A.M. Best and Fitch Ratings released ratings updates. The following are some of the most recent:
Fitch Ratings expects to assign an 'A' rating (rating watch evolving) to the $150 million senior unsecured note issuance planned by Assured Guaranty US Holdings Inc. (AGUSH), a subsidiary of Assured Guaranty Ltd. (AGL). The new notes will be fully and unconditionally guaranteed by AGL. In addition, Fitch places the 'A' rating of the note on evolving rating watch.
The notes, which will be due June 1, 2014, will be pledged by investors to collateralize their obligations under purchase contracts issued by AGL. The purchase contracts will obligate the investors to purchase from AGL, no later than June 1, 2012, a number of common shares, subject to a predefined formula. As such, the notes are meant to constitute a form of mandatory convertible securities.
Fitch Ratings affirmed the respective international and national insurer financial strength (IFS) ratings of 'BBB+' and 'AAA(bra)' for Bradesco Seguros S.A. The outlook for both ratings remains Stable.
The affirmation reflects the financial strength and maintenance of the strong support of the shareholder, Banco Bradesco S.A., as well as the strategic relevance of insurance operations for continuous development of the franchise, Fitch says. The ratings also consider the consistent performance throughout the local economy cycles; prudent constitution of provisions; adequate liquidity ratios; and a superior capital position compared to most of its local peers.
Fidelity Investment Life Insurance Co. and Subsidiary
A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A+ (Superior) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “aa-” of Fidelity Investment Life Insurance Co. and its subsidiary, Empire Fidelity Investments Life Insurance Company (EFILI) (collectively referred as FILI Group). The outlook for all ratings is stable.
These rating actions reflect FILI Group’s strong risk-adjusted capitalization, generally positive statutory and GAAP earnings, its focus on high credit quality and liquidity within its investment portfolio, prudent enterprise risk-management practices and the competitive advantages it is afforded in marketing its life insurance and variable annuity products through the name recognition and branding of Fidelity Investments.
Highmark Inc. and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Subsidiaries
A.M. Best Co. revised the outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent), ICR of “a” and senior debt rating of “a-” of Highmark Inc. Additionally, A.M. Best has revised the outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the ratings of Highmark’s numerous interactively rated health subsidiaries.
A.M. Best also has affirmed the FSRs of A- (Excellent) and ICRs of “a-” of Highmark’s life and dental subsidiaries, as well as Highmark Casualty Insurance Co. The outlook for these ratings is stable.
Highmark’s revised outlook is a reflection of large underwriting losses and realized losses on its investment portfolio that impacted earnings, as well as a large decline in its capital, the rating agency says. Highmark’s strong revenue development in 2008 and the highly competitive environment in Pittsburgh initiated a prospective lag in earnings, requiring Highmark to increase reserves for future claims. This preemptive maneuver added significant downward pressure on the company’s underwriting performance, resulting in a $77 million underwriting loss on a statutory basis after multiple years of gains. Highmark’s investment performance was well below trend, and the application of realized losses added even more downward pressure to earnings.
Kemper Investors Life Insurance Co.
A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICR of “a-” of Kemper Investors Life Insurance Co. (KILICO). KILICO is wholly owned by Kemper Corp., a non-operating holding company, which is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services (ZFS). The outlook for both ratings is stable.
The ratings of KILICO reflect its adequate risk-adjusted capital position, and the support it receives as a member of ZFS through reinsurance and other management and distribution arrangements.
Oman Insurance Co.
A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and ICR of “a” of Oman Insurance Co. (OIC). The outlook for both ratings is stable.
The rating agency believes OIC has an adequate level of risk-adjusted capitalization, excellent underwriting performance and established business profile in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) insurance market. An offsetting factor is the company’s volatile investment performance, stemming from a weak investment strategy.
Pacific Life Insurance Co.
Fitch Ratings affirmed Pacific Life Insurance Co.'s (PLIC) IFS of 'AA-' and assigned an expected 'A-' rating to PLIC's proposed surplus note issuance, which reflects wider notching from the IFS rating. In addition, Fitch affirmed Pacific LifeCorp's (PLC) senior unsecured debt rating of 'A-'. PLIC is the primary life insurance subsidiary of PLC.
PLIC's commercial paper program was also affirmed at 'F1+'. PLIC's existing $150 million of surplus notes were downgraded to 'A-' from 'A'. The rating outlook remains negative on all ratings.
The increased notching between the surplus note and the IFS rating resulted from the expected relatively high ratio of surplus notes to pro forma total adjusted capital (TAC) of 25% at March 31, 2009, adjusted for certain permitted practices, Fitch says. PLC's expected equity-adjusted financial leverage is 23% pro forma March 31, 2009, which excludes debt and equity related to Aviation Capital Group (ACG) and other non-insurance operations, the majority of which is nonrecourse to PLC.
Peace Hills General Insurance Co.
A.M. Best Co. downgraded the FSR to B (Fair) from B+ (Good) and ICR to “bb” from “bbb-” of Peace Hills General Insurance Co. The outlook for both ratings is negative.
These rating actions reflect the further decline in Peace Hills’ risk-adjusted capitalization due primarily to investment and underwriting losses. Capitalization was adversely impacted by an additional 10.7% loss of shareholders’ equity, further elevating the company’s above average underwriting leverage ratio. Balance sheet strength was weakened by declining asset values from the downturn in the investment markets and from an increase in the frequency and severity of property losses from fire.
Trust Insurance & Reinsurance
A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A- (Excellent) and the ICR of “a-” of Trust International Insurance & Reinsurance. The outlook for both ratings is stable.
The ratings reflect Trust Re’s strong risk-adjusted capitalization, excellent operating performance and continuously improving business profile, according to the rating agency. An offsetting factor is its low premium retention level.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Affiliates
A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR and ICR of the majority of the insurance subsidiaries of UnitedHealth Group Inc. At the same time, A.M. Best affirmed the ICR of “bbb+” and all debt ratings of UnitedHealth. Concurrently, A.M. Best upgraded the FSR to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and ICRs to “a” from “a-” for the following UnitedHealth entities: Oxford Health Plans Inc., Oxford Health Insurance Inc., Oxford Health Plans Inc. and Oxford Health Plans Inc.
Additionally, A.M. Best has assigned an FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICR of “a-” to the following UnitedHealth entities: UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. of the River Valley, Dental Benefit Providers of California Inc. Unison Family Health Plan of Pennsylvania Inc., Unison Health Plan of Pennsylvania Inc., Unison Health Plan of Ohio Inc. and Unison Health Plan of South Carolina Inc. The outlook for all ratings is stable.
The affirmation of the ratings of UnitedHealth and its insurance subsidiaries reflects the organization’s significant market presence and diversified health care operations. UnitedHealth is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health benefits companies serving more than 70 million Americans with its diverse product offerings.
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