Ratings Recap: White Mountain Insurance Gets an ‘A’

July 15, 2008

A.M. Best Co. has assigned a financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and an issuer credit rating of “a-“to White Mountain Insurance Co. of Burlington, Vermont. The outlook assigned to both ratings is stable.

A.M. Best said the ratings reflect what it believes are White Mountain’s excellent capitalization, solid underwriting and overall operating performance and conservative operating strategy.

The rating also considers the company’s strategic role as a single parent captive of Tyco International Ltd. (TYC).

Partially offsetting the positive rating factors are the company’s high net and gross underwriting exposures and the variability in its business volumes and financial measures, which reflect in large part the major changes implemented by Tyco during White Mountain’s relatively short history, the rating agency added.

White Mountain’s capitalization has consistently improved since its establishment in 2003, and its surplus was boosted in December 2006 with a large capital contribution from its parent. Underwriting leverage measures have decreased, and the company’s balance sheet strength is supported by a conservative investment portfolio and prudent reserving. Though White Mountain provides high coverage limits, it maintains excellent liquidity and good reinsurance protection, A.M. Best said.

However, this results in substantial dependence on reinsurance, the rating agency noted. The company’s business volumes and financial ratios have fluctuated over its five-year history, but A.M. Best said it expects more stability in results as its business volumes stabilize.

White Mountain’s exposures decreased significantly as a result of Tyco’s separation into three independent companies in 2007. White Mountain now only insures the risks of one of the companies, Tyco International, and it is a critical component of the group’s risk management and financing.

A.M. Best remains the leading rating agency of captive insurers rating a wide variety of more than 200 captives in the United States and throughout the world.

Source: A.M. Best Co.

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