NU Online News Service, May 5, 2004, 5:42 p.m. EDT – Successful efforts to control group life and disability claims helped first-quarter results at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford.[@@]

The company is reporting $568 million in net income for the latest quarter on $5.7 billion in revenue, compared with a net loss of $1.4 billion in net income on $4.3 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2003.

The first-quarter 2003 loss was due mainly to an adjustment to the reserves Hartford’s property-casualty business has set aside for asbestos claims.

Total life operating income increased 45%, to $256 million, because of a 38% gain in group benefits income, to $47 million, and a 58% gain in individual annuity income, to $112 million.

The stock market rebound and the acquisition of a large group benefits business from CNA Financial Corp., Chicago, played a part in the performance of the life unit.

“The integration of the CNA business is ahead of plan,” Hartford says.

But Hartford says strong group benefits underwriting and disciplined group benefits claims management also helped life unit results.