RANDY GILTZ, THE THIRD GENERATION of Giltzs at Northern Insuring Agency (NIA), serves as the company’s Senior Vice President. His sister, Deena Giltz McCullough is President and CEO and their father, Rod, is Chairman of the Board. Rod’s father, E. Glenn Giltz was one of three AuSable Forks business men who founded the company in the 1930’s. In 2017 the Business Division at NIA welcomed Collin McCullough, bringing a fourth generation into the business. This year Northern will celebrate more than 90 years serving the insurance needs of the North Country.
Moving into 2021 everyone has been asked and answered, “How has the pandemic affected you, your business and your family?” And so, it’s no surprise that the pandemic has led to an increase in people reaching out to their insurance agents. Insurers take that question further and ask how it has affected clients’ finances, savings and retirement. According to Giltz “We are risk managers. We help to assess and mediate risk for our clients.”
While COVID-19 forced many of us to work from home, Northern Insuring has been automating its business in that direction since well before 2020. “We have changed our approach to meet our clients where they are,” Giltz explained. “We are fortunate to have had a presence in the North County for decades and appreciate the benefits of being family owned and operated. We continue to earn our client’s business. We need to be good today, tomorrow and always.”
At Northern Insuring Agency that starts with the team. Most employees were set up to work from home pre-pandemic, so it wasn’t a huge adjustment but the quiet around the office took some getting used to. The rattle and hum of co-workers and colleagues in a shared office space was pleasant white noise, and its absence was a stark contrast to the energetic chatter Glitz had grown accustomed to.
The teams in NIA’s three offices — Plattsburgh, Potsdam and Glens Falls — took time during the shutdown to clean and assess what needed to be done, first for the team and then for the business.
Insurance agencies are among the businesses that have long utilized digital strategies and NIA is no exception. Services can be as automated as the individual decides, and the options remain from simply “going paperless” to being able to use an app to manage options in personal products lines. For the business line of products things are more involved and there is no one better able to help manage risk than your insurance agent.
While technology is useful, the world wide web is not without its share of challenges. With advantage, comes exposure for both individuals and businesses. While most of us are hurtling down the information superhighway and enjoying all the perks, risk managers like Giltz and NIA are assessing exposure and shoring up the gaps in protections on new frontiers including cyberspace with products like data breach insurance.
There is a delicate dance involved when discussing vulnerability on the internet. No one wants to believe that they would “fall for anything like that”. There was a time when telemarketers were the greatest nemesis. That issue was met with call screening and number blocking features from the phone company. But now our “phones” have become portals to the internet and have the ability to offer our GPS coordinates to everyone of our contacts, and ostensibly every one of their contacts. Access to all the information we share willingly on social media, surfing the internet and online shopping is readily available. Cyberspace is largely unregulated and has been a bit of “the wild west” in terms of its regulation or lack thereof. All the information that is shared, knowingly or unknowingly, can be hijacked. According to Giltz, “Cyber thieves are working day and night in an effort to replicate authentic messages in the hope that someone will click on it. It can happen to anyone.” Having the conversation about the potential exposure and coverage of a data breach is part of what NIA does for its clients.
With the increase of people working from home, has come an increase in data breaches. Chances are the bandwidth on the internet connection you have at home is not the same as the one you have at the office. Part of the reason for that is the security features that are built into your work network that are running along with whatever trade specific programs you are working on.
While Giltz acknowledges that insurance can sometimes be a “grudging purchase” he is proud of his team’s ability to personalize the experience for clients. “Gone are the boiler plates and standard offerings. We need to continue to bring value to our clients and for us at NIA it starts as it always has—by listening.”
The Northern team has a long history of personalizing products for customers and that strength is part of how the business is continuing to thrive into its fourth generation.
Northern Insuring Agency
171 Margaret Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901