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Assurant CEO turns focus to phones after employee-benefits exit

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(Bloomberg) — Assurant Inc. Chief Executive Officer Alan Colberg is betting on growing demand for mobile phones and tablets and struck a deal with Google Inc. after agreeing to sell an employee-benefits unit.

The insurer introduced coverage that offers two-year protection against accidental damage of the Nexus phones by Google, whose parent company is Alphabet, the New York-based insurer said Monday in a statement. Colberg said on a July conference call that mobile coverage accounts for about a third of profits at Assurant Solutions, the unit that covers cell phones and computers as well as major appliances.

“We see great opportunities in the U.S. market,” Colberg said Monday in an interview in New York, adding that the insurer also has expanded its reach into Europe and Latin America. “We’re going to benefit from growth just as consumers across these economies use more devices and as these devices get more connected and more complicated.”

Colberg has been reshaping the company in his first year as CEO, retreating from health insurance and focusing on the home and lifestyle sectors. He announced a deal in September to sell Assurant’s employee-benefits business for more than $900 million to Canada’s Sun Life Financial Inc.

“We’re selling it, not because it’s not a good company — it’s a good company — but because for us, it doesn’t really fit with broadly what we’re trying to do,” Colberg said.

He also rearranged management, naming Chief Financial Officer Christopher Pagano as chief risk officer and promoting Peter Walker to chief strategy officer. The company is looking externally for a new CFO, Colberg said Monday.


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