For more than a year, analysts and investors have blasted Kemper for its plodding pace in writing down its real estate portfolio. Now, the insurer's way of accounting for property values has attracted attention from the Securities & Exchange Commission.

At Kemper's May 13 annual meeting, Chairman David Mathis disclosed that the SEC has begun "an informal inquiry" into Kemper's accounting and disclosure practices for its real estate portfolio from 1989 to the present. He added that other companies are under similar scrutiny but wouldn't identify them.

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