Stable P/C Rating Trends

Despite some bumps, rating trends for U.S. property/casualty insurers are stable, according to A.M. Best. In its 2009 Rating Trend Review, A.M. Best says that while the industry’s results are likely to be pressured in 2010, rating actions are not expected to move profoundly in one direction and the number of upgrades/positive outlooks and downgrades/negative outlooks will be fairly balanced over the next year. The comments came as the number of downgrades of Best’s insurer financial strength ratings in 2009 outpaced upgrades for the first time since 2005 even as key financial measures across the  p/c industry improved. Downgrades of p/c insurers totaled 68 in 2009, up from 57 in 2008 and the highest total since 2005 when 76 downgrades occurred among p/c insurers, while upgrades totaled 59, the same as in 2008. However, nearly 20 percent of all downgrades in 2009 were within one organization and its group of companies. “Although downgrades outpaced upgrades, a significant portion of the downgrades were within one organization, one segment and one geographic location,† A.M. Best observed. Upgrades to commercial lines insurers’ ratings outpaced downgrades 36 to 24 while personal lines insurers saw 23 upgrades but 44 downgrades. Of the 44 downgrades in personal lines, 10 or nearly 23 percent occurred within the U.S. subsidiaries of Kingsway Financial Services Inc. (KFSI). No U.S. reinsurer was upgraded or downgraded in 2009, according to A.M. Best. Check out I.I.I. presentations on the outlook for the p/c industry.

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