Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now

In the Aug. 2 Strategic Tech Investor, we introduced you to a new hot tech stock to buy: a Silicon Valley semiconductor company that is leading the charge into ultra-high-definition (UHD) video.

And we predicted the stock – which Wall Street had yet to discover – would double in less than three years.

It only took five months.

If you didn’t pull the trigger on this under-the-radar stock, don’t fret: The Wall Street pros are now interested and are saying this stock could double or triple from here.

And we agree.

This microchip player’s existing businesses are zooming along at 40% and 50% annual rates. And the firm just announced a pact with Internet-search giant heavyweight Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), which we’ll find out more about at the massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opening in Las Vegas Tuesday.

There’s an old adage that says you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

And there’s an investing parallel: You never get a second chance to get in on a “ground-floor” profit play.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: 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.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Markel Corp (MKL)

Markel Corporation is a financial holding company serving a range of markets. The Company markets and underwrites specialty insurance products. The Company operates in three segments: the Excess and Surplus Lines, the Specialty Admitted, and the London markets. It also owns interests in industrial and service businesses, which operate outside of the specialty insurance marketplace. On January 1, 2012, the Company acquired Thompson Insurance Enterprises, LLC (THOMCO). On July 13, 2011, the Company acquired PartnerMD, LLC. On October 19, 2011, the Company acquired an 83% interest in WI Holdings Inc. (Weldship). In April 2012, its subsidiary, Markel Ventures, acquired a majority interest in Havco WP LLC. In July 2012, Markel Corporation announced that Ellicott Dredge Enterprises, LLC, through its subsidiary Rohr International Dredge Holdings, Inc., acquired IDRECO GmbH. In January 2013, OneBeacon Insurance Group Ltd sold Essentia Insurance Company to the Company. In May 2013, it announced that it has completed its acquisition of Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd.

Excess and Surplus Lines Segment

Business in the Excess and Surplus Lines segment is written through two distribution channels, professional surplus lines general agents who have limited quoting and binding authority and wholesale brokers. The business produced by this segment is written on a surplus lines basis through either Essex Insurance Company or Evanston Insurance Company. During the year ended December 31, 2011, in the Excess and Surplus Lines segment, it wrote business through regional underwriting offices, which include Markel Northeast (Red Bank, NJ), Markel Southeast (Glen Allen, VA), Markel Midwest (Deerfield, IL), Markel Mid South (Plano, TX) and Markel West (Woodland Hills, CA and Scottsdale, AZ). Product offerings within the Excess and Surplus Lines segment fall within the product groupings, which include Property and Casualty, Professional Liabili ty, and Other Product Lines. Property coverages consist of f! ire, allied lines (including windstorm, hail and water damage) and other specialized property coverages, including catastrophe-exposed property risks, such as earthquake and wind on both a primary and excess basis. Its property risks range from small, single-location accounts to multi-state, multi-location accounts. Casualty product offerings include a range of liability coverages targeting apartments and office buildings, retail stores, contractors and recreational and hospitality businesses. It also offers products liability coverages on either an occurrence or claims-made basis to manufacturers, distributors, importers and re-packagers of manufactured products.

Professional liability coverages include solutions for specialized professions, including architects and engineers, lawyers, agents and brokers, service technicians and computer consultants. It offers claims-made medical malpractice coverage for doctors, dentists and podiatrists; claims-made profession al liability coverage to individual healthcare providers, such as therapists, pharmacists, physician assistants and nurse anesthetists, and coverages for medical facilities and other allied healthcare risks, such as clinics, laboratories, medical spas, home health agencies, small hospitals, pharmacies and nursing homes. This product line also includes for-profit and not-for profit management liability coverage, which can be bundled or written mono-line and include employment practices liability, directors’ and officers’ liability and fiduciary liability coverages. In addition, it offers a data privacy and security product, which provides coverage for data breach and privacy liability, data breach loss to insureds and electronic media coverage.

Other product lines within the Excess and Surplus Lines segment include excess and umbrella products, which provide coverage over approved underlying insurance carriers on either an occurrence or claims-made basis; env ironmental products, which include environmental consultants! ’ profe! ssional liability, contractors’ pollution liability and site-specific environmental impairment liability coverages; transportation-related products, which provide auto physical damage coverage for automobiles, as well as all types of specialty commercial vehicles, dealers’ open lot and garagekeeper legal liability coverages, vehicular liability and physical damage coverages for local and intermediate haul commercial trucks and liability coverage to operators of small to medium-sized owned and operated taxicab fleets, non-emergency ambulances and multi-line specialty products designed for the characteristics of the garage industry; inland marine products, which provide a range of specialty coverages for risks, such as motor truck cargo coverage for damage to third party cargo while in transit, warehouseman’s legal liability coverage for damage to third party goods in storage, contractors’ equipment coverage for first party property damage and builder’s risk coverage ; ocean marine products, which provide general liability, professional liability, property and cargo coverages for marine artisan contractors, boat dealers and marina owners, including hull physical damage, protection and indemnity and third party property coverages for ocean cargo; casualty facultative reinsurance written for individual casualty risks focusing on general liability, products liability, automobile liability and certain classes of professional liability and targeting classes, which include general liability risks; railroad-related products, which provide first and third party coverages for short-line and regional railroads, scenic and tourist railroads, commuter and light rail trains and railroad equipment, and public entity insurance and reinsurance programs, which provide coverage for government entities including counties, municipalities, schools and community colleges.

Specialty Admitted Segment

The business in the Specialty Admit ted segment is written by retail insurance agents who have v! ery limit! ed underwriting authority. Products and programs are marketed directly to consumers or distributed through wholesale producers. Personal lines coverages included in this segment are marketed directly to the consumer using direct mail, Internet and telephone promotions, as well as relationships with various motorcycle and boat manufacturers, dealers and associations. The business produced by this segment is written on an admitted basis either through Markel Insurance Company (MIC), Markel American Insurance Company (MAIC) and FirstComp Insurance Company (FCIC).

The Markel Specialty unit focuses on providing total insurance programs for businesses engaged in specialized activities. The Markel Specialty unit is organized into product areas, which concentrate on particular markets and customer groups, including youth and recreation oriented organizations, social service organizations, amateur sports organizations and horse and farm operations. The Markel American S pecialty Personal and Commercial Lines unit offers its insurance products focuses its underwriting on marine, recreational vehicle, property and other personal and commercial line coverages. The FirstComp unit provides workers’ compensation insurance and related services, to small businesses. The FirstComp unit distributes its products through independent insurance agencies.

Product offerings within the Specialty Admitted segment fall within product groupings, which include Workers’ Compensation, Property and Casualty, Personal Lines, Accident and Health, and Other Product Lines. Workers’ compensation products provide wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment and target main-street, service and artisan contractor businesses, retail stores and restaurants. Property and casualty products included in this segment are offered on a monoline or package basis and target commercial markets and customer groups. Targeted groups include youth and recreation oriented organizations,! social s! ervice organizations, museums and historic homes, performing arts organizations, bed and breakfast inns, outfitters and guides, hunting and fishing lodges, dude ranches and rod and gun clubs. Personal lines products provide first and third party coverages for a range of personal watercrafts, including older boats, boats and yachts, as well as for recreational vehicles, including motorcycles, snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles (ATVs). In addition, property coverages are offered for mobile homes, dwellings and homeowners that do not qualify for standard homeowner’s coverage. Other products offered include special event protection, supplemental natural disaster coverage, renters’ protection coverage, excess flood coverage and collector vehicle coverage. Accident and health products offer liability and accident insurance for amateur sports organizations, accident and medical insurance for academic institutions, monoline accident and medical coverage for various markets, sh ort-term medical insurance, pet health insurance, stop-loss insurance for self-insured medical plans and medical excess reinsurance coverage.

Other product lines within the Specialty Admitted segment include coverages for equine-related risks, such as horse mortality, theft, infertility, transit and specified perils, as well as property and liability coverages for farms and boarding, breeding and training facilities; first and third party coverages for auto repair garages, gas stations and convenience stores and used car dealers; general agent programs, which use managing general agents to offer single source admitted and non-admitted programs for a specific class or line of business; first and third party coverages for small fishing ventures, charters, utility boats and boat rentals, and professional liability coverages, which it designs and administers on behalf of other insurance carriers and ultimately assume on a reinsurance basis.

London Insur ance Market Segment

This segment is consisted o! f Markel ! International. Markel International writes specialty property, casualty, professional liability, equine, marine, energy and trade credit insurance on a direct and reinsurance basis. Business is written worldwide through either Markel International Insurance Company Limited (MIICL) or Markel Syndicate 3000 with approximately 15% of writings coming from the United States. Product offerings within the London Insurance Market segment fall within the product groupings, which include Marine and Energy, Professional and General Liability, Reinsurance, Property, and Other Product Lines.

Marine and energy products include a portfolio of coverages for cargo, energy, hull, liability, war, terrorism and specie risks. The cargo account is an international transit-based book covering a range of cargo. Energy coverage includes all aspects of oil and gas activities. The hull account covers physical damage to ocean-going tonnage, yachts and mortgagee’s interest. Liability cove rage provides for a range of energy liabilities, as well as marine exposures, including charterers, terminal operators and ship repairers. The war account covers the hulls of ships and aircraft, and other related interests, against war and associated perils. Terrorism coverage provides for property damage and business interruption related to political violence, including war and civil war. The specie account includes coverage for fine art on exhibition and in private collections, securities, bullion, precious metals, cash in transit and jewelry.

Professional and general liability products include professional indemnity, directors’ and officers’ liability, intellectual property, some defense costs, incidental commercial crime, general and products liability coverages targeting consultants, construction professionals, financial service professionals, professional practices, social welfare organizations and medical products. Professional and general liability p roducts are written on a global basis. Reinsurance products ! include p! roperty and casualty treaty reinsurance. Property treaty products are offered on an excess of loss and proportional basis for per risk and catastrophe exposures. A portion of the excess of loss catastrophe and per risk property treaty business comes from the United States with the remainder coming from international property treaties. Casualty treaty reinsurance is offered on an excess of loss basis and targets specialist writers of motor products in the United Kingdom and Europe. Excess of loss casualty treaty reinsurance also is offered for select writers of employers’ and products liability coverages.

Property products target a range of insureds, providing coverage ranging from fire to catastrophe perils, such as earthquake and windstorm. Business is written either in the open market or on a delegated authority basis for direct and facultative risks. Open market business is written mainly on a global basis by its underwriters to London brokers, with each ri sk being considered on its own merits. The Company provides property coverage for small to medium-sized commercial risks on both a stand-alone and package basis through its branch offices. Other product lines within the London Insurance Market segment include crime coverage targeting financial institutions and providing protection for bankers’ blanket bond, computer crime and commercial fidelity; contingency coverage, including event cancellation, non-appearance and prize indemnity; accident and health coverage for affinity groups and schemes, risks accounts and sports groups; coverage for equine-related risks, such as horse mortality, theft, infertility, transit and specified perils; specialty coverages include mortality risks for farms, zoos, animal theme parks and safari parks; short-term trade credit coverage for commercial risks, including insolvency and protracted default, as well as political risks coverage in conjunction with commercial risks for currency inconvert ibility, government action, import/export license cancellati! on, publi! c buyer default and war, and products liability, excess and umbrella and environmental liability coverages.

The Company purchases reinsurance. It purchases catastrophe reinsurance coverage for its catastrophe-exposed policies. In addition, certain foreign reinsurers for its United States insurance operations must provide collateral equal to 100% of recoverable, with the exception of reinsurers who have been granted authorized status by an insurance company’s state of domicile. When appropriate, it pursues reinsurance commutations, which involve the termination of ceded reinsurance contracts. Reinsurance treaties are purchased on an annual basis.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Brendan Mathews]

    It’s a great idea to get children interested in investing early, and buying some stocks for them is a great way to accomplish that. I’d recommend using a very long-term buy-and-hold strategy focused on high-quality, sustainable businesses. I’d forgo dividends and focus on long-term appreciation (just my personal opinion). Stocks that I’d recommend for this strategy include Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) , Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B  ) , CarMax (NYSE: KMX  ) , and Markel (NYSE: MKL  ) . All are great companies that I’d be happy to hold for a decade.

  • [By Matt Koppenheffer]

    There are also some companies that strive to make their filings easy to follow and have an obvious desire to make sure investors understand their business. Specialty insurer Markel  (NYSE: MKL  ) is a superb example of that. While I wouldn’t say that an insurance newbie will sail through Markel’s filings, the writing and explanations are about as accessible as one could hope for from a fairly complex business.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Euler Hermes SA (ELE)

Euler Hermes SA is a France-based credit insurance company. It offers a range of services, including loan assurance, risk assessment, trade debt collection, compensation of losses due to buyer insolvency, bonding and guarantees for companies, reinsurance of loans to individuals and fidelity insurance covering companies against financial loss caused by fraudulent acts. It operates a number of subsidiaries, including Euler Hermes SFAC, Euler Hermes ACI Holding Inc., Euler Hermes Reinsurance AG, among others. On January 1, 2012, the Company completed the simplification of its legal structure in Europe by grouping 13 of its former subsidiaries into one insurance company, Euler Hermes Europe, located in Brussels. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Sarah Jones]

    Iberdrola SA (IBE), Spain’s biggest power company, fell 3.4 percent to 3.87 euros. Endesa SA (ELE) slumped 4.6 percent to 16 euros, while Acciona SA (ANA), which owns more than 4 gigawatts of wind farms in the country, tumbled 8.5 percent to 37.95 euros. Red Electrica Corp. slid 7.5 percent to 38.34 euros.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Metlife Inc (MET)

MetLife, Inc. (MetLife), incorporated on August 10, 1999, is a provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers in over 50 countries. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife operates in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. It is organized into six segments: Insurance Products, Retirement Products, Corporate Benefit Funding and Auto & Home (collectively, U.S. Business), and Japan and Other International Regions (collectively, International). In addition, the Company reports certain of its results of operations in Corporate & Other, which includes MetLife Bank, National Association (MetLife Bank) and other business activities. U.S. Business provides insurance and financial services products, including life, dental, disability, auto and homeowner insurance, guaranteed interest and stable value products, and annuities through independent retail distribution channels, as well as a t the workplace. Outside the U.S., it operates in Japan and over 50 countries within Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. MetLife is the life insurer in Mexico and also holds positions in Japan, Poland, Chile and Korea. This business provides life insurance, accident and health insurance, credit insurance, annuities, endowment and retirement and savings products to both individuals and groups. In August 2012, it acquired Reynolds Plantation. In January 2013, the Company completed the sale of MetLife Bank, N.A.’s deposit business. Effective July 25, 2013, MetLife Inc acquired Broadstone Laurel Highlands, from Alliance Residential Fund I. In September 2013, MetLife Inc and Thayer Lodging Group acquired the 365-room Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in a joint venture.

Insurance Products

The Insurance Products segment offers a range of protection products and services aimed at serving the financ ial needs of its customers throughout their lives. These pro! ducts are sold to individuals and corporations, as well as other institutions and their respective employees. It is organized in three businesses: Group Life, Individual Life and Non-Medical Health.

The Group Life insurance products and services include variable life, universal life, and term life products. It offer group insurance products as employer-paid benefits or as voluntary benefits where all or a portion of the premiums are paid by the employee. These group products and services also include employee paid supplemental life and are offered as standard products or may be tailored to meet specific customer needs.

The Individual Life insurance products and services include variable life, universal life, term life and whole life products. Additionally, through its broker-dealer affiliates, it offers a full range of mutual funds and other securities products. The products within both Group Life and Individual Life include Variable Life, Universa l Life, Term Life and Whole Life. Variable life products provide insurance coverage through a contract that gives the policyholder the policyholder flexibility in investment choices and, depending on the product, in premium payments and coverage amounts, with certain guarantees. With variable life products, premiums and account balances can be directed by the policyholder into a variety of separate account investment options or directed to the Company’s general account. In the separate account investment options, the policyholder bears the entire risk of the investment results.

Universal life products provide insurance coverage on the same basis as variable life, except that premiums, and the resulting accumulated balances, are allocated only to the Company’s general account. Universal life products may allow the insured to increase or decrease the amount of death benefit coverage over the term of the contract and the owner to adjust the frequency and amount of premium payments.

Term life products provid! e a guara! nteed benefit upon the death of the insured for a specified time period in return for the periodic payment of premiums. Specified coverage periods range from one year to 30 years, but in no event are they longer than the period over, which premiums are paid. Death benefits may be level over the period or decreasing. Decreasing coverage is used principally to provide for loan repayment in the event of death. Premiums may be guaranteed at a level amount for the coverage period or may be non-level and non-guaranteed. Term insurance products are sometimes referred to as pure protection products, in that there are typically no savings or investment elements. Term contracts expire without value at the end of the coverage period when the insured party is still living.

Whole life products provide a guaranteed benefit upon the death of the insured in return for the periodic payment of a fixed premium over a predetermined period. Premium payments may be required for the e ntire life of the contract period, to a specified age or period, and may be level or change in accordance with a predetermined schedule. Whole life insurance includes policies that provide a participation feature in the form of dividends. Policyholders may receive dividends in cash or apply them to increase death benefits, increase cash values available upon surrender or reduce the premiums required to maintain the contract in-force.

The Non-Medical Health products and services include dental insurance, group short- and long-term disability, individual disability income, long-term care (LTC), critical illness and accidental death & dismemberment coverage. Other products and services include employer-sponsored auto and homeowners insurance provided through the Auto & Home segment and prepaid legal plans. The Company also sells administrative services-only (ASO) arrangements to some employers. The products in this area are Dental, Disability and Long-term Care (LT C). Dental products provide insurance and ASO plans that ass! ist emplo! yees, retirees and their families in maintaining oral health while reducing out-of-pocket expenses and providing superior customer service. Dental plans include the Preferred Dentist Program and the Dental Health Maintenance Organization. Disability products provide a benefit in the event of the disability of the insured. This benefit is in the form of monthly income paid until the insured reaches age 65. In addition to income replacement, the product may be used to provide for the payment of business overhead expenses for disabled business owners or mortgage payment protection. This is offered on both a group and individual basis. LTC products provide protection against the potentially high costs of LTC services. They generally pay benefits to insureds that need assistance with activities of daily living or have a cognitive impairment.

Retirement Products

The Retirement products segment includes a variety of variable and fixed annuities that are primarily sold to individuals and employees of corporations and other institutions. The products in this area are Variable Annuities and Fixed Annuities. Variable annuities provide for both asset accumulation and asset distribution needs. Variable annuities allow the contract holder to make deposits into various investment options in a separate account, as determined by the contract holder. The risks associated with such investment options are borne entirely by the contract holder, except where guaranteed minimum benefits are involved.

Fixed annuities provide for both asset accumulation and asset distribution needs. Fixed annuities do not allow the same investment flexibility provided by variable annuities, but provide guarantees related to the preservation of principal and interest credited.

Corporate Benefit Funding

The Corporate Benefit Funding segment includes a range of annuity and investment products, including, guaranteed intere st products and other stable value products, income annuitie! s, and se! parate account contracts for the investment management of defined benefit and defined contribution plan assets. This segment also includes certain products to fund postretirement benefits and company, bank or trust owned life insurance used to finance non-qualified benefit programs for executives. The products in this area are Stable Value Products, Pensions Closeouts, Torts and Settlements, Capital Markets Investment Products and other Corporate Benefit Funding Products and Services. The Company offers general account guaranteed interest contracts, separate account guaranteed interest contracts, and similar products used to support the stable value option of defined contribution plans. It also offers private floating rate funding agreements that are used for money market funds, securities lending cash collateral portfolios and short-term investment funds.

The Company offers general account and separate account annuity products, generally in connection with the termination of defined benefit pension plans, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. It also offers partial risk transfer solutions that allow for partial transfers of pension liabilities and annuity products that include single premium buyouts. It offers strategies for complex litigation settlements, primarily structured settlement annuities. Under the Capital Markets Investment Products, the products offered include funding agreements, Federal Home Loan Bank advances and funding agreement-backed commercial paper. Under the Other Corporate Benefit Funding Products and Services, it offers specialized insurance products designed specifically to provide solutions for non-qualified benefit and retiree benefit funding purposes.

Auto & Home

The Auto & Home segment includes personal lines property and casualty insurance offered directly to employees at their employer’s worksite, as well as to individuals through a variety of retail distributi on channels, including independent agents, property and casu! alty spec! ialists, direct response marketing and the individual distribution sales group. Auto & Home primarily sells auto insurance, which represented 67% of Auto & Home’s total net earned premiums in 2011. Homeowners and other insurance represented 33% of Auto & Home’s total net earned premiums in 2011. The products in this area are Auto Coverages and Homeowners and Other Coverages. Auto insurance policies provide coverage for private passenger automobiles, utility automobiles and vans, motorcycles, motor homes, antique or classic automobiles and trailers. Auto & Home offers traditional coverage, such as liability, uninsured motorist, no fault or personal injury protection, as well as collision and comprehensive. Homeowners’ insurance policies provide protection for homeowners, renters, condominium owners and residential landlords against losses arising out of damage to dwellings and contents from a variety of perils, as well as coverage for liability arising from ownership or occupancy. Other insurance includes personal excess liability (protection against losses in excess of amounts covered by other liability insurance policies), and coverage for recreational vehicles and boat owners. Most of Auto & Home’s homeowners’ policies are traditional insurance policies for dwellings, providing protection for loss on a replacement cost basis. These policies also provide additional coverage for reasonable, normal living expenses incurred by policyholders that have been displaced from their homes.

International

International provides life insurance, accident and health insurance, credit insurance, annuities, endowment and retirement & savings products to both individuals and groups. The Company focuses on markets primarily within Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. It operates in international markets through subsidiaries and affiliates. The Company operates in 22 countries in Latin America, with o perations in Mexico, Chile and Argentina. It operates in fou! r countri! es in Asia Pacific with operations in Korea, Hong Kong and Australia. It operates in 35 countries in Europe and the Middle East with operations in Poland, the United Kingdom, France, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as through a consolidated joint venture in India.

Corporate & Other

Corporate & Other contains the excess capital not allocated to the segments, which is invested to optimize investment spread and to fund company initiatives and various start-up and run-off entities. Mortgage products offered by MetLife Bank include forward and reverse residential mortgage loans. Residential mortgage loans are originated through MetLife Bank’s national sales force, mortgage brokers and mortgage correspondents. The residential mortgage banking activities include the origination and servicing of mortgage loans. Mortgage loans are held-for-investment or sold primarily into Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corpo ration (FHLMC) or Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) securities. Deposit products include traditional savings accounts, money market savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and individual retirement accounts.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Stephen Quickel]

    MetLife (MET)

    MetLife is one of the oldest and largest American financial companies, providing insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs to 90 million customers in 50 countries. Its stock is also one of the cheapest at just 8.6 times earnings.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    But there are winners–and they’re any stock that’s helped by higher rates. There are mutual fund companies with big money-market fund businesses, who wouldn’t be forced to run these funds for what is essentially free. Federated Investors (FII), for instance, has jumped 2.1% to $27.99. Life insurance companies, too, are rising because they should be able to earn more on their investments. MetLife (MET), for instance, has risen 1.3% to $53.03.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: CNO Financial Group Inc. (CNO)

CNO Financial Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the development, marketing, and administration of health insurance, annuity, individual life insurance, and other insurance products for senior and middle-income markets in the United States. The company markets and distributes Medicare supplement insurance, interest-sensitive and traditional life insurance, fixed annuities, and long-term care insurance products; Medicare advantage plans through a distribution arrangement with Humana Inc.; and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans through a distribution and reinsurance arrangement with Coventry Health Care. It also markets and distributes supplemental health, including specified disease, accident, and hospital indemnity insurance products; and life insurance to middle-income consumers at home and the worksite through independent marketing organizations and insurance agencies. In addition, the company markets primarily graded benefit and simplified issue life insurance products directly to customers through television advertising, direct mail, Internet, and telemarketing. It sells its products through career agents, independent producers, direct marketing, and sales managers. CNO Financial Group, Inc. has strategic alliances with Coventry and Humana. The company was formerly known as Conseco, Inc. and changed its name to CNO Financial Group, Inc. in May 2010. CNO Financial Group, Inc. was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Carmel, Indiana.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jonas Elmerraji]

    Up first is CNO Financial Group (CNO), a mid-cap financial stock that’s rocketed close to 60% higher since the calendar flipped over to January. Yup, it’s been a great year for the market, but it’s been a far better one for investors who own CNO. But that strong performance isn’t showing any signs of slowing yet. In fact, CNO looks primed for even more upside in the fourth quarter.

    That’s because CNO is currently forming a bullish pattern called an ascending triangle. The ascending triangle pattern is formed by a horizontal resistance level above shares — in this case at $14.75 — and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as CNO bounces in between those two technical price levels, it’s getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout above that $14.75 resistance level. When that breakout happens, it’s time to become a buyer.

    ACCO’s price action isn’t exactly textbook. After all, the pattern is coming in at the bottom of a downtrend, not after an uptrend. But ultimately, that doesn’t change the trading implications of a move through that $7.50 level.

    Whenever you’re looking at any technical price pattern, it’s critical to think in terms of those buyers and sellers. Ascending triangles and other pattern names are a good quick way to explain what’s going on in a stock, but they’re not the reason it’s tradable. Instead, it all comes down to supply and demand for shares.

    That $7.50 resistance level is a price where there has been an excess of supply of shares; in other words, it’s a place where sellers have been more eager to step in and take gains than buyers have been to buy. That’s what makes a breakout above it so significant. The move means that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level.

    Don’t be early on this trade.

  • [By Vanin Aegea]

    I have heard many people comment about the insurance policies for cars, houses, life, assets, etc. The arguments always revolve around the same issue: Is it really necessary? What are the chances to be hit by a Hurricane, or to meet a sudden death? Well, nobody really knows. Some individuals however, sleep better when they know a policy backs their life investments. Here, I will look into three insurance companies that concentrate on different policies, or geographies. These are: China Life (LFC), and Conseco (CNO).

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Allstate Corp (ALL)

The Allstate Corporation (Allstate), November 5, 1992, is a holding company for Allstate Insurance Company. The Company’s business is conducted principally through Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Life Insurance Company and their affiliates. It is engaged, principally in the United States, in the property-liability insurance, life insurance, retirement and investment product business. Allstate’s primary business is the sale of private passenger auto and homeowners insurance. The Company also sells several other personal property and casualty insurance products, select commercial property and casualty coverages, life insurance, annuities, voluntary accident and health insurance and funding agreements. Allstate primarily distributes its products through exclusive agencies, financial specialists, independent agencies, call centers and the Internet. It conducts its business primarily in the United States. Allstate has four business segments: Allstate Protection, Allstate Financial, Discontinued Lines and Coverages and Corporate and Other. The Company is a personal lines insurer in the United States. Customers can access Allstate products and services, such as auto insurance and homeowners insurance through nearly 12,000 exclusive Allstate agencies and financial representatives in the United States and Canada. In October 2011, the Company acquired Esurance and Answer Financial from White Mountains Insurance Group.

ALLSTATE PROTECTION SEGMENT

In this segment, the Company principally sells private passenger auto and homeowners insurance through agencies and directly through call centers and the Internet. These products are marketed under the Allstate, Encompass and Esurance brand names. The Allstate Protection segment also includes a separate organization called Emerging Businesses, which comprises Business Insurance (commercial products for small business owners), Consumer Household (specialty products including moto rcycle, boat, renters and condominium insurance policies), A! llstate Dealer Services (insurance and non-insurance products sold primarily to auto dealers), Allstate Roadside Services (retail and wholesale roadside assistance products) and Ivantage (insurance agency). The Company also participates in the involuntary or shared private passenger auto insurance business in order to maintain its licenses to do business in many states. In some states, Allstate exclusive agencies offer non-proprietary property insurance products. Allstate brand auto and homeowners insurance products are sold primarily through Allstate exclusive agencies and serve customers who prefer local personal advice and service and are brand-sensitive. In most states, customers can also purchase certain Allstate brand personal insurance products, and obtain service, directly through call centers and the Internet.

During the year ended December 31, 2011, total Allstate Protection premiums written were $25.98 billion. Its broad-based network of approximately 10,000 Allstate exclusive agencies in approximately 9,700 locations in the United States produced approximately 86% of the Allstate Protection segment’s written premiums in 2011. It provides personal property and casualty insurance products through independent agencies in the United States. Additionally, Allstate distribution, through brokering arrangements, offers non-proprietary products to consumers when an Allstate product is not available.

ALLSTATE FINANCIAL SEGMENT

Allstate Financial segment provides life insurance, retirement and investment products, and voluntary accident and health insurance products. Its principal products are interest-sensitive, traditional and variable life insurance; fixed annuities, including deferred and immediate; and voluntary accident and health insurance. Its institutional products consist of funding agreements sold to unaffiliated trusts that use them to back medium-term notes issued to institutional and individ ual investors. Banking products and services were offered to! customer! s through the Allstate Bank through September 2011. In 2011, after receiving regulatory approval to voluntarily dissolve, Allstate Bank ceased operations.

The Company sells Allstate Financial products to individuals through multiple intermediary distribution channels, including Allstate exclusive agencies and exclusive financial specialists, independent agents, specialized structured settlement brokers and directly through call centers and the Internet. The Company sells products through independent agents affiliated with approximately 125 master brokerage agencies. Independent workplace enrolling agents and Allstate exclusive agencies also sell its voluntary accident and health insurance products primarily to employees of unaffiliated businesses. Its mortgage loan portfolio, which is primarily held in the Allstate Financial portfolio, totaled $7.14 billion as of December 31, 2011

Allstate Financial, through several companies, is authorized to sell life insurance and retirement products in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States, Virgin Islands and Guam. Allstate Financial distributes its products to individuals through multiple distribution channels, including Allstate exclusive agencies and exclusive financial specialists, independent agents (including master brokerage agencies and workplace enrolling agents), specialized structured settlement brokers and directly through call centers and the Internet.

OTHER BUSINESS SEGMENTS

The Company’s Corporate and Other segment consistsof holding company activities and certain non-insurance operations. It’s Discontinued Lines and Coverages segment includes results from insurance coverage that it no longer writes and results for certain commercial and other businesses in run-off. Its exposure to asbestos, environmental and other discontinued lines claims is presented in the segment. The segment also includes the hist orical results of the commercial and reinsurance businesses ! sold in 1! 996.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Dividends4Life]

    Fair Value: In calculating fair value, I consider the NPV MMA Differential Fair Value along with these four calculations of fair value, see page 2 of the linked PDF for a detailed description: 1. Avg. High Yield Price 2. 20-Year DCF Price 3. Avg. P/E Price 4. Graham Number CINF is trading at a discount to only 3.) above. The stock is trading at a 36.8% premium to its calculated fair value of $34.96. CINF did not earn any Stars in this section. Dividend Analytical Data: In this section there are three possible Stars and three key metrics, see page 2 of the linked PDF for a detailed description: 1. Free Cash Flow Payout 2. Debt To Total Capital 3. Key Metrics 4. Dividend Growth Rate 5. Years of Div. Growth 6. Rolling 4-yr Div. > 15% CINF earned two Stars in this section for 1.) and 2.) above. A Star was earned since the Free Cash Flow payout ratio was less than 60% and there were no negative Free Cash Flows over the last 10 years. The stock earned a Star as a result of its most recent Debt to Total Capital being less than 45%. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1954 and has increased its dividend payments for 54 consecutive years. Dividend Income vs. MMA: Why would you assume the equity risk and invest in a dividend stock if you could earn a better return in a much less risky money market account (MMA) or Treasury bond? This section compares the earning ability of this stock with a high yield MMA. Two items are considered in this section, see page 2 of the linked PDF for a detailed description: 1. NPV MMA Diff. 2. Years to > MMA The NPV MMA Diff. of the $62 is below the $500 target I look for in a stock that has increased dividends as long as CINF has. If CINF grows its dividend at 1.2% per year, it will take 5 years to equal a MMA yielding an estimated 20-year average rate of 3.68%. Memberships and Peers: CINF is a member of the S&P 500, a Dividend Aristocrat, a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index and a Divid

  • [By John Kell]

    Allstate Corp.(ALL) said its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, boosted in part by rising insurance policies in several units and fewer catastrophes.

  • [By Wallace Witkowski]

    Insurers such as Aflac Inc. (AFL) , Allstate Corp. (ALL) , Aetna Inc. (AET) , Cigna Corp. (CI)  and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU)  will also report, along with exchange operators Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ)  and CME Group Inc. (CME) . 

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Cigna Corp (CI)

Cigna Corporation (Cigna), incorporated on November 3, 1981, is a holding company. Cigna is a global health service company, with insurance subsidiaries that are providers of medical, dental, disability, life and accident insurance and related products and services. In the United States, these products and services are offered through employers and other groups, and in selected international markets, Cigna offers supplemental health, life and accident insurance products and international health care coverage and services to businesses, governmental and non-governmental organizations and individuals. The Company also has certain run-off operations, including a Run-off Reinsurance segment. Cigna’s revenues are derived from premiums, fees, mail order pharmacy, other revenues and investment income. Cigna operates in five segments: Health Care, Disability and Life, International, Run-off Reinsurance, and Other Operations, including Corporate-owned Life Insurance. On January 3 1, 2012, Cigna acquired HealthSpring, Inc. On November 30, 2011, the Company acquired FirstAssist Group Holdings Limited. In August 2012, the Company acquired Great American Supplemental Benefits from American Financial Group, Inc. In January 2013, the Company acquired select Arcadian and Humana Medicare Advantage plans in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In September 2013, Cigna Corporation completed its acquisition of Alegis Care, a portfolio company of Triton Pacific Capital Partners. Effective September 3, 2013, Cigna Corp acquired Home Physicians Management LLC.

Health Care

Cigna’s Health Care segment (Cigna HealthCare) offers insured and self-insured medical, dental, behavioral health, vision, and prescription drug benefit plans, health advocacy programs and other products and services that may be integrated to provide health care benefit programs. Cigna HealthCare companies offer these products and services in all 50 states, the District of Co lumbia and the United States Virgin Islands. Cigna offers a ! range of products and services to employers and other groups that sponsor group health plans. With the exception of Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Medicare, Voluntary and stop loss products, each of Cigna HealthCare’s products is offered with alternative funding options. Cigna may sell multiple products under the same funding arrangement to the same employer. Approximately 85% of the Company’s medical customers are enrolled in self-insured plans, with the remainder split between guaranteed cost and experience-rated insured plans. Approximately 90% of its medical customers are enrolled in self-insured and experience-rated plans. Cigna also offers guaranteed cost medical and dental insurance to individuals. Cigna HealthCare offers a product line of indemnity managed care benefit plans on an insured (guaranteed cost or experience-rated) or self-insured basis. The Network, Network Open Access, and Open Access Plus In-Network products cover only those services provide d by Cigna HealthCare participating health care professionals (in-network) and emergency services provided by non-participating health care professionals (out-of-network). The Network point of service (POS), Network POS Open Access and Open Access Plus plans (OAP) cover health care services provided by participating, and non-participating health care professionals.

Cigna HealthCare offers a Preferred Provider Plans (PPO) product line that features a national network. Like Network and Open Access Plus Plans, the PPO product line is offered on an insured (guaranteed cost or experience-rated) or self-insured basis. Cigna HealthCare offers the Cigna Choice Fund suite of products, including Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). Cigna HealthCare offers stop loss insurance coverage for self-insured plans. This stop loss coverage reimburses the plan for claims in excess of a predetermined amount, either for individuals (specific) or the entire group (aggregate), ! or both. ! Cigna HealthCare provides Taft-Hartley trusts and other entities access to its national provider network and provides claim re-pricing and other services. Cigna HealthCare’s voluntary medical products are offered to employers with 51 or more eligible employees. As a result of the acquisition of HealthSpring, Cigna operates Medicare Advantage coordinated care plans in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Under the Medicare program, Medicare-eligible beneficiaries may receive health care benefits, including prescription drugs, through a managed care health plan, such as the Company’s coordinated care plans, and The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimburse the Company pursuant to a risk adjustment payment methodology.

Cigna’s Medicare Part D prescription drug program, Cigna Medicare Rx, provides a number of plan options, as well as service and information support to Medicare and Medicaid eligible customers. Cigna Medicare Rx is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Cigna HealthCare offers medical management, disease management, and other health advocacy services to employers and other plan sponsors. These services are offered to customers covered under Cigna HealthCare administered plans, as well as individuals covered under plans insured and/or administered by competing insurers/third-party administrators. Cigna’s onsite services include more than 75 health centers and the annual administration of more than 400,000 biometric screenings, as well as approximately 2,200 wellness seminars each year. As a result of the acquisition of HealthSpring, Cigna operates three LivingWell Health Centers, where Medicare customers can receive care from physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, and nurses educators. Cigna arranges for behavioral health care services for customers through its network of participating behavioral health care professionals. Cigna offers behavioral health care case mana gement services, employee assistance programs (EAP), and wor! k/life pr! ograms to employers, Government entities and other groups sponsoring health benefit plans. As of December 31, 2011, Cigna’s behavioral national network had approximately 108,000 access points to psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers and approximately 9,000 facilities and clinics.

Cigna Pharmacy Management offers prescription drug plans to its insured and self-funded customers both in conjunction with its medical products and on a stand-alone basis. With a network of over 62,000 contracted pharmacies, Cigna Pharmacy Management is a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) offering clinical integration programs, specialty pharmacy solutions and home delivery of prescription medicines. Cigna’s specialty pharmacy outcome management program, TheraCare, manages specialty conditions. TheraCare is coordinated with other Cigna health advocacy programs and all data is captured for analysis and reporting. Cigna Dental Health offers a variety of dental care p roducts, including dental health maintenance organization plans (Dental HMO), dental preferred provider organization (DPPO) plans, dental exclusive provider organization plans, traditional dental indemnity plans and a dental discount program. As of December 31, 2011, Cigna Dental Health customers totaled approximately 10.9 million. Managed dental care products are offered in 38 states for Dental HMO and 43 states and the District of Columbia for Dental PPO through a network of independent health care professionals that have contracted with Cigna Dental Health to provide dental services. Cigna Dental Health customers access care from the dental PPO network in the United States and one of the dental HMO networks in the United States, with approximately 235,500 DPPO-contracted access points (approximately 92,000 health care professionals) and approximately 58,000 dental HMO-contracted access points (approximately 16,500 health care professionals).

Disability and L ife

Cigna’s Disability and Life segment (Cign! a Disabil! ity and Life) provides insurance products and their related services, such as group long-term and short-term disability insurance, group life insurance and accident and specialty insurance. These products and services are provided by subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation. Cigna Disability and Life markets products in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands and Canada. Cigna Disability and Life also provides assistance to employees in returning to work and assistance to their employers in managing the cost of employee disability. Cigna Disability and Life offers personal accident insurance coverage, which consists primarily of accidental death and dismemberment and travel accident insurance to employers. Group accident insurance may be employer-paid or employee-paid. Cigna Disability and Life also offers specialty insurance services that consist primarily of disability and life, accident, and hospital indemnity products to profession al or trade associations and financial institutions.

International

CIGNA’s International segment (CIGNA International) offers supplemental health, life and accident insurance products, as well as international health care products and services. These products and services are provided by subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including foreign operating entities. Cigna International provides employers, affinity groups and individuals with local and global health care and related financial protection programs. Supplemental health products provide a specified payment for a range of health risks and include personal accident, accidental death, critical illness, hospitalization, travel, dental, cancer and other dread disease coverages. Term life, as well as variable universal life insurance and other savings products are also included in the product portfolio. Cigna International’s supplemental health, life and accident insurance products are offered i n South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the European Un! ion, Chin! a, New Zealand, Thailand and Turkey. In China, Cigna International owns a 50% interest in a joint venture through, which its products and services are offered. Cigna International’s health care businesses primarily consist of products and services to meet the needs of local and multinational companies and organizations and their local and globally mobile employees and dependents. These products and services include insurance and administrative services for medical, dental, vision, life, accidental death and dismemberment, and disability risks. In addition, Cigna International’s health care businesses include products and services, which are primarily provided through group benefits programs to employees of businesses and other organizations in the United Kingdom and Spain. These products and services include medical indemnity insurance coverage, with some offerings having managed care or administrative service aspects.

Run-off Reinsurance

Cigna ’s reinsurance segment reinsured guaranteed minimum death benefits (GMDB) (also known as variable annuity death benefits (VADBe)), under certain variable annuities issued by other insurance companies. These variable annuities are investments in mutual funds combined with a death benefit. The Company purchased retrocessional protection that covers approximately 5% of the assumed risks. The Company also maintains a dynamic hedge program. Cigna also reinsured guaranteed minimum income benefits (GMIB) under certain variable annuities issued by other insurance companies. These variable annuities are investments in mutual funds combined with minimum income and death benefits. These products under Cigna’s Run-off Reinsurance segment were sold principally in North America and Europe through a sales force and through intermediaries.

Other Operations

The principal products of the Corporate-owned Life Insurance (COLI) business are permanent insurance cont racts sold to corporations to provide coverage on the lives ! of certai! n employees for the purpose of funding employer-paid future benefit obligations. The principal services provided by the COLI business are issuance and administration of the insurance policies. COLI policies provide a death benefit for which Cigna collects fees to cover mortality risk. COLI policies also allow policy owners to borrow against a portion of their cash surrender value.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Susan J. Aluise]

    What’s worse: HHS is eying far tougher regulations next year against health plans with narrow provider networks. That means healthcare stocks like Humana (HUM), Cigna (CI), Aetna (AET) and WellPoint (WLP), which have gained more than 50% in the past year, could face headwinds as they try to expand provider networks while keeping premiums low.

  • [By Anora Mahmudova]

    Cigna Corp. (CI)  shares gained 3.3% after steep losses recently. The stock is down over 8% year to date.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN)

Zurich Insurance Group Limited is a Switzerland-based holding company engaged in the insurance sector. The Company provides a range of general and life insurance products and services for individuals, small business, mid-sized and large-sized companies, and multinational corporations. The Company offers its products and services through three business segments, namely General Insurance, Global life and Farmers. The General Insurance segment offers motor, home and commercial products and services for individuals, as well as small and large business. The Global life segment offers life insurance, savings, investment and pensions solutions. The Farmers segment includes farmers management services, which provides non-claims management services to the farmers exchange, as well as Farmers Re business, which includes reinsurance assumed from the Farmers Exchange by the Company’s group. Furthermore, the Company provides reinsurance and insurance business considered as non-core busine ss. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Namitha Jagadeesh]

    Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN) lost 3.6 percent after second-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates. Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) declined the most in seven weeks as Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer reported worse-than-expected sales. BG Group Plc, which derives 20 percent of its oil-and-gas production from Egypt, slipped 2.4 percent as the death toll from nationwide violence in the most populous Arab country climbed above 500.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: RSA Insurance Group PLC (RSA)

RSA Insurance Group plc is the holding company of the RSA group of companies whose principal activity is the transaction of personal and commercial general insurance business. The Company operates in four segments: Scandinavia, Canada, United Kingdom and Western Europe, and Emerging Markets. The Company provides insurance covers for a range of renewable energy technologies, including Wind Energy, which includes onshore and offshore facilities; Solar Energy, which includes photovoltaic, concentrated and thermal installations; Small Hydro, which includes power stations producing an output up to 50 megawatt, and Bio energy, which includes Biomass, Biogas and Waste to Energy plants. The Company works with both large and small brokers. The Company works with partners, such as building societies, banks, retailers, motor manufacturers, charities, utilities and unions to offer their customers appropriate insurance products. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Sofia Horta e Costa]

    RSA Insurance Group Plc (RSA), which insures cars, homes and ships in the U.K., Scandinavia and emerging markets, rose 0.8 percent to 114.1 pence. Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the stock to overweight, the equivalent of a buy recommendation, from underweight.

  • [By Sarah Jones]

    RSA Insurance Group Plc (RSA) gained 0.8 percent to 114.1 pence after Morgan Stanley upgraded the insurer to overweight from underweight, saying the share price will benefit from a stronger prospective U.K. performance. The stock has declined 9.2 percent so far this year, while the FTSE 350 Insurance Index has rallied 10 percent.

Hot Insurance Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Assurant Inc (AIZ)

Assurant, Inc. (Assurant) is a provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and select worldwide markets. The Company operates in four segments: Assurant Solutions, Assurant Specialty Property, Assurant Health, and Assurant Employee Benefits. The products offered by the segments include warranties and service contracts, pre-funded funeral insurance, lender-placed homeowners insurance, manufactured housing homeowners insurance, individual health and small employer group health insurance, group dental, disability, and life insurance and employee-funded voluntary benefits. On June 21, 2011, the Company acquired the SureDeposit business, the provider of security deposit alternatives to the multifamily housing industry. In October 2013, FirstService Corporation completed the sale of its Field Asset Services business to Assurant, Inc. In October 2013, Assurant Inc acquired Lifestyle Services Group Ltd.

Assurant Solutions

Assurant Solutions targets three product areas: domestic and international extended service contracts (ESC) and warranties, preneed life insurance, and international credit insurance. Through partnerships with retailers and original equipment manufacturers, the Company underwrites and provides administrative services for ESC and warranties. These contracts provide consumers with coverage on cellular phones, personal computers, consumer electronics, appliances, automobiles and recreational vehicles, protecting them from certain covered losses. It pays the cost of repairing or replacing customers’ property in the event of mechanical breakdown, accidental damage, and casualty losses such as theft, fire, and water damage. The Company provides administration, claims handling and customer service. Preneed life insurance allows individuals to prepay for a funeral in a single payment or in multiple payments over a fixed number of years. The insurance policy proceeds are used t o address funeral costs at death. These products are only so! ld in the United States and Canada and are generally structured as whole life insurance policies in the United States and annuity products in Canada.

The Company’s credit insurance products offer protection from life events and uncertainties that arise in purchasing and borrowing transactions. Credit insurance programs offer consumers the option to protect a credit card balance or installment loan in the event of death, involuntary unemployment or disability, and are generally available to all consumers without the underwriting restrictions that apply to term life insurance. In addition to the domestic market, the Company operates in Canada, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Chile, Germany, Spain, Italy, Mexico and China. In these markets, it primarily sells ESC and credit insurance products through agreements with financial institutions, retailers and wireless service providers.

Assurant Specialty Property

The produ ct line within Assurant Specialty Property is homeowners insurance, consisting principally of fire and dwelling hazard insurance offered through its lender-placed programs. The lender-placed program provides collateral protection to lenders, mortgage servicers and investors in mortgaged properties in the event that a homeowner does not maintain insurance on a mortgaged dwelling. Lender-placed insurance coverage is not limited to the outstanding loan balance; it provides structural coverage, similar to that of a standard homeowners policy. The policy is based on the replacement cost of the property and ensures that a home can be repaired or rebuilt completely in the event of damage. The Company also provides insurance to some of its clients on properties that have been foreclosed and are being managed by its clients. This type of insurance is called Real Estate Owned (REO) insurance. Lender-placed and voluntary manufactured housing insurance: Manufactured housing insurance is offered on a lender-placed and voluntary basis. Lender-plac! ed insura! nce is issued after an insurance tracking process similar to that described above. The tracking is performed by Assurant Specialty Property using an insurance tracking administration system, or by the lenders themselves.

The Company has developed products in adjacent and emerging markets, such as the lender-placed flood and mandatory insurance rental markets. It also acts as an administrator for the United States Government under the voluntary National Flood Insurance Program, for which it earns a fee for collecting premiums and processing claims. This business is 100% reinsured to the Federal Government. The Company offers its manufactured housing insurance programs primarily through manufactured housing lenders and retailers, along with independent specialty agents. The independent specialty agents distribute flood products and miscellaneous specialty property products. Multi-family housing products are distributed primarily through property management compan ies and affinity marketing partners. Its lender-placed homeowners insurance program and certain of its manufactured home products are not underwritten on an individual policy basis.

Assurant Health

Assurant Health offers medical insurance and short-term medical insurance to individuals and families in the medical insurance market. Its products are offered with different plan options. Assurant Health also offers medical insurance to small employer groups. The Company’s medical insurance products are sold to individuals, primarily between the ages of 18 and 64, and their families, who do not have employer-sponsored coverage. It offers a variety of benefit plans at different price points. The Company’s group medical insurance is primarily sold to small companies with 2 to 50 employees, although larger employer coverage is available. The Company’s health insurance products are principally marketed through a network of independent agents. It also markets through a variety of national account relationships ! and direc! t distribution channels. In addition, the Company markets its products through North Star Marketing, a wholly owned affiliate.

Assurant Employee Benefits

The Company offers group disability, dental, vision, life and supplemental worksite products, as well as individual dental products. The group products are offered with funding options ranging from fully employer-paid to fully employee-paid (voluntary). In addition, it reinsures disability and life products through its wholly owned subsidiary, Disability Reinsurance Management Services, Inc. (DRMS). Group disability insurance provides partial replacement of lost earnings for insured employees who become disabled, as defined by their plan provisions. The Company’s products include both short- and long-term disability coverage options. It also reinsures disability policies written by other carriers through its DRMS subsidiary.

Dental benefit plans provide funding for necessary or elec tive dental care. Customers may select a traditional indemnity arrangement, a preferred provider organization (PPO) arrangement, or a prepaid or managed care arrangement. Coverage is subject to deductibles, coinsurance and annual or lifetime maximums. In a prepaid plan, members must use participating dentists in order to receive benefits. Assurant Employee Benefits owns and operates Dental Health Alliance, L.L.C., a dental PPO network. The Company also has an agreement with Aetna that allows it to use Aetna’s Dental Access network. Fully insured vision coverage is offered through its agreement with Vision Service Plan, Inc., a supplier of vision insurance. The Company’s plans cover eye exams, glasses and contact lenses, and are sold in combination with one or more of its other products.

Group term life insurance provided through the workplace provides benefits in the event of death. The Company also provides accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insuran ce. Insurance consists primarily of renewable term life insu! rance wit! h the amount of coverage provided being either a flat amount, a multiple of the employee’s earnings, or a combination of the two. It also reinsures life policies written by other carriers through DRMS. In addition, the Company provides group critical illness, cancer, accident, and gap insurance. These products are paid for by the employee through payroll deduction, and the employee is enrolled in the coverage(s) at the worksite. Its products and services are distributed through a group sales force located in 34 offices near metropolitan areas.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Whitney Kisling]

    Assurant (AIZ), the insurer of foreclosed homes, has climbed 72 percent in 2013, extending the rally since the bull market started to 245 percent. Per-share profit the last two quarters exceeded analyst projections. Earnings growth at the New York-based company will slow to 1 percent next year and 5 percent in 2015, when sales contract, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Specialized insurance products provider Assurant (NYSE: AIZ  ) announced yesterday its third-quarter dividend of $0.25 per share, the same rate it paid last quarter after raising the payout 19%, from $0.21 per share.