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A.M. BEST RELEASES 269 BEST'S RATINGS IN EIGHTH WEEKLY RELEASE

 OLDWICK, N.J., /PRNewswire/ -- The A.M. Best Company today released the eighth edition of its 1993 Best's Rating Monitor. Best's Ratings were issued to 177 property/casualty companies and 92 life/health firms, including Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, Kemper Corporation Group (property/casualty), United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company, Hartford Life Insurance Company and Ohio National Life Insurance Company.
 Based on the evaluation of year-end 1992 financial results and subsequent relevant events, Best's Ratings will be released on a weekly basis through June. To date, Best's Ratings have been assigned to 905 property/casualty companies and 528 life/health insurers. Best's Ratings are continuously monitored throughout the year with formal rating reviews performed on six-month and nine-month financial results.
 Rating rationales for eight property/casualty and five life/health groups are listed below:
 American National Insurance Company, Galveston, Texas, was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A++" (Superior). The company's superior financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A++" was unchanged.
 This rating assignment reflects the company's exceptional capitalization, strong profitability and sound investment portfolio. This rating also recognizes the prominent position which the company holds in the highly profitable home service life insurance market and the diversity of earnings and support that is provided by its subsidiaries. Partially offsetting these factors is the company's exposure within its mortgage loan portfolio to the generally weak national real estate markets, the modest level of growth in its in-force block of life insurance and the threat which potential changes from state and federal regulatory health care reform may have on its group health operations.
 "Operating earnings nearly doubled in 1992 to $192.1 million, reflecting substantial growth in net investment income due mainly to a sale of a subsidiary from which the company received an extraordinary dividend of $79 million," according to Larry G. Mayewski, senior vice president of Best's life/health division. Adjusting for this event, earnings remained strong and consistent with prior years. Over the past five years, American National has reported statutory gains from operations totaling $557 million. Although a sizable exposure to mortgage loans exists, A.M. Best believes that American National's sound investment management practices, along with its exceptionally strong capitalization, will help to insulate the company from potential further deterioration of the real estate market. American National maintains a favorable overall liquidity position and well-balanced investment portfolio, especially in view of its stable liability structure and consistent cash flows. At year-end 1992, American National Insurance Company held approximately $1.4 billion in investment-grade bonds, cash and short-term obligations. The company ranks among the 70 largest life/health insurers in the U.S. when measured by total assets.
 Employers Mutual Casualty Company, Des Moines, Iowa, was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A" (Excellent). The group's excellent financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A" was unchanged. The rating applies to six intercompany pool members, led by Employers Mutual Casualty Company. Two other members of the group, EMC Reinsurance Company and Farm and City Insurance Company, operate outside of the pooling arrangement and are rated on an individual basis.
 This rating assignment reflects the pool's rating continued strong earnings, surplus growth and strong balance-sheet position. These positive rating factors are derived by the group's strong multiple lines underwriting results, loyal network of independent agents and favorable operating environment of the midwestern and southern states, where a bulk of its business is generated.
 "Underwriting results of the group have been impacted in recent years by severe storm losses, as well as adverse development on prior accident year loss reserves," said John H. Snyder, senior vice president of Best's property/casualty division. However, overall results remain superior to the industry for most lines of business as evidenced by a pure loss ratio of 66, which is four points better than the industry, he added. While the coastline exposure of the group is limited on the direct book, the reinsurance operations have been severely impacted by hurricanes in recent years, including $7.5 million attributable to Hurricane Andrew. Operating results, combined with investment gains, have more than doubled policyholders' surplus since year-end 1987. Premium volume during the same period increased at a more modest rate, which has resulted in improved capitalization levels. At year-end 1992, $288 million of surplus supported $538 million of net writings. The group's liquidity position also is excellent, with over $706 million of investment-grade bonds. The EMC Companies is among the top 200 largest property/casualty groups in the United States with over $288 million of surplus.
 Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, Novato, Calif., was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A" (Excellent). The group's excellent financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A" was unchanged. The rating applies to seven intercompany pool members led by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company and eight companies that are reinsured by a pool member.
 This rating assignment reflects management's conservative operating strategies, improved capitalization with sizable embedded economic value within its strengthened loss reserves and high quality investment portfolio. These positive rating factors are further enhanced by the group's strong and committed parent, Allianz AG Holding, Munich, Germany, which has enabled the group to market and write worldwide business accounts.
 "The group's good capitalization and downsizing in recent years, together with management's disciplined approach to underwriting and loss reserve adequacy, leaves the Fireman's Fund Companies well positioned to profitably implement its target marketing, middle-market strategy," according to John H. Snyder, senior vice president of Best's property/casualty division. Partially offsetting these strengths are the group's depressed earnings in recent years, driven largely by its predominant workers' compensation line, approximately 30 percent of total net written premiums, and high residual market charges. In addition, the group's earnings were significantly impacted by catastrophes during 1992, especially hurricanes Andrew and Iniki, which added gross losses of approximately $550 million, and on a net basis, added 3.8 points to the combined ratio of 122.
 The Fireman's Fund Group's underwriting results, with an average combined ratio of 119 over the past five years, has been higher than the commercial lines industry results by nine points. Management is improving profitability by reducing business in jurisdictions with difficult economic and regulatory environments and by targeting profitable niche markets for growth. The group has good capitalization, which has improved over the past several years as surplus growth was accompanied by modest yearly reductions in net premiums written and the suspension of dividend payments to the holding company. The Fireman's Fund Insurance Companies ranks among the top 20 largest property/casualty insurers in the U.S. with $2.5 billion in net premiums supported by $1.7 billion in surplus. Allianz AG Holdings is more than a century old German insurer and reinsurer with over $7 billion in premium volume and operates on a worldwide basis.
 In addition, Interstate Fire & Casualty Company, Chicago, was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A-" (Excellent). The group's excellent financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A-" was unchanged. This rating applies to the group's two intercompany pool members led by Interstate Fire and Casualty Company.
 This rating assignment reflects the group's demonstrated expertise within its profitable excess and surplus niche markets, improved operating results, strong balance sheet and improved capital position. The rating is further supported by a committed parent, The Fireman's Fund Companies and its parent, Allianz AG Holdings, Munich, Germany. The Interstate Group wrote $141 million in net premiums supported by $127 million of surplus in 1992.
 Hartford Life Insurance Company, Hartford, Conn., was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A++" (Superior). The company's superior financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A++" was unchanged.
 This rating assignment reflects Hartford Life's conservative asset quality, sophisticated asset/liability management practices, favorable earnings performance, strong capitalization and good financial flexibility. This rating also acknowledges the company's prominent position in the group annuity marketplace and the quality and national presence of Hartford Life's distribution sources. Partially offsetting these strengths is the company's rapid growth in recent years, primarily in interest-sensitive products, which tend to provide narrower profit margins than more traditional products. This expansion has required substantial support through surplus contributions from its parent, Hartford Fire Insurance Company.
 Hartford Life, ITT Hartford Insurance Group's principal life insurer, together with its affiliated life carriers, ITT Life Insurance Corporation and Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, has experienced significant growth in each of its primary business segments over the past five years. Expansion of its individual life and annuity operations in 1991 and 1992 combined with stable growth in the organization's group accident and health and annuity businesses has resulted in total assets and net premium income advancing 360 percent and 240 percent, respectively, since year-end 1987.
 "Conservative investment management and underwriting practices, coupled with financial support from its parent company, has enabled the Hartford life companies to grow operations profitably with consolidated operating earnings and realized gains on invested assets totaling $357.2 million reported over this period of time," said Larry G. Mayewski, senior vice president of Best's life/health division. "This profitability together with surplus contributions of $396.0 million has allowed capital and surplus funds to increase 276 percent since year-end 1987," he said.
 At year-end 1992, Hartford Life's excellent liquidity position was supported by its sizable annual cash flow combined with investment-grade bonds, cash and short-term holdings in excess of $10.7 billion (88 percent of invested assets).
 Due to its strategic role as a subsidiary of Hartford Life, ITT Life Insurance Corporation, Milwaukee, Wis., was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A++" (Superior). The company's superior financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A++" was unchanged. This rating assignment reflects the fact that ITT Life reinsures 90 percent of all in-force business issued with its parent, Hartford Life Insurance.
 In addition, Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, Hartford, Conn., was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A++" (Superior). The company's superior financial strength was affirmed and its rating level was raised from "A+" to "A++." This rating assignment reflects the company's strategic role as the group life and accident and health operations of the Hartford group of life insurance companies, its position as the immediate parent of Hartford Life, as well as the integrated management and operations of both insurers.
 -0- 5/24/93 AA
 /CONTACT: Rhonda J. Ruch of A.M. Best Company, 908-439-2200 ext. 5684/
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CO: ST: IN: INS SU: RTG TS -- NY057 -- 1702 05/24/93 12:17 EDT
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Date:May 24, 1993
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