Oldwick, NJ -(BusinessWire)- A.M. Best has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” for the members of Liberty Mutual Insurance Companies (Liberty Mutual), as well as Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe Limited (LMIE) (United Kingdom) and Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Life). These entities are operating subsidiaries of their ultimate parent company, Liberty Mutual Holding Company Inc. (LMHC).
Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the ICRs of “bbb” of LMHC and Liberty Mutual Group, Inc. (LMGI), a wholly owned subsidiary of LMHC, as well as the debt ratings of LMGI. The outlook for all the above ratings is stable. In addition, A.M. Best has affirmed the short-term debt rating of AMB-2 of LMGI. All the above named companies are domiciled in Boston, MA, except where specified. (See link below for a detailed listing of the companies and ratings.)
The ratings for Liberty Mutual’s members reflect the group’s solid capitalization, historically favorable operating performance, dominant market profile and strong brand-name recognition, as it was ranked as the fourth largest property/casualty insurer in the United States at year-end 2013, based on net premiums written. The ratings also acknowledge the sustainable competitive advantages of the group’s multiple distribution channels, active risk management of its catastrophe exposures, in-house expertise in alternative investments and its solid product and geographic diversification. Furthermore, Liberty Mutual’s enterprise risk management program has served it well in navigating through the financial, economic and catastrophic events in recent years.
Management’s strategic objectives remain focused on improving Liberty Mutual’s financial performance through product, geographic and distribution channel diversification, while maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage in its core business operations. As part of this strategy, management remains focused on reducing business risk, diversifying earnings and improving operating leverage. Over the past several years, the achievement of these objectives has been evidenced by the group’s measured acquisitions and divestitures, pro-active strategies in the marketplace, as well as reinsurance transactions. In addition, Liberty Mutual’s extensive unbundled service capabilities, risk management services and strategic alliances with managed care networks provide a significant competitive advantage and a superior market profile.
The positive rating factors for Liberty Mutual’s members are somewhat offset by the group’s relatively high underwriting leverage measures and less profitable operating results in recent years, largely driven by weakened underwriting results, substantial catastrophe losses in 2010-2012 and unfavorable prior year loss reserve development in 2011-2013, which influenced underwriting results to some extent. A.M. Best views the group’s recent purchase of the adverse development cover for its workers’ compensation and asbestos and environmental liabilities, effective Jan. 1, 2014, as lessening the uncertainty of these liabilities going forward and enhancing the group’s risk-adjusted capitalization.
Significantly lower underwriting losses were reported in 2013, and barring substantial catastrophe losses, the group’s underwriting and overall operating performance should continue to improve in the near term, reflecting more stringent underwriting and increased pricing.
The ratings for Liberty Mutual’s members also consider the financial flexibility provided by LMHC, which maintains financial leverage that is in line with its current ratings, as well as additional liquidity through access to capital markets and lines of credit. Additionally, LMHC benefits from the solid operating performance of its global operations.
The ratings of LMIE acknowledge its solid, albeit lower, risk-adjusted capitalization, strong operating performance and brand-name recognition achieved as a strategic member of the established global franchise led by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. These positive rating factors are partially offset by the company’s recent significant growth and the competitive environment and weakened economies in LMIE’s European markets, which will likely inhibit growth in the near term.
The ratings of Liberty Life recognize its strategic role within LMHC, its strong risk-adjusted capitalization, positive earnings trend and well-established business profile in the individual and group insurance markets. In addition, the ratings also reflect Liberty Mutual’s explicit support and its commitment to maintain favorable capital levels at Liberty Life.
Partially offsetting these positive rating factors are Liberty Life’s continued losses in its closed block of single payment immediate annuity line, as well as the impact of losses from its discontinued business and the competitive nature of its individual life and group disability income markets. A.M. Best believes that despite these challenges, Liberty Life remains well positioned to support its long-term profitability, as its level of risk-adjusted capitalization is more than adequate.
While A.M. Best believes LMHC and its operating subsidiaries ratings are appropriately positioned at their current rating levels, negative rating actions could occur if underwriting and operating performance falls below A.M. Best’s expectations or risk-adjusted capitalization weakens to a level that no longer supports their current ratings. Positive rating actions could occur should the group’s trends in operating performance and capitalization improve and compare more favorably with higher-rated peers.
For a complete listing of Liberty Mutual Holding Company Inc. and its subsidiaries’ FSRs, ICRs and debt ratings, please visit Liberty Mutual Holding Company Inc (PDF).
A.M. Best expects Park’s future operating performance to be stable but strong, and the stable earnings profile should further support the company to control its growth and business writing consistent with its capital and surplus position.
Park’s ratings and outlook are not expected to be upgraded within the next 12-24 months as its operating performance and capital position already have been considered in the ratings process. A.M. Best could downgrade Park’s ratings and/or revise the outlook if its Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR) score declines, operating performance and risk profile deteriorate, insured losses deplete capital, significant changes and turnover occur in its management team and/or risk management controls and tolerances, or its parent’s ratings deteriorate.