Bonita Springs, Fla.
No public company can dismiss the idea of being acquired out of hand, but Unum President Thomas Watjen says his company is doing well enough to have a choice about its fate.
“We control our own destiny,” Watjen said here at the annual disability conference organized by JHA, Portland, Maine.
Watjen, who was an investment banker when he went to work for a Unum predecessor company in 1994, took over Unum in 2003, at a time when lawsuits and regulatory actions had sent Unum reeling.
Back in 2003, Watjen told JHA attendees, the top priorities for Unum were overhauling operations, restoring financial strength, and dealing with the lawsuits and investigations.
“We did have a little mountain of regulatory issues to work through,” Watjen recalled.
Since 2003, Unum capital levels have improved dramatically, persistency levels have increased, and sales have started to grow again, despite the company’s emphasis on “disciplined pricing” and a focus on employers with 2,000 and fewer covered lives, Watjen said.
Now, Watjen said, Unum is continuing to work on resolving regulatory issues, but the company also has built up a substantial amount of capital, and it is looking for ways to use that capital in securitization efforts.
One idea is to securitize Unum’s closed block of old individual disability policies, Watjen said.
The company also hopes to improve U.S. group disability sales, and to continue to sell group long term care insurance, Watjen said.