Assurant continues shift toward housing insurance programs

Finds buyer for several health insurance business lines

Assurant (AIZ) is taking the next step in its shift towards a focus on its housing insurance programs, which include renters/apartment insurance, flood insurance, manufactured housing and force-placed insurance.

In April, Assurant announced it was planning to exit the health insurance and employee benefits business. On Wednesday, the company announced will immediately begin to wind down its major medical operations and has reached an agreement in principle to sell “certain business lines and assets” to National General Holdings Corp. (NGHC), a specialty personal lines insurance holding company.

The deal with National General Holdings Corp is subject to final documentation and regulatory approval and terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to a release from Assurant, the company now plans to substantially complete its exit of the health insurance market by the end of 2016.

“Our decision to exit the health insurance market enables us to sharpen our focus on the housing and lifestyle markets, where we see the greatest opportunity for profitable growth,” said Assurant President and CEO Alan Colberg.

“After a thorough review of alternatives for our health business, we believe the actions announced today allow us to uphold our commitments to policyholders while freeing up resources in 2016 to support our capital management strategy,” Colberg said. “We remain strongly committed to ensuring a smooth and orderly transition for our customers, agents and employees.”

Under the terms of the deal, National General Holdings Corp. will acquire Assurant Health’s supplemental and small group self-funded product lines and certain other assets including a proprietary small group sales channel.

Assurant said that Assurant Health will continue sales of its supplemental and small group self-funded products while it finalizes the terms of the transaction with National General Holdings Corp.

As part of the wind-down process, Assurant Health will cease sales of its individual major medical, small group fully-insured and short-term medical health insurance policies on June 15, 2015 and will not participate in open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act for 2016, the company said.

Assurant said that it is “committed to treating all employees fairly and with respect” as the company exits the health insurance market during the next 18 months. Affected employees will be considered for open positions within Assurant, based on qualifications, the company said. For those unable to find another position with Assurant, the company will offer severance, outplacement and job readiness support. The first phase of job reductions will occur this summer and affect an estimated 300 out of approximately 1,700 positions at Assurant Health.

Assurant estimates that the total costs associated with its exit from the health insurance market will amount to $175 million to $250 million. These charges primarily include premium deficiency reserves, severance and retention, contract and lease terminations, and other transaction costs. The company said that it estimates the total future incremental cash expenditures related to these costs will be $95 million to $110 million.

Assurant also said that it continues to pursue a sale of its employee benefits segment to a buyer with a more focused benefits portfolio.

Assurant previously said that it plans to broaden the integrated protection products and services from its Assurant Specialty Property and Assurant Solutions business segments to help customers protect against risk, including offerings such as mobile and other extended service contracts, force-placed insurance, multi-family housing, mortgage solutions, vehicle service contracts and pre-funded funeral plans.  

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