Assurant Inc. (NYSE:AIZ) says it is looking for buyers for its health insurance and employee benefits units.
One way or another, Assurant wants to get out of the health insurance market by 2016, the company says.
The company plans to release first-quarter results Tuesday.
The company as a whole will report about $40 million to $50 million in net operating income for the quarter. The benefits unit has been doing about as well as the other units, but the Assurant Health unit will report about $80 million to $90 million in net operating losses, the company says.
About half of that loss is the result of a reduction in expected recoveries from the three Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) risk-management programs, and about half reflects high claims on PPACA-compliant policies in force during the first quarter, the company says.
Whether Assurant can sell Assurant Health or not, it will begin the process of leaving the health insurance market this year, and will not participate in the open enrollment period for 2016, the company says.
“The company’s exit will be substantially complete in 2016,” the company says.
Assurant says it wants to focus on its mortgage insurance and personal property protection insurance businesses.
Alan Colberg, Assurant’s president, said the company has decided to sell the health and benefits units because it does not believe the units can increase returns as quickly as the company requires.
“While this is a difficult decision, we believe they would be strong assets for new owners that are focused more exclusively on health care and employee benefits,” Colberg says.
Barclays Capital is helping Assurant sell the units.
Assurant Health is based in Milwaukee. It reported a $37 million net loss for the fourth quarter of 2014 on $503 million in revenue.
The Assurant Employee Benefits unit, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., and sells products such as dental insurance and group disability insurance, has relationships with about 30,000 small and midsize employers. It reported $7.2 million in net operating income for the fourth quarter on $269 million in revenue. The benefits unit has been profitable, and Assurant seems confident that it will be able to find a buyer for that unit.
Fortis, a financial services company based in Belgium and the Netherlands, created Assurant by selling 65 percent of its stake in its U.S. insurance operations to the public through an initial public offering (IPO) in 2004.
Fortis acquired Time Insurance Company, the company at the heart of Assurant Health, in 1977. Time itself was founded in 1946, and it was one of the companies that helped create the modern U.S. group health insurance industry.
Fortis acquired one of the companies at the heart of Assurant Employee Benefits, Western Life Insurance Company, in 1984, and the other company, Mutual Benefit Life Company, in 1991.
In 1998, Fortis expanded the health unit by paying $600 million for John Alden Financial Corp., a player in the small-group health market.