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Fitch Ratings Assigns 'F1' S-T Rtg to Oil Insurance Ltd.



Business Editors

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 18, 2002

Fitch Ratings Fitch Ratings

An international rating agency for financial institutions, insurance companies, and corporate, sovereign, and municipal debt. Fitch Ratings has headquarters in New York and London and is wholly owned by FIMALAC of Paris.
 has assigned 'F1' ratings to Oil Insurance Ltd.'s (OIL) U.S. commercial paper program and Extendible Commercial Note (ECN (Electronic Communications Network) A computerized, private financial trading system. Terra Nova Trading (www.terranovatrading.com) and Instinet (www.instinet.com) are examples. ) program.

The ratings reflect OIL's strong capitalization and low operating leverage Operating Leverage

A measurement of the degree to which a firm or project relies on fixed rather than variable costs.

Notes:
The higher the degree of operating leverage, the greater the potential danger from forecasting risk.
, reasonable financial leverage, favorable fa·vor·a·ble  
adj.
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.

2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.

3.
 liquidity profile, leading market position, and ability to recover losses from members. Weighted against these positives are underwriting Underwriting

1. The process by which investment bankers raise investment capital from investors on behalf of corporations and governments that are issuing securities (both equity and debt).

2. The process of issuing insurance policies.
 volatility inherent in the property catastrophe line, concentration risk in the petroleum industry, and high allocation of equities in its investment portfolio.

Capital is very strong for the rating category and risk profile of the company, even with the payment of $800 million of dividends since 1998 and a $500 million decline in shareholder equity through three-quarters of 2001. Capital was $1.5 billion at September 2001, after holding at around $2.0 billion since 1997.

OIL's capital structure is prudent with the capital mix consisting of 17% debt and 83% common equity at Sept. 30, 2001. The outstanding debt is all short-term, consisting of private placement commercial paper and ECNs, and is utilized for funding loss payments on a short-term basis. The combined loans outstanding by OIL are restricted to $500 million. Liquidity of the program is supported by back-up credit facilities credit facilities nplfacilidades fpl de crédito

credit facilities nplfacilités fpl de paiement

credit facilities 
 and the company's investment portfolio.

As a provider of property catastrophe coverage to the petroleum industry, operating results in any given period depend on the number and magnitude of catastrophes (natural and man-made), which can have an adverse impact on results and financial condition. Also, exposure to pollution liability creates an additional element of uncertainty. Operating results were extremely good in 2000 and 1999 with combined ratios in the 30% range, driven in part by favorable prior year loss development in pollution reserves. However, results were very poor through three-quarters of 2001 due to several new loss occurrences.

OIL does not individually underwrite To insure; to sell an issue of stocks and bonds or to guarantee the purchase of unsold stocks and bonds after a public issue.

The word underwrite has two meanings.
 risk, rather it carefully screens applicant companies to avoid adverse risk selection and assesses premiums based on sector risk factors and actual member losses incurred. This rating and premium plan results in a self-funding mechanism for losses that provides for capital replenishment replenishment

the addition of an appropriate quantity of properly prepared solution containing the correct concentration of chemicals to the developer solutions used in radiography.
 and added long-term operating stability.

OIL's investment philosophy is viewed as somewhat riskier than that of other companies due to the high exposure of the portfolio to equities (50% of GAAP GAAP

See: Generally Accepted Accounting Principles


GAAP

See generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
 equity at December 2000). The potential for higher investment volatility was evidenced in recent years with investment losses suffered in 2000 and 2001, following significant investment gains in 1999 and 1998, due to swings in the equity markets.

OIL is a Bermuda domiciled dom·i·cile  
n.
1. A residence; a home.

2. One's legal residence.

v. dom·i·ciled, dom·i·cil·ing, dom·i·ciles

v.tr.
1.
 mutual insurance company that provides catastrophe coverage to the energy industry, primarily petroleum, insuring physical damage to property, well control, and pollution liability. OIL is owned by 65 energy companies that are also its members/policyholders. The company also has two investment subsidiaries, Oil Investment Corp. Ltd. and Oil Investment (Barbados) Ltd.

Note: The noted rating was initiated by Fitch as a service to users of Fitch ratings. The rating is based primarily on public information.


Entity/Issue/Type             Action         Rating
Oil Insurance Ltd.
--Commercial paper            Assigned       'F1';
--Extendable commercial note  Assigned       'F1';
--Short-term issuer           Assigned       'F1'.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:5BERM
Date:Mar 18, 2002
Words:522
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