A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the issuer credit rating (ICR) of “bbb” and the unsecured debt ratings of Crum & Forster Holdings Corp. (CFHC) (Morristown, NJ), an indirect, wholly owned, downstream holding company subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (Fairfax) (Toronto, Ontario) [TSX: FFH and FFH.U].

A.M. Best also has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and ICRs of “a” of the Crum & Forster Insurance Group (C&F) (Morristown, NJ) and its property/casualty members. Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and ICRs of “a+” of Seneca Insurance Group (Seneca) (New York, NY) and its property/casualty members. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The ratings of C&F reflect its historically better than average loss and loss adjustment expense (LAE) ratio, diversified product offering, supportive risk-adjusted capitalization and the implicit support and financial flexibility C&F is afforded as part of the Fairfax enterprise. Additionally, the ratings acknowledge steps taken by C&F to reduce its exposure to shock losses, particularly hurricane exposed risks in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern United States coast.

Offsetting rating factors include C&F’s underwriting expense levels, which have declined at a slower rate than premiums in recent years, resulting in an increased underwriting expense ratio and competitive market conditions.

The ratings of Seneca reflect its strong and sustained underwriting and operating performance that has significantly outperformed its peers and its robust risk-adjusted capital levels. Modestly offsetting these positive rating factors are the company’s slightly elevated expense ratio (which is more than compensated for by its excellent loss and LAE ratio), continued challenging conditions in its markets and a slightly below average level of investment yield.

The ratings of CFHC acknowledge the performance and profitability of its operating subsidiaries. The company’s financial leverage and cash coverage ratios are comfortably within A.M. Best’s guidelines for its current ratings.

For a complete listing of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiaries’ FSRs, ICRs and debt ratings, please visit www.ambest.com/press/020904fairfax.pdf.

The principal methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology -- Global Life and Non-Life Insurance Edition , which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M. Best’s rating process and highlights the different rating criteria employed. Additional key criteria utilized include: “Risk Management and the Rating Process for Insurance Companies”; “Understanding BCAR for Property/Casualty Insurers”; “The Treatment of Terrorism Risk in the Rating Evaluation”; “Natural Catastrophe Stress Test Methodology”; “Catastrophe Risk Management Incorporated Within the Rating Analysis”; “Catastrophe Analysis in A.M. Best Ratings”; “ Rating Members of Insurance Groups”; and “ A.M. Best’s Ratings & the Treatment of Debt.” Methodologies can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology.

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is the world's oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

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