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Unum pays 7.7 percent more comp for U.S. voluntary sales

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Unum Group, a big seller of health-related products other than major medical insurance, is still paying insurance agents and brokers to sell its products.

The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based insurer spent a total of $257 million, or 12 percent of its $2.8 billion in third-quarter revenue, on sales commissions.

Companywide commission spending was 4.3 percent higher in the latest quarter than in the third quarter of 2015.

Unum is one of the biggest players in the U.S. group disability insurance market. It’s also a major seller of voluntary insurance products — group products with premiums paid at least partly by the employees —  and of individual insurance products sold at the work site.

Commission spending at the Unum U.S. and Colonial Life voluntary and worksite businesses jumped 7.8 percent, to $148 million. The agents and brokers selling those products got to keep more than 20 percent of the products’ premium revenue.

Related: Executive sees ACA helping individual dental sales

Commission payments to sellers of traditional U.S. group disability coverage rose 4.2 percent, to $44 million.

Unum disclosed the agent and broker compensation figures in its latest earnings supplement.

The company reported $236 million in net income for the third quarter on $2.8 billion in revenue, up from $204 million in net income on $2.7 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2015.

During a conference call with securities analysts, Jack McGarry, the chief financial officer, said a low ratio of claims to revenue has helped the cushion the company from the effects of very low rates on the kinds of bonds insurers typically put in their portfolios.

“Low new-money yields put pressure on the portfolio yield,” McGarry said.

Executives also talked about Unum’s closed block of long-term care insurance business.

Unum’s LTCI business

Unum was once a large writer of long-term care insurance, and about half of the long-term care insurance business still on its books, in its closed long-term care insurance block, is group coverage.

The long-term care insurance block generated $161 million in premium revenue during the quarter, up from $159 million in premium revenue in the year-earlier quarter.

The long-term care insuranceblock loss ratio, or ratio of claims to revenue, rose to 93.8 percent, from 89.9 percent.

Company executives said the loss ratio rose mainly because the sponsor of a big group long-term care insurance program sponsor dropped the program.

Normally, the termination of an long-term care insurance policy helps an insurer’s earnings, by freeing up some of the reserves backing the policy.

The termination of the big group long-term care insurance policy hurt Unum’s earnings, because the policy came with an unusual provision that automatically converted the group long-term care insurance coverage into individual long-term care insurance coverage, executives said.

Workers who leave an employer’s group long-term care insurance program usually drop their coverage, and that gives group long-term care insurance an unusually high 10 percent termination rate, executives said.

Unum’s individual long-term care insurance coverage has a termination rate under 1 percent.

When the big employer dropped its group long-term care insurance program, and the insureds became individual policyholders, Unum had to change the coverage termination assumptions built into its long-term care insurance loss ratio. The adjustment was big enough to be responsible for most of the increase in the loss ratio, executives said.


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