August 15, 2011

In conjunction with an ongoing effort to reposition itself as a focused insurance provider, Unitrin, Inc. (Chicago) has announced its new name -- Kemper Corporation -- effective Aug. 25, 2011. The company also will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the KMPR ticker symbol that day.

"Kemper is a legendary name in the insurance industry, and it offers an opportunity to create a unified brand for our family of companies and a strong platform for continued growth and expansion," said Don Southwell, Chairman, President and CEO, in a press release.

The company purchased the Kemper personal lines business in 2002. This segment now represents the company's largest business unit with just under $1 billion in total earned premiums in 2010. For marketing purposes, this unit will become Kemper Preferred, effective August 25. The holding company will incorporate the Kemper name in many of its other business units over time.

"Since the Kemper acquisition, we have looked for opportunities to leverage the value of the Kemper brand throughout our organization," Southwell added. "When we had the opportunity to purchase the name outright in mid-2010, we jumped on it." Over the past five years, the organization has worked to redefine itself from a holding company with an eclectic portfolio of companies and investments to a straightforward insurance provider with more than $8 billion in assets, according to the company statement. Unitrin was established as a holding company after its spin-off from Teledyne in 1990.

"The Kemper name fits who we have become as a company," Southwell continued. "It allows us to bring together all of our approximately 7,000 employees under one banner that reinforces our position as a straightforward company that delivers personal service and financial excellence in all of our interactions."

After purchasing the name, the company began a study of all its brands, assisted by third-party research, to explore how best to use the name more aggressively. The Kemper brand name, its attributes and recognition remain strong, the company says, with about a 30 percent greater awareness of the Kemper name over Unitrin among consumers surveyed.

The company's subsidiaries work through about 10,000 independent agents and 2,600 career agents. Customers who choose to purchase their insurance directly on-line can do so via Unitrin Direct or iMingle, which uses social networking to enable customers to link their policies with friends.

Today, Unitrin has more than $2.5 billion in annual revenue, with more than 6 million policies in force across the country. It is a diversified insurance holding company with subsidiaries that provide auto, homeowners, life, health and other insurance products for individuals. Total earned premiums for 2010 were over $2.2 billion, with property and casualty insurance comprising more than 70 percent of that total. Principal businesses include:

  • Kemper Preferred provides auto, homeowners and other insurance products to individuals through a network of independent agents.
  • Unitrin Specialty provides auto insurance through a network of independent agents and brokers to individuals and small businesses which have had difficulty procuring insurance through traditional channels, usually due to adverse driving records, claim or credit histories.
  • Unitrin Direct markets auto and homeowners insurance to consumers via direct mail, the internet, employer-sponsored employee benefit programs and other affinity relationships.
  • Life and Health Insurance specializes in the sale of life and health insurance products to individuals through networks of employee agents and exclusive, independent agents.
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & ...