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

American Fuji Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. has withdrawn the financial strength rating (FSR) of B++ (good) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of bbb+, and assigned an NR-5 (not formally followed) to the FSR and an “nr” to the ICR of American Fuji Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

The rating actions primarily stem from the company’s discontinued operations, and the determination that this company will no longer participate in A.M. Best’s interactive rating process given its inactive status, the rating agency says. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Fuji Fire & Marine Insurance Co. Ltd. The ratings of Fuji Fire are unchanged.


Ameriprise Financial Inc. and its life subsidiaries


A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A+ (superior) and the ICR of aa- of RiverSource Life Insurance Co. and its wholly owned subsidiary, RiverSource Life Insurance Co. of New York. These are insurance subsidiaries of Ameriprise Financial Inc. Concurrently, A.M. Best affirmed the ICR of “a-” and existing debt ratings of Ameriprise. The outlook for all ratings is negative.

The affirmations follow Ameriprise’s announcement that it plans to acquire Columbia Management’s long-term asset management business from Bank of America Corp. for approximately $1 billion in cash, A.M. Best says. The vast majority of the purchase price was pre-funded by Ameriprise’s June 2009 common stock offering, which yielded $868.5 million in net proceeds.


Ansvar Insurance Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and the ICR of “a-” of Ansvar Insurance Ltd. The outlook for both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect Ansvar Insurance’s supportive risk-adjusted capitalization and stable business profile in the niche markets of faith, education and community care groups in New Zealand.


Arizona Dental Insurance Service Inc.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of “a-” to Arizona Dental Insurance Service Inc. d/b/a Delta Dental of Arizona (DDAZ). The assigned outlook is stable.

The ratings reflect DDAZ’s position as a leading competitor in the Arizona insurance market. The rating agency believes DDAZ is strongly capitalized as a result of the accumulation of a consistently favorable operating earnings stream, which is demonstrated through strong risk-based capital scores. Additionally, DDAZ has no outstanding debt.


General Re Corp. and its subsidiaries

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A++ (superior) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of aa+ of General Re Group and its members (Gen Re). These ratings apply to General Reinsurance Corp. and its core property/casualty and life reinsurance and insurance subsidiaries operating both in the United States and internationally. In addition, A.M. Best affirmed the ICR of aa+ and the commercial paper of AMB-1+ of Gen Re’s direct parent, General Re Corp. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

These ratings reflect Gen Re’s strong capitalization, excellent business position as a leader within the global reinsurance marketplace, broad product offering of property/casualty and life reinsurance and adherence to stringent underwriting discipline, which has contributed to the group’s solid earnings in recent years, A.M. Best says. In 2008, Gen Re recorded a combined ratio of 94.3% and generated net income of $1.1 billion. The group’s strong earnings trend continued through 2009 with relatively light catastrophe losses and a significant improvement in equity markets.


Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of E (under regulatory supervision) and an ICR of “rs” to Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Co. (GSM).

A.M. Best’s rating actions reflect the announcement by California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner that GSM has been served an order of conservation, and will discontinue selling new policies immediately. At this point, GSM has advised the California Department of Insurance that it will not oppose the conservation, and the company has been taken over by the Commissioner’s Conservation and Liquidation Office. This office will oversee the payment of claims and the receipt of premiums, while developing a wind-down plan to protect the policyholders.


Gray Insurance Group and its member

A.M. Best Co. revised the outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of “a-” of Gray Insurance Group and its member, The Gray Insurance Co.

The ratings reflect Gray Insurance Group’s supportive overall capitalization following the issuance of a surplus note in September 2009, its solid operating profitability and focused loss control services for energy-related operations and heavy construction risks in its established niche market.


Investors Trust Assurance SPC

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of B++ (good) and ICR of bbb+ to Investors Trust Assurance SPC (ITA). The assigned outlook is stable.

ITA focuses on selling U.S. dollar and Euro denominated unit-linked insurance plans to middle class consumers through a distribution network of independent financial advisors in Latin America and Southeast Asia. The unit-linked plans are characterized by regular contributions spanning many years with relatively high sales loads and surrender charges that are comparable to those of its competitors. The unit-linked plans are designed to allow the plan holder to access name-brand investment products in stable currencies and to build up assets on a tax deferred basis.


James River Casualty Co.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of “a-” to James River Casualty Co. (JRCC). The assigned outlook is stable.

JRCC is a newly formed insurance company that received a certificate of authority from the State Corporation Commission of the Commonwealth of Virginia on Sept. 9, 2009. The company is expected to write surplus lines business in the domiciliary state of its parent, James River Insurance Co., which can only write on an admitted basis in Ohio.


Mercury General Corp. and its operating subsidiaries

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A+ (superior) and ICR of “aa-” of Mercury Casualty Group (Mercury) and its members. Additionally, A.M. Best affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ICRs of “a-” of American Mercury Insurance Group (AMI) and its members. Concurrently, A.M. Best affirmed the ICR of “a-” and senior debt rating of “a-” on the existing debt security of Mercury and AMI’s parent, Mercury General Corp. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

Mercury’s ratings reflect its strong risk-adjusted capital position, conservative investment risk profile and low dependence on reinsurance, according to the rating agency. Moreover, Mercury’s capitalization is supported by solid surplus growth through a consistently positive operating performance.


Pacific Specialty Property and Casualty Co.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of A (excellent) and an ICR of “a” to Pacific Specialty Property and Casualty Co. (PSPCC). The assigned outlook is stable.

These rating actions follow regulatory approval of a 90% quota share agreement between PSPCC and its parent, Pacific Specialty Insurance Co.


QBE the Americas and North Pointe Casualty Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the various FSR and ICR of the operating entities of QBE the Americas, which include QBE Re Group - U.S. and its members, QBE Regional Insurance Group and its members, Praetorian Financial Group and its members, National Farmers Union Property and Casualty Co., United Security Insurance Co. and North Pointe Insurance Co.

In addition, A.M. Best upgraded the FSR to B++ (good) from B+ (good) and ICR to “bbb” from “bbb-” of North Pointe Casualty Insurance Co. (NPCIC). The outlook for all ratings is stable. The financial performance of NPCIC over the recent five-year period has been commensurate with that of other B++ (good) rated organizations.

A.M. Best says each rating action considers the strategic importance of the rated operating company to the overall operations of the QBE the Americas, and also reflects the adequate risk-adjusted capitalization and operating performance of each individual rated operating subsidiary and the consolidated group.


Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of A (excellent) and an ICR of “a” to Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Starr Insurance & Reinsurance Ltd. and an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Starr International Company Inc. (Starr International) (Panama), a private investment holding company. The outlook assigned to both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect Starr Surplus Lines’ sound business plan, solid risk-adjusted capital and the explicit support provided by an intercompany reinsurance agreement with Starr Insurance & Reinsurance Ltd. Starr Surplus Lines plans on writing property/casualty lines of business on an excess and surplus lines basis and also may participate in some quota share reinsurance.

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