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Traded as NYSEUNM
S&P 500 Component
Industry Employee benefits (disability, life and critical illness insurance)
Founded Tennessee
Headquarters Chattanooga, Tennessee
Key people
Rick McKenney, President and CEO
Thomas Watjen, Chairman of the Board;
Jack McGarry, CFO
Revenue $10.35 billion (2013)[1]
$858.1 million (2013)[1]
Number of employees
9,200 (2013)[1]
Website www.unum.com

Unum Group NYSEUNM is a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Fortune 500[2] insurance company formerly known as UnumProvident.[3] Unum Group was created by the 1999 merger of Unum Corporation and The Provident Companies[3] and comprises three distinct businesses – Unum US, Unum UK, and Colonial Life. Its underwriting insurers include The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company and Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company.[1] Unum is the top disability insurer in both the United States and United Kingdom[4] and also offers other insurance products including accident, critical illness and life insurance.[5]

As of December 2013, Unum had 9,200 full-time employees and annual revenue of $10.35 billon.[1] Thomas Watjen has led Unum as its CEO since 2003.[6]


Early History: Unum corporation

Union Mutual Life Insurance was incorporated in 1848 in Maine.[7] The company issued its first policy, which covered the life of founder and company president Elisha B. Pratt for $5000, on October 1, 1849.[7] Union Mutual's principal office at the time was located in Boston, Massachusetts, where Pratt resided.[7][8] Union Mutual remained headquartered in Boston until 1881, when the state of Maine passed a law that required the principal office and headquarters of all insurance companies incorporated by the state to be located within the state.[7] The company relocated to Portland, Maine.[7][8]

In 1940, the company acquired most of Massachusetts Accident Company's health and accident insurance business.[8] The acquisition was Union Mutual's first expansion beyond individual life and endowment insurance.[8][9] In 1969, Union Mutual established the insurance industry's first downstream holding company, which facilitated the company's continued expansion and diversification.[10][11] Union Mutual also established its group disability business in the 1960s.[8][9] Group disability would become the company's flagship product.[12][13]

Union Mutual became the first major mutual insurance company to demutualize in 1986.[8] Company CEO Colin Hampton had been pushing for demutualization since 1970 and the company formally began the process of converting to a publicly held company in January 1985.[8][14] Union Mutual, now renamed Unum, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in November 1986.[10]

The company also began selling off underperforming businesses during the 1980s.[8] From 1982 to 1990, Unum abandoned many insurance products, including medical insurance, individual life insurance, general investment contracts, and individual annuities and pensions.[8] Under the leadership of then-CEO James Orr, the company turned its focus to long-term group disability insurance.[8]

In March 1990, Unum acquired National Employers Life Assurance Holdings, which at the time was the United Kingdom's largest disability insurer.[15] The company later acquired Duncanson & Holt, a reinsurer and insurance underwriter for the accident and health insurance sectors.[16] In 1993, Unum acquired the Colonial Companies, parent company of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company.[17] Colonial focused on individual insurance products, including accident, cancer and life insurance policies.[17] Unum began offering individual disability policies under the Unum brand once again in 1995.[8]

Early History: The Provident companies

The Provident companies was founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee in May 1887 as Mutual Medical Aid and Accident Insurance Company. The company originally specialized in providing both medical-aid and accident insurance to employees in high-risk industries, including miners and coal workers.[18] Within a few months, the company’s founders became concerned that a single disease epidemic would bankrupt the company. Mutual Medical Aid and Accident purchased back all outstanding medical-aid policies and reincorporated as Provident Accident Insurance Company. Provident only issued accident policies.

In 1892, Thomas Maclellan and John McMaster purchased a 50% stake in the company for $1000. The two men purchased the remaining 50% equity in 1895 and Mclellan was the company's sole owner and president by 1900.[18] Maclellan reorganized the company from being mutually held to a stock company in 1910.

Thomas Maclellan served as president of Provident until he was struck by an automobile and unexpectedly died 1916.[19] Robert Maclellan, the son of Thomas, assumed the presidency of Provident following his father's death.[19][20] Provident began selling life insurance the following year, in 1917, and the first life insurance policy issued by the company covered Robert Maclellan's life.[20] The company also began offering railroad insurance.[20]

Provident wrote its first group policy in 1924. The company expanded its operations with its 1926 acquisition of Detroit, Michigan-based Standard Accident Company. Provident operated in 34 states by 1928. It also acquired Southern Surety Company in 1931 and Meridian Insurance of West Virginia in 1938.[20] The company expanded into Canada in 1948.[20]

In November 1993, J. Harold Chandler became president and chief executive officer of Provident.[21] Chandler had previously served as a senior executive at NationsBank.[21] Chandler initiated a company-wide restructuring at Provident, which included the 1995 sale of its health-related business to Healthsource for $231 million.[22] Provident also increased its focus on individual disability and life policies with the 1997 acquisition of the Paul Revere Corporation, a Worcester, Massachusetts-based provider of individual disability insurance, from Textron for $1.2 billion.[23] The purchase of Paul Revere made Provident the nation's largest provider of individual disability policies.[23]

Unum Group (1999–present)

Unum and Provident announced their intention to merge in November 1998.[12] When the merger was completed in 1999, the new company, named UnumProvident, was the United States' largest disability insurance provider.[24] Then-Unum chairman and chief executive James Orr was retained in as chairman and CEO of UnumProvident, which was headquartered in Portland, Maine.[24]

Company Chief Operating Officer J. Harold Chandler, who had served as Provident's chief executive prior to the merger, succeeded Orr as UnumProvident CEO in November 1999.[25] The company sold Provident National Assurance, a holding company for its life insurance and variable annuity business, to Allstate in 2001.[26] In 2002, UnumProvident relocated its headquarters from Portland, Maine to Chattanooga, Tennessee.[27] The former Provident Companies was headquartered in Chattanooga.[27]

UnumProvident acquired Sun Life Financial's United Kingdom-based group insurance business in 2003.[28] Thomas Watjen replaced Orr as UnumProvident’s chief executive later that year.[6] The company also sold its Japanese and Argentine businesses.[28]

In 2007, UnumProvident was renamed Unum.[29] The Unum moniker was last used by the Unum Corporation prior to the 1999 merger.[29] In 2012 and 2013, Unum partnered with the Consumer Federation of America to release reports which examined the use of disability insurance by American workers.[30][31] According to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that were cited by the report, two-thirds of American workers do not carry disability insurance policies.[32] In addition, the report found that, among other things, workers know little about disability insurance, despite expecting financial hardship if they were to become unable to work.[30][31]

Corporate Structure

Unum Group's Worcester office at One Mercantile Place in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts

Unum is headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[1] The company has additional offices in Portland, Maine; Columbia, South Carolina; Worcester, Massachusetts; Glendale, California; and Dorking, England.[1] Thomas Watjen served as Unum president and chief executive from 2003 until his retirement in 2015. Watjen became Chairman of the Unum Board of Directors on May 21, 2015. He was succeeded as President and CEO by Rick McKenney.

Unum is divided into three business segments: Unum US, Unum UK and Colonial Life.[1] It provides disability insurance, as well as group benefits, life insurance and other services.[5][33]

Corporate responsibility

Unum supports corporate responsibility programs in four categories: community involvement, diversity, public policy, and green initiatives.[34] Unum's global charitable giving topped $13.5 million in 2013, including 100,000 volunteer hours logged by company employees.[35]


  • Forbes' America's 100 Most Trustworthy Companies 2013[36]
  • Forbes' America's Most Reputable Companies 2012–2013[36][37]
  • Newsweek's Green Companies 2012[38]
  • Center for Political Accountability recognition 2011[39]
  • Dow Jones Sustainability North American Index 2010-2012[40]
  • Human Rights Campaign Corporation Index 2009-2011[41][42][43]
  • UK Corporate Adviser Awards – Best Group Risk Provider 2012–2013[40]
  • UK Health Insurance Awards – Best Group Risk Provider 2011–2012[40]
  • UK Cover Excellence Awards – Best Group Income Protection 2011[40]


In 2002, Unum received negative attention when several plaintiffs' attorneys claimed that the company denied long-term disability insurance claims.[44] Unum stated that "only 2% of the policyholders who filed a claim with the company last year [2001] were found not to be disabled, an amount consistent with prior experience."[45]

In 2004, Unum entered into a regulatory settlement agreement (RSA) with insurance regulators in over 40 states.[46] The settlement related to Unum's handling of disability claims and required the company "to make significant changes in corporate governance, implement revisions to claim procedures and provide for a full re-examination of both reassessed claims and disability insurance claim decisions after the January 2005 effective date of the RSA."[47] The review was completed and a final report issued in April 2008.[47] Mila Kofman, the Maine Superintendent of Insurance, said, "The strong new processes and the resulting change in corporate culture – measured by the very low rate and in some cases the 0% error in claim determinations is remarkable," and that Unum had become "a model for other insurers."[48]

Since 1994, Unum has been advising the United Kingdom government on claims. The company has been involved with the UK's controversial Welfare Reform Bill.[49][50] Unum was investigated by the BBC in England.[51]

See also


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