A New York investment firm is initiating securities analyst coverage of 8 U.S. life insurers.

Sterne Agee Group Inc., New York, a securities brokerage firm, says it will be providing analysis of Assurant Inc., New York; Ameriprise Financial Inc., Minneapolis; Genworth Financial Inc., Richmond, Va.; Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford; Lincoln National Corp., Philadelphia; MetLife Inc., New York; Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa; Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J.; and Reinsurance Group of America Inc., Chesterfield, Mo.

The analysts in charge of the coverage are John Nadel and Jason Weyeneth.

Many of the larger insurers probably will report lower-than-expected earnings, and their book value totals may not be pretty, the analysts write in a summary of a new report on the companies.

But the insurers’ loss and default rates are “not that bad, and in some cases quite insignificant if we only go back to historically high levels,” the analysts write.

The analysts show what hits have been taken, classified by vintage and rating, for various classes of investment vehicles.