Ratings Roundup: Indemnity, Safety, HCC, NAICO

April 18, 2008

A.M. Best Co. has assigned a financial strength rating of ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings of “a-” to Indemnity Insurance of DC Group (IIDC) and its members, all with stable outlooks. These ratings also apply to Indemnity Insurance Corporation of DC, Risk Retention Group and Indemnity Reinsurance Corporation of DC, Inc., which are under common ownership and control. “The ratings reflect the group’s excellent capitalization levels, experienced management team, superior claims and loss control management, strict underwriting guidelines and a good geographic spread of risks,” said Best. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors is the execution risk associated with the implementation of IIDC’s business plan.” Best also explained that IIDC benefits from “a strong niche market focus derived from its 12 years of experience gained with the entertainment industry from a commonly owned managing general agent, which has placed this business in the insurance marketplace for insureds in the entertainment industry. Management over a number of years has built strong working relationships throughout the industry. The insurance program provides general liability, liquor liability and excess coverage to segments of the entertainment industry.

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of ‘A’ (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” of Safety Group and its inter-company pool members, Safety Insurance Company, Safety Indemnity Insurance Company and Safety Property and Casualty Insurance Company. Best also affirmed the ICR of “bbb” of Safety’s publicly traded holding company, Delaware-based Safety Insurance Group, Inc. The outlook for all ratings is stable. All companies are domiciled in Massachusetts, except where specified. “The ratings of Safety reflect its strong capitalization, several years of solid operating performance and market position as a leading personal automobile writer in Massachusetts,” Best explained. The ratings also acknowledge the group’s favorable loss reserve development and low investment leverage.

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength ratings (FSR) of ‘A+’ (Superior) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “aa-” of HCC Insurance Holdings and its members. Best also said it has “affirmed the FSRs of ‘A’ (Excellent) and ICRs of “a” of American Contractors Indemnity Company (ACIC) (Los Angeles, CA) and United States Surety Company (USSC) (Timonium, MD). Additionally, Best has affirmed the FSRs of ‘A+’ (Superior) and ‘A’ (Excellent) and ICRs of “aa-” and “a+” of HCC Life Insurance Company (HCC Life) (Indianapolis, IN) and Perico Life Insurance Company (Perico) (Dover, DE), respectively. In addition, Best noted that it has “upgraded the FSR to ‘A+’ (Superior) from ‘A’ (Excellent) and the ICR to “aa-” from “a” for HCC Insurance Company (HCCIC) (Indianapolis, IN). HCCIC has become a member of the primary property/casualty rating unit, HCC, through implementation of a 100 percent quota share reinsurance agreement with HCC’s lead carrier, Houston Casualty Company (Houston, TX).” In addition Best affirmed the ICR of “a-” and debt rating of “a-” on $125 million of 1.3 percent convertible notes due 2023 and the various ratings on the shelf registration of the parent holding company, HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. All the above ratings have a negative outlook, except for Perico, whose FSR outlook is stable and ICR outlook is negative. The ratings of the remaining subsidiary, Pioneer General Insurance Company (Pioneer General) (Denver, CO) remain unchanged. “These ratings reflect HCC’s sustained profitability, solid capitalization, as well as the moderate financial leverage and substantial financial flexibility at HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc.,” Best noted. “HCC’s business strategies have focused on narrowly defined specialty lines, effective utilization of affiliated underwriting agencies/insurance intermediaries and the optimal utilization of reinsurance protection, thus producing increased operating profits in recent years despite market softening. The ratings also acknowledge HCC’s near-term earnings prospects and its strong position in the specialty admitted and non-admitted markets.”

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of “B+” (Good) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of “bbb-” of National American Insurance Company (NAICO). Best also affirmed the ICR of “bb-” and debt rating of “bb-” on $24 million 8.75 percent senior unsecured debentures, due 2014 of NAICO’s parent, Chandler (USA) Inc. The outlook for all ratings is stable. The ratings reflect NAICO’s “solid risk-adjusted capitalization and improved operating performance, primarily driven by the reduction of the extent of unfavorable loss reserve development reported in recent years,” said Best. “This improvement is due in part to management’s corrective actions over the years, including significantly increasing rates, reducing exposures, improving risk selection and tightening policy terms and conditions.”

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