Unitrin Acquiring Personal Lines Insurer Merastar for $45 Million

Unitrin, Inc. reports that its subsidiary, Trinity Universal Insurance Co., is buying Merastar Insurance Co. certain of its affiliates in a cash transaction valued at approximately $45 million.

Merastar Insurance is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee and specializes in the sale of personal automobile and homeowners’ insurance through employer-sponsored voluntary benefit programs. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2006, Merastar Insurance recorded direct written premiums of approximately $54 million.

Unitrin said that Merastar Insurance will become part of its Unitrin Direct business segment and plans to keep the Chattanooga operation substantially intact.

The transaction is subject to the execution of definitive agreements, approvals by insurance regulators and other third parties and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the second quarter.

Donald G. Southwell, Unitrin chief executive officer, said his company beleives that Merastar’s worksite distribution channel will “nicely complement Unitrin Direct’s existing direct-to-consumer distribution channels and will accelerate Unitrin Direct’s progress towards achieving necessary economies of scale.”

Unitrin’s property and casualty insurance business includes Kemper Auto & Home, Unitrin Specialty and Unitrin Business Insurance, which sell personal and commercial insurance through independent agents, and Unitrin Direct, which sells auto insurance directly to consumers.

Source: Unitrin