Best Upgrades AXA Insurance Ratings to ‘A’; Outlook Stable

May 24, 2010

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating (FSR) to ‘A (Excellent) from ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and issuer credit rating (ICR) to “a” from “a-” of New York-based AXA Insurance Company.

Best has also affirmed the FSR of ‘B++’ (Good) and ICRs of “bbb” of Coliseum Reinsurance Company and its wholly owned subsidiary, AXA Re Property and Casualty Insurance Company – the U.S. affiliates of French insurer AXA S.A. that are in run off. The outlook for all ratings is stable. All of the companies are domiciled in Wilmington, DE, unless otherwise specified.

The ratings of AXA Insurance Company reflect its “strong risk-adjusted capitalization, which is supported by an extensive reinsurance program, its favorable liquidity and enhanced strategic importance to AXA,” Best noted.

“The company serves as AXA group’s primary domestic insurer of reverse flow business, representing the U.S. portion of multinational accounts generated primarily by the clients of AXA Corporate Solutions Assurance SA and AXA Versicherung AG. AXA Insurance Company also provides 60 percent quota share reinsurance coverage for the very profitable portfolio of its affiliate, AXA Art Insurance Corporation (AXA Art), to better utilize its capital.”

Best explained that the companies act “essentially in a fronting role, most business is reinsured to AXA Insurance Company’s affiliates through quota share reinsurance agreements. While heavy reliance on affiliated reinsurance leads to high ceded underwriting leverage, the company’s outstanding reinsurance recoverables are predominantly collateralized.”

Best also indicated that AXA Insurance Company “benefits from the financial flexibility of the AXA group. While operating performance has historically been volatile,” Best said it “expects this performance to continue improving over the long term based on AXA Insurance Company’s present and clearer strategy, along with its continued reinsurance protection.

“Operating performance in 2009 was adversely impacted by actions purposefully taken to cleanse the company’s balance sheet, including write-offs of old reinsurance recoverables deemed uncollectible and changes in reserve balances also deemed uncollectible.

“These actions should lead to results on a going forward basis to be more reflective of AXA Insurance Company’s remaining core book of business, which has been performing favorably.

“Both Coliseum Re and AXA Re P&C remain in run off. In January 2007, AXA Re P&C entered into an aggregate quota share agreement with Coliseum Re, reinsuring 100 percent of the remaining net technical liabilities including any uncollectible insurance and reinsurance. Coliseum Re continues to maintain a solid level of capitalization and adequate liquidity relative to its run-off activities.”

Source: A.M. Best

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