Mike Keogh

“Don’t bother doing something unless you’re radically different from the competition” – Richard Branson

By Bill Rusteberg

Mike Keogh was an extraordinary man. A former BCBSTX salesman in the 1950’s, he later built  an independent brokerage in San Antonio with great success. I met Mike in the early 80’s and did quite a bit of business with him.

Not satisfied brokering insurance on behalf of insurance companies, Mike decided life would be better if he could become an insurance company. Starting one is tough he thought, so buying one seemed like the logical thing to do.

He heard there was a small credit life insurance company in South Texas that might be for sale. The owner was Clinton Manges who lived on a ranch in Freer, Texas. Mike made an appointment and drove down to Freer to make a deal.

As Mike told his story back in the day over a martini lunch (my memory may be faulty here with exact details) he convinced Manges to sell his insurance company for $250,000 with the promise not to cash his check for 60 days. Mike bought the insurance company without paying a dime up front because he was confident he could convince his clients to move all their insurance over to his “new” company quickly. Mike was a confident kind of guy and to Mike there was no such thing as an unsolved problem.

He purchased GIC Insurance Company. Under his ownership GIC Insurance Company became a major player in the group medical market very quickly. New business rates were the most competitive in the market. “Insurance companies work on the float” Mike told me. “If we make 2% on the float we win big” he offered.

He paid the highest commissions in the industry which of course attracted a lot of commission hungry brokers. One I knew well was earning +$1,000,000 a year and living the good life. He branched out into the salvage business made possible by his new found wealth. Another broker made investments building a convenience store business in central Texas. The 1980’s were the Golden Years for those of us earning lucrative commissions selling group medical insurance.

A few years before Mike passed away from cancer in 1992 GIC insurance company was placed into receivership by the Texas Department of Insurance in 1989:

Texas Insurance Company Fails: GIC Insurance Co….L.A. TIMES ARCHIVES – MAY 22, 1989 

Texas Insurance Company Fails: GIC Insurance Co. of San Antonio has been placed in receivership after action by the state Board of Insurance to declare the company insolvent, it was announced. The Insurance Board said GIC has an estimated 100,000 accident and health policyholders throughout the state. It was the seventh Texas-based insurance company to fail this year.

But that didn’t stop Mike. He started a TPA and moved as much business as he could from GIC to his new company. Many of his distributors (agents and brokers) remained loyal and moved their business with Mike.

Mike is survived by a son who is still active in the insurance business in San Antonio.


 

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