snack packs

Chattanooga-based Unum Group marks 175 years as insurance powerhouse

Insurer Unum Group on Friday marked 175 years in business as some employees bagged about 1,000 snack packs for food-needy children in the lobby of its downtown Chattanooga headquarters.

“It was a good year for Unum,” said Martha Leiper, the company’s chief investment officer, about 2022. “It’s a good time for employees to engage in giving back.”

The voluntary benefits company that offers disability, life, dental and vision insurance among its products has lasted so long because it meets a need, Leiper said in an interview.

“People need financial protection,” she said. “They need a way to have a backstop in case something happens in their lives.”

The company that employs about 2,800 in the city and around 10,000 worldwide is one of the oldest businesses in Chattanooga. It traces its start to 1848 when Union Mutual was chartered in Maine and later became Unum.

In 1887, Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co. was founded in Chattanooga. A series of mergers and acquisitions from 1993 to 1999 by Unum, Provident, Paul Revere and Colonial Life created what was known as UnumProvident and later Unum. Chattanooga became the headquarters of the insurance powerhouse.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga’s Unum Group names new head of diversity and inclusion)

While the combined company initially stumbled executing its business plan with the share price of its stock tumbling, it later regrouped.

Early this year, Unum posted better earnings for 2022 over 2021 on solid operating performance and favorable trends in its business, the insurer reported.

For the year, after-tax adjusted operating income was $1.25 billion, or $6.21 per share, versus $890 million, or $4.36 per share, in 2021, according to Unum.

Last December, Unum officials said it was adding about 100 new posts in Chattanooga and 200 companywide.

Leiper said the company will celebrate 175 years

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