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A.M. BEST ISSUES 270 BEST'S RATINGS IN 10TH WEEKLY RELEASE

 OLDWICK, N.J., June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The A.M. Best Company today released the 10th edition of its 1993 Best's Rating Monitor. Best's Ratings were issued to 147 property/casualty companies and 123 life/health firms, including Canada Life Assurance Company, Internationale Nederlanden Group, Kemper Investors Life Insurance Company, New England Mutual Life Insurance Company, Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Company, Prudential Property and Casualty Group and Primerica 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 the beginning of July. To date, Best's Ratings have been assigned to 1,250 property/casualty companies and 781 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 12 property/casualty and six life/health groups are listed below:
 American Bankers Insurance Group, Miami, was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A-" (Excellent). The company's excellent financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A-" was unchanged. The rating applies to the American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida.
 This rating assignment reflects the company's good profitability, management's conservative operating strategy and good capital position. These positive rating factors are derived from the company's expertise in the credit property business niche for small individual risks marketed through financial institutions. Underwriting results are very stable due to the company's large spread of risk and relatively small policy limits. Partly offsetting these positive rating factors is the company's aggressive operating leverage and financial leverage at the parent holding company.
 "Underwriting results over the past five years have outperformed the industry by 10 points with an average combined ratio of 100 and a corresponding pretax return on earned premiums of 7.5 percent," according to John H. Snyder, senior vice president of Best's property/casualty division. American Banker's strong operating results from its core business have been overshadowed in part by litigation of its financial guaranty business, which it discontinued in 1986. However, "A.M. Best believes the run off of the balance of this business and remaining unsettled litigation is well reserved for and manageable and consequently should not materially affect the company's future operating performance," Mr. Snyder added.
 During the first quarter of 1993, the acquisition of the credit life and credit property business written by the Voyager companies of approximately $57 million was finalized. This will further strengthen the group's position for future profitable growth of its core business. American Bankers operates with relatively high underwriting leverage, tempered by strong short-tailed loss reserves, use of high-quality reinsurers and a high-quality investment portfolio with 82 percent of its assets invested. Adding to American Bankers' overall leverage is a relatively high debt-to-equity ratio of the parent holding company at 52 percent at year-end 1992. The American Bankers Group ranks among the 80 largest property/casualty insurers in the U.S. with $463 million of net writings supported by $189 million of surplus.
 In addition, Voyager Indemnity Insurance Company, Fort Worth, Texas, and Voyager Property & Casualty Insurance Company, both affiliates, were assigned 1993 Best's Ratings of "A-" (Excellent). Both companies' excellent financial strength was affirmed and their rating level of "A-" was unchanged.
 This rating assignment reflects the companies' excellent operating performance, favorable liquidity and improved operating leverage. On January 1, 1993, both companies, formerly owned by Primerica Corporation, were acquired by the American Bankers Group. The companies specialize in underwriting credit life and credit property, which will strengthen American Bankers' position in this market. Together, the Voyager companies had 1992 written premiums of $57 million, supported by $31 million in policyholders' surplus.
 Argonaut Insurance Group, Menlo Park, Calif., was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A+" (Superior). The group's superior financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A+" was unchanged. The rating applies to Argonaut Insurance Company and its four wholly owned subsidiaries, all of which operate under a reinsurance pooling arrangement. The ultimate parent, Argonaut Group, Inc., is a publicly traded insurance holding company based in Los Angeles.
 This rating assignment reflects the group's outstanding financial performance, conservative operating strategy and very strong balance- sheet position. The Argonaut group maintains a recognized leadership position as a specialized workers' compensation carrier for large commercial risks, particularly in California.
 "The group has produced very strong operating results over five years with an average operating ratio of 75 for the period, 20 points better than the industry norm," said John H. Snyder, senior vice president of Best's property/casualty division. Management has been proactive in addressing the problem of escalating workers' compensation costs by developing an extensive cost containment program for its clients. An important part of this program includes a strong working relationship with the insured with an emphasis placed on individualized service. This individualized service includes a team of specialists that provides safety and claims expertise for each account. On-staff rehabilitation nurses and outside consultants are also employed in a concerted effort to better control medical costs.
 A considerable portion of premium represents "wrap-up" programs written on large public construction projects. These are large, owner- controlled programs which replace those of the individual contractors and supply uniform workers' compensation and general liability coverages with reduced premiums. Underwriting results for the pool, as for the entire industry, have been negatively impacted in recent years by the growing incidence of fraud. Legislation recently passed by California (one-third of the group's 1992 direct writings), along with a number of initiatives it has undertaken, could greatly reduce the influx of fraudulent claims in the near future.
 Net writings declined considerably in the last two years due to several factors, including an overall decline in payrolls associated with current economic conditions and an increase in high-deductible programs. As a result, a conservative leverage position was maintained at year-end 1992 with $463 million of consolidated surplus supporting $322 million of total net writings. The group has maintained a very strong balance sheet, with assets invested primarily in a high-quality, well-diversified $1.4 billion bond portfolio.
 Arkwright Insurance Group, Waltham, Mass., was assigned a 1993 Best's Rating of "A+" (Superior). The group's superior financial strength was affirmed and its rating level of "A+" was unchanged. The rating applies to Arkwright Mutual Insurance Company, the lead member of the group, and Arkwright Insurance Company, which participates in a quota-share agreement with Arkwright Mutual.
 This rating assignment reflects the group's superior capitalization, conservative operating strategy, resiliency and strong liquidity position. A highly specialized underwriting process which incorporates engineering recommendations and loss prevention analysis characterizes the large commercial risks underwritten by the Factory Mutual System, one of whose three members is Arkwright Mutual Insurance Company. The book of business consists of a small number of policyholders with a relatively large premium. The profile of the typical policyholder is a multi-location, national commercial business. As a result, a sizable capital base, as well as a very strong reinsurance program, are required due to the large policy limits involved.
 Arkwright's underwriting profits are subject to volatility due to the varying results produced by catastrophe exposures. As a large risk commercial property writer, it is the nature of the group's operations to produce substantial profits in years when large losses are not a factor and to absorb the impact of such losses when they occur. The 1992 combined ratio of 157 was due to the unusual frequency of catastrophes including Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Iniki and the Chicago Flood, as well as six other losses of over $5 million each. Liquidity and leverage measures remained superior to the industry norm as policyholders' surplus of $579 million comfortably supported $351 million in net writings. Arkwright Insurance Group ranks among the 100 largest property/casualty underwriters in the U.S. with year-end 1992 total assets of $1.4 billion.
 The Canada Life Assurance Company, Toronto, Ontario, 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 conservative management, its diversified income streams, the excellent market positions of its business units, the overall good quality of the investment portfolio and the company's strong capitalization. Canada Life Assurance Company maintains strong market positions in a number of business segments. The company, either directly or through its subsidiaries, is a leader in the Canadian group creditor market, ranks among the top five insurers in the United Kingdom group brokerage system and has a strong presence in the Canadian group market, where it provides a full range of group insurance and group retirement savings products.
 "Canada Life's focus in both the Canadian and the United States markets is to increase opportunities in the individual and group life, health and annuity fields," said Larry G. Mayewski, senior vice president of Best's life/health division. The company is well positioned to continue this strategy. However, in Canada, its faces a number of challenges in significantly growing individual life sales due to the mature nature of the Canadian individual life market. "The A.M. Best Company believes that steps taken by the company, such as cost reductions, repricing products and eliminating marginal producers, will help it to grow by capturing market share from competitors," Mr. Mayewski added. Canada Life's presence in the U.S. remains small relative to the size of the company and the U.S. market. However, during 1993, the decentralization of U.S. group operations with the existing individual operation in Atlanta, Canada Life is positioning itself to conservatively increase penetration in the U.S. through internal growth.
 The company is also diversified through its investment division, with subsidiaries in investment counseling, real estate management and mortgage correspondence. Asset quality on a consolidated basis remains very favorable. Overall investment performance has been favorable, but A.M. Best believes that mortgage delinquencies will rise given the large exposures to commercial properties in Ontario and California, and the current recessionary climate affecting these two real estate markets. During 1993, the company plans to take a more aggressive approach to asset write-down, which A.M. Best believes will reduce earnings. However, the overall strength of the company's core earnings will continue to allow the group to maintain strong capitalization levels.
 Due to their strategic roles as key Canada Life subsidiaries, Canada Life Insurance Company of America, Lansing, Mich, and Canada Life Insurance Company of New York, Harrison, N.Y., were also assigned 1993 Best's Ratings of "A++" (Superior). These ratings are based on the consolidated performance of The Canada Life Assurance Company and its subsidiaries.
 -0- 6/7/93
 /FIRST ADD TO FOLLOW/
 /CONTACT: Rhonda J. Ruch of A.M. Best Company, 908-439-2200, ext. 5684/


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