Best Insurance Companies For 2014

On Thursday, Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG  ) will release its latest quarterly results. The key to making smart investment decisions on stocks reporting earnings is to anticipate how they’ll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you’ll be less likely to make an uninformed kneejerk reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

Intuitive Surgical was a pioneer in the surgical robotics field, leading the industry with its da Vinci robotic surgical system. But recently, the company has faced some new challenges that pose a threat to its growth story. Let’s take an early look at what’s been happening with Intuitive Surgical over the past quarter and what we’re likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on Intuitive Surgical

Analyst EPS Estimate

$3.99

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: Old Republic International Corporation(ORI)

Old Republic International Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides various insurance and mortgage guaranty products in North America. The company operates in three segments: General Insurance, Mortgage Guaranty, and Title Insurance. The General Insurance segment provides liability insurance coverages to businesses, government, and other institutions in commercial construction, forest products, energy, general manufacturing, and financial services industries; and transportation, including trucking and general aviation industries. It provides various insurance products, such as automobile extended warranty, aviation, commercial automobile insurance, general liability, home warranty, inland marine, travel accident, and workers? compensation, as well as liability coverage for claims arising from the acts of owners or employees, and protection for the physical assets of businesses. This segment also offers financial indemnity products, such as consumer credit indemnity , errors and omissions/directors and officers, guaranteed asset protection, and surety, as well as bonds that cover the exposures for losses of monies, or debt and equity securities due to acts of employee dishonesty. The Mortgage Guaranty segment insures first mortgage loans, primarily on residential properties incorporating one-to-four family dwelling units to mortgage bankers, brokers, commercial banks, and savings institutions. The Title Insurance segment provides lenders’ and owners’ title insurance policies to real estate purchasers and investors based upon searches of the public records. It also provides escrow closing and construction disbursement services; and real estate information products, national default management services, and services related to real estate transfers and loan transactions. Old Republic International Corporation markets its products directly, as well as through insurance agents and brokers. The company was founded in 1887 and is based in Chi cago, Illinois.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lawrence Meyers]

    The part I like the most is that WGL sells energy credits and carbon offsets to retail customers. The company makes good money on these elements, selling to customers who just like to feel good about how they are “helping the environment”. WGL has a long history as an energy company and has paid a dividend for 37 years. It currently pays 4.3% annually.

    Old Republic International (ORI)

    The next of our dividend stocks is one you may have heard of: Old Republic International (ORI). Old Republic started back in 1887 and is an insurance company that offers a huge array of products. A lot of insurance products are very high margin, and Old Republic has mastered the art of selling these. Extended Automobile Warranty, Home Warranty an Travel Accident Insurance are great segments to be playing in.

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Insurance underwriting company Old Republic (ORI) raised its quarterly dividend 5.8% to 18 cents per share, payable on Dec. 16 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 4.
    ORI Dividend Yield: 4.28%

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Its big day has also boosted other insurers. Radian Group (RDN) has risen 7.2% to $14.39, while Old Republic International (ORI) has advanced 2.1% to $15.24, Genworth Financial (GNW) is up 3.6% at $13.41 and MBIA Inc. (MBI) has jumped 4.3% to $10.76.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: American Financial Group Inc (AFG)

American Financial Group, Inc. (AFG), incorporated on July 1, 1997, is a holding company, which through subsidiaries, is engaged primarily in property and casualty insurance, focusing on specialized commercial products for businesses and in the sale of traditional fixed and fixed-indexed annuities in the individual, bank and education markets. The Company’s segment includes: property and casualty insurance, annuity, run-off long-term care and life and other. In August 2012, the Company sold its Medicare supplement and critical illness businesses.

Property and Casualty Insurance

AFG’s specialty property and casualty insurance operations consist of approximately 30 niche insurance businesses offering a range of commercial coverages. Under the property and transportation segment, inland and ocean marine provides coverage primarily for builders’ risk, contractors’ equipment, property, motor truck cargo, marine cargo, boat dealers, marina operato rs/dealers and excursion vessels. The agriculture-related business provides federally reinsured multi-peril crop (allied lines) insurance covering perils, as well as crop-hail, equine mortality and other coverages for operating farms/ranches and agribusiness operations on a nationwide basis. The commercial automobile business provides coverage for vehicles (such as buses and trucks) in a range of businesses, including the moving and storage and transportation industries, and a specialized physical damage product for the trucking industry.

Under the specialty casualty segment, executive and professional liability business markets coverage for directors and officers of businesses and non-profit organizations, errors and omissions, and provides non-United States medical malpractice insurance. The umbrella and excess liability business provides higher layer liability coverage in excess of primary layers. The excess and surplus business provides liability, umbrella and excess coverage for risks, using rates and forms that ge! nerally do not have to be approved by state insurance regulators. The general liability business provides coverage for contractor-related businesses, energy development and production risks, and environmental liability risks. The targeted programs includes coverage (primarily liability and property) for social service agencies, leisure, entertainment and non-profit organizations, customized solutions for other targeted markets and alternative risk programs using agency captives. The Workers’ Compensation provides coverage for prescribed benefits payable to employees who are injured on the job.

Under the specialty financial segment, fidelity and surety provides fidelity and crime coverage for government, mercantile and financial institutions and surety coverage for various types of contractors and public and private corporations. Lease and loan services provides coverage for insurance risk management programs for lending and leasing institutions, including equi pment leasing and collateral and mortgage protection.

Annuity Operations

AFG’s annuity operations is engaged primarily in the sale of fixed and fixed-indexed annuities in the individual, bank and education markets through independent producers and also sell annuities through direct relationships with banks. Annuities are long-term retirement saving instruments that benefit from income accruing on a tax-deferred basis. The issuer of the annuity collects premiums, credits interest or earnings on the policy and pays out a benefit upon death, surrender or annuitization. Single premium annuities are generally issued in exchange for a one-time lump-sum premium payment. Certain annuities, primarily in the education market, have premium payments that are flexible in both amount and timing as determined by the policyholder and are generally made through payroll deductions.

A fixed-indexed annuity provides policyholders with the opportunity to receive a crediting rate tied, in part, to the performanc! e of an e! xisting market index (generally the S&P 500) while protecting against the related downside risk through a guarantee of principal (excluding surrender charges, market value adjustments, and certain benefit charges). AFG purchases call options designed to substantially offset the effect of the index participation in the liabilities associated with fixed-indexed annuities.

Run-off long-term care and life

The majority of AFG’s investment in its run-off long-term care and life operations (including 100% of its long-term care business) is in the following subsidiaries: United Teacher Associates Insurance Company, Continental General Insurance Company and Manhattan National Life Insurance Company. United Teacher Associates Insurance Company’s products include Long-term care, life and annuities. Continental General Insurance Company’s products include Long-term care, life and annuities.

Other Operations

Through subsidiaries, AFG is engaged in a range of other operations, including commercial real estate operations in Cincinnati (office buildings and The Cincinnatian Hotel), New Orleans (Le Pavillon Hotel), Whitefield, New Hampshire (Mountain View Grand Resort), Chesapeake Bay (Skipjack Cove Yachting Resort and Bay Bridge Marina), Charleston (Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina), Palm Beach (Sailfish Marina and Resort), Florida City, Florida (retail commercial development) and apartments in Louisville and Pittsburgh.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of American International Group have dropped 1.7% to $49.67 at 1:19 p.m. today, while American Financial Group (AFG) has, dropped 0.2% to $57.23, HCC Insurance (HCC) is little changed at $45.12, Travelers (TRV) has dipped 0.1% to $83.52 and Chubb (CB) is off 0.1% at $86.58.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: MBIA Inc (MBI)

MBIA Inc. (MBIA), incorporated on November 12, 1986, together with its consolidated subsidiaries, operates the financial guarantee insurance businesses in the industry and is a provider of asset management advisory services. These activities are managed through three business segments: United States public finance insurance, structured finance and international insurance, and advisory services. The Company’s United States public finance insurance business is operated through National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation and its subsidiaries (National), its structured finance and international insurance business is primarily operated through MBIA Insurance Corporation and its subsidiaries (MBIA Corp.), and its asset management advisory services business is primarily operated through Cutwater Holdings, LLC and its subsidiaries (Cutwater). It also manages certain business activities through its corporate, asset/liability products, and conduit segments. The corporate segment includes revenues and expenses that arise from general corporate activities. Funding programs managed through the asset/liability products and conduit segments are in wind-down.

MBIA Corp. owns MBIA UK Insurance Limited (MBIA UK), a financial guarantee insurance company that is regulated and supervised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the United Kingdom and is authorized to carry out insurance business in the United Kingdom and in the European Economic Area on a cross border services basis. Its financial guarantee insurance generally provides investors with an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee of the payment of the principal, interest or other amounts owing on insured obligations when due or, in the event that the Company has the right at its discretion to accelerate insured obligations upon default or otherwise, upon its election to accelerate. The Company conducts its financial guarantee business, as well as related reinsurance, advisory and portfolio services, through its subsidiaries National Publi! c Finance Guarantee Corporation (National), its United States (United States) public finance-only financial guarantee company, and MBIA Insurance Corporation and its subsidiaries (MBIA Corp.), which write global structured finance and non-United States public finance financial guarantee insurance.

Insurance operations

The Company’s United States public finance insurance business is conducted through National, and its structured finance and international insurance operations are conducted through MBIA Corp. and its subsidiaries. It also issue insurance policies to guarantee the payment of principal and interest on municipal obligations being traded in the secondary market upon the request of a broker or an existing holder of uninsured bonds, where premium is generally paid by the owner of the obligation. In addition, the Company has provided financial guarantees to debt service reserve funds. The primary risk in its insurance operations is that o f adverse credit performance in the insured portfolio. It seeks to maintain a diversified insured portfolio and have designed each insured portfolio with the aim of managing and diversifying risk based on a range of criteria, including revenue source, issue size, type of asset, industry concentrations, type of bond and geographic area.

Through the Company’s reinsurance of United States public finance financial guarantees from MBIA Corp. and Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (FGIC), National’s insurance portfolio consists of municipal bonds, including tax-exempt and taxable indebtedness of United States political subdivisions, as well as utility districts, airports, health care institutions, higher educational facilities, student loan issuers, housing authorities and other similar agencies and obligations issued by private entities that finance projects that serve a substantial public purpose. Municipal bonds and privately issued bonds used for the fina ncing of public purpose projects are generally supported by ! taxes, as! sessments, user fees or tariffs related to the use of these projects, lease payments or other similar types of revenue streams. As of December 31, 2012, MBIA Corp. had 899 policies outstanding in its insured portfolio. In addition, MBIA Corp. had 199 insurance policies outstanding relating to asset/liability products liabilities issued by MBIA Inc. and its subsidiaries.

Advisory Services

In the Company’s asset management advisory services business its registered investment advisors provide fixed-income asset management services for third parties and the investment portfolios of the Company and its affiliates (including the wind-down businesses) on a fee-for-service basis. Its advisory services are offered in two product lines, traditional and structured. Within the traditional product line, Cutwater offers cash management, customized asset management, discretionary asset management and fund accounting services to governments, insurance companies (including the Company’s insurance subsidiaries), corporations, pension funds, unions, endowments, foundations and investment companies in both pooled and separate account formats. These services are offered through registered investment advisers, and Cutwater receives asset management and administrative fees as compensation. Within the structured product line, Cutwater manages asset/liability programs and conduits (the wind-down businesses), Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other funding vehicles for banks, insurance companies, program trustees and investment companies, and it earns base and performance fees for its services. Cutwater’s advisory services are offered through two principal operating subsidiaries: Cutwater Asset Management Corp. (Cutwater-AMC), an SEC-registered investment adviser and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm, and Cutwater Investor Services Corp. (Cutwater-ISC), an SEC-registered investment adviser.

< p>Wind-down Business

The asset/liability produc! ts busine! ss historically raised funds for investment through two sources, such as issuance of customized investment agreements by the Company and one of its subsidiaries for bond proceeds and other funds, and issuance of medium-term notes (MTNs) with varying maturities issued by its subsidiary MBIA Global Funding, LLC (GFL). Each of these products is guaranteed by MBIA Corp. In addition, GFL would lend the proceeds of its GFL MTN issuances to MBIA Inc. (GFL Loans). The Company primarily purchased domestic securities and lent a portion of the proceeds from investment agreements and GFL MTNs to its subsidiary Euro Asset Acquisition Limited, which primarily purchased foreign assets as permitted under the Company’s investment guidelines. The Company’s conduit segment is principally operated through Meridian Funding Company, LLC (Meridian) and, formerly, Triple-A One Funding Corporation (Triple-A One). The conduits were used by banks and other financial institutions to raise funds for their customers in the capital markets. During 2012, Triple-A One was liquated. The conduits provided funding for multiple customers through special purpose vehicles that issued commercial paper and MTNs.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    MBIA (NYSE: MBI) was also up, gaining 9.08 percent to $14.53 after the company reported upbeat Q4 earnings.

    Equities Trading DOWN
    Shares of McDermott International (NYSE: MDR) were down 9.49 percent to $7.34 after the company reported a Q4 loss of $1.37 per share on revenue of $517.3 million. It also withdrew its previous outlook. Capital One Financial downgraded the stock from Equalweight to Underweight and cut the price target from $8.00 to $6.00.

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    MBIA (NYSE: MBI) was also up, gaining 8.18 percent to $14.41 after the company reported upbeat Q4 earnings.

    Equities Trading DOWN
    Shares of McDermott International (NYSE: MDR) were down 6.97 percent to $7.55 after the company reported a Q4 loss of $1.37 per share on revenue of $517.3 million. It also withdrew its previous outlook. Capital One Financial downgraded the stock from Equalweight to Underweight and cut the price target from $8.00 to $6.00.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: Muenchener Rueckversicherungs Gesellschaft AG in Muenchen (MUV2)

Muenchener Rueckversicherungs Gesellschaft AG in Muenchen is a Germany-based holding company engaged in reinsurance and insurance business fields. The Company diversifies its operations into reinsurance, primary insurance, Munich Health and Asset management. The Reinsurance business comprises five divisions: Life; Europe and Latin America; Germany, Asia Pacific and Africa; Special and Financial Risks, and Global Clients and North America. The business covers a range of products from traditional reinsurance products to solutions for risk assumption. The Company’s primary insurance activities are combined into the ERGO Insurance Group (ERGO) and offers direct insurance, life, property-casualty, health, legal expenses and travel insurance products. It covers the Company’s international health reinsurance business and health primary insurance outside Germany and engages the risk management services. The Asset management business handles the investment activities of Munich Re and ERGO. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jonathan Morgan]

    Munich Re (MUV2), the world’s biggest reinsurer, dropped 4.9 percent to 145.25 euros after it said second-quarter profit fell 35 percent, missing analysts’ estimates, as claims arising from natural disasters rose. Net income dropped to 529 million euros from 808 million euros a year earlier, trailing the 557.1 million-euro average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: W.R. Berkley Corporation(WRB)

W. R. Berkley Corporation, an insurance holding company, operates as commercial lines writers in the property casualty insurance business primarily in the United States. The company operates in five segments: Specialty, Regional, Alternative Markets, Reinsurance, and International. The Specialty segment underwrites third-party liability risks, primarily excess, and surplus lines, including premises operations, professional liability, commercial automobile, products liability, and property lines. The Regional segments provide commercial insurance products to small-to-mid-sized businesses, and state and local governmental entities primarily in the 45 states of the United States. The Alternative Markets segment develops, insures, reinsures, and administers self-insurance programs and other alternative risk transfer mechanisms. This segment offers its services to employers, employer groups, insurers, and alternative market funds, as well as provides a range of fee-based servic es, including consulting and administrative services. The Reinsurance segment engages in the underwriting property casualty reinsurance on a treaty and a facultative basis, including individual certificates and program facultative business; and specialty and standard reinsurance lines, and property and casualty reinsurance. The International segment offers personal and commercial property casualty insurance in South America; commercial property casualty insurance in the United Kingdom and continental Europe; and reinsurance in Australia, Southeast Asia, and Canada. The company was founded in 1967 and is based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    W.R. Berkley (NYSE: WRB)is estimated to report its Q3 earnings at $0.74 per share on revenue of $1.57 billion.

    V.F. Corp (NYSE: VFC) is projected to report its Q3 earnings at $3.78 per share on revenue of $3.34 billion.

  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Earnings reports expected on Monday include:

    Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.48 on revenue of $1.10 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.13 on revenue of $905.09 million. Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $1.19 on revenue of $2.07 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $1.21. W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE: WRB) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.71 on revenue of $1.57 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.61 on revenue of $1.42 billion. Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.44 on revenue of $1.27 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.56 on revenue of $1.31 billion.

    Economics

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Insurance holding company W.R. Berkley  (NYSE: WRB  )  announced yesterday its second-quarter dividend of $0.10 per share, an 11% increase over the $0.09 per share it paid last quarter.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: CNA Financial Corp (CNA)

CNA Financial Corporation (CNAF), incorporated in 1967, is an insurance holding company. The Company’s core business commercial property and casualty insurance operations operate in two segments: CNA Specialty and CNA Commercial. Its non-core businesses are managed in two business segments: Life & Group Non-Core and Corporate & Other Non-Core. The Company’s insurance products primarily include commercial property and casualty coverages, including surety. Its services include risk management, information services, and warranty and claims administration. Its products and services are marketed through independent agents, brokers and managing general underwriters to a wide variety of customers, including small, medium and large businesses, associations, professionals and other groups. CNA’s property and casualty and remaining life and group insurance operations are primarily conducted by Continental Casualty Company (CCC), The Continental Insurance Company, Western Surety Company and Continental Assurance Company (CAC). On June 10, 2011, CNA completed the acquisition of CNA Surety Corporation. In July 2012, the Company acquired Hardy Underwriting Bermuda Ltd. On December 14, 2012, the Company sold SUR Insurance Agency, Inc. and The Bond Exchange to California Contractors Insurance Services.

CNA Specialty

CNA Specialty provides professional and management liability and other coverages through property and casualty products and services, both domestically and abroad, through a network of brokers, independent agencies and managing general underwriters. CNA Specialty provides solutions for managing the risks of its clients, including architects, lawyers, accountants, health care professionals, financial intermediaries and public and private companies. Product offerings also include surety and fidelity bonds and warranty services.

CNA Specialty includes four business groups: Professional & Management Liabilit y, International, Surety, and Warranty and Alternative Risks! . Professional & Management Liability provides management and professional liability insurance and risk management services and other specialized property and casualty coverages in the United States. This group provides professional liability coverages to various professional firms, including architects, real estate agents, small and mid-sized accounting firms, law firms and technology firms. Professional & Management Liability also provides D&O, employment practices, fiduciary and fidelity coverages. Products within Professional & Management Liability are distributed through brokers, agents and managing general underwriters. Professional & Management Liability, through CNA HealthPro, also offers insurance products to serve the healthcare delivery system. Products include professional liability and associated standard property and casualty coverages, and are distributed on a national basis through brokers, agents and managing general underwriters. Customer segments include l ong term care facilities, allied health care providers, life sciences, dental professionals and mid-size and large health care facilities.

International provides similar management and professional liability insurance and other specialized property and casualty coverages in Canada and Europe. Surety consists primarily of CNA Surety Corporation (CNA Surety) and its insurance subsidiaries and offers small, medium and large contract and commercial surety bonds. CNA Surety provides surety and fidelity bonds in all 50 states through a combined network of independent agencies.

Warranty and Alternative Risks provides extended service contracts and related products that provide protection from the financial burden associated with mechanical breakdown and other related losses, primarily for vehicles and portable electronic communication devices. These products are distributed through and administered by a wholly owned subsidiary, CNA National Warranty Corpo ration, or through third party administrators.

! CNA Comme! rcial

CNA Commercial works with an independent agency distribution system and a network of brokers to market a range of property and casualty insurance products and services to small, middle-market and large businesses and organizations domestically and abroad. Products include standard and excess property coverages, as well as marine coverage, and boiler and machinery. Casualty products include standard casualty insurance products such as workers’ compensation, general and product liability, commercial auto and umbrella coverages. It also offers pecialized loss-sensitive insurance programs to those customers viewed as higher risk and less predictable in exposure.

The Business insurance group serves smaller commercial accounts and the Commercial insurance group serves middle markets and larger risks. In addition, CNA Commercial provides total risk management services relating to claim and information services to the insurance marketplace, through a wholly owned subsidiary, CNA ClaimPlus, Inc., a third party administrator. The International insurance group primarily consists of the commercial product lines of its operations in Europe, Canada, as well as Hawaii.

CNA Select Risk (Select Risk) includes excess and surplus lines coverages. Risk provides specialized insurance for selected commercial risks on both an individual customer and program basis. Select Risk’s products are distributed throughout the United States through specialist producers, program agents and brokers.

Life & Group Non-Core

The Life & Group Non-Core segment includes the results of the life and group lines of business that are in run-off. It retains block of group reinsurance and life settlement contracts.

Corporate & Other Non-Core

Corporate & Other Non-Core primarily includes certain corporate expenses. This also includes interest on corporate debt, and the results of certain prop erty and casualty business in run-off, including CNA Re and ! A&EP.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Amanda Alix]

    Take Berkshire’s purchase of CNA Financial’s (NYSE: CNA  ) and AIG’s asbestos liability in 2010 and 2011, respectively. For a total of $3.65 billion, Buffett took on $3.5 billion of liability in AIG’s case, and $1.6 billion from CNA. This gave Berkshire a nice big bag of cash to invest, while asbestos cases continued to wend their way through the courts for years. Meanwhile, two troubled insurers received the Berkshire Hathaway brand of security regarding their own future liability in that arena.

  • [By Amanda Alix]

    This is the beauty of the insurance model, and its charm has attracted investing greats like Warren Buffett, who may have pioneered this latest trend through his own company, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  )   (NYSE: BRK-B  ) . In 2010, Berkshire took on AIG’s asbestos liability for a hefty fee, and did the same for CNA Financial (NYSE: CNA  ) the following year. There’s little doubt that Buffett added to his wealth by wisely investing the $3.65 billion he received in those two deals.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: Kemper Corp (KMPR)

Kemper Corporation (Kemper), formerly Unitrin, Inc., incorporated in 1990, is a diversified insurance holding company, with subsidiaries that provide life, health, automobile, homeowners and other insurance products to individuals and small businesses. The Company is engaged, through its subsidiaries, in the property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance and automobile finance businesses. The Company conducts its operations through four operating segments: Kemper Preferred (Preferred), Unitrin Specialty (Specialty), Unitrin Direct (Direct) and Life and Health Insurance. On September 14, 2011, its subsidiary, Fireside Bank sold its loan portfolio to a subsidiary of Consumer Portfolio Services, Inc.

Property and Casualty Insurance Business

The Company’s property and casualty insurance business operations are primarily conducted through the Preferred, Specialty and Direct segments. In addition, the Life and Health Insurance segment’s ca reer agents also sell property insurance to its customers. Its insurance subsidiaries operating in the Preferred, Specialty and Direct segments provide automobile, homeowners, fire, and other types of property and casualty insurance to individuals and commercial automobile insurance to businesses. During the year ended December 31, 2011, automobile insurance in these segments accounted for 54% of its consolidated insurance premiums earned from continuing operations, and 47% of its consolidated revenues from continuing operations. During 2011, homeowners insurance in these segments accounted for 14% of its consolidated insurance premiums earned from continuing operations, and 11% of its consolidated revenues from continuing operations.

Preferred and Specialty segments distribute their products through independent agents who are paid commissions for their services. Direct segment distributes its products directly to consumers and through employer-sponsored voluntary benefit programs and other affinity relationships.! Preferred, based in Jacksonville, Florida, conducts business in 38 states and the District of Columbia. During 2011, the states, which provided over half of the premium revenues in Preferred segment included New York (19%), California (12%), North Carolina (13%) and Texas (10%). Preferred segment primarily sells preferred and standard risk automobile and homeowners insurance. During 2011, Preferred’s insurance products accounted for 53% of the aggregate insurance premium revenues of the Company’s property and casualty insurance business. Its products are marketed by approximately 2,700 independent insurance agents. Specialty, based in Dallas, Texas, conducts business in 21 states, principally in the southwest and western United States. During 2011, the states, which provided more than three-fourths of the premium revenues in Specialty segment included California (42%), Texas (18%), Washington (8%), Louisiana (4%) and Oregon (3%). Specialty provides personal and commerci al automobile insurance. During 2011, Specialty’s insurance products accounted for 28% of the aggregate insurance premium revenues of the Company’s property and casualty insurance business. Specialty’s products are marketed through approximately 8,000 independent agents and brokers.

Direct, based in Chicago, Illinois, markets personal automobile, homeowners and renters insurance through a range of direct-to-consumer Websites, including its own Websites, marketing partners, employer and other affinity-sponsored relationships. The Direct segment’s automobile insurance products are available in 48 states and the District of Columbia. During 2011, the states, which provided approximately two-thirds of the premium revenues in Unitrin Direct segment included Florida (12%), New York (15%), California (10%), Texas (5%), Connecticut (5%), Michigan (8%), Pennsylvania (5%) and Georgia (5%). During 2011, Direct’s insurance products accounted for 14% of the aggrega te insurance premium revenues of its property and casualty i! nsurance ! business.. Direct also offers homeowners and renters insurance across 47states and the District of Columbia, complementing its direct automobile insurance business. The Company manages its exposure to catastrophes and other natural disasters through a combination of geographical diversification, restrictions on the amount and location of new business production in certain regions, and reinsurance. To limit its exposures to catastrophic events, the Company maintains various primary catastrophe reinsurance programs for its property and casualty insurance businesses.

Life and Health Insurance Business

The Company’s Life and Health Insurance segment consists of Kemper’s wholly owned subsidiaries, United Insurance Company of America (United Insurance), The Reliable Life Insurance Company (Reliable), Union National Life Insurance Company (Union National Life), Mutual Savings Life Insurance Company (Mutual Savings Life), United Casualty Insurance Comp any of America (United Casualty), Union National Fire Insurance Company (Union National Fire), Mutual Savings Fire Insurance Company (Mutual Savings Fire) and Reserve National Insurance Company (Reserve National). As discussed below, United Insurance, Reliable, Union National Life, Mutual Savings Life, United Casualty, Union National Fire and Mutual Savings Fire (the Kemper Home Service Companies) distribute their products through a network of employee, or career, agents. Reserve National distributes its products through a network of exclusive independent agents. Both these career agents and independent agents are paid commissions for their services. During 2011, the states, which provided approximately two-thirds of the Life and Health Insurance segment’s premium revenues included Texas (21%), Louisiana (11%), Alabama (7%), Mississippi (6%), Illinois (4%), Florida (4%), Georgia (4%), Missouri (4%), and North Carolina (4%). During 2011, life insurance accounted for 18% of the Company’s consolidated insurance premiums earned from ! continuing! operations, and 16% of its consolidated revenues from continuing operations.

The Kemper Home Service Companies, based in St. Louis, Missouri, focus on providing individual life and health insurance products to customers of modest incomes who desire basic protection for themselves and their families. Their product is ordinary life insurance, including permanent and term insurance. Face amounts of these policies are lower than those of policies sold to higher income customers by other companies in the life insurance industry. Approximately 79% of the Life and Health Insurance segment’s premium revenues are generated by the Kemper Home Service Companies. The Life and Health Insurance segment’s career agents also distribute certain property insurance products. Reserve National, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is licensed in 35 states throughout the south, southwest and midwest, and specializes in the sale of Medicare Supplement insurance and limited health in surance coverages, such as fixed indemnity, dental and vision, and accident-only plans, primarily to individuals in rural areas where access to a multitude of health plan options is less prevalent.

The Company’s life and health insurance companies utilize reinsurance arrangements. Included among the segment’s reinsurance arrangements is excess of loss reinsurance coverage specifically designed to protect against losses arising from catastrophic events under the property insurance policies distributed by the Kemper Home Service Companies’ agents and written by Kemper’s subsidiaries, United Casualty, Union National Fire and Mutual Savings Fire, and reinsured by Kemper’s subsidiary, Trinity Universal Insurance Company (Trinity), or written by Capitol County Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Capitol), a mutual insurance company owned by its policyholders, and its subsidiary, Old Reliable Casualty Company (ORCC), and reinsured by Trinity.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    The property and casualty business of insurance company Kemper  (NYSE: KMPR  ) has a new bean counter.

    On Monday, the Chicago-based insurance company announced that Elizabeth “Libbie” Bock will take on the role of CFO for the P&C division, where she would be responsible for all aspects of operations, reporting, control, planning and analysis, financial management, and competitive analysis.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: Mapfre SA (MAP)

Mapfre SA is a Spain-based holding company active in the insurance industry. It provides insurance services to businesses, professionals and individuals. The range of the Company’s products and services includes insurance policies of direct life, property and casualty, health, automotive and third party liability, among others. In addition, Mapfre SA is active in the management of pension funds, retirement plans and investment funds, as well as the provision of healthcare services in Spain. The Company is a parent of Grupo Mapfre, which comprises a number of entities active in the insurance, reinsurance, financial and real estate sectors with operations established worldwide. The Company operates such subsidiaries as Mapfre Familiar, Mapfre Vida, Mapfre Emperesas, MSG Portugal, Mapfre America, Mapfre Internatcional, Mapfre Re, Mapfre Global Risks and Mapfre Asistencia, among others. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ruth David]

    Bankia, a Valencia-based bank that took state aid, did the third-biggest placing last quarter, when it dumped a 979 million-euro stake in Mapfre (MAP), Spain’s largest insurer. Bankia said the sale was a step in implementing its parent company’s strategy for the three years through 2015.

  • [By Tom Stoukas]

    Mapfre SA (MAP) slid 3.1 percent to 2.67 euros. Bankia SA sold a 12 percent stake, or 369.6 million shares, in Spain’s biggest insurer.

    Centrica Slides

    Centrica Plc (CNA), the largest energy supplier to U.K. homes, lost 2.3 percent to 366.9 pence. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the shares to neutral from overweight, citing proposals from Britain’s Labour Party to freeze energy bills and break up the country’s six biggest power suppliers.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (MMC)

Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., a professional services company, provides advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy, and human capital. It operates in two segments, Risk and Insurance Services, and Consulting. The Risk and Insurance Services segment provides risk management and insurance broking, reinsurance broking, and insurance program management services for businesses, public entities, insurance companies, associations, professional services organizations, and private clients. The Consulting segment offers advice and services to the managements of organizations in the area of human resource consulting, comprising retirement and investments, health and benefits, outsourcing and talent; and strategy and risk management consulting, such as management, economic, and brand consulting. The company also provides investment consulting services for endowments and foundations in the United States; health and benefit recordkeeping, and employee enrollment technology; human resource knowledge, data, and solutions for professionals in various industries; and Medicaid policy consulting services. It principally serves customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Asia Pacific, and Continental Europe. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. was founded in 1871 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Christina Rexrode]

    Marsh & McLennan Cos Inc. (MMC) and MetLife Inc. (MET) have been rising since those companies reported earnings earlier this week.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Progressive (PGR) was downgraded from Strong Buy to Market Perform at Raymond James, while Marsh & McLennan (MMC) was cut to Outperform from Strong Buy.

  • [By Keith Speights]

    Flourishing
    While the federal Obamacare exchanges flail, private health insurance exchanges are flourishing. For example, Mercer, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC  ) , announced in April that several large insurers — including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare — would be part of its Mercer Marketplace private exchange. Mercer Marketplace allows employers to contribute a defined amount for its employees to use on health coverage. Employees use the system to shop around for the insurance plans that best meet their needs.

Best Insurance Companies For 2014: UnipolSai Assicurazioni SpA (US)

UnipolSai Assicurazioni SpA, formerly Fondiaria SPA, is an Italy- based company engaged in financial sector. The Company is a result of the merger of Unipol Assicurazioni SpA, Milano Assicurazioni SpA and Premafin Finanziaria SpA into Fondiaria Sai SpA. The Company operates through approximately 3 000 agencies under brands, such as Unipol, Sai, La Fondaria, Milano, La Previdente, Nuova Maa and Sasa. UnipolSai Assicurazioni SpA specializes in non-life insurance, especially automobile insurance. Additionally, UnipolSai Assicurazioni SpA provides products which protect its clients against damage and accident in the field, such as work, home, travel, health, life, aviation, railway, fire, maritime and goods in transit, as well as reinsurance and legal protection. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Nicolas Johnson]

    There are a couple of reasons money managers often advise Canadian investors to overcome their home-country bias and to put part of their assets abroad. One goal is to get a chance at higher returns by investing in expanding businesses or industries that are absent from our own stock exchanges. Canada’s stock market represents only about 3.4% of the world’s $62-trillion (US) in publicly traded companies. A second goal is to diversify wealth and reduce the vulnerability of one’s portfolio to a collapse in the Canadian market.

  • [By Chris Umiastowski]

    Almost one year ago, I added the online travel giant Priceline.com, Inc. (PCLN) to my Strategy Lab portfolio. At the time, the stock had already been a star performer in the S&P 500 (SPX) for several years, and I bought my shares at about $627 (US) each.

  • [By John Heinzl]

    The company also provides the tax breakdown on its Web site. For example, in 2012, the partnership distributed $1.50 (US) per unit to investors, or $1.4988 (Canadian). (The company—which owns a global portfolio of utility, energy, and transportation infrastructure assets—pays distributions in US currency, but it also provides the tax breakdown in Canadian dollars.)

  • [By Norm Rothery]

    More importantly, the company has a superb long-term growth record. It earned just over $25 (US) per share in 2003, and it should rake in almost $200 per share this year, according to S&P Capital IQ. In addition, the firm grew its tangible book value per share by an average of 17.4% annually over the past ten years, which is a record that very few companies can come close to matching.