Oldwick, NJ -(BusinessWire)- A.M. Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICR) of “a” of the members of Liberty Mutual Insurance Companies (Liberty Mutual), as well as Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston (Liberty Life) (Dover, NH). These entities are operating subsidiaries of their ultimate parent company, Liberty Mutual Holding Company Inc. (LMHC).
Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the Long-Term ICRs of “bbb” of LMHC and Liberty Mutual Group, Inc. (LMGI), a wholly owned subsidiary of LMHC, as well as the Long-Term Issue Credit Ratings (Long-Term IR) of LMGI. The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. In addition, A.M. Best has affirmed the Short-Term Issue Credit Rating (Short-Term IR) 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 risk-adjusted capitalization, historically favorable operating performance, dominant market profile and strong brand-name recognition, as the group ranked as the fourth-largest property/casualty insurer in the United States at year-end 2015, based on net premiums written. The ratings further acknowledge the sustainable competitive advantages of the group’s multiple distribution channels, active risk management of its catastrophe exposures, in-house expertise in traditional and alternative investments, and solid product and geographic diversification. Furthermore, A.M. Best views Liberty Mutual’s enterprise risk management program as appropriately comprehensive and sophisticated given the size and complexity of the organization.
Management’s strategic objectives have been 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. Over the past several years, the achievement of these objectives has been evidenced by the group’s generally improved and less volatile underwriting performance, measured acquisitions and divestitures, and proactive 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 offset somewhat by the group’s relatively high underwriting leverage measures, above-average higher-risk assets relative to peers (which includes significant affiliated international insurance operations), and less profitable operating results in the earlier years of the most recent five-year period, largely driven by weakened underwriting results, substantial catastrophe losses in 2011 and 2012 and unfavorable prior-year loss reserve development in years 2011 through 2013, which influenced underwriting results to some extent. A.M. Best views the group’s 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.
A.M. Best also anticipates that a continued competitive underwriting environment likely will pressure the group’s operating profitability and the internal generation of surplus in the near term. The group’s above-average higher-risk assets include non-investment grade bonds; common stocks; energy and metals and mining operations; and other Schedule BA investments, including significant affiliate international insurance companies. A.M. Best notes that material impairments and unrealized losses in these potentially more volatile asset classes have negatively impacted results in 2015 and 2016.
The ratings of 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 its access to capital markets and lines of credit. Additionally, LMHC benefits from its global operations.
The ratings of Liberty Life recognize its strategic role within LMHC, its strong risk-adjusted capitalization, positive revenue growth trends, 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 in the form of an unconditional guarantee and recent capital contributions as evidence of the commitment to maintain favorable capital levels at Liberty Life.
Partially offsetting these positive rating factors are the competitive nature of Liberty Life’s individual life and group disability income markets, the impact of the low interest rate environment and its continued losses in its discontinued business lines. A.M. Best believes that despite these challenges, Liberty Life remains well-positioned to support its long-term profitability objectives.
For a complete listing of Liberty Mutual Holding Company Inc. and its subsidiaries’ FSRs, Long-Term ICRs and Long- and Short-Term IRs, click here (PDF).