(Bloomberg News) Prudential Financial Inc., the second-largest U.S. life insurer, appointed Andrew Sullivan to lead its disability unit as the company seeks to turn around its group-coverage operation.

Sullivan, 41, will direct business strategy and oversee product development, underwriting and claims management as senior vice president for disability and small market business, according to a statement today from the Newark, New Jersey-based insurer. He previously ran the small market operation and takes the added duties from Andrew Mako, who is retiring after almost 35 years with Prudential, a spokeswoman said.

"It's an important step for us in getting the disability business back on the path of growth," said Sheila Bridgeforth, the spokeswoman.

Steve Pelletier was assigned in April to improve results at the group insurance unit, replacing Lori High, who resigned. Prudential posted a $38 million adjusted operating loss in the segment in the first quarter, compared with $39 million in profit a year earlier, as the disability unit weighed on results.

"In group disability, we have clear performance issues and we are moving aggressively to address and correct them," Chief Executive Officer John Strangfeld said on a May 3 conference call with analysts.

Disability coverage has also weighed on results at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. The insurer said last month that it's raising rates and changing managers at its group disability business after results were "well below" expectations. Chief Financial Officer Christopher Swift said on a May 3 conference call that earnings from the business will probably be little changed this year from 2011, compared with a December forecast for improvement of 15 percent to 17 percent.