Hi Ronen! Could you tell us a little bit about your background, and field of work?
I made Aliyah from Melbourne, Australia in December 2004. Thirteen years later, I am living in Tzur Hadassah with my wife and four children.
Before entering the insurance industry, I worked as an Aliyah Counselor for Olim Chadashim from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Scandinavia. That was a very rewarding experience because I was able to guide fellow Olim through the Aliyah process and assist them with any issues they had as they settled in.
What brought you to want to make Aliyah and move here?
I was very involved in one of the Zionist Youth Movements in Australia, which is home to quite a Zionistic community. Aside from that, my parents are Israeli, so I always had a connection to Israel. Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to live in Israel, which became a reality after I finished university in Australia.
What type of work does Goldfus insurance deal with, and who are the main clientele?
Goldfus Insurance deals with all types of insurance in Israel, ranging from car and home insurance to health, life and long term care, as well as pension plans. As an agency, our main clientele are English-speaking Olim who are looking for high quality service. We also service a large number of companies with pension policies for their employees.
What is your specific job in the Goldfus Insurance Business?
As the Director of Customer Relations, my job allows me to deal with all the various elements of the insurance process, from helping a client understand the available services, to liaising with the insurance companies to ensure that the policy has been set up correctly, as well as assisting with claims from time to time. I am also developing our marketing strategy and online presence, and looking for creative ways for Goldfus Insurance to share our collective wealth of information with the English-speaking community.
How do you find that your work benefits Olim Chadashim?
When Goldfus Insurance first began in 1971, its founder Chaim Goldfus used to visit the Merkazei Klita (Absorption Centres) around the country and assist the Olim Chadashim with understanding the policies they purchased and make sure that their needs were met. This core role has solidified over the years since and Goldfus Insurance continues to provide guidance on the various policies available in Israel, all in English. As an agency that works on salary as opposed to commission, the staff is focused on the service to the client rather than the sale. As a result, we have raised the bar on customer service in Israel by providing the professional service our clients expect, especially compared with their countries of origin.
Do you find that there is an overall mistake- or one thing that American’s coming to Israel miss out on?
The main thing is to try to develop a thicker skin in Israel – and yet, always try to be polite. I know that there is a stigma that all Israelis are harsh and tough and that customers must start by kicking and screaming in order to get their way. But over the years I have found that greeting someone respectfully and remaining calm is the most efficient what to achieve what you need to in Israel.
What are some financial tips that you would give Americans looking to move to Israel, or who have just come here?
The best tips I can offer Americans looking to move to Israel are:
1. Check that your existing US-based life, health and long term care policies will cover you in Israel. If possible, get it in writing. In some cases, it may make more sense to hold on to your American policies rather than purchase a new policy in Israel.
2. Bring your car insurance claims history records with you. While some companies may not be able to accept insurance histories from abroad, we at Goldfus Insurance have the ability to do so, which can certainly benefit the Olim by reducing their car insurance premiums.
What is a memorable moment you had, either with an Oleh or Client, that made you think “this is why I do what I do”?
During a particularly intense period, when the health insurance regulations were changing, we had a client who wanted to extend his medication cover on his health insurance policy. During the process, the insurance company was not so willing to issue this particular client’s extension. I battled it out with the insurance company and was finally able to secure him cover. About a year and half later, I found out that this client had been diagnosed with cancer and was able to have access to otherwise unaffordable medication thanks to the extension on his health insurance policy.
How can you empower other Olim to make informed decisions in the Israeli World?
Be cautious but listen to the offers that are out there. Not everything that is on offer is essential but it is important to hear what is being offered, because sometimes it will be the best option for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and collect all the details available. And never do something because you feel pressured, there is usually another opportunity down the road.
Do you have any one tip or advice for those coming to Israel? Any other last words or tips for others?
Come with an open mind, embrace the opportunities that become open to you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!