Insurers got the third-quarter earnings announcement cycle off to a positive start this week.

Ameriprise Financial Inc., Minneapolis (NYSE:AMP)

3 Q 2009 Results

NET INCOME: $260 million

REVENUE: $2 billion

3 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $84 million loss

NET INVESTMENT CHANGE: $357 million loss

- Ameriprise reported only $27 million in losses on investments during the quarter.

- Annuities generated $268 million in pretax income, up from a pretax loss of $34 million for the third quarter of 2008. Fixed annuity balances and spread income were higher.

- Total annuity net flows increased to $527 million, from $384 million.

- Net variable annuity living benefits market impact was negative $66 million, compared with positive $27 million in the third quarter of 2008

- Variable annuity deposits fell to $1.4 million, from $.17 million. Fixed annuity deposits fell to $343 million, from $378 million, but withdrawals and terminations fell both for VA and for FA contracts.

StanCorp Financial Group Inc., Portland, Ore. (NYSE:SFG)

3 Q 2009 Results

NET INCOME: $60 million

NET REALIZED INVESTMENT CHANGE: $2.3 million loss

NET REALIZED INVESTMENT CHANGE REPORTED IN “OTHER COMPREHENSIVE INCOME”: 0

REVENUE: $702 million

3 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $40 million

NET REALIZED INVESTMENT CHANGE: $42 million loss

NET REALIZED INVESTMENT CHANGE REPORTED IN “OTHER COMPREHENSIVE INCOME: 0

REVENUE: $646 million

- Group insurance sales increased to $60 million, from $34 million.

- Overall group insurance premiums fell 4.7%, to $463 million. “The decrease in premiums for the third quarter of 2009 compared to the third quarter of 2008 reflected the effects of challenging economic conditions on wage rates and employment levels that affect the organic growth of in-force business,” according to StanCorp, the parent of Standard Insurance Company.

UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn. (NYSE:UNH)

3 Q 2009 Results

NET INCOME: $1 billion

HEALTH PLAN MEMBERS: 32 million

REVENUE: $22 billion

3 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $920 million

HEALTH PLAN MEMBERS: 33 million

REVENUE: $20 billion

- Commercial enrollment fell to 25 million, from more than 26 million, as Medicare and Medicaid enrollment increased to 7.2 million, from 6.3 million.

- “During the third quarter UnitedHealthcare had declines of 80,000 people served through fee-based programs and 195,000 people in risk-based health benefit plans,” the company says. “Reflecting the challenging economic climate, employment attrition at continuing clients was the most significant factor in these decreases, accounting for more than 80% of the total third quarter decline.”

- H1N1 influenza virus costs have increased the ratio of medical claims to premiums by 0.3 percentage points, to 82%.