Best Affirms FSR for Bank of Montreal Insurance – Barbados – Ltd.; Outlook Stable

March 23, 2005

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating of “a” of Bank of Montreal Insurance (Barbados) Limited (St. Michael, Barbados). All ratings have a stable outlook.

These ratings reflect Bank of Montreal Insurance’s consistently strong underwriting and operating results, excellent capitalization and favorable liquidity position. Its financial strength is driven by above average returns owing to disciplined underwriting and adherence to sound investment practices.

Bank of Montreal Insurance maintains a strong balance sheet with superior underwriting leverage and liquidity measures, complemented by a conservative investment portfolio. In addition, the company benefits from a global market presence and a broad product mix of credit, life, health and general insurance and reinsurance. Bank of Montreal Insurance also participates in various life and accident retrocessions.

Partially offsetting these rating strengths are the challenging economic environment and competitive nature of the core creditor life and disability reinsurance business. Bank of Montreal Insurance will be challenged as it seeks to grow its structured reinsurance portfolio.

However, the company is well positioned to benefit from a hardening market, and its strong operating performance will serve to further increase financial strength.

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