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Virginia Places Insurer Under Receivership

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Virginia insurance regulators have taken control of Shenandoah Life Insurance Company and restricted payments of some types of claims and benefits, officials said Thursday.

A state court in Richmond, Va., has named the Virginia State Corporation Commission receiver for Shenandoah Life, Roanoke, Va., and it has named Virginia Insurance Commissioner Alfred Gross the deputy receiver.

Both Shenandoah Life and Virginia regulators agreed that a receivership was necessary, officials say.

Shenandoah Life was founded in 1914 and is licensed to do business in 31 states and the District of Columbia. It has been selling life insurance, annuities and dental insurance.

The company recently suffered about $50 million in losses on investments in preferred stock issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association, Washington, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., McLean, Va., officials say.

“A moratorium has been placed on the payment of claims and benefits, except for accident and health claims, death claims, and periodic annuity payments, until the deputy receiver completes his evaluation of Shenandoah Life’s financial condition,” officials say. “The company currently will no longer issue new insurance policies.”

American United Mutual Insurance Holding Company, a unit of OneAmerica Financial Partners Inc., Indianapolis, announced Thursday that it has ended efforts to acquire Shenandoah Life.

OneAmerica and Shenandoah Life announced a preliminary merger agreement in November 2008.

Shenandoah Life has posted a collection of questions and answers about the week’s events on its Web site.

One of the questions is, “Is Shenandoah Life going to be placed in liquidation?”

“Concerted efforts are being made to rehabilitate the company so that such action is not necessary,” Shenandoah Life says. “However, it is too early … to provide any assurances as to eventual outcomes.”

The Q&A document also gives more information about restrictions on payments of claims.

“At this time, the deputy receiver has imposed certain moratoriums upon policy loans (other than automatic loans), payment of cash or surrender values, surrenders, fund transfers, cash-outs, and similar payments and certain contract changes or conversions pending further orders,” according to the authors of the document.

Elsewhere, the authors of the document note that the Virginia Life, Accident and Sickness Insurance Guaranty Association protects “$100,000 in cash values or $350,000 for all benefits, including cash values, with respect to one life.” Protection for “individual annuity benefits is $100,000 in present value, including net cash surrender and net cash withdrawal values,” and some annuities established inside individual retirement accounts may have up to $250,000 in coverage.