StanCorp Financial Group Inc. says the incidence of group long-term disability (LTD) insurance claims was higher than it had expected during the first quarter.

StanCorp., Portland, Ore. (NYSE:SFG), the parent of Standard Insurance, talks about the shift in a discussion of preliminary financial results for the quarter, which ended March 31.

StanCorp net income per diluted share likely will fall to less than 74 cents for the quarter, from $1.04 in the first quarter of 2010, the company says.

Results for the latest quarter were hurt by less favorable group LTD claims experience, and the shift in group LTD claims experience was due primarily to an increase in the number of claims, the company says.

“The higher incidence was not concentrated in any single industry, region or policy year,” the company says.

The ratio of group benefits to premiums was about 84% for the latest quarter, and the company has been expecting a benefit ratio of 73.6% to 78.3% for the full year, the company says.

“Claims experience can fluctuate widely from quarter to quarter and tends to be more stable when measured over a longer period of time,” StanCorp says.

Although group LTD claims were up, group insurance sales, group insurance premiums and asset management earnings were also higher, the company says.

In 2010, group disability insurance market experts noted that group disability claims often rise during a recession, and that, at that time, overall industry claims incidence seemed to be more stable than many had expected.

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