While the ratings are currently stable, positive rating factors include sustained material improvement in operating results at the parent level in conjunction with continued surplus appreciation and strong risk-based capitalization for the insurance companies. Negative rating actions could be caused by adverse economic conditions, as the insurance businesses are driven by the health of the overall U.S. economy. Other negative factors would include deterioration in operating results, a material change in the business profile of the insurance companies, increased leverage at Zale Corp. or a decline in risk-adjusted capitalization.
The methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology, which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M. Best’s rating process and contains the different rating criteria employed in the rating process. Key criteria utilized include: “Rating Members of Insurance Groups”; “Understanding BCAR for Property/Casualty Insurers”; and “Understanding BCAR for Life/Health Insurers.” Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology.
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