NU Online News Service, Feb. 25, 4:13 p.m. – Three of the 39 U.S. insurers that failed in 2002 were life insurers and eight were health insurers, according to Standard & Poor’s Inc., New York.

In 2001, no life insurers failed but 11 health insurers collapsed.

S&P is blaming the life company failures mainly on weak stock prices, low interest rates and defaults on corporate bonds.

Most of the health insurers that failed suffered from small size. The largest insurer that died, a Northern California health maintenance organization, also had to cope with the effects of the economic downturn on its Silicon Valley customer base, S&P says.