A.M. Best Co. and Fitch Ratings released ratings updates. The following are some of the most recent:

Ameriprise Group and its Members

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” of Ameriprise Group (Ameriprise) and its members. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The group ratings are based on the consolidated operating results and financial positions of IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co. (IDS) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Ameriprise Insurance Co. IDS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameriprise Financial Inc.

The ratings reflect Ameriprise’s solid risk-adjusted capital position and favorable operating results over several years, according to the rating agency. Ameriprise’s strong capital position is reflective of its conservative investment risk profile and favorable loss reserve development trends.


Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund Inc.

A.M. Best Co. downgraded the FSR to C- (weak) from C (weak) and ICR to “cc” from “ccc” of Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund Inc. The outlook for both ratings is negative.

The downgrades reflect the reduced capitalization of the Fund as reflected by a reduction of policyholders’ surplus from $27 million at year-end 2008 to approximately $6 million as of second quarter 2009. Concurrently, A.M. Best has assigned a category NR-4 to the FSR and an “nr” to the ICR in response to a request from the Fund’s management to withdraw from A.M. Best’s interactive rating process.

Carolina Casualty Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. upgraded the FSR to A+ (superior) from A (excellent) and ICR to “aa-” from “a” of Carolina Casualty Insurance Co. The outlook for both ratings is stable.

These rating actions reflect the explicit support provided by an affiliate, Admiral Insurance Co., in the form of a 100% quota share reinsurance agreement. Both Carolina Casualty and Admiral are ultimately owned by W. R. Berkley Corp.


Censtat Casualty Co.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of B++ (Good) and an ICR of “bbb” to Censtat Casualty Co. The outlook assigned to the FSR is stable, while the outlook assigned to the ICR is positive.

The ratings reflect what A.M. Best believes to be CCC’s excellent risk-adjusted capitalization and implicit support from its parent, Central States Health & Life Co. of Omaha.


Columbia Capital Life Reinsurance Co. and Charleston Capital Reinsurance LLC

A.M. Best Co. assigned a FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of “a-” to Columbia Capital Life Reinsurance Co. and its subsidiary, Charleston Capital Reinsurance LLC. The outlook assigned to the ratings is stable.

Concurrently, A.M. Best affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ICRs of “a-” of Commonwealth Annuity and Life Insurance Co. and its subsidiary, First Allmerica Financial Life Insurance Co. (FAFLIC). Columbia and Commonwealth are direct wholly owned subsidiaries of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The outlook for these ratings is stable.

Commonwealth insurers and reinsures universal life, variable universal life, variable annuities and other types of policies, while FAFLIC reinsures traditional life, payout annuities and other types of policies. The entire book of business at Columbia and Charleston is currently comprised of blocks retroceded from Commonwealth.

Goldman Sachs has made substantial investments in its life reinsurance group in recent years, and Commonwealth has completed three sizable transactions over the past 12 months including acquiring FAFLIC, reinsuring substantially all of the in-force life insurance and annuity business of Universal American Corp. and coinsuring a block of universal and variable universal life policies held by Lincoln National Corp.

Lloyd’s Syndicate 510 and Kiln Group Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the Best’s Syndicate Rating of A (excellent) and the ICR of “a+” of Lloyd’s Syndicate 510, which is managed by R.J. Kiln & Co Ltd (R.J. Kiln). At the same time, A.M. Best affirmed the ICR of “bbb+” of Kiln Group Limited (Kiln), the non-operating holding company of R.J. Kiln, and affirmed the debt ratings of “bbb” on the US$30 million and US$35 million floating rate subordinated bonds issued by Kiln. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The syndicate’s ratings reflect the financial strength of the Lloyd’s market, which underpins the security of all Lloyd’s syndicates, according to A.M. Best. The rating agency believes that syndicate 510 benefits from financial flexibility provided by Tokio Marine Holdings Inc., the ultimate parent company of the syndicate’s managing agent, R.J. Kiln, and of Kiln Underwriting Ltd., which provides 53% of the syndicate’s capital.

Markel Corp.

Fitch Ratings affirmed the BBB+ issuer default rating (IDR) of Markel Corp. and an “A” insurer financial strength (IFS) rating of Markel Insurance Co. The rating outlook is negative.

The rating affirmation reflects improvement in Markel's capital position thus far in 2009, with shareholders' equity increasing 8% to $2.4 billion on June 30, 2009 following the significant 17% decline in shareholders' equity to $2.2 billion on Dec. 31, 2008, Fitch says. The increase through the first six months of 2009 was driven by $49 million of net income and an increase in net unrealized gains of $97 million as credit and investment markets have partially recovered thus far in 2009.

The negative outlook reflects what the rating agency believes to be the company's above-average exposure to equity markets, and the potential for investment market declines in 2009.


Max Capital

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the IDR and IFS ratings of Max Capital Group Ltd. and its subsidiaries. The rating outlook remains negative.

The affirmation follows Fitch's periodic review of Max Capital. The company's ratings continue to reflect Max Capital's disciplined and flexible approach to managing risk, favorable underwriting results posted in recent years, sizable cash balances and conservative financial leverage.

The negative outlook reflects the potential for further reductions in capital, particularly from additional significant losses in the volatile alternative investment portfolio, although exposure to this asset class is being further reduced and returns have been positive thus far in 2009, according to Fitch.


Oklahoma Farm Bureau Group and its Members

A.M. Best Co. has downgraded the FSR to B+ (good) from B++ (good) and ICR to “bbb-” from “bbb+” of Oklahoma Farm Bureau Group and its members, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. and AgSecurity Insurance Co. The ratings have been placed under review with negative implications.

The group’s ratings were downgraded previously following poor underwriting results in 2008 and Q1 2009. The latest rating actions reflect Oklahoma Farm Bureau Group’s continuing significant negative underwriting performance in second quarter 2009, which has resulted in substantial further weakening of the group’s risk-adjusted capitalization, the rating agency says.


Primerica Life Insurance Co.

Fitch Ratings affirmed the IFS rating of Primerica Life Insurance Co. at A+. The rating outlook is evolving.

Primerica Life's rating is linked to the ratings of Citigroup in accordance with Fitch's group rating methodology. However, the evolving outlook associated with Primerica Life's IFS rating reflects Fitch's view that the company is no longer core to the operations of Citigroup Inc., and its rating could be raised or lowered in the event of divestiture. The rating action assumes that capitalization will remain strong at Primerica Life, and any material dividend or other capital transfer out of the operating company could result in a downgrade of the rating.


Sompo Japan Insurance Inc.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A+ (Superior) and the ICR of “aa-” of Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. The outlook for both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect Sompo’s sound capitalization and low expense ratio. The outlook remains stable, as A.M. Best does not expect rating changes due to the business integration with Nipponkoa.

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