Through injury or illness, Unum works to keep employees employed. A top disability insurer in the US and the UK, it offers short-term and long-term disability insurance, as well as life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, to individuals and groups in a workplace benefits setting. Specialty coverage offerings include cancer, dental, and travel insurance. US subsidiaries include Unum Life Insurance Company of America, Provident Life and Accident, First Unum Life, Colonial Life & Accident Insurance, and The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company. It operates as Unum Limited in the UK. Unum's products are sold through field sales agents and independent brokers. In 2014, Unum paid out $6 billion in benefits.
Around 60% of Unum's annual premiums come from the Unum US segment, which offers group disability, life, and accident policies, as well as supplemental and voluntary policies under the Unum America and Provident Brands and sold in the workplace setting. The Colonial Life segment -- which offers accident, sickness, disability, and life products sold at the workplace -- accounted for 12% of sales in 2014, while the Unum UK segment represented some 6% of sales. Unum also generates revenue from its closed block business, which services policies in the runoff segments (long-term care, non-workplace individual disability) where the company no longer issues new policies.
The company covers 20 million people worldwide and counts 175,000 businesses in the US among its customers (including a third of the Fortune 500). In 2014, the group's disability business alone helped more than 230,000 people return to work.
The US market contributes about two-thirds of annual revenues. Unum runs four primary operating centers (in Tennessee, Maine, Massachusetts, and South Carolina) and about 35 sales offices scattered across the US market. Its Unum Limited office is the headquarters for the smaller Unum UK operations.
Sales and Marketing
The company strives to maintain close relationships with its sales force, as well as with its independent agents and brokers, as it relies on these representatives to market its products to employers.
Unum advertises through print media (in such publications as Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker, Forbes, and HR Magazine) and through online videos on sites such as CNBC.com, WebMD, and Hulu.
While its overall revenue growth has been slow as of late -- which Unum primarily attributes to economic impacts on US employment levels -- the company believes its strategic restructuring measures will provide for an increase in future sales levels. In 2014, revenue rose a marginal 1.5% to $10.5 billion on premium growth in all business segments. Increased sales and premium rate increases helped promote growth; realized investment gains also rose but were partially offset by a decline in net investment income.
Net income has fluctuated over the past few years, including taking a major dip in 2011. In 2014 it fell 52% to $413 million as commissions and other expenses increased. Cash flow from operations increased 19% to $1.2 billion due to lower cash used in receivables and income tax, as well as an increase of cash coming in from insurance reserves and liabilities.
Unum seeks to achieve a competitive edge by providing group, individual, and voluntary workplace products that can be combined with other coverage to better integrate benefits for customers. The insurer has stayed ahead of the game in the disability market by sticking to conservative investment and growth strategies, primarily seeking to expand its group product offerings and its geographic presence through organic measures.
The company has especially seen growth in its voluntary benefits products, which allow employees to purchase individual coverage products on a supplemental basis. Such options are increasingly important as economic difficulties put pressure on low and middle-income workers. Unum has also expanded its offering of services to help employers and government agencies manage costs, such as its leave management program, flexible corporate contribution programs, and wellness initiatives.
While expanding in areas where the greatest market needs are seen, the firm also occasionally exits (or places into runoff) certain businesses where demand has slowed.
The company is focused on its infrastructure and employees with an aim towards simplifying products and processes. It hopes to expand into new markets and deepen coverage offerings while broadening employer relationships.
In 2015 Unum introduced a new disability offering allowing employers to choose between financial protection plans.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Unum agreed to buy Louisiana-based H&J Capital, which owns Starmount Life Insurance and third-party administrator AlwaysCare Benefits, for $127 million. Starmount operates in 49 states plus the District of Columbia, offering individual products for dental, vision, life, and accident coverage. It also offers group and voluntary benefits including dental, vision, life, accident, disability, and critical illness, under the AlwaysCare Benefits brand.