CNA Financial Holding Company (NYSE: CNA) is the seventh largest commercial insurance writer and the thirteenth largest property & casualty insurance company in the United States. CNA divides its operations into two main segments. Its core business of property and casualty insurance is divided into Specialty and Standard lines, while its non-core segment is split into Life & Group non-core and Corporation & Other non-core. Their insurance underwriting business has been unprofitable for the last fifteen years, but CNA has been able to turn a profit due to steady performance of its investment portfolio. However, lately, due in part to the 2008 Financial Crisis and CNA's shift to riskier asset-backed securities from bonds and other fixed income securities, CNA has lost the steady investment income it previously had.
Though CNA is the 7th largest insurance writer, it has not been able to achieve a combined ratio below 100% in the last 15 years. In other words, management has not been able to correctly estimate claims payments and has under allocated funds for claims payouts, resulting in losses being recorded on the books due to the mismatch. Despite CNA's inability to underwrite insurance successfully it has been able to post gains due to investment income.(Read more at Wikinvest )