A.M. Best Co. has revised the outlook for the issuer credit rating (ICR) to positive from stable as well as affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and ICRs of “a” of the property/casualty subsidiaries of XL Group plc (XL) (Ireland) [NYSE:XL], led by XL Insurance (Bermuda) Ltd (Hamilton, Bermuda). The outlook for the FSR is stable. Concurrently, A.M. Best has revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the ICRs of “bbb” of XL and XLIT Ltd. (Cayman Islands) as well as all debt ratings of XLIT Ltd. (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 stabilization of the group’s overall earnings profile. XL subsidiaries’ property/casualty operating results have been profitable through the first six months of 2013 with a combined ratio of 90.8%.
The positive outlook reflects the organization’s improved trend in operating performance and overall profitability in recent quarters. XL’s management team has implemented strategies that support and promote an enhanced risk management program as well as a continued 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 additions of a substantial number of new experienced senior underwriting managers over the past few years in its global insurance operations.
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 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 capital erosion due to operating performance or investment volatility exceeds A.M. Best’s expectations.