NU Online News Service, Oct. 14, 2004, 8:43 p.m. EDT

The stock of a niche life and health insurer fell sharply today.[@@]

The share price of UICI, North Richland Hills, Texas, dropped to 12% today, to $30.45, on unusually heavy volume.

The company, which sells health insurance to students, limited benefit plans to part-time workers and other niche products, says the New York Stock Exchange asked it today to explain the unusual market activity in the company’s common stock.

UICI “has informed the exchange its policy is not to comment on unusual market activity,” UICI says in a statement about the NYSE request.