Ratings Roundup: Seaworthy, Pioneer General, American Financial & Subsidiaries

December 19, 2007

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating (FSR) to ‘A+’ (Superior) from ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating (ICR) to “aa” from “a-” of Seaworthy Insurance Company of (Annapolis, Md. Best also removed the ratings from under review with positive implications and assigned a stable outlook. “These rating actions reflect both the implicit and explicit financial support provided by Seaworthy’ s ultimate parent, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., its insurance affiliate and the future benefits to be derived from two significant reinsurance transactions effective December 31, 2007,” Best noted. “The ratings also consider Seaworthy’ s consistently profitable operating results and management’ s niche ocean marine underwriting expertise.” Best explained that during the third quarter of 2007, Seaworthy’ s parent company, Boat America was purchased by National Indemnity Company, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and the issuer credit rating (ICR) of “a-” of Pioneer General Insurance Company, of Denver, Colo. with a stable outlook. “These rating actions follow the November acquisition of Pioneer General and its immediate parent company, Ponderosa Management Inc. by HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc,” Best explained.

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength ratings (FSR) of ‘A’ (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” of Great American Insurance Companies, Cincinnati, Ohio, Mid-Continent Group, Tulsa, Okla. and Republic Indemnity Insurance Pool, Encino, Calif. and their respective property/casualty members. Best also affirmed the debt ratings of “bbb” and “bbb-” of their ultimate parent company, Cincinnati, Ohio-based American Financial Group, Inc. In addition Best has upgraded the FSR to ‘A+’ (Superior) from ‘A’ (Excellent) and ICRs to “aa-” from “a” of American Empire Surplus Lines Pool (AESLIC Pool) and its property/casualty members. The outlook for all ratings is stable. “The rating upgrades of AESLIC Pool reflect its strong risk-adjusted capitalization, successful strategy as a provider of excess and surplus lines products and management’s demonstrated cycle management behavior, as evidenced by superior operating results and changes in premium volumes over an extended period of time,” said Best. “Partially offsetting these positive rating factors is the potential impact of cyclical contraction of premium volume on expenses and softening market conditions.”

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