Best Downgrades Winterthur’s U.S. Subsidiaries Ratings to ‘A-‘

March 17, 2004

A.M. Best Co. announced that it has downgraded the financial strength ratings to “A-” (Excellent) from “A” (Excellent) of the U.S. based property/casualty insurance subsidiaries of Winterthur Swiss Insurance Company (WSIC). Best noted that it had taken the same action on the ratings of Winterthur’s Swiss companies.

The rating action affects General Casualty Companies (Sun Prairie, Wis.) and the Unigard Insurance Group (Bellevue, Wash.) and their subsidiaries, as listed below. Best also said it had removed the ratings from under review and raised its outlook on them from negative to stable.

“The downgrade of the ratings of General Casualty Companies and Unigard Insurance Group is based on A.M. Best’s diminished view of the financial strength of WSIC and does not reflect a deterioration in the stand-alone capital adequacy of these subsidiaries,” the rating agency indicated.

Best said that the rating of General Casualty Companies reflects its excellent stand- alone capital position, strong Midwest regional market presence, historically disciplined underwriting approach and strong agency franchise,” despite the ratings change on its parent.

It also indicated that the “rating of Unigard Insurance Group reflects its excellent stand-alone capitalization, favorable operating performance and long standing regional market presence.”

Best also noted that it has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) of Southern Guaranty Insurance Group (Montgomery, Ala.), an affiliated U.S.-based property/casualty group, and assigned a stable outlook.

General Casualty Companies affiliates affected by the ratings change include:
— Blue Ridge Indemnity Company
— Blue Ridge Insurance Company
— General Casualty Company of Illinois
— General Casualty Company of Wisconsin
— Hoosier Insurance Company
— MassWest Insurance Company, Inc
— Regent Insurance Company

Unigard Insurance Group companies include:
— Unigard Indemnity Company
— Unigard Insurance Company
— Unigard Pacific Insurance Company

Southern Guaranty Group includes:
— Southern Fire & Casualty Company
— Southern Guaranty Insurance of Georgia
— Southern Guaranty Insurance Company
— Southern Pilot Insurance Company

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