A name synonymous with health insurance is exiting the property-and-casualty business after 30 years.

In a deal valued at $218 million, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is shedding a Midlands subsidiary that sells workers compensation policies and insures homes, businesses and automobiles.

The sale of Columbia-based Companion Property and Casualty Insurance Co. to the acquisitive Enstar Group Ltd. is expected to close by the end of the year if approved by regulators.

BlueCross BlueShield formed the company in 1984. Companion now operates in 49 states through a network of independent agents, brokers and other business partners. It has about 170 employees at its Columbia headquarters and another 30 spread over 10 states, said BlueCross BlueShield spokeswoman Patti Embry-Tautenhan.

"We sold Companion because the property-and-casualty business is very competitive and capital intensive, and it doesn't fit within our strategic growth plans," Embry-Tautenhan said Tuesday.

She added that the proceeds from the Enstar deal will be "reinvested into the enterprise," referring to BlueCross BlueShield ventures.

A spokesman for Enstar, which announced the deal Tuesday, could not be reached for comment. Embry-Tautenhan said "it is expected" that the buyer "will retain a portion of the existing workforce while also restructuring other jobs."

"And some employees may have other opportunities within the BlueCross enterprise," she said.

Bermuda-based Enstar said in a written statement that it is evaluating whether to shift some Companion policies as they come up for renewal to its U.K.-based Torus Insurance business, which has an office is in Atlanta.

Publicly traded Enstar and its subsidiaries buy and manage a range of insurance businesses internationally. It said it has acquired more than 60 companies and portfolios since it was formed in 2001.

"We are pleased to announce our agreement to acquire Companion, which continues the successful expansion of our property and casualty business in the U.S." Enstar CEO Dominic Silvester said in the statement.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.