Tennessee BlueCross BlueShield Buys 10% of USAble Life

by John Henry  on Friday, Aug. 13, 2004 3:56 pm  

USAble Life Inc. of Little Rock has sold a 10 percent share of the company to BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc.

The Tennessee health insurer said the purchase was part of its ongoing efforts to meet the needs of customers better and "to make one-stop shopping for benefits a reality."

USAble Life, a subsidiary of USAble Corp., was chartered to write life, accident, and disability insurance in 1980. Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the sole owner of USAble Corp., but USAble Life has similar ownership arrangements with Hawaii Blue Cross (10.2 percent) and North Carolina (10 percent).

James B. House, president and CEO, said selling 10 percent to Tennessee was "purely to give us access to marketshare. We needed to do it for growth. Arkansas' insurance market is highly penetrated."

House said 70 percent of USAble's new business comes from out-of-state customers.

House said the move was consistent with the company's expansion goals established in the 1990s.

He said the agreement with Tennessee BlueCross, completed in June, will bring in more business by allowing USAble access to its customer base.

Tennessee BlueCross, based at Chattanooga, serves more than 4.3 million people. It has more than 4,300 employees.

USAble had more than $180 million in assets and more than $77 million in total revenue in 2003. With more than $10.4 billion of insurance in force as of the end of 2003, USAble Life insures more than 653,000 individuals in 48 states. The company is rated "A" by Standard & Poors and "A-" by A.M. Best.

USAble offers life, AD&D, short-term and long-term disability, cancer, heart and stroke, hospital indemnity and critical illness insurance.

The company employs 135 people at Little Rock and has another 17 employees at regional offices at Nashville, Tenn., Ridgeland, Miss., and Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Little Rock company has four subsidiaries, three in the employee benefit market. USAble Life is the sole owner of Educational Benefits Inc., an agency that operates in the public-school market in Arkansas and Tennessee. Hagan Newkirk Financial Services?specializes in providing employee benefits. Select Data Service Administrators provides cafeteria plan administration for USAble Life. Both Hagan Newkirk and SDSA are owned 50 percent by USAble Life. USAble Life and Southern Administrators & Benefit Consultants Inc. provide cafeteria plan services in Mississippi.



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