Most of us know someone that’s in insurance. Most of the time it’s someone who sells life insurance and talks about financial options. Sometimes it’s an agent whose focus is car insurance. I’ve always wanted to know more about what some of these folks do, and I got lucky in meeting, then getting to know, a guy who’s not actually an insurance agent as much as an insurance entrepreneur.

Rich Kudlick is the owner of Reid & Zutant, an insurance agency in Liverpool NY. He’s active in the Liverpool Chamber and I also see him at Gold’s Gym often, proving that I do go. I asked him if I could interview him about what he does and he consented; here we go!

1. What does an independent insurance agent do?

An independent insurance agent represents more than one insurance market, we are affiliated with several excellent insurance companies to meet all our clients personal and business insurance needs. We discuss with our clients what their insurance needs and concerns are. For example if you are purchasing a new home we would want to make sure that your insurance coverage is adequate to rebuild your home at current replacement cost values which can be very different from the price you paid for it.

2. How did you get involved in insurance?

I first got licensed as an insurance agent in 1983 when I got a job with Liberty Mutual here in Syracuse. Before that my first job out of college was installing automation systems for members of the Farm Equipment Dealers Association. I was traveling throughout NY and PA at the time when I met a couple of agents that were selling insurance to the farm equipment dealers. I liked the idea that they were selling a product that the businesses needed. Workers Compensation, which covers injuries to your employees, is required by law. Building, content and business liability is another coverage that is both necessary and or required. So when that job ended I looked for an insurance company that was hiring and training new agents.

3. Since I know you’re not 75 years old, how did you get to become a part owner in Reid & Zutant?

Reid & Zutant started as the Roger Reid Agency in 1931 here in Syracuse. It passed from parents to son Roger Reid Jr. who became the general manager in 1967. He in turned hired Gerry Zutant in 1974, in 1992 it became Reid & Zutant Inc. I started at the agency in 1995 and then purchased it outright in 2005 and became the sole owner / president. I moved us from James St. in Eastwood to the Village of Liverpool in 2008. We are located at the corner of First and Vine in the Village Mall.

4. What kinds of things can you cover?

We write coverage for personal lines including, home, auto, motorcycles, snowmobiles, boats, rental property, flood. For business insurance we write property / liability, workers compensation, NYS Disability, umbrella polices ( personal & commercial ). We specialize in small to midsized business.

5. What’s the strangest or biggest thing you were able to get insurance for?

Hmmm this is a tough question. I once insured a guy in the city of Syracuse that ran a car garage and sold live chickens. There was also an optometrist that sold glasses , contact lenses and guns at the same location.

6. Is all or most of your business local?

Yes most of our business is local, but we have been writing a lot of workers compensation for auto repair garages throughout the state.

7. Is insurance a great business to be in overall? I ask that because my uncle was in the industry and once said it was a lousy job but a great long time career.

Yes insurance is a great business to be in overall. I like what I do and as an independent agent I run and own my own business. And yes we do help people protect their most important assets.

8. What do you think people don’t understand about insurance?

Insurance is a contract between the customer and the insurance company. The best way to answer this questions is with an example. Your homeowners policy most likely will require that either the value of your home needs to be 90% or 100% of the replacement cost value. So let’s say you have a fire and 50% of your home is destroyed. If say you were only carrying 60% of the replacement cost value on your home instead of the 90% required then the amount paid for the loss will be reduced by the difference between the 90% you are suppose to carry and the 60% value that you are carrying. The point being is that we all think we are over insured when in fact most of us our underinsured on our property.

9. Do you find that networking helps your business all that much?

Yes I do think networking helps my business. It’s not always just direct sales but other business contacts. I met my accountant when we hired him for an Association where I was a board of director. The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce is a great source of potential clients and contacts.

10. Your turn; what would you like to say to people in Liverpool, central New York or elsewhere?

I’d like to start by letting everyone know where we are: Reid & Zutant Inc., 305 Vine Street, Suite #7, Liverpool, NY. My name is Rich Kudlick and I have over 25 years experience in the field. I’m a CPCU, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and a LeMoyne College graduate. We run the business under the golden rule “We treat people the way we like to be treated”. I try to keep current with modern information systems and technology but we do most of our business on a face to face level.

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