A major Chattanooga, Tenn., insurer says its third-quarter results show it’s serious about demanding realistic prices.[@@]

In the past, some critics have accused UnumProvident Corp. of trying too hard by using low rates to win low-quality business.

The company, best known as a leader in the individual and group disability insurance markets, is reporting $168 million in net income for the latest quarter on $2.7 billion in revenue, up from $109 million in net income on $2.6 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2003.

The company also is reporting drops in sales in some product lines.

Annualized sales at the company’s Colonial Life worksite benefits unit fell only slightly, to $61.2 million, from $61.8 million for the third quarter of 2003.

But sales of group long-term disability insurance fell 24%, to $41 million, and sales of group short-term disability insurance fell 42%, to $8.3 million.

Sales of individual disability insurance fell 8.5%, to $26 million.

At the long term care operation, sales fell 28% for group customers, to $3.6 million, and sales fell 57% for individual customers, to $4.2 million.

“The decline in sales activity is primarily due to the company’s disciplined pricing strategy and the competitive market environment,” UnumProvident says in a statement about its third-quarter earnings. “The company expects the lower rate of sales activity to continue as it places a higher emphasis on the profitability of its business.”