Assurant profits slide in fourth quarter

Assurant reported less income both in its fourth quarter and overall in 2014, as well as at its Specialty Property Division, which has offices in Springfield and Dayton.

The New York-based company reported net operating income of $439 million in 2014, down about 6 percent from a year earlier. Losses at its Specialty Property Division and Assurant Health were mostly offset by better results in two other divisions, as well as by slashing expenses, according to information from the company.

Assurant’s net operating income in the fourth quarter of last year fell to $63 million, down about 41 percent from the same period in 2013. Company officials said they were disappointed with the results.

“While we are disappointed by weaker than expected earnings in the fourth quarter, we are taking decisive action to improve profitability,” said Alan Colberg, Assurant’s CEO in a recent conference call with investors.

Assurant’s Springfield office provides operational support for customers and clients of its Specialty Property Division. The company is a major employer in Clark County with about 2,300 workers.

The company’s Specialty Property Division saw about $71 million in net operating income, down about 34 percent compared to 2013, according to information from the company.

The loss in revenue in the Specialty Property Division was the result of an expected downturn in the lender-placed insurance industry, Colberg said. The company also attributed losses to higher non-catastrophe losses, as well as the loss of a client.

Earlier this year, Assurant announced plans to lay off 37 employees as part of a restructuring process. The company also laid off about 75 workers last fall due to the loss of a client.

Further losses in the division are expected in 2015, said Christopher Pagano, the company’s chief financial officer and treasurer told investors.

“The initiatives underway to lower expenses in the lender-placed area and expand margins for mortgage solutions will help mitigate some of the declines, with net savings expected in the latter part of this year,” Pagano said. “Importantly, these actions will help us maintain attractive returns long term.”

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