A legendary Auto & Homeowners Insurance Company name is back in the headlines. Unitrin Inc. one of the top car insurance companies has taken the Kemper name, and will officially operate as Kemper Corp. with trading on the New York Stock Exchange as the KMPR ticker symbol. The Kemper name seemed to be a permanent fixture in the property/casualty insurance business until 2001-2002, when the company took a series of losses. Kemper’s capitalization declined significantly in late 2001 due to some reductions caused by adverse loss reserve development, principally in asbestos reserves, adjustments driven by the new regulatory accounting principles and modest losses from the 9- 11 attacks which also hurt a large number of other insurers.
At year-end 2001, the group entered into a retroactive reinsurance agreement on its asbestos reserves and in April 2002 Kemper sold its personal lines business to Unitrin. Today, this segment of personal lines business represents Unitrin’s largest business unit with just under $1 billion in total earned premiums in 2010. “Kemper is a well-known name in the Car, Home and Renters insurance industry, and it offers an opportunity to create a unified brand for family of companies and a strong platform for continued growth and expansion.
Don Southwell, chairman, president and CEO stated; “Since the Kemper acquisition, we have looked for opportunities to leverage the value of the Kemper brand throughout our organization. When we had the opportunity to purchase the name outright in mid-2010, we jumped on it.”
For marketing purposes, the personal lines unit will be called Kemper Preferred, which became effective August 25th. Kemper Preferred will provide auto, homeowners and other insurance products to individuals through a network of independent agents. The Unitrin holding company will incorporate the Kemper name to other business units over time.
Despite its absence in the insurance community, the Kemper name remains a very strong brand. “The Kemper name fits who we have become as a company,” Southwell said. “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,” he added.
InsureDirect.com does not represent Kemper at the moment. During the time the company functioned under the Unitrin name, Auto Insurance Products were marketed on a Direct to the Consumer Basis. This bypassed the independent Agent and severly restricted their marketing abilities to the loyal customers of InsureDirect.com and other auto insurance agents who market on a national basis. I will be contacting Kemper during the 4th quarter of 2011 and hopefully arrange for a national agency appointment. Upon acqusistion; we will immediately make all the Kemper Personal Lines Products available to you, the consumer.
Michael E. Dortch
President & Managing Agent
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania 19446
(800) 807-0762 ext. 602