few years to review what benefits are available to you from all sources to replace earned income in the event you become disabled.

 

How much Disability Insurance do I need?

While this varies from individual to individual, one rule used by those in the insurance industry is to obtain disability insurance in an amount that together with benefits from all other sources would replace 60-65% of your pre-disability earnings. The tax treatment of disability benefits can affect how much disability insurance you need.

 

What is Residual Disability Benefit?

Residual Disability Benefit is a partial disability benefit. It is usually designed to pay benefits if you are unable to perform one or more of the substantial duties of your occupation or are unable to perform them for as much time as is normally required, and therefore suffer an income loss. Most residual disability benefit provisions pay a percentage of your total monthly benefit based on the percentage of your income loss.

 

What is Cost of Living (COLA)?

A Cost of Living benefit generally indexes (increases) your disability benefits while you are disabled to help offset the effects of inflation. COLA benefits are tied to the government standards of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Most COLA benefits will index the disability benefit after you have been disabled for a specific period of time. The benefits are generally indexed to a maximum percentage.

 

What is meant by a "Waiting Period" or "Elimination Period"?

A Waiting Period or Elimination Period is like a deductible to a disability claim. The waiting period or elimination period is the length of time at the beginning of a disability claim for which no benefits are payable. After the waiting period, benefits are generally paid on a monthly basis. Generally the longer the waiting period, the lower the premium. It is important that you make sure the waiting period you select is appropriate for your financial circumstances. Waiting period selection should take into consideration the possibility of recurrent disabilities for chronic conditions and the provisions of your specific policy.

 

What is meant by a "Benefit Period" or "Plan"?

A Benefit Period or Plan is the maximum period for which benefits would be paid for any one disability. Frequently, the benefit period is a stated number of years (e.g. Five years for accident and sickness). Some plans call for benefits to a specific age (e.g. To Age 65). Frequently benefit periods reduce for disabilities commencing after a certain age. For example, a benefit period to age 65 may provide two years of benefits for disabilities that start between age 63 and 70.

 

What does SSNRA mean?

SSNRA means Social Security Normal Retirement Age, the age set by federal law at which full Social Security retirement benefits are payable. For individuals born after 1943, this is later than age 65.

 

Are the disability insurance premiums tax deductible?

Whether or not premiums are tax deductible depends on how the premium is paid. If premiums are paid for by a professional corporation, for example, the premiums can be tax deductible. Generally, premiums paid by individuals are not tax deductible while, in this circumstance, disability income premiums would be tax-free to the insured. For more information concerning tax deductibility, please contact our customer service department and/or your tax or legal advisor.

 

Are the disability insurance benefits subject to income tax?

Generally benefits received from disability insurance paid for by individuals with after-tax premium dollars are received income tax free. If premiums were paid for and deducted by a Professional Corporation (PC), the benefits would be subject to FICA and Medicare withholding as well as income tax. For more information about taxability of disability payments, please contact our customer service area and/or consult with your legal or tax advisor.

 

My employer carries disability income insurance on me. Should I consider buying a policy on my own?

There are many reasons why it may be in your best interest to consider buying a policy on your own. For example, if you ever change employment, your current coverage would likely end, and your new employer might not provide disability coverage. And at that point, if you have had an unforeseen health issue arise, you may not be insurable and may be unable to obtain personal coverage. Also, employer-provided coverage is generally capped at a certain amount of benefit per month. For many professionals, this can leave a significant amount of income uninsured.

 

 

Homeowners/Renters Insurance

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How do I know if I have enough coverage on my home?

You should be insuring your home for the replacement value not the market value. The replacement value is the amount that it would cost to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss. In many cases, replacement cost can be more than the market value. One of the reasons that you need to insure for a replacement value is that you could have a loss without adequate coverage to restore your home if you do not have full replacement value coverage. There are a number of methods to calculate replacement costs based on construction type, age of construction, square footage or unit count, built-in upgrades, and location of construction. Sellers and Co. has guides used by the insurers we represent for replacement cost calculation. There are companies that will do a more detailed appraisal of your home's replacement cost for a fee. For further information, please call our customer service department.

 

How do I put a value on my home's contents?

Homeowners and renters frequently ask how they can determine the value of the contents. Most homeowners policies provide the contents coverage as a percentage of the coverage on the dwelling. When replacement cost is selected on the contents this is a higher percentage. The amount of contents can be increased based on particular needs. Renters select the amount of contents coverage to insure. We recommend doing an inventory of your home's contents on a room by room basis. You would add up the value of all contents, which would be those things that do not form a part of the dwelling. For instance, you would not count wall to wall carpeting, but you would count an area rug such as an oriental rug. You should be sure that your value of your contents coverage is at least the value that you arrive at after adding up the contents. Please see the next question for further information on inventory.

 

What are your recommendations regarding an inventory of my home?

We recommend an inventory of your home, which is kept off site. It is a wise idea to take video of each room of your home including all the contents. You can open cabinets and drawers and take video of the contents as well. As you take the video, you can dictate what you are recording. We would then recommend that you give a copy of the video to a trusted friend or relative to store in a safe place or save the video on-line in a secure manner. Frequently, when individuals have a total loss, they cannot recall all the items that are contents of their home. The video would serve as a useful reminder at the time of loss as well as a visual documentation of your contents for the insurance adjuster. You should take new video every few years or anytime you make any substantial changes to your home. There is free home inventory software available at knowyourstuff.org.

 

What is Comprehensive Personal Liability Coverage?

Comprehensive Personal Liability Coverage which is automatically included in a homeowners or renters policy provides coverage for the negligence of you or any of the relative residents of your household. While there are some standard exclusions, an example could be accidentally hitting someone with a golf ball and causing bodily injuries.

 

I have a home business. Is this covered under my homeowner's policy?

Generally home businesses and business equipment are an exclusion of a homeowner's policy. They can be covered for additional premium. Please contact our customer service department if you would like additional information.

 

What if I add an addition or make renovations to my home?

If you put on an addition or renovate your home, please call us so that we can review the values on your home to make sure that they reflect this change.

 

What are some ways to save on homeowners insurance?

One way to save on your homeowners insurance is to place your homeowners and automobile policies with the same insurance company, as there are typically discounts if you do this. If you add burglar or fire monitoring systems to your home, you will also receive a discount. You may also want to consider raising your deductible, particularly if you currently have a relatively low one.

 

Are water and sewer back-up covered by my policy?

On most homeowners policies, water and sewer back-up are not automatically covered; thus if you want this coverage, it must be added. Adding this coverage is particularly recommended if you have a finished basement or store items in your basement.

 

How do I insure fine arts, jewelry, and other collections?

For certain collections or valuable items, you may wish to add coverage beyond that provided in a standard homeowners policy. For some items, the amount of coverage provided in the homeowners policy is limited, so scheduling those items on the policy or insuring them as a separate “floater” may be advisable. Further, a “floater” policy can provide “all risk” coverage that may be broader than the coverage provided under your homeowners policy. For example, a Personal Articles Floater for jewelry may cover “mysterious disappearance” of the jewelry, while many homeowners policies would not.

 

 

Life Insurance

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How much Life Insurance do I need?

It is important to protect your family's financial security by having the proper amount of life insurance. A general rule of thumb is that you should have life insurance that is equal to 6 to 10 times your annual income. While the "6 times" formula will help your family pay for your final bills and ongoing living expense the "10 times" formula takes into account the present value of your potential lifetime earnings with assumed salary increases. It also takes inflation into consideration. Please refer to our Life Insurance Calculator, which can assist you in estimating an appropriate amount of life insurance.

 

What is Term Insurance?

A Term insurance policy is a Life Insurance policy that furnishes life insurance protection for a limited number of years. The face value of the policy is payable only if the death occurs during the coverage period. There is no cash value to a Term insurance policy. There are various optional riders that can be added. Contracts vary between insurers. Premiums are lower since there is no investment value to the policy. Customarily, Term insurance policies are issued for a stated number of years (e.g. 5, 10, 20) or to a stated age. Premiums can be level for a certain period or increase at specified attained ages. Renewal and conversion provisions vary by policies and should be reviewed when purchasing.

 

What is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole Life insurance is a "permanent" form of life insurance that combines life insurance with cash value savings. The cash value accumulation, which is largely attributable to the effect of interest over time, is not taxed as it accumulates. There are various optional riders that can be added. Contracts vary between insurers. Premiums are typically paid for life or to age 100. Premiums are usually level based on the age at purchase. If coverage is surrendered, cancelled or lapses after being in effect for a few years, there generally is a cash value that provides the insured with various options. These would include using the funds for reduced "paid up" life insurance or extended term insurance, taking the cash or structuring some other settlement option. The policyholder can usually borrow their accumulated cash value to keep coverage in force in lieu of surrendering. They need to pay interest on this policy loan since the borrowed funds are not available for investment by the insurance company. In event of death, any un-repaid policy loan would be deducted from the proceeds paid to the beneficiary. Tax consequences should always be considered. The interest and cash value guarantees vary by contract and should be examined closely when purchasing.

 

What is Universal Life Insurance?

This form of life insurance provides a death benefit and builds cash value, which accumulates at a current non-guaranteed interest rate. This cash value earns tax-deferred interest until the time it is withdrawn. A Universal Life policy generally offers some flexibility with regard to premium payments and accumulation of cash value. There are various optional riders that can be added. Contracts vary between insurers.

 

What is Variable Life Insurance?

Variable life insurance is like whole or cash value life insurance in that it accumulates a cash value. Variable life differs in that the funds are invested in index or equity based investments which can be more responsive to changes in interest rates and inflation. There is a guaranteed minimum death benefit and the potential of increased insurance benefits based on favorable performance. The cash value accumulation, which is largely attributable to the effect of interest over time, is not taxed as it accumulates. There are various optional riders that can be added.

 

 

Long-Term Care
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 What is Home Health Care?

Home Health Care is medically required care provided in the home due to a chronic illness or prolonged disability. Items covered could include: nursing care, physical therapy, home care aides and similar types of services.

 

What does Long Term Care Insurance cover?

Long Term Care insurance normally provides benefits for care or assistance received in a nursing home, assisted living facility, adult day care, community based care, alternative care facility or hospice care. Most long-term care policies also provide benefits for home care if elected.

 

What is the Partnership Plan?

New York State established a Partnership for Long-Term Care (Partnership) program designed to assist residents of NYS in planning for the cost of Long Term Care. Partnership LTC policies have to meet certain standards to earn the Partnership designation from the NYS Insurance Department. If you are covered by a Partnership policy and benefits are exhausted, you can apply for Medicaid without regard to the type or amount of assets you can keep if you select the Total Asset Protection plan. Partnership policies do not protect income.

 

What does it mean if a policy is Tax Qualified?

"Tax Qualified" Long Term Care policy is one that meets the requirements for Federal Tax deductibility. All LTC policies effective before 1/1/97 are automatically qualified for federal tax purposes. Those effective after 1/1/97 must meet certain standards to be eligible for federal tax deductibility. Premiums for Long Term Care are now eligible for a New York State income tax credit up to a specified dollar amount. It is always best to consult your tax advisor for more specific tax information.


How does one qualify for benefits on a Long-Term Care policy?

Generally benefits are provided if you meet a certain number of triggers. Typical triggers or Activities of Daily Living (ADL) can be: loss of the ability to do certain activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, toileting, continence or cognitive impairment. Which triggers and how many are used affect the premium and benefits.

 

What is inflation protection and are there different types?

Inflation protection of Long Term Care benefits is very important since the costs of Long Term Care are increasing faster than any other sector of our economy. There are many different types of inflation protection offered. The compound interest benefit is the best and is also the most expensive. Many carriers also offer a simple interest inflation protection. Some carriers provide an increase in daily benefit tied to inflation. Generally this type of inflation protection also increases the premium if elected. For this reason it is important to understand the type of inflation protection selected and its effect on both premium and benefits.

 

 

Workers' Compensation Insurance

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Who needs Worker's Compensation?

If you close your office or business, please call our customer service department. Once all payroll ceases, you no longer need Workers' Compensation coverage. When this happens, you will be sent a final payroll audit form. If the deposit premium paid is greater than the amount owed, you will receive a refund; otherwise you will owe a final premium.

 

Who needs coverage under Workers' Compensation?

Almost all employers in New York State are required to carry Workers' Compensation coverage for their employees. Workers' Compensation is required in all fifty states. There are some exceptions for sole proprietors or a one person "PC" with no employees.

 

How is the premium determined?

Premium is determined based on payroll and job description. The Workers' Compensation Board assigns rates for various occupations depending on the hazard of the occupation. The employer then pays a deposit premium based on estimated payroll. At the end of the policy period, an audit is conducted. If the actual payroll is greater, then the employer owes additional premium. If the actual payroll is less, the employer receives a refund. There are a number of credits, modifications and dividend programs available for employers with larger payrolls. Contact us for a proposal for your business.

 

What if my number of employees or payroll changes?

If you have a significant increase in payroll, you should call our customer service area and report this. You can then be sent an adjustment bill so that you won't receive a large audit bill at the same time a renewal premium is due.

 

What do I do if my business/practice merges, changes names or ownership, incorporates or changes in a similar manner?

Please contact our customer service department as soon as you know any changes that involve a change in your name or employer ID. When you make a change in your employer ID the Worker Compensation Board must be notified with a new form DB820. When you are insured with our Agency and notify our office, we will take care of this for you. If there is a significant change in the number of employees, there will be a premium adjustment as well.

 

What payment options are available to me?

Most carriers provide flexible payment options based on the size of the premium. Generally, the larger the premium, the more installments that would be available.

 
  • "Recently I have had to use your disability insurance. The process was smooth and swift - the personnel were responsive and caring."

    AF, Physician, New York, NY

  • "I also have disability policies with some other companies, and I would like to emphasize that the caring and consideration afforded me by the Sellers Agency was markedly better."

    SB, Physician, Brightwaters, NY

  • "I had to use the Benefits once, and Your Company is unreal! The best experience I've ever had!…You people are there before and after!!"

    GN, Civil Service Employee, Corfu, NY

  • You are very efficient, courteous, and pleasant to deal with. Don’t change!”

    SM, Physician, New York, NY

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