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SAFECO's Ratings Upgraded, Affirmed by A.M. Best Co.

Business Editors

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 24, 2000

SAFECO's (Nasdaq:SAFC) American States Life Insurance Co. subsidiary's financial strength rating has been upgraded from "A" to "A+" (Superior) by A.M. Best Co.

The A+ ratings of SAFECO's other two life insurance affiliates, SAFECO Life Insurance Co. and First SAFECO National Life Insurance Co. of New York, as well as the 12 members of its property/casualty pool, were affirmed. SAFECO's senior debt rating of "a+" was also affirmed.

A.M. Best Co. stated that "the upgrade of American States Life reflects the organization's substantial progress in consolidating the company's back-office administrative functions with SAFECO Life, while integrating the product manufacture and distribution of individual life and annuity products across the enterprise." The affirmation of the ratings of SAFECO's other life companies, "reflects the organization's conservative management practices, well-established market positions, operational balance of its highly focused core business segments, and strong risk-adjusted capitalization."

According to A.M. Best Co., the property/casualty ratings are based on SAFECO's strong franchise in the domestic property/casualty market -- where it is one of the 15 largest property/casualty groups in the United States based on net premiums written -- as well as its strong historical operating results, and conservative underwriting and reserving philosophies. The ratings firm stated that "the 1997 acquisition of American States -- a leading writer in the small-account commercial lines property/casualty market -- further enhances the organization's competitive standing and broadens its market presence, while providing geographic and product diversification, as well as additional scale."

A.M. Best Co., established in 1899, is the world's oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information visit its Web site at www.ambest.com.

SAFECO, in business since 1923, is a Fortune 500 diversified financial services company based in Seattle. Its more than 17,000 partners, including agents, brokers, financial professionals, and wholesalers, together provide premier insurance and financial services through a variety of channels, including the Internet, to individual and business customers. More information about SAFECO is on its Web site, www.safeco.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 24, 2000
Words:345
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