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A.M. Best Affirms Ratings Of Assurant, Inc. And Its Subsidiaries

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength ratings (FSR) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of the property/casualty and life/health insurance subsidiaries of Assurant, Inc. (Assurant) (headquartered in New York, NY) [NYSE: AIZ]. Additionally, A.M. Best has affirmed the ICR of “bbb” and debt ratings of Assurant. The outlook for all ratings is stable. (See link below for a detailed listing of the companies and ratings.)

Assurant’s ratings recognize its diverse business mix, established presence in numerous niche markets, strong operating results and capitalization. As of September 30, 2012, Assurant’s unadjusted debt-to-capital and debt-to-tangible capital ratios were 18.2% and 21.9%, respectively, with a fixed charge coverage ratio that is well supportive of the ratings. Assurant also maintains a $350 million commercial paper program, which is secured by a back-up $350 million credit facility. The organization also has no debt maturing until 2014, and it maintains solid liquidity.

The ratings for the property/casualty subsidiaries of Assurant, which comprises its property/casualty operations, reflect Assurant’s established presence in various specialty markets, its continued favorable underwriting and operating performance and solid risk-adjusted capitalization.

These positive rating attributes are derived from the organization’s leadership position in the delivery of credit-related insurance products, lender-placed homeowners’ insurance, manufactured housing insurance, vehicle service contracts and extended service contracts, as well as a vast customer base through its large number of distribution sources in North America. As a result of its diversified product and distribution platforms and technology focus, the group has delivered strong operating earnings over the last five years, despite periods of significant catastrophe losses and the adverse impact of poor macroeconomic conditions on revenue in recent years, particularly for the service contract business.

Somewhat offsetting these positive ratings factors are the property/casualty group’s natural catastrophe exposure, which has increased significantly over the past five years, primarily due to growth in specialty property (both organically and through acquisitions), and its continued dependence on third-party reinsurance. These factors, in conjunction with an increase in net retentions associated with its property catastrophe (CAT) treaty, expose the property/casualty group’s earnings to a degree of variability. These concerns are somewhat mitigated by its geographic spread of risk, management’s use of risk management tools (including tracking aggregation of risks) and product design.

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