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TSC Ratings provides exclusive stock, ETF and mutual fund ratings and commentary based on award-winning, proprietary tools. Its "safety first" approach to investing aims to reduce risk while seeking solid outperformance on a total return basis.

You can count on one hand the number of industries whose shares have fared worse than insurance companies' in the past six months. But not all insurers are in the same position -- some have been unfairly punished and are trading at tempting values.

The companies vary in size, from a market value of $16 million for

Security National Financial

(SNFCA) - Get Security National Financial Corporation Class A Report



(L) - Get Loews Corporation (L) Report

, which has a market value of $9.6 billion.

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The life and health insurance index of the S&P 500 has fallen 56% over six months, more than twice as much as the benchmark. It's ranked 150th of 154 industry groups on the S&P 500. Property and casualty insurers have done better, dropping 23% -- in line with the S&P 500 -- during the past half year.

Coventry Health Care

( CVH), whose stock has fallen 68% from a year earlier, has a price-to-book value of 56%. A company's book value is its total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities. The higher the percentage, the more fairly valued a company is.

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Unum Group

(UNM) - Get Unum Group Report

is down 43% and is trading at 65% of book value.


(AIZ) - Get Assurant, Inc. Report

has tumbled 64% and trading at 69% of book value.

The insurer with the lowest price to book is Security National Financial, at 26%.

Aside from price to book, other inexpensive stocks are Loews, which has a trailing price-to-earnings multiple of only 2.4.


( HS) return on average assets is 8.4%. Ratings has compiled a list of 10 stocks trading at a substantial discount to book value. Ratings, recently cited for Best Stock Selection from October 2007 through February 2009 , is an independent research provider that combines fundamental and technical analysis to offer investors tremendous value in volatile times. To see how your portfolio can use this research,

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Gavin Magor joined Ratings in 2008, and is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to health insurers and supporting other health care-related consumer products, including Medicare supplement insurance, long-term care insurance and elder care information. He conducts industry analysis in these areas. He has more than 20 years' international experience in credit risk management, commercial lending and analysis, working in the U.K., Sweden, Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. He holds a master's degree in business administration from The Open University in the U.K.