Oldwick, NJ -(BusinessWire)- AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A++ (Superior) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICR) of “aa+” (Superior) of Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Insurance Company (Omaha, NE) and its five property/casualty affiliates. These companies collectively are referred to as Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies (BHHC). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. (See below for a detailed listing of companies.)
The ratings reflect BHHC’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as strongest, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. Additionally, these ratings consider the additional financial flexibility and support provided by the group’s publicly traded parent and ultimate shareholder, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. [NYSE: BRK A and BRK B].
The ratings also reflect BHHC’s consistently excellent risk-adjusted capitalization. Despite significant unrealized investment losses experienced in the first nine months of 2022 in the group’s sizable equity portfolio, BHHC’s risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), remains solidly supportive of the strongest overall balance sheet strength assessment. The group’s ratings further recognize its historically profitable operating performance, conservative approach to setting loss reserves, strong liquidity metrics and the executive team’s successful track record in managing operations. AM Best notes that BHHC’s key operating metrics consistently outperform peer benchmarks, particularly when the group’s long-term investment results are considered.
The positive rating factors are offset somewhat by challenging market conditions and BHHC’s business profile, which remains somewhat concentrated in the workers’ compensation line of business, primarily in California.
Approximately half of BHHC’s direct writings in 2021 were derived from California. This concentration has diminished over time, as the group has seen its California workers’ compensation business contract due to heightened competition that has persisted for several years. This decline has been accompanied by diversifying its workers’ compensation book outside of California and strong growth in other business classes, including commercial auto and property lines. Nevertheless, the large block of California workers’ compensation business still exposes the group to a heightened level of regulatory, judicial, legislative and competitive risks relative to its peers.
The group’s long-tail focus also exposes BHHC’s balance sheet to potential reserve volatility resulting from the currently high inflationary environment and reinforces the need for BHHC to maintain its historically prudent reserving practices. AM Best notes the favorable reserve development has been consistently and significantly additive to earnings for a prolonged period, and that any meaningful diminishment or reversal of this favorable trend could pressure the group’s operating performance.
An additional offsetting rating factor is the risk associated with a large investment allocation in equity securities, which remains a potential source of volatility in earnings and capital appreciation.
The FSR of A++ (Superior) and the Long-Term ICR of “aa+” (Superior) have been affirmed with a stable outlook for Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Insurance Company and its following property/casualty affiliates:
- Cypress Insurance Company (San Francisco, CA)
- Oak River Insurance Company (Omaha, NE)
- Redwood Fire and Casualty Insurance Company (Omaha, NE)
- BHHC Special Risks Insurance Company (North Liberty, IA)
- Continental Divide Insurance Company (Denver, CO)
This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best’s Credit Ratings (PDF). For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media – Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases (PDF).
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