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


The Allstate Corp. and its subsidiaries

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A+ (superior) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “aa-” of Allstate Insurance Group and its members. Additionally, A.M. Best affirmed the ICR of “a-” and debt ratings of Allstate’s parent, The Allstate Corp. The outlook for these ratings is stable.
Concurrently, A.M. Best affirmed the FSR of A+ (superior) and ICRs of “aa-” of the primary life/health member companies of Allstate Financial. A.M. Best also affirmed the debt ratings of “aa-” of the outstanding notes issued under various funding agreement-backed securities programs of Allstate Life Insurance Co. The outlook for these ratings has been revised to negative from stable.


Bison Insurance Co. Ltd.


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

The ratings reflect Bison’s historically adequate capitalization, generally favorable operating performance, conservative reserve levels and effective management of its catastrophe exposures. The ratings also recognize Bison’s history of maintaining sufficient capital and financial resources to support its ongoing obligations.

 

Flagstone Reinsurance Africa Ltd.


A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of “a-” of Flagstone Reinsurance Africa Ltd. The outlook on both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect the company’s strong risk-adjusted capitalization, as well as the explicit support provided by its parent, Flagstone Reassurance Suisse SA. Offsetting factors include the execution risks associated with the company’s business plan given the rapid growth, the competitive South African reinsurance market and Flagstone Re Africa’s small business profile in this market.

 

Lion Connecticut Holdings

Fitch Ratings upgraded Lion Connecticut Holdings' guaranteed, senior unsecured debt ratings to “A” from BBB+. The rating reflects that ING Group, the ultimate parent organization within the ING family of companies, guarantees the notes. The rating on the notes is equivalent to ING Group's “A” senior unsecured debt rating, reflecting the unconditional guarantee of punctual payment of principal and interest.

Fitch's previous rating was based upon an assumption that the guarantee was provided by ING Verzekeringen, a subsidiary of ING Group, and holding company for ING Group's insurance operations. ING Verzekeringen's senior unsecured debt is rated BBB+ by Fitch. The upgrade followed a review of documentation recently received by Fitch that clarified that the guarantee was provided by ING Group and not ING Verzekeringen.

Lion Connecticut Holding Inc, is a subsidiary of ING Americas Holdings (AIH), an indirect subsidiary of ING Group and is successor to Aetna Services Inc. formerly Aetna Life and Casualty Co., the original issuer of these notes. AIH is the holding company for all of ING Group's insurance operations in the United States.


Michigan Commercial Insurance Mutual

A.M. Best Co. revised the outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the FSR of A- (excellent) and ICR of “a-” of Michigan Commercial Insurance Mutual (MCIM).

The revised outlook reflects the significant deterioration in MCIM’s operating performance driven by increased underwriting losses, which are attributable to diversification initiatives beyond Michigan; an increase in claim frequency and large loss activity; and the continued execution risk associated with the company’s geographical expansion plans, the rating agency says. Despite management’s initiatives to diversify into lower hazard classes of business and improve results, MCIM will be challenged over the near term to meet projections given the competitive market conditions and economic impact on its core business segments.


Mondial Assistance International AG and Jefferson Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A (excellent) and the ICR of “a+” of Mondial Assistance International AG (MAI) and its subsidiary, Jefferson Insurance Co. The outlook for all ratings remains stable.

The ratings of MAI reflect its adequate risk-adjusted capitalization, resilient operating performance and excellent business profile as a leading provider of travel insurance and assistance business.

Additionally, the ratings reflect implicit support from the company’s ultimate parent, Allianz Societas Europaea.

The ratings of Jefferson Insurance Co. reflect enhancement due to explicit support provided by MAI in the form of a 90% quota share reinsurance treaty.


MVP Health Care Inc.’s insurance subsidiaries

A.M. Best Co. downgraded the FSR to B (fair) from B+ (good) and ICR to “bb+” from “bbb-”of MVP Health Insurance Co. and Preferred Assurance Co. Inc. Additionally, A.M. Best downgraded the FSRs to B- (fair) from B (fair) and ICRs to bb- from bb+ of MVP Health Plan of New Hampshire Inc. and MVP Health Insurance Co. of NH Inc. All of the above ratings have been placed under review with negative implications. Concurrently, A.M. Best placed under review with negative implications and affirmed the FSRs of B+ (good) and ICRs of bbb- of MVP Health Plan Inc. and MVP Health Services Corp.

These rating actions follow the reporting of negative capital and surplus levels at MVP Health Insurance Co. and MVP Health Insurance Plan of New Hampshire Inc. for third quarter 2009. The negative capital and surplus levels at these two insurance companies resulted from underwriting and net losses through September 2009. The management of the parent company, MVP Health Care Inc., is working to gain regulatory approval from the New York State Insurance Department and the New York State Department of Health to transfer capital to these entities.


Queen’s Island Insurance Co. Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of A+ (Superior) and ICR of aa- to Queen’s Island Insurance Co. Ltd. The outlook assigned to both ratings is stable.

The ratings largely reflect the explicit support provided to Queen’s Island by an affiliate, Berkley Insurance Co., in the form of an aggregate stop loss reinsurance contract, which limits any single calendar year operating loss, and a net worth maintenance agreement with its parent, W.R. Berkley Corp.
 
Transatlantic Holdings Inc.

A.M. Best Co. assigned a debt rating of bbb to the recently issued $350 million 8.00% senior unsecured notes due 2039 of Transatlantic Holdings Inc. The assigned outlook is stable.

The proceeds from the debt offering will be used for general corporate purposes, which depending on market conditions, may include the repurchase of common shares and retirement of a portion of the company’s existing 5.75% senior notes due 2015.

Transatlantic’s debt-to-adjusted capital ratio and fixed charge coverage remain relatively comfortable within the range that is commensurate with the assigned rating.

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