Best Upgrades and Affirms Berkley Group Operating Companies

August 22, 2007

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength ratings (FSR) to “A+” (Superior) from “A” (Excellent) and the issuer credit ratings (ICR) to “aa-” from “a” for Berkley Insurance Group of Wilmington, Del. and Berkley Regional Group of Greenwich, Conn. and their respective property/casualty members.

Best also upgraded the debt ratings to “a-” from “bbb” on senior debt and to “bbb” from “bb+” on trust preferred securities of W. R. Berkley Corporation.

In addition Best affirmed the FSRs of “A+” (Superior) and ICRs “aa-“of Admiral Insurance Group and Nautilus Insurance Group of Scottsdale, Ariz. and their respective property/casualty members, as well as the FSR of “A” (Excellent) and ICR of “a” of Carolina Casualty Insurance Company of Jacksonville, Fla. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The ratings upgrades for Berkley Insurance Group and Berkley Regional Group “reflect their positive 10-year average underwriting and operating performances–which favorably compare with other similarly rated peers, long-term sustainability of performance, modest risk profiles, overall lack of dependence on reinsurance, greater business diversification, improved monitoring and controls company-wide, reduced prior year loss reserve development and improved capital levels,” said Best.

“Both groups maintain a flexible decentralized operating structure, which incorporates specialized market knowledge and local presence.” The rating agency said it “believes that these positive rating factors collectively have and will continue to result in a positive market reputation, competitive business positioning and above-average operating profitability.”

In addition Best noted that the Berkley Insurance Group’s 10-year average calendar year combined ratio is 98.4 percent, while Berkley Regional Group’s combined ratio stands at 96.7 percent.

The complete report can be consulted at:

For a detailed list of the companies and ratings go to:

Source: A.M. Best

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