GTL Connect Volume 4, Number 6 January 2007
Smart and simple approach to insurance.
Entrepreneurs Shannon and Shawn Kennedy are revolutionizing the way insurance is marketed, making it easier for agents to reach customers and make sales via the Internet. One of their most successful offerings is fast-issue term life insurance from GTL, which they call “the most exciting product on the market today.”
One of GTL’s most rewarding partnerships recently has been with SASid. The brainchild of brothers Shannon and Shawn Kennedy, SASid set out in 1999 to use the Internet to distribute insurance products. Today the Wisconsin-based company is at the forefront of the online insurance industry. What the Kennedys understood—and still believe—is that independent agents are always going to be an essential element in insurance sales. They decided to provide agents with Web-based tools and products that would simplify their business and make them more effective producers. The idea is paying off. What started out simply as the Kennedy brothers’ Web site is now a national company that delivers insurance products and technology solutions to more than 3,000 financial professionals, insurance agencies, employers and associations. “I expect us to double in size over the next year or so, and we’re already looking at putting up a new building that will give us room to expand,” Shannon Kennedy explained.“ We’ve put together an amazingly talented group of people who are focused on growing the company and doing what it takes to make that happen.” It might seem natural that the Kennedys would get into the insurance business, since their father owned a large firm that specialized in the small group health market. Shannon even went to work for his father after graduating from college. As he explained, however, “My brother and I have always been technology guys, whether it’s playing video games or writing computer programs. We decided we wanted to get into the technology end of the business, and our dad gave us his blessing to start SAS on the side. We found out we could be successful marketing on the Internet— selling insurance in our sleep.” The brothers complement each other, with Shawn concentrating more on the technology side and Shannon working primarily on product development and marketing. They have been known to argue, but according to Shannon, “If we stopped arguing it would probably be time to start worrying. We realized that if we’re willing to fight about something it means we’re passionate about it. We also concluded that if one of us can’t sell the other one on the idea we’re fighting about, maybe it’s not worth developing.” SASid offers a portfolio of life and health products, electronic quote and application processes, and a proprietary Back Office System (BOS) to handle customer management. SASid can even set agents up with their own Web site. All of the company’s systems are developed in-house. “We’ve become a virtual insurance company,” Shannon said.“We do everything traditional insurance companies do except manage risk. And we do it all through the Internet. We’ve become extremely efficient in using technology to handle administration. Agents who sell one policy through us are hooked.” He added, “I know from my own experience that agents hate paperwork, so we provide them with a paperless alternative. They don’t like to be involved in underwriting. We handle that through our system. As a result, agents are free to do what they do best: market, educate and inform. They can leave the rest up to us. We help them work smarter while simplifying their job. In fact these days, that’s basically what the initials SAS stand for—smart and simple.” SASid has been marketing products from GTL since 2005. The biggest seller is GTL Fast Term life insurance, which SASid describes as “the most exciting product on the market today.” Based on GTL’s Home Alliance line, it provides up to $250,000 of coverage with no medical examination. “We’ve been very selective about the products we offer and the carriers we do business with, and our relationship with GTL couldn’t have worked out better,” Shannon Kennedy said.“A lot of carriers are hesitant to market on the Internet, but GTL stepped up to the plate and said,’ Let’s do it.’ This is a different way of doing business for them and they were willing to undertake it. We really appreciate that. “The whole staff at GTL is wonderful, starting with the senior management we deal with—Rick Holson, Carl Leader and Greg Esposito. If we ever have a problem, I know I can pick up the phone and work with them to solve it.” G•T•L