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Life Health > Life Insurance

Insurer To Reduce VA Risk

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Executives at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. say the company will reassess variable annuity product features and pricing in light of the recent investment market turmoil.

But the Hartford life and property-casualty operating businesses “continue to perform well in a challenging environment,” reflecting strong underwriting at the property-casualty operations and a “sharpening of focus” at the life operations, executives said at an investor meeting.

Hartford Financial, Hartford, also announced that it was boosting its yearly profit target by 40 cents, to $4.70 to $4.90 per share.

In October, Hartford lowered the yearly profit forecast from $9.20 to $9.50 per share.

The company posted a $2.6 billion net loss for the third quarter, attributing much of that total to investment losses and exposure to variable annuity benefits guarantees.

Hartford has announced plans to acquire a thrift and apply for a thrift charter in an effort to participate in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Capital Purchase Program.

Today, Hartford executives said the company “expects to recover the vast majority” of the unrealized loss position that the company wrote off “even in a deep recession.”

But the company is moving ahead with efforts to reshape the VA operations.

The changes were prompted by the “severe decline in equity markets and unprecedented levels of volatility in 2008 [that] have caused capital strain for companies across the life industry,” Hartford Chairman Ramani Ayer said.

Products will be reshaped in “light of consumer preferences, risk management and capital needs,” Ayer said. The goal, he said, is to “substantially reduce the risk arising out of our variable annuity businesses.”

But Hartford “is well-capitalized and has ample liquidity,” Ayer said.

The outlook for the life operations through year-end “indicates more than sufficient capital in current market conditions, and even assuming significant additional market deterioration,” Ayer said.

“We have ample liquidity, with no senior debt maturing until mid-2010,” Ayer said.


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