A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating to B++ (Very Good) from B+ (Very Good) for Coast National Insurance Company, Bristol West Insurance Company, Bristol West Casualty Insurance Company and Security National Insurance Company, all members of the Bristol West Insurance Group (Davie, Fla.). The rating outlook is stable.
In addition, A.M. Best has assigned issuer credit ratings (ICRs) to the operating insurance subsidiaries. An ICR is an opinion as to the ability of a rated entity to meet its senior obligations. In the case of operating insurance companies, policyholders typically are the senior most creditors. ICRs are assigned on the credit rating scale.
The member companies currently assigned “B++” financial strength ratings have been assigned ICRs of “bbb+”, which aligns with the higher end of the “B++” financial strength rating. Concurrently, Bristol West Holdings Inc. [NYSE: BRW], the publicly-traded holding company, has been assigned an ICR of “bb+”. The issuer credit ratings also have stable outlooks.
The rating upgrade reflects Bristol West’s solid capitalization and favorable operating performance in recent years. Improvement in the group’s surplus position was driven by a capital contribution from the parent company, Bristol West Holdings Inc., subsequent to its initial public offering (IPO) in early 2004. Of the $113.4 million raised, $110 million was contributed to the insurance subsidiaries to support current and future premium growth, as well as to become less dependent on reinsurance and strengthen the overall capital position of the insurance operations.
The rating upgrade also considers the significant investments made in technology in recent years to improve risk segmentation, refine pricing, enhance loss reserve monitoring and provide better service to producers and customers. As a result of these initiatives coupled with favorable market conditions, operating results improved significantly in 2003 and 2004.
Bristol West provides non-standard private passenger automobile insurance in 21 states, with California comprising approximately 60% of its direct premium written. Business, which is marketed through independent producers, is produced by affiliated general agencies.
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