Insurers holding up despite tough economy

Insurers holding up despite tough economy

June 28th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Trends2009products

Area Insurance Companies

Unum Group

* Employees in Chattanooga: Almost 3,000

* Revenues (2008): $9.89 billion

* Market cap: $5.79 billion

BlueCross

* Employees in Chattanooga: 4,400

* Premiums (2008): $3 billion

* Net income (2008): $59.4 million.

Cigna

* Employees in Hamilton County: 2,000

* Employees downtown: 1,100

* Leased space in TVA Office Complex: 190,000 square feet

Chattanooga's key insurance segment is holding up despite the difficult economic environment, officials say.

Unum Group officials said that steps they've taken the past few years to reposition its business are helping the insurer stay profitable during the recession.

"We'll be in an excellent position when the economy recovers," said Thomas R. Watjen, Unum's chief executive.

Earlier this year, Unum reported first-quarter after-tax operating income of $206.7 million, or 62 cents per share, or three cents better than the same period a year ago.

Tom White, senior vice president for investor relations for the Chattanooga-based company, said there has been an improvement in the claims management area as the company shifted from insuring large companies to more medium-size and smaller businesses.

Mr. White said the company sold more insurance to "stable" industries such as health care and education and less in manufacturing and retail, which have been hit harder by the economic slump.

BlueCross is finishing a move into its new $299 million headquarters on Cameron Hill.

BlueCross spokeswoman Mary Thompson said consolidation of 3,700 people in the company's nearly 4,500-member work force in the city positions the company and its subsidiaries as "a national health care solutions company."

BlueCross' fiscal health was hurt by the drop in stock and real estate markets last year. The insurer made more than $101.5 million on its investments in 2007, helping to boost BlueCross profits in 2007 to $172.8 million. But last year, BlueCross ended up losing $29 million on its investments, lowering the company's net income in 2008 to $59.4 million.

Cigna HealthCare kept its major work force presence downtown after reviewing its options.

The company stayed at its existing location in the TVA Office Complex and shifted its Warehouse Row workers there as well, said John Sorrow, Cigna Healthcare's Mid-South division president.


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