A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) released ratings updates. The following are some of the most recent:

 

Cherokee Insurance Co. and Oakland Financial Corp.

A.M. Best Co. revised the outlook to positive from stable, and affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A- (excellent) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of “a-” of Cherokee Insurance Co. Concurrently, A.M. Best revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the ICR of “bbb-” of Cherokee’s parent company, Oakland Financial Corp. Both companies are domiciled in Sterling Heights, Mich.

The revised outlook reflects Cherokee’s improvement in risk-adjusted capitalization through Sept. 30, 2009, continued solid underwriting and operating performance, despite the negative impact that recessionary pressures and ongoing competitive pressures are having on its core trucking book of business, as well as its historically conservative loss reserving practices, the rating agency says.

The ratings reflect Cherokee’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization, profitable operating earnings and the financial support provided by Oakland, as evidenced by historical capital contributions and reinsurance support through an affiliated entity, A.M. Best says.

 

CNA Insurance Co.

S&P withdrew its “A-“ counterparty credit rating on CNA Insurance Co. Ltd., which is an operating insurance company of CNA Financial Corp. (CNAF). The insurer financial strength (IFS) rating on CNAF's operating insurance subsidiaries is “A-.” 

The withdrawal is based on the fact that the guarantee provided by Continental Casualty Co. was needed only to enhance the financial strength of CNA Insurance Co. Ltd., according to S&P. When a guarantee is used to enhance the FSR on an insurance company through the guarantee of only policy obligations, that entity will not have a counterparty credit rating because the guarantee does not support non-policyholder obligations, the rating agency says.

The withdrawal of the “A-“ counterparty credit rating on CNA Insurance Co. Ltd. has no negative implications for the “A-“ FSR on the company.

 

Conseco Inc.

S&P placed its CCC counterparty credit rating on Conseco Inc. on CreditWatch with positive implications. Conseco's financial flexibility has improved, with amended bank covenants pushing more restrictive debt covenants out over the next several years, the rating agency says.

 

InterGlobal Insurance Co. Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of B++ (good) and ICR of “bbb+” of InterGlobal Insurance Co. Ltd. The outlook for both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect the company’s good prospective operating performance, improving business position and adequate level of risk-adjusted capitalization.

InterGlobal has achieved a good underwriting performance since its inception, despite a rapid growth in premium income and challenging market conditions, A.M. Best says. The rating agency anticipates that a good level of operating performance will be achieved in both 2009 and 2010, and believes that InterGlobal is likely to continue growing premium income in 2010 and 2011, despite the currently difficult market conditions.

 

National General Insurance Corp. N.V. and Nagico Insurance Co. Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. assigned an FSR of B++ (good) and ICR of “bbb” to National General Insurance Corp. (NAGICO) N.V. (NAGICO) and Nagico Insurance Co. Ltd. (NICL). The outlook assigned to all ratings is stable.

These rating actions reflect NAGICO and NICL’s common ownership, adequate consolidated risk-adjusted capitalization, dominant market presence in its domestic market and overall profitability in recent years.

On a consolidated basis, the companies have reported overall operating profits in recent years, which has enabled them to enhance capitalization through the retention of earnings, given their common parent company’s minimal dividend requirements, the rating agency says. Consequently, both companies continue to maintain more than adequate risk-adjusted capitalization for their current business profiles.

 

Preferred Physicians Medical Risk Retention Group Inc.

A.M. Best Co. upgraded the ICR to “bbb+” from “bbb” and affirmed the FSR of B++ (good) of Preferred Physicians Medical Risk Retention Group Inc. The outlook for both ratings has been revised to positive from stable.

The ratings reflect Preferred Physicians’ strong risk-adjusted capitalization and sound operating performance. A.M. Best attributes the improvement in capitalization primarily to establishing conservative loss reserves, which have ultimately flowed into earnings.

The rating further recognizes the financial flexibility afforded by Preferred Physicians’ parent, PPM Services Inc., as proceeds from required capital contributions by policyholders may be contributed to the company, the rating agency says. 

 

Presidential Life Insurance Co. and Presidential Life Corp.

A.M. Best Co. placed the FSR of B+ (good) and ICR of “bbb-” of Presidential Life Insurance Co. under review with negative implications. Concurrently, A.M. Best has placed the ICR of “bb-” of Presidential Life’s parent, Presidential Life Corp. (PLC) under review with negative implications.

These rating actions primarily reflect A.M. Best’s concern about the lack of clarity regarding management and the future strategic direction Presidential Life will be taking given sudden changes in management, and the potential for a change in the Board composition at PLC.

 

Swiss Reinsurance Co. Ltd. and subsidiaries

A.M. Best Co. affirmed the FSR of A (excellent) and ICR of “a+” of Swiss Reinsurance Co. Ltd. and its subsidiaries. Concurrently, A.M. Best affirmed all debt ratings issued by Swiss Re and its subsidiaries. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect Swiss Re’s strong risk-adjusted capitalization, very strong core operating results and resilient business profile as a globally diversified provider of reinsurance products.

 

TIAA

Fitch Ratings assigned an “AA” rating to the surplus notes issued today by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), which is the parent company of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF). TIAA's other ratings are not affected by this rating action. The rating outlook is negative for all of TIAA's ratings.

The “AA” rating assigned to the surplus note issuance reflects Fitch's standard notching from the company's “AAA” IFS rating and considers the subordination of surplus relative to both policyholder and senior debt obligations. Interest and principal payments on surplus notes are subject to prior approval by the New York State insurance department.

 

Wagram Insurance Co. Ltd.

S&P affirmed its “A+” long-term counterparty credit and IFS ratings on Dublin-based Wagram Insurance Co. Ltd. The outlook is stable.

Wagram is the wholly owned, Dublin-based captive subsidiary of electric utility company Electricite de France S.A. (A+/Stable/A-1), and qualifies as a captive insurer under S&P rating criteria. S&P rates Wagram at a level commensurate with the ratings on its parent.

The stable outlook on Wagram reflects the stable outlook on its parent. The ratings and outlook on the parent will determine those on Wagram for as long as Wagram continues to qualify as a captive insurer under S&P’s rating criteria.

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