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

American Freedom Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of bbb+ of American Freedom Insurance Co.

The ratings reflect American Freedom’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization, modest underwriting leverage and favorable loss reserve development trends, according to the rating agency. The ratings also take into account the company’s continued operating profitability, which has benefited from favorable loss experience. The profitable performance is reflective of management’s prudent underwriting despite the highly competitive nonstandard automobile market and special compensation expense distributed to shareholders in recent years.

MEEMIC Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. upgraded the FSR to A (excellent) from A- (excellent), and ICR to “a” from “a-” of MEEMIC Insurance Co. The ratings have been removed from “under review with positive implications,” and assigned a “stable” outlook.

These rating actions are based upon the completion of MEEMIC’s acquisition by the Auto Club Insurance Association, the lead member of The Auto Club Group (ACG), from Motors Insurance Corp., the lead member of GMAC Insurance Group (GMACI). MEEMIC’s ratings reflect its inclusion into ACG’s property/casualty pool, according to the rating agency.

Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (excellent) and ICRs of “a” for ACG and its four property/casualty member companies: Auto Club Insurance Association, MemberSelect Insurance Co., Auto Club Property-Casualty Insurance Co. and Auto Club Group Insurance Co. The outlook for these ratings is “stable.”

American Independent Network Insurance Co. of New York

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of D (poor) and ICR of "c" of American Independent Network Insurance Co. of New York. The outlook for these ratings is “negative.” A.M. Best also has affirmed the ICR of "d" on the holding company, Penn Treaty American Corp.

Subsequently, A.M. Best assigned a category NR-4 (company request) to American Independent Network's FSR and an "nr" to the ICR in response to a request from company management to be removed from A.M. Best's interactive rating process. A.M. Best also has assigned an "nr" to Penn Treaty's ICR.

Central States Indemnity Co. of Omaha

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A+ (superior) and ICR of aa- of Central States Indemnity Co of Omaha (CSI). The outlook for both ratings is “stable.”

The ratings reflect CSI's superior risk-adjusted capitalization, its favorable liquidity and low underwriting leverage as well as the benefits made available though its ultimate parent, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., according to the rating agency.

West Bend Mutual Group

A.M. Best Co. revised the outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the FSR of A+ (superior) and ICR of aa- of West Bend Mutual Group. The principal member is West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. In addition, A.M. Best has affirmed the FSR of A (excellent) and ICR of "a" for Michigan Insurance Co., West Bend's majority-owned subsidiary. The outlook for MIC's ratings is “stable.”

The rating actions on West Bend reflect its weakened operating results as well as its sizable investment losses during 2008, which have led to a drop in risk-adjusted capitalization and declining return measures, according to the rating agency. Furthermore, West Bend's Midwest geographic concentration leaves it somewhat exposed to weather-related loss activity as well as significant competition from both regional and national insurers looking to expand away from U.S. coastal exposures. The outlook further considers the challenges West Bend faces to improve results given the current competitive market environment and the book's susceptibility to weather losses. As a result, additional downward rating pressure may be applied should return measures not significantly improve in the medium term.

Lyndon Property Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. has revised the outlook to “negative” from “stable,” and affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ISR of a- for Lyndon Property Insurance Co.

The ratings of Lyndon Property reflect its adequate capitalization, favorable operating performance in its core business of vehicle service contracts and the benefits derived from being part of Protective Life Corp., according to the rating agency.

The ratings recognize the $28 million capital contribution made by its immediate parent, Protective Life Insurance Co. in 2006 (PLIC has a FSR of A+ (superior) with a “negative” outlook), and the risk management support provided to Lyndon Property by Protective.

Columbia Insurance Group

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of “a-”for Columbia Insurance Group and its members. The outlook for all ratings is “stable.”

The affirmations reflect Columbia’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization, underwriting discipline and its long-standing market presence, according to the rating agency. These strengths are further supported by management’s commitment to balance sheet integrity, conservative reserving methodology and an enhanced risk management culture.

A.M. Best also upgraded the FSR to A- (excellent) from B+ (good) and ICR to a- from bbb- for Georgia Casualty & Surety Co.

Additionally, A.M. Best affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of a- for Association Casualty Insurance Co. The outlook for these ratings is “stable.” Their parent, Columbia Mutual Insurance Co., acquired these companies in March 2008.

These rating actions reflect Georgia Casualty and Association Casualty’s addition to the Columbia inter-company pool. As these entities become fully integrated into the organization, A.M. Best believes they will benefit through greater operational support and Columbia’s experienced leadership. Georgia Casualty and Association Casualty also provide the group with greater overall product and geographic diversification.

The FSR of A- (excellent) and ICRs of a- apply to Columbia Insurance Group and its following property/casualty members:

• Columbia Mutual Insurance Co.

• Columbia National Insurance Co.

• Citizens Mutual Insurance Co.

• Georgia Casualty & Surety Co.

• Association Casualty Insurance Co.

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