Going Local: Laiming/Van Gundy Insurance Agency
In January, 1976 Paul Laiming acquired an insurance agency in Gridley, Illinois and began his career as the owner of Laiming Insurance Group. He graduated from Wittenberg University in 1970 and was working at Washington National Insurance Co. His wife, Susan, was from Gridley and Paul saw the opportunity when an insurance agency owner wanted to retire.
“It’s the best thing I ever did,” Paul said.
For several years, Paul had an unique specialty in aerospace product liability insurance. “I was licensed in fifteen states,” he said, which meant at that time much of his business was outside of Illinois.
The company has sold both personal and commercial insurance policies over the years, with around 40% of the business coming from personal policies (such as homeowners and auto insurance) and 60% from commercial policies, including liability and property.
“Now the personal insurance business has changed in that younger customers are less interested in forming a relationship with an agent,” said Paul. However, it’s still very important for commercial clients to form solid relationships with their agent or agency.
In 2005, Laiming acquired Bowles Insurance Agency in Bloomington, which increased Paul’s connection with the Bloomington-Normal business community. Laiming later merged with the Van Gundy Insurance agency in Normal in June 2016.
“At Van Gundy the commercial business accounts for over 70% of the business and 30% for personal,” said Paul. Van Gundy represents 35 insurance companies for commercial lines, twelve companies for personal, and eight companies for specialty.
Paul says he most enjoys the relationships he has formed with both clients and underwriters. “You need a good relationship with an underwriter to make business happen,” Paul says.
The Van Gundy agency has about 28 employees today, including Paul, who still has his office in Gridley.