Only 3 U.S. life insurers failed in 2004.[@@]

U.S. regulators put 5 life insurers under supervision in 2003 and 3 under supervision in 2002, according to a report published by analysts at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, New York.

The companies that failed in 2004 were National Health Insurance Company, Dallas; Life & Health Insurance Company of America, Philadelphia; and Acadian Life Insurance Company, Baton Rouge, La.

When the S&P analysts looked at health insurers, they found that 3 failed in 2004, 3 failed in 2003, and 8 failed in 2002.

The health carriers that failed in 2004 were Primehealth of Alabama Inc., Mobile, Ala.; Family Health Care Plus Inc., Jackson, Miss.; and Metrowest Health Plan Inc., Fort Worth, Texas.

A total of 19 carriers of all types, including property-casualty, were put under regulatory supervision in 2004, down from 28 in 2003 and 39 in 2002.

The S&P analysts note that the total number of carriers that fail each year has declined steadily since 2000.

“This suggests an increasingly favorable environment for insurers in general,” the S&P analysts write in their report. “However, the extent and consistency of improvement in 2004 was better than expected.”