December 2, 2014

Not Your Grandparents’ Insurance

Way back in 1964, a man named Van Kelsey, who had started selling life insurance door-to-door in the late 1940s, founded Kelsey National Corporation (KNC). This year, KNC is proud to be celebrating its golden anniversary – 50 years of experience and innovation in the US insurance industry.

Why are we bringing this up? Well, KNC is the parent organization of, and if it weren’t for Van’s entrepreneurial spirit all those years ago, we wouldn’t be around today.

50 Years of Change in the US Benefits Industry

Much has changed in the US insurance industry over the past 50 years.

Much has changed in the US insurance industry over the past 50 years.

But there’s another reason we think Kelsey’s achievement is worthy of note. It serves as a timely reminder of just how much has really changed in the way insurance products are created and sold.

A great deal has changed in the US insurance industry over the past half century, and KNC has been on the front lines of this transformation. For example, Van Kelsey was among the first to see the advantages of providing group insurance plans to businesses, an insight he soon translated into a successful bid to provide group benefits to the members of local, state, and eventually national insurance associations.

In fact, KNC and the US insurance industry have matured side by side over the course of the last 50 years. During this time, the concept of single carrier solutions for employee groups has disappeared. The internet and digital technologies have enabled multi-carrier comparison tools, and companies like KNC continue to perfect this concept.

Insurance options for individual consumers, not just employers

Today, sites like those run by KNC ( is just one of them) are able to provide a vast range of insurance choices directly to consumers, something that was barely imaginable when Van R. Kelsey Sr. founded the company in the ‘60s.

Over the course of its history, KNC has built an impressive legacy. That includes extensive experience building online dental, health, vision, and other types of insurance marketplaces. And those marketplaces are no longer just for employers, benefit consulting houses, or large associations. They are directly serving individual consumers as well, without the need for intermediaries.

Decades of innovation, growth, and change

Van led KNC for thirty years until 1994. Then, his son, Mark Kelsey, took over the reins. Much as his father had identified opportunities for the insurance industry during the post-WWII era, Mark’s Presidency tapped the potential for online technologies and ecommerce.

With Mark at the helm, KNC developed its broad range of consumer-oriented insurance web sites. These include, which helps empower small businesses and individuals to make informed health insurance decisions. And, of course, there’s this site,, KNC’s online exchange platform for dental insurance and discount dental plan comparison shopping.

Earlier this year, Avery Smith, who had served as KNC’s Director of Business Development for the past 7 years, was appointed as the third President in Kelsey’s history. As the US health, dental, and vision insurance industries continue to evolve, Avery has many strategic plans for the future of KNC. These include expanding the company’s self-service exchange-type offerings for consumers.

Empowering individuals through new technologies

“This is the most exciting time for the insurance industry in 50 years,” Smith says. “The empowerment of the individual through new technologies is changing not only the industry and our company but people’s lives.”

The empowerment of the individual through new technologies is changing not only the industry and our company but people’s lives…

Looking to the future, KNC will continue to focus on creating easy-to-use insurance shopping and comparison tools for individuals, families, and retirees. With half a century of solid successes behind us, we’re more dedicated than ever to delivering first-rate services and experiences that keep customers – like you – coming back.

Thank you!

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