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


AmerInst Insurance Group Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. removed from under review and affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A- (excellent) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of “a-” of AmerInst Insurance Group Ltd. The outlook assigned to both ratings is stable.

The ratings reflect AmerInst’s strong capitalization and experienced management team, as well as its niche expertise as a reinsurer of professional liability policies. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors are the company’s narrow spread of underwriting risk, in addition to the execution risk associated with the implementation of the new business plan, the rating agency says.


Assurant Inc. 

S&P corrected its rating on Assurant Inc.'s preferred stock issue by lowering it to BB+ from BBB-. Because of an administrative error, S&P assigned then did not lower this rating on Dec. 10, 2009, when it lowered the other ratings on Assurant Inc. This issue historically has not been rated because of a lack of market interest given the small size of the issue ($8 million as of Sept. 30, 2009). Subsequently, S&P withdrew this rating.


AXA Insurance Co.

S&P corrected an administrative error related to the outlook on AXA Insurance Co., a U.S. subsidiary of France-based global multiline insurance group AXA (counterparty credit and insurance financial strength ratings on core operating entities, AA/Negative/--). On Feb. 19, 2009, S&P revised its outlook to negative from stable on AXA. The outlook change was intended to cover AXA's core operating entities. However, due to a database entry error, the outlook on U.S. subsidiary AXA Insurance Co. was not revised to negative. The database entry error has been modified, and the outlook on AXA Insurance Co. is now negative. 


Computer Insurance Co.

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

The ratings reflect Computer Insurance Co.’s outstanding profitability, conservative operating strategy and management’s specialty underwriting expertise within its captive niche market, A.M. Best says. The rating outlook is based upon the company’s strong operating margins and low underwriting leverage. The ratings also acknowledge the advantages derived from Computer Insurance Company’s affiliation with its immediate parent, Hewlett-Packard Financial Services, and the synergies gained from the company’s effective low-cost distribution platform, as well as preferential access to its insureds via the customer network of its ultimate parent, Hewlett-Packard Co.


Dhipaya Insurance Public Co. Ltd.

S&P assigned its A- long-term insurer FSR and counterparty credit rating to Thailand-based Dhipaya Insurance Public Co. Ltd. The outlook on the rating is negative. At the same time, S&P assigned its axAA- ASEAN scale rating to the company. 

The ratings on Dhipaya Insurance reflect the company's strong, competitive position within Thailand's property/casualty insurance industry, with a focus on commercial business lines, the rating agency says. The company's connections with state-owned enterprises help with sourcing and distribution. The company also benefits from strong operating performances and has strong capitalization.


Nationwide Life Insurance Co. of America and NLAICA

S&P withdrew its A+ FSR on Nationwide Life Insurance Co. of America and Nationwide Life & Annuity Co. of America (NLAICA). It withdrew these ratings because of the two companies' merger, effective Dec. 31, 2009, into Nationwide Life Insurance Co. (NLIC) and Nationwide Life & Annuity Insurance Co. (NLAC), respectively. Both NLIC and NLAIC are core members of the Nationwide Financial Services Inc. and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. group. NLIC and NLAC both have A+ FSRs and a negative outlook. These withdrawals have no effect on the ratings on any of the other group members, S&P says.


Newport E&S Insurance Co.

A.M. Best Co. has withdrawn the FSR of A (excellent) and ICR of “a” of Newport E&S Insurance Co., as it has merged into its parent company, Balboa Insurance Co. An NR-5 (Not Formally Followed) has been assigned to the FSR and an “nr” to the ICR. The ratings of the Balboa Insurance Group, of which BIC is a member, remain unchanged.


Sompo Japan Insurance de Mexico S.A. de C.V. 

S&P assigned its 'A' FSR on Sompo Japan Insurance de Mexico S.A. de C.V. (SJM). The outlook is stable. The rating on SJM reflects its strategic importance to its parent company, Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. (SJI; AA-/Stable/--).  

The Mexican subsidiary benefits from strong, explicit support from SJI through a net-worth-maintenance agreement that policyholders enforce, according to S&P. SJM's business lines are integral to the parent's global strategy, and play a vital role in providing insurance coverage to its global Japanese customers in the Mexican market. The ratings also reflect SJM's extremely strong capitalization and conservative investment portfolio, offset by volatility in its profitability ratios and a limited stand-alone business position, the rating agency says.


The Travelers Cos. Inc.

Moody's Investors Service has assigned ratings to the multi-issuer multi-seniority shelf registration of The Travelers Cos. Inc.—provisional senior unsecured debt at (P)A2. The current shelf registration replaces the prior expired shelf, whose ratings have been withdrawn. The outlook for the provisional ratings is stable.

According to Moody's, Travelers' ratings are based on the group's leading market position across many commercial, personal and specialty business lines in the U.S. property/casualty insurance market, its strong track record of core profitability and internal capital generation, its high-quality investment portfolio and strong internal liquidity, and its solid risk-adjusted capitalization.

Somewhat tempering these strengths are the company's exposure to cyclical pricing trends in the property/casualty insurance sector, exposures to underwriting losses arising from natural and man-made catastrophes, and general concerns related to the risk of further adverse loss development for runoff business and latent liabilities, the rating agency says.

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