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History - John Sullivan

2016, March 20 - Catching Up with: John Sullivan, President and CEO

MARCH 20, 2016 - The Lewiston Tribune featured John B. Sullivan, President and CEO of AMERICAN INSURANCE, in the Business Profile section. John responded to reporter Elaine Williams who asked four questions regarding how American Insurance has changed since the Great Recession, the introduction of the Affordable Care Act and his plans leading up to the 100th Anniversary of the company.

Here is the unedited version of his responses.

Business Profile (BP): What is the biggest change in your day-to-day responsibilities since we spoke with you in 2009?

John: We emerged from the "great recession" in a very strong position and have grown as the economy recovered. We also have purchased insurance policies from two retiring agencies and now service a total of over 15,000 property-casualty policies in the quad-cities area. We are one of the largest Idaho based insurance agency for both Safeco Insurance and Grange Insurance Association. We have added new company representation to give our insurance customers a competitive advantage for price and coverage. This growth allowed us to add three more full time positions for a total of 20 employees and reach my long term goal of adding managers in the personal lines and commercial lines departments.

BP: Succession is a focus as your business approaches its 100-year anniversary. What can you share about that?

John: My personal focus now is to plan and facilitate an orderly generational transition in 2020 of management and corporate responsibilities to the 4th Sullivan generation. I am very fortunate to have two very experienced sons in the business – Shawn Sullivan, with 22 years and Philip Sullivan with 12 years of experience. Shawn is VP, Sales Manager and managed the Moscow branch office for 11 years. Philip has managed the Personal Lines Department since 2013. So, both already have management responsibilities that will grow over the next three years to allow for a seamless transition.

My day-to-day activities have now been focused on general management, advertising and marketing including a very active website and social media presence, and I actively provide risk management and agent services for several larger, long-term business customers. I don’t plan to fully retire in 2020 but want to have the freedom to pursue projects which position AMERICAN INSURANCE to continue to grow and be a leading insurance agency in the region. I want to stay involved enough to help plan and celebrate the 100th Anniversary of AMERICAN INSURANCE in 2022.

BP: What is the biggest change in your industry since 2009?

John: There are more and more insurance companies trying to attract customers using the internet. Too many companies means that consumers would have to spend hours on-line or on the phone to quote and compare even two or three insurance companies. Even then, they wouldn’t really know if they found the best pricing. The $billion-dollar advertising campaigns and exaggerated promises of big savings is causing consumers to mistrust what they are hearing.

We think we have a growing advantage over on-line or direct companies. We make insurance shopping easy. One call to AMERICAN INSURANCE and we quote several of the top Independent insurance companies to find you the lowest prices, discounts and best coverage to match your situation. And, we have local agents to provide expert advice and local service to really take care of you. That’s what sets us apart from the one-company agents and no-service directs.

BP: Where do you believe that consumers have the most confusion surrounding insurance and what advice do you give them on the topic?

John: I wish consumers understood the critical differences between AMERICAN INSURANCE, as an Independent Agency VS individual insurance companies. We represent and shop dozens of the largest insurance companies – some you know like Liberty Mutual, Safeco, Progressive, Nationwide, Travelers, Grange – and we have access to hundreds more you don’t know. When you do business at AMERICAN INSURANCE, we work for you, we shop the marketplace for you, we get to know you to offer customized advice, we provide you one-on-one personal service, and we are a local employer that supports our community. Our prices are very competitive with on-line or direct insurance companies that offer none of these extras.

BP: How has the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed your work?

John: Besides auto, home and business insurance, we have a Benefits Department that provides medical insurance for groups and individuals. The ACA certainly isn’t perfect but before the ACA we were seeing firsthand how unaffordable medical insurance was becoming. The numbers of uninsured was growing fast as premiums became unaffordable for individuals and small employers. The system was collapsing, and a crisis was brewing.

The ACA is very complicated and many agents stopped selling medical insurance rather than go through all the new regulations to sell it. When the ACA became the law of land, we decided to embrace it to help our customers and we spent countless hours becoming certified for the Exchanges. Then our agents were the most active in our area at helping people qualify for affordable individual medical insurance in both Idaho and Washington. It was a very time consuming, frustrating, and grueling process in the beginning but has started to improve over time.

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