Reprinted with permission from Insurance Advocate Magazine, October 2022
Time flies when you are having fun, and that is certainly what has been happening over at ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year! We talked with ShelterPoint, and they gave us a peek behind the curtain as they shared stories and information about their people, culture, and company over the years – and their 50th-anniversary celebration!
Here are the top 5 things you may not have known about ShelterPoint:
- What’s in a name? The original name was “The First Rehabilitation Insurance Company of America.” The company later changed its name to the name we know today: ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company.
Before their rebrand, brokers had been asking for many years, “Why the name First Rehab?” Well, First Rehab was formed in 1972 to be the first of its kind to provide physical rehabilitation insurance. But that all changed when physical rehabilitation was folded in as a covered medical expense. As a NY-based company where statutory short-term disability benefits were required, First Rehab was able to adjust its course and sold its first New York DBL (Disability Benefits Law) policy in 1974 – and the rest, as they say, is history!
The company became ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company in 2014. A change in name to help better reflect who they are and what they do: their commitment to their clients and – with plans of growing beyond New York – to have a name that fosters a more nationwide identity.
- Today, ShelterPoint is focusing the majority of its business efforts on Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) programs across the United States.
This may not be a surprise for New York brokers since, in fact, ShelterPoint is the market leader in New York PFML, with over 20% market share, according to the GC Smith Group’s 2021 PFL Market Survey.
But perhaps you may not know that ShelterPoint is leveraging its expertise in NY to provide coverage for these programs in the growing number of states with similar required benefits. Currently, they offer private plan coverage in:
- New Jersey
ShelterPoint has been servicing statutory New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance policies since 2003 and has been an approved private plan for the Paid Family & Medical Leave programs in Massachusetts and Connecticut since these programs were launched.
With Colorado on the horizon, and as more states are starting to require these types of programs, SheltePoint is evaluating each opportunity for private carriers to contribute with their industry expertise.
- Employees tend to stay with ShelterPoint
Many of us are already aware that some ShelterPoint employees have been with the company for quite some time – some brokers have had the same ShelterPoint Sales Rep for many years, forging deep relationships, even up to the rep’s retirement! ShelterPoint shared some interesting data points on employee tenure.
For example, did you know that the average length of employment for ShelterPoint employees is about almost 7 years? In comparison, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median number of years that salaried workers stay with their employer is a little over 4 years.2
Almost ¼ of employees have been with ShelterPoint for over 10 years3.
These numbers would have been even higher for ShelterPoint just a few years ago. However, the company has grown substantially since the launch of New York’s Paid Family Leave program, having added over 50% of its workforce since 2017 to service Paid Family (and Medical) Leave policies and claims.
When asked what has kept them at ShelterPoint for so long, many of the longer-tenured employees echo these key themes:
ShelterPoint is a family-oriented company with a genuine feeling of togetherness and community that values work-life balance.
Flexible hybrid and remote work environment that allows each team to set parameters that work best for their dynamics.
Stable career development. It was interesting to learn that many of the upper management employees started off in entry-level positions – whether within the department they’re now leading or in a different capacity, which reflects ShelterPoint’s dedication to supporting their employees’ cross-functional interests and growth.
Employees at ShelterPoint enjoy helping make a difference and feel a sense of purpose knowing that their work positively impacts people’s lives.
Katrin Atienza, VP Marketing, started as Marketing Manager 20 years ago as the only Marketing person at the company. Now a team of 7 – and soon 10 – she shares how much she has enjoyed building the department from the ground up and being able to make a difference together with her team. “Although we’ve been growing so much, we’ve managed to stay true to ourselves. Even remote work in the pandemic couldn’t hamper our teamwork, collaboration, and dedication. We virtually lifted each other up and turned a challenge into an opportunity – and that’s what we excel at here at ShelterPoint in general. We have this great spirit of banding together.”
Kathleen McAuliffe, another long-term employee who started as an Executive Assistant to the President in 1990 and is now SVP Client Services & Administration, has experienced one of the biggest staff increases among the various departments at ShelterPoint. No matter the amount of growth, her team strives to make a positive impact when it matters most. “Our people and culture are the right recipe for a business like ours – every day we get to witness the difference we are making in the lives of working families who go out on short-term disability or paid family leave. It’s a big responsibility that feels very rewarding.”
You may even personally know ShelterPoint’s longest-tenured employee at 35 years
– – David Epstein! In 1987, David began as a Sales Rep covering Brooklyn, rising through the ranks to where he is today as SVP Sales. “They used to call me ‘The Kid’,” David explains, “I’m certainly not ‘The Kid’ anymore!” he joked. Today he leads a sales team of 18, including a field force, telemarketing, and sales support. The field force has begun returning to in-person sales visits and attending our industry events. With the success of the virtual environment, David has recently expanded the PFML (paid family and medical leave) sales team outside of NYS, which operates mostly virtually to support the company’s expansion to new markets.
- ShelterPoint continues to sell exclusively through independent brokers and agents.
When asked what sets ShelterPoint apart from other statutory disability carriers, he replies, “In the early days, no other carrier had the feet on the street like we did – and still do – for DBL in New York. We just really value our relationships with agents and brokers here at ShelterPoint.”
ShelterPoint focuses the majority of its outreach to brokers, educating them on the ins and outs of the statutory coverages to help brokers and their clients easily navigate the statutory process and make well-informed decisions.
- Employees feel like a family, and they like to have fun
One employee, Ellen Komis in Broker Licensing with 34 years at ShelterPoint, appreciates that “We’re all in this together. No matter the good or the bad, we are unified.”
In conversations with long-term employees, sentiments like that were shared by other employees. While reminiscing, they shared their love for food (hardly any day would go by in which someone didn’t bring in something to share) and their knack for office events (from international potlucks to the big Fall Fest/Halloween party with legendary costume contests and from bake sales for charity to food/toy drives) that helped instill ShelterPoint’s unique culture.
ShelterPoint’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
What better reason to celebrate than a big milestone like the company’s 50th anniversary?
“It’s really the first time we have been able to be all together again since our Holiday party back in 2019,” explains Stephanie Haber, a ShelterPoint employee of 12 years. “We work hard, but it’s nice to see familiar faces in person and meet the many new employees who have joined us recently!”
ShelterPoint shared some photos from their employee-only event that took place this September on Long Island.
What’s Next for ShelterPoint
ShelterPoint has come a long way from the days of hand-typed policies and keeping track of producer numbers by writing them down in a notebook. Today, the company insures over 184,000 NY employers with over 1.9 million employees for their New York DBL/PFL coverage alone.1
CEO Richard White has been leading ShelterPoint by example for 13 years and has helped instill leadership values and a prudent growth mindset that provides a stable path for the company’s future endeavors. He states, “I am excited about the 50th-anniversary celebration. What a wonderful way to show our appreciation and say ‘Thanks’ to everyone at ShelterPoint. As I consider our past, I am struck by a remarkable legacy of accomplishment, one that led ShelterPoint to become New York’s largest statutory disability provider, and an agile and highly capable firm. I am proud of how skillfully we launched NY PFL, which required company-wide collaboration and touched every business process. Shortly thereafter, our response to the pandemic showed our resilience in the face of uncertainty by seamlessly transitioning the entire company to remote work. The power of our culture shined through and allowed us to emerge out of the crisis as a stronger company, and post our best year ever in 2021. Now, as we look into the future, we know there will always be twists and turns along the road. But ShelterPointers are a unique group of employees, who are ready for the next 50 years.”
We wish them well at this important milestone and look forward to celebrating with ShelterPoint at future milestones as they continue to make their mark on the statutory short-term disability and paid family leave benefit space.
*The ShelterPoint family of companies operates under the “ShelterPoint” name strictly as a marketing name, and no legal significance is expressed or implied. The ShelterPoint family of companies consists of ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company, a NY-domiciled carrier, and its wholly-owned subsidiary ShelterPoint Insurance Company, a FL-domiciled carrier, depending on the state. ShelterPoint is a registered service mark.
1Based upon ShelterPoint Life Insurance Company policyholder and certificate holder count as of 02/26/20.
2Employee Tenure Summary, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sept 22, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm
3: ShelterPoint HR data, Aug 2022