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A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Company Limited.

OLDWICK, N.J. -- A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating of "a-" of Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Company Limited (SMMI). The outlook for both ratings remains stable.

A.M. Best believes that SMMI will maintain excellent risk-adjusted capitalisation in 2007 and 2008 despite challenges it is likely to face writing its specialist marine account (expected to constitute over 80% of gross premium income for the period). In 2006 and 2007 to date, the company has reduced its underwriting exposure in response to market weakening for its main marine risks, and A.M. Best anticipates that this approach will continue into 2008.

As a result of the company's defensive underwriting approach, A.M. Best believes that SMMI will maintain its strong earnings in 2007. The company's ability to manage a downturn in the rating environment has improved in recent years due to increased geographical diversification in its business sources and adherence to strict pricing policies. As a result, the company has been able to reduce its exposure to markets experiencing weaker rates in favour of those that remain more profitable.

The ratings are also supported by SMMI's strong business profile in its niche sectors, which comprise fishing vessels, inland/coastal vessels and aquaculture. The company writes business through its network of international branches and maintains a significant position in most of the markets in which it participates. SMMI further enhances its business profile through the use of its technical expertise and, in respect of aquaculture business, its in-house risk manager, Aquaculture Risk Management Company.

For Best's Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit www.ambest.com/ratings.

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a global full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the financial and health care service industries, including insurance companies, banks, hospitals and health care system providers. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 6, 2007
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