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A.M. Best Affirms Ratings Of XL Group Plc, Its Property/Casualty Subsidiaries And XLIT Ltd.

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” of the property/casualty subsidiaries of the holding company, XL Group plc (XL) (Ireland) [NYSE:XL], led by XL Insurance (Bermuda) Ltd (Hamilton, Bermuda). Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the ICRs of “bbb” of XL and XLIT Ltd. (Cayman Islands) as well as all debt ratings of XLIT Ltd. The outlook for all ratings is stable. (See below for a detailed listing of the companies and ratings.)

The rating affirmations reflect the organization’s excellent risk-based capitalization, strong worldwide market presence and the completed de-risking of the group’s investment portfolio. XL subsidiaries’ property/casualty operating results have been profitable through the first six months of 2012, with a combined ratio of 93.0%. The group averaged a favorable combined ratio of 95.9% for the previous five years.

The XL management team has implemented strategies that support and promote an enhanced risk management program and a continuing focus on underwriting as the key component of the group’s business approach. Management’s focus on its core underwriting strengths has been exhibited by the addition of a substantial number of new senior underwriters. Furthermore, as a result of XL’s completed de-risking of its investment portfolio, the organization has successfully reduced the level of market volatility in its investment results.

XL’s debt-to-capital ratio is expected to remain in the 15%-25% range as capital is anticipated to be enhanced by strong earnings. The fixed charge coverage has stabilized and is expected to remain comparable with the current level over the near term.

Positive rating actions could occur if over the next several years XL exhibits consistency in its underwriting and net earnings in line with other comparably rated peers, along with retained earnings growth. Negative rating actions could occur if the organization’s operating performance is consistently below the market by a significant margin for several years, or if capital erosion due to operating performance or investment volatility exceeds A.M. Best’s expectations.

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