A Midwestern insurer that was struggling 2 years ago is starting to make what looks like a strong comeback.[@@]

Andrew Kligerman and other securities analysts at UBS Securities L.L.C., New York, give that assessment in a comment on a recent “field trip” to Conseco’s Carmel, Ind., headquarters.

Conseco filed for bankruptcy court protection because of problems with consumer finance affiliates and emerged from court protection in September 2003.

Florida regulators have forced the company to restructure rates and benefits for home health care policies there, and Conseco has stopped selling new long term care insurance policies.

But the restructuring of the Florida home health care block appears to be going well, with 40% of policyholders agreeing to 50% rate increases with no changes in benefits and 57% taking paid-up policies, the UBS analysts write.

Conseco’s Bankers Life and Casualty Co. subsidiary will seek rate increases of more than 30% on LTC policies still in force, the analysts write.

The UBS analysts say the proposed rate increases and Florida home health care remediation efforts may help Conseco’s LTC block break even and eliminate the need to add to LTC reserves in the near future.

Conseco is planning to sell a hybrid long term care-life insurance product sometime next year, the analysts add.

Bankers Life has opened 30 new branches, replaced 40 “underperforming” branch managers, and increased its force of captive agents to 4,650, from 4,000 at the end of 2003, and the UBS analysts say the efforts to strengthen distribution should help 2006 sales of life, annuity and supplemental health products.