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CEO: Conseco's name no longer says insurance

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Conseco Inc. CEO Jim Prieur says it's time to change the company's 27-year-old name partly because it's become better associated with a sports facility than with the insurer's products.

Carmel-based Conseco will ask shareholders in May to approve changing the company’s name to CNO Financial Group, the company said Thursday morning.

“Conseco is sort of a funny name anyway,” said Prieur in an interview with IBJ on Thursday morning.

“People always ask, ‘What is a Conseco?’ or they say, ‘Is it the baseball player company?’” Prieur said, referring to Jose Canseco, a former slugger for the Oakland Athletics and other major league baseball teams.

If shareholders agree, the company wants to move fairly quickly to change the name of Conseco Fieldhouse, the basketball arena in Indianapolis where the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever play. Conseco is in the 11th year of a 20-year, $40 million deal for the arena's naming rights.

Conseco spokesman Tony Zehnder said the company has begun talks with Pacers Sports & Entertainment about the name change. He said there’s no firm timetable for a change, but he added, “ I assume we would probably try to resolve this within the year.”

Shareholders will be asked to vote on the name change at the annual meeting on May 11. CNO is the company's stock symbol.

The name Conseco was an amalgamation of the first two insurance companies acquired by Conseco co-founder Stephen Hilbert. One was named Security National Life Co. and the other was called Consolidated National Life Insurance Co. The name was adopted in 1983 and used as Hilbert bought a raft of life and health insurance companies and merged them on a Carmel corporate campus.

In the late 1990s, Conseco made a catchy series of television ads using the Conseco name and the tagline “Step Up.” But the name was tarnished when the company went through a bankruptcy reorganization in 2003.

In the past two years, Conseco has phased out selling new policies under the Conseco brand. The companies based in Carmel operate almost exclusively now under the name Washington National, the name of a company Conseco acquired in 1997.

At the same time, Conseco’s best-known and best-performing units are its Bankers Life & Casualty subsidiary in Chicago and its Colonial Penn unit in Philadelphia.

Since Prieur became CEO in 2006, he has noticed that Conseco’s name is poorly known—at least as an insurance company.

“I can’t tell you how many people in Indy you meet who think that if you work at Conseco, you work at the Fieldhouse,” Prieur said. “They don’t even identify it as an insurance company.”

Prieur also seemed to want to make a change to mark the significant changes in the company’s business recently.

In the last year alone, Conseco survived a cash crunch and has since sold hundreds of millions in new stock and cleared away huge debt payments that were due this year. Last month, the company reported its fourth consecutive quarterly profit.

“We've recapitalized the company to reduce debt, increase liquidity and equity capital, provide more flexibility to ride out economic storms, and enhance our ability to grow profitably,” Prieur said in a prepared statement issued earlier on Thursday.

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  • death benefit
    My husband's death occurred suddenly on Feb.3 2013 then the excuses came one after another, three months later still no check, in 11 years never missed a monthly premium was never late with one but now it is time for the insurance company to pay back benefits and guess what no benefits as of today have come to me..My belief is that if the CEO had any idea how many lying idiots that they have working for them ruining the name of the company some would be out of a job and If you want to call me I will be glad to give him names of all of those that I have talked too in the last 3 months.
  • check delay
    Jim, Please review my conversations with your staff. I was given excuse after excuse for the delay in my return of premium check, which matured on Nov. 5 2012. My check came on Dec. 19. I was depending on this check for Christmas but due to the amount funds will not be available until Jan. 2. I knew that about the 7 day wait for the funds to be available thats why I asked so many questions because I wanted the check to be mailed on time. I am highly disapointed in services provided to me. I guess I will not have a good christmas this year.
  • left
    I would like no love to talk to the ceo of washington national. I left this ins. company 2 months ago, and they are still pulling money out of my account. someone please help. this is theft.
  • Death Benefit form
    You can get the form at www.conseco.com. Just be sure to send it certified, return receipt requested. And send a copy to the attorney general of your state. Let them know how long you've been waiting.
  • death benefit
    Did you ever receive a reply from anyone? I can email the forms to you or you can go to conseco.com and get the death benefit forms. They stink as a company.
  • PATHETIC
    ANOTHER OF AMERICAS "WE DO IT TO YOU BECAUSE WE CAN" GARBAGE COMPANIES.SEE BUSINESS AND CONSUMER RATINGS.400 % PREMIUM INCREASES FOR THOUSANDS OF UNSUSPECTING SENIORS.
  • Life Insurance
    Yes, they are insurance and I am still waiting on a reply to a life insurance claim for my father who died on February 23, 2004. Today's date is December 18, 2011. If anyone "runs" into someone who works at Conseco, ask them to reply to me.
    • Supporting information for selling
      Review this site more information htttp://law.freeadvice.com/insurance_law/insurers_bad_faith/conseco.htm
    • Changes
      Yeah, I heard Conseco is changing all these things to their company and merging as well. I read it on this article:http://www.goinsurancerates.com/history-of-conseco-insurance/

      It's important for us to know what changes are happening to we can adjust properly.
    • Conseco is insurance?
      I once worked there, and I never thought of it as a safe and viable insurance company.
    • We're not dumb
      See paragraph 9 for the reason they need to change the name. J.K. Wall sure seems to have helped them spin this story.
    • Conundrum
      [kuh-nuhn-druhm]
      â??noun
      1. a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words.

      another finance guy here, not hard core marketer...but I think this is a situation where (what I hear) the Conseco name has recognition, but not branded appropriately..not associated w/insurance. I would have the marketing guru's propose 2 options...the complete renaming and re-branding (an EXTREMELY expensive proposition) and re-branding Conseco...they could have Jose Conseco (the former baseball player) involved someway in media campaign (see conundrum). their old commercials (some on youtube) were actually pretty good, pretty funny. I would seriously consider capitalizing on the name recognition that's supposedly there. Their other issue is they have too many brands through consolidation mania that they couldn't re-brand without screwing themselves over.
    • See No Fieldhouse
      If the name changes to CNO Fieldhouse (See No Fieldhouse), it will be the laughing stock of the NBA and beyond. Why not create more brand awareness throughout the country via a new marketing and advertising campaign and really solidify its place in the market.
    • Just say NO
      I am a finance guy, not an image consultant. That said, I would think most any company would die to have the name recognition that we shareholders have purchased through our investment in naming one of the coolest and most recognizable structures in Indiana. Come on guys, this is not the way to distance our current image with past problems. CNO is not an intuitively positive ticker symbol i.e. See No _________ (fill in the blank). I wouldn't be promoting it. There has to be better things to do in the Company's recovery than rebranding. I invested at $10 a share. Let's talk when we get back to that price.
    • wha?
      I don't get it--they say they are changing the company name because it has been overshadowed by the arena's name, but then further down in the story, they still want to rename the arena, presumably to reflect the name change. Seems like a vicious circle. Am I missing something? The problem is that Conseco put all its eggs in one basket--naming a stadium--and does nothing else to publicize itself.
    • info missing
      I don't think they want to change the name to CNO Fieldhouse...but they want to either get out of the contract, or change it to (a) Bankers, (b) Washington National or (c) Colonial Penn. These are the companies that actually sell their products, and that are known in the insurance world. Conseco name basically became a name of the holding company, and it really doesn't make sense to market it anymore. More than likely, they would like to get out of the contract if possible.
    • Sell Immediately
      Wow! This might be the most absurd thing any CEO has uttered on the record for some time. Sell your shares today!
    • Got a name idea!
      How about calling them "Consucko"? That name would fit both the current company image and would align with the Pacers style of play.
    • I got it!
      C no Financial(s)
      The new era of transparency
    • I agree!
      Couldn't have said it better myself!
    • Don't do it!
      Some of us never got over the change from Hoosier Dome to RCA Dome. Conseco Fieldhouse has a familiar ring to it that CNO Fieldhouse might never achieve.
    • Aren't they committing the same error?
      So, they want to change the name because everyone thinks they're the Fieldhouse, but they ALSO want to change the name of the Fieldhouse to match the NEW company name... Does that make sense to anyone? It doesn't to me.
    • What?
      No one will know what CNO stands for either
    • Are you kidding me?
      You are recovering from a bankrupcy and you can't think of anything better to spend your money on besides an extremely expensive name change?
    • Name Change?
      I wonder who is liable for the cost of changing all the signage at the Fieldhouse? One would hope that it would not fall to the cash-strapped CIB and be the responsibility of Conseco aka CNO . . .
    • Your kidding right?
      The company doesn't have has bigger concerns than initiating an expensive name change.

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