The Unum Group (NYSE: UNM) provides individual and group income-protection insurance. Unum also offers long-term care insurance, group benefits, and life insurance. It is the largest domestic disability insurer in the United States, with the majority of premiums coming from employer insurance plans.
UNM also provides a complementary portfolio of other insurance products, including employer- and employee-paid group benefits, life insurance, long-term care insurance, and other related services. UNM operates in three major business segments: Unum US, Unum UK, and Colonial Life.
Headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Unum Group (UNM) was created following the June 1999 merger of Provident Companies, Inc. and Unum Corporation. Along with disability insurance, the company provides long-term care insurance, life insurance, employer- and employee-paid group benefits, and related services. Since January 2003, UnumProvident has been classifying its operations into five segments: Income Protection, Life and Accident, Colonial, Corporate, and Other. Effective July 1, 2005, the company modified its reporting segments to separate its United States business from its United Kingdom subsidiary, Unum Limited. On January 16, 2007, the company stated its intention to change (for broadening branding initiatives) its name to Unum Group from UnumProvident Corporation, after obtaining the necessary legal approvals (effective March 2, 2007). In the intervening time, the company will use its new operating segment names U.S. Brokerage will be called Unum US, and Unum Limited (the U.K. business) will be called Unum UK. The company's business operations are now segmented as follows:
The Unum Group provides a wide variety of insurance products. It is the largest provider of group disability insurance in the United States, and it also provides other insurance products such as income-protection, life, long-term care, and corporate-oriented group insurance. Unum also provides services in the United Kingdom through Unum U.K.
Unum’s insurance products are usually sold through insurance brokers. Unum is also trying to shift its focus on small and medium-sized group plans.
In 2009, UNM earned a total of $10.1 billion in total revenues. This was virtually the same as the previous year's total revenues of $10.0 billion.However, this had a substantial impact on UNM's net income. Between 2008 and 2009, UNM's net income increased from $553 million in 2008 to $853 million in 2009.
Due to the risk involved in insuring large groups, Unum has set underwriting procedures. If a particular individual in the group does not meet its general requirements,the insurance purchaser must provide proof of that individual’s insurability. Unum attracts new customers by offering one to three-year rate guarantees on its policies, although policyholders wishing to renew typically receive a one-year rate guarantee. Unum pays special attention to its obligations for these products as they are especially susceptible to economic recessions. Policies for larger groups tend to have smaller profit margins and less risk than those to smaller groups since large policyholders can usually weather a certain amount of economic turmoil.
Unum works with companies to sell these products as employee benefits. Its accidental death product mainly covers travel accidents, and its life insurance product is typically linked to employees’ wages.
Policyholders may receive a certain percentage of their monthly income if they are sick or injured. These policies may be custom-tailored to include temporary transfer of ownership in a business and payment for business overhead expense. The rates are determined, amongst other things, by age, gender, and occupation.
Since the reserves are set apart using expected liability payments, if actual payments exceed expected payments, then current earnings will be overstated and the excess amount will be deducted from current earnings. Likewise, if the opposite occurs, then current earnings will be understated.
Epidemics, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other events of similar magnitude could result in a rise in claims that Unum could be unprepared for financially. Certain risks, such as that of terrorism, cannot be diversified away. For other events, such as natural disasters, the claim number can be influenced by government policy and government preparedness.
Unum, like most other insurance companies, invests a percentage of the premiums it collects. Unum invests a large portion of it in fixed-income securities. Fluctuations in the economy, accounting fraud, and problems with cash flows could affect the fixed-income securities market, which in turn affect Unum’s portfolio yield.
Unum does business in the United States and the United Kingdom. A change in insurance laws in any of them could affect Unum’s cash flow. In the United States, Unum must conform to Federal, state, and local laws regarding insurance. An increase in the reserve requirement would weaken its earnings. In the United Kingdom, the Financial Services Authority has the ability to bar Unum from conducting business if it fails a regulatory guideline.