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Assurant earns $94M in first quarter

Clark County’s second-largest employer expects continued growth.

Assurant Group’s Springfield-based operation, Assurant Specialty Property, reported an increase in net income for the first quarter of the year but an overall decrease from the year before.

Assurant has four insurance services across the country and is the second largest employer in Clark County with more than 1,800 workers. The business earned $94.2 million in the first quarter of 2013, up from $10.2 million at the end of 2012 but down from the $113 million earned in the same quarter a year ago.

“We continue to build the foundation for profitable growth,” said Rob Pollock, Assurant’s president and CEO, in a conference call Thursday. “While earnings were down, we expanded and further adapted our business in several areas to address market needs.”

Pollock referenced Specialty Property specifically, saying the segment was still rolling out new products — such as Assurant’s solar coverage introduced last year as a result of the solar panel installation in Springfield.

The Springfield location primarily focuses on operational support for customers and clients of Assurant Specialty Property, said Vera Carley, Assurant spokeswoman. As Specialty Property is the largest Assurant segment, the Springfield operation has been able to grow.

“The Springfield location regularly hires employees to fill openings, and we are always looking for good people,” Carley said in an e-mail.

Assurant says the earnings decrease is because of a settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services, catastrophe losses from ice storms and developments from Hurricane Sandy, and generally higher expenses because of a growth in lender-placed loan portfolios.

Assurant as a whole — including Specialty Property, Solutions, Health and Employee Benefits — saw an operating income of $109.8 million for the first quarter, down from $158 million from a year ago.

Much of this is because of a net loss of $5.3 million in Assurant’s health division, although Pollock said he expects health to become profitable later. In the conference call, he also alluded to health care reform as a reason Assurant Health is operating at a loss.

“We increased our estimate of compensation expenses that are non-deductible under the Affordable Care Act,” Pollock said. “This change in estimate resulted in a $10 million addition to our income tax expense in the first quarter.”

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