Insurance Services

The Retail Council offers all your coverage needs in one place. We partner with the best in the business to deliver the insurance products retailers need, including workers’ compensation, disability (including paid family leave), health, cyber liability, business owners’ policies, general liability, commercial property, auto insurance and more.

What is workers’ compensation insurance? Why do you need it? What is a safety group? Learn the basics in our short video.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Our signature workers’ compensation program accepts members into our top-rated Safety Group 493, underwritten by the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF). Qualified safety group participants enjoy advance discounts and share earned dividends – without the risk of liability associated with group trusts.

You Can Expect: 

• An up-front discount of up to 30% for qualified safety group members
• Year-end dividends* averaging 29.5%, returning millions of dollars to our members
• Dedicated in-house support from our safety group manager
• Fast and personalized service
• An option to keep your broker
• A workers’ compensation policy compatible with PAYGO

*Year-end dividends are not guaranteed.

Disability & Paid Family Leave

Your Retail Council membership can help you reduce the cost of New York State statutory disability insurance (DBL). Our wholly owned subsidiary, Retail Council Services Corp.,* works with top-rated vendors to bring our members the plan best suited for their business. Partners include ShelterPoint and Standard Security Life, offering some of the lowest DBL rates in New York.

Call the Retail Council at (518) 465-3586 for more information and a free quote.

Health Insurance

Our wholly owned subsidiary, Retail Council Services Corp. (RCSC), partners with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (Gallagher Insurance) to offer competitive health insurance plans. We offer custom HMO, EPO, PPO and POS plans with access to national networks and a variety of co-pay and high-deductible options. Internal underwriters and actuaries negotiate directly with insurance carriers to find the best possible rates, and a dedicated service team assists with day-to-day administration, enrollment assistance and employee benefit advocacy.

Additional Lines of Insurance

Together with our partners, the Retail Council offers many other insurance products, including group long-term disability, group basic life, accidental death and dismemberment, supplemental or voluntary employee life, cyber liability, business owners’ policies, general liability, commercial property and auto insurance.

Call the Retail Council at (518) 465-3586 to speak to an insurance expert about the best options for your business.

*Retail Council Services Corp. is a licensed insurance agent/broker by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

What to Expect from Our Workers’
Compensation Insurance

Up to


Up-front Discount

Qualified Retail Council members receive an up-front discount of up to 25% off New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) rates. This discount is available to dues-paying members in good standing with the Retail Council and with NYSIF.

Fast, Personalized Service

Members of the Retail Council and Safety Group 493 can expect to speak with a live person every time they call during normal business hours. Our three licensed insurance professionals provide accurate answers and exceptional customer service every time you communicate with us.



Year-end Dividends

After Safety Group 493’s annual audits have been completed, we compare the premiums collected versus reserves and claims paid to determine if a dividend can be declared. While dividends cannot be guaranteed, the Retail Council has declared a dividend every year since 1979.

Joining the Retail Council saved me 50% on my workers’ compensation insurance. Working with their staff made the transition quick and easy. I’d encourage all retailers in New York to learn more about their products and services. I wish I had known about them years ago.

David Hannoush, Owner, Hannoush Jewelers

Frequently Asked Questions

What is workers’ compensation insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance protects employees who are injured on the job during their employment. Injured workers are eligible to receive monetary relief, medical benefits or in the case of death, survivor benefits to their dependents. Under the Workers’ Compensation Law, workers’ compensation insurance protects the employer from being sued by the employee who is injured, while also providing benefits to the employee regardless of who is at fault.
Who needs to be covered by workers compensation?

In general, all employees of for-profit and non-profit businesses need to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. An employee, as opposed to an independent contractor, may include day labor, leased and borrowed staff, volunteers, part-time staff, family members and most subcontractors. For more information, visit the Workers Compensation Board.

What are the penalties for not having required workers’ compensation insurance?
Failure by an employer to provide workers’ compensation coverage is a crime punishable by fines and/or criminal prosecution. There is a $2,000 penalty for every 10 days without insurance, as well as penalties for misrepresenting payroll, employees and record-keeping failures. A stop work order may be issued for the company that is not providing workers’ compensation coverage.
What is a safety group?
A safety group comprises employers with similar operational hazards that are grouped together to reduce their workers' compensation costs. Joining a Safety Group spreads the risk from the individual policyholder to the entire group. The premiums of the group are pooled together, while the group works to improve safety and limit injuries. Participants may receive advance discounts and share in earned group dividends.
What is the Retail Council’s role in Safety Group 493?
As the manager of Safety Group 493, the Retail Council of New York State serves as the liaison between the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) and safety group members. The Retail Council is responsible for submitting all applications from prospective members to NYSIF. Our licensed insurance professionals provide personalized customer service to our members, assisting them with billing, claims, renewals, audits, certificate processing, loss run reports and Rating Board data reports.
Who is eligible for Safety Group 493?

In general, traditional retailers with a storefront and a safe workplace environment are the best fit for Safety Group 493; see our list of eligible classification codes for clarification. To inquire about your business’s eligibility for our Safety Group, call our insurance services department at (800) 442-3589 or email Virginia Hitchcock.

How do I get a quote for joining Safety Group 493?

Call the Retail Council at (800) 442-3589 and ask to speak with an insurance services representative. To prepare a quote, we need the following information or documents:

  • Class codes and payroll from your current insurance policy
  • Most recent audit or four quarters of New York State -45’s for FED 941 tax forms
  • Completed NYSIF application
  • Five years of currently valued loss history
What is a dividend?

A dividend is a portion of the premium paid for workers’ compensation insurance coverage that is returned to the insured after the end of the group policy period. Safety groups are often able to pay out dividends because they spread the risk from the individual policyholder to the entire group. Because they have a lower risk of workplace incidences, they don’t pay claims for as many accidents. The Retail Council’s Safety Group 493 has returned more than $100 million in dividends to participants since 1978. View our dividend history.

How do I file a workers’ compensation claim?

If you are a Safety Group 493 participant, the easiest way to ensure your claims are filed properly is to complete your C-2 form on the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) website (via NYSIF eFROI®). Once on the website, click on the link to NYSIF eFROI to start your report of injury. Claims can also be filed verbally by calling (877) 469-7432, or mailed to the address on the C-2 form. See also How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim: A guide for Retail Council members.

What is PAYGO?

NYSIF PAYGO is a simple and convenient way for eligible policyholders to pay their workers’ compensation insurance through approved payroll processors. NYSIF PAYGO eliminates down payment requirements, calculates premium based upon actual payroll, calculates more accurate premium payments, resulting in smaller audit adjustments and allows policyholders to match payments to cash flow. Visit NYSIF’s PAYGO page for more information.

Do employers have to offer health insurance to their employees?
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are required to offer health insurance that is affordable and provides minimum value to 95% of those employees and their dependents (up to age 26), or be subject to penalties. This is known as the employer mandate.
Can you explain what an HMO, PPO, EPO and POS are?
An HMO (health maintenance organization) plan is based on a local physician network. Subscribers are required to designate a primary care physician, and they must get referrals to see a specialist or get diagnostic tests. Except in certain instances, subscribers are responsible for the full cost of physician visits or services outside their network.

A PPO (preferred provider organization) plan is based on a “preferred” network of providers in the subscriber’s area. A primary care physician is not required, and referrals are not necessary to see a specialist. The subscriber’s responsibility for bills depends on the network status and the plan structure. A PPO allows subscribers to visit out-of-state providers who are considered in-network.

An EPO (exclusive provider organization) plan combines features of an HMO and a PPO. Similar to a PPO, a referral is not needed to see a specialist. And, like an HMO, the subscriber is responsible for paying out-of-pocket costs if seeking care from a doctor outside the plan's network.

A POS (point of service) plan also combines features of HMO and PPO plans. Like an HMO, subscribers need a referral from to see a specialist. And, like a PPO, subscribers pay less for visits to providers in the plan’s network and have access to out-of-network providers at a higher cost.

What is DBL?

DBL stands for “Disability Benefits Law” (Article 9 of the New York Workers' Compensation Law). This statutory disability insurance is mandated by the State of New York. DBL insurance provides temporary cash benefits paid to an eligible wage earner to replace, in part, wages lost when he/she is disabled by an off-the-job illness or injury, and for disabilities arising from pregnancy.

Who is required to provide statutory disability benefits insurance?
Employers who hire one or more employees on each of 30 days in any calendar year in New York State are required to provide DBL insurance for their employees (after the 30th day of such employment) unless they are considered exempt.

Exemptions include:

Sole proprietors, partners and members of limited liability companies (though their employees must be covered)
A minor child of an employer
Government, railroad, maritime or farm workers
Ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, sextons, Christian Science readers or members of religious orders
View a full list of coverage requirements on the Workers’ Compensation Board website.

How does an employer get disability benefits insurance?

Members of the Retail Council are offered some of the lowest quarterly-billed rates available on statutory disability insurance through our program. For more information or a free quote, call (518) 465-3586. Employers can also obtain DBL insurance from the New York State Insurance Fund or from private carriers. They may also apply to be self-insured through the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Who pays for disability benefits insurance?

Employers may pay the entire DBL insurance premium or choose to share the cost with the employee. New York State law allows employers to deduct 0.5% of an employee’s wage, up to a maximum of $.60 per week, to offset the cost of providing disability benefits insurance.

What are the penalties for not providing disability benefits insurance?
Failure to provide DBL insurance is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 or imprisonment for up to one year or both. The Workers’ Compensation Board can impose a penalty of 0.5% of the employer’s payroll during the period of noncompliance, plus an additional sum of $500 for each period of noncompliance. A second violation of the law within five years may result in a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $1,250. A third violation within five years may result in a fine of up to $2,500.
What disability benefits are paid to the employee? How long can the employee receive cash benefits?

Cash benefits are 50% of the claimant’s average weekly wage, but no more than the maximum amount allowed, currently $170 per week. Benefits are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks of disability during 52 consecutive weeks. The benefits begin on the eighth consecutive day of disability.

Can an employer request the disabled employee to be examined by his or her designated physician for proof of disability?

Yes. The disabled employee (claimant) must submit himself/herself to regular exams by the employer’s designated physician, if requested by the employer, or the employee may jeopardize his/her benefits. However, the exams must be at reasonable times and cannot be more than once a week; the employee is not responsible for payment of the exam.

What is required of an employer once an employee is disabled from a non-occupational illness or injury?

For a worker who has been disabled for more than seven days, an employer must supply him/her with a Statement of Rights under the Disability Benefits Law (form DB-271S). The form must be submitted within five days of learning the employee is disabled.

What is a business owner’s policy?
A business owner’s policy combines general liability insurance and property insurance. Many business owners mistakenly believe that a general liability insurance policy will cover their own losses as well as the losses of their customers. However, a general liability policy will only protect you from a claim arising from a third party and does not cover your business property in the event of a loss. For a small business that needs coverage for both general liability and business property, a business owner’s policy is the most comprehensive and cost-effective option.
What is cyber liability insurance, and do I need it?
Cyber liability insurance protects businesses against computer-related crimes and losses and is designed to cover breach, cyber extortion, cyber crime, business interruption and data recovery. If your business accepts credit cards or other digital payments, keeps medical or financial data, uses computers or mobile devices and/or stores confidential customer information, you need cyber liability insurance.
What is voluntary supplemental health insurance? Should I offer it to my employees?
Voluntary supplemental insurance plans help employees pay for unexpected costs not covered by medical insurance. Insurance options include accident, cancer, critical illness and hospital indemnity. Employers can offer voluntary benefits to their employees, regardless of medical insurance status, at no direct cost to the employer. Employees receive cash benefits directly, based on covered sicknesses, injuries, treatments and services.

Depending on the plan, an employer might need a minimum of just three to five employees to qualify.


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