Positive rating actions could occur over the medium-to-long term, if there is notable improvement in the operating profitability of ASI—via sustained favorable underwriting results—especially with the new business written over the last few years, particularly as the assumed reinsurance portfolio matures.Key factors that could trigger negative rating actions include a sustained, downward trend in ASI’s operating results that materially impairs its balance sheet and a failure to maintain adequate capitalization in the subsidiaries or at a consolidated level. 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: “Assessing Country Risk”; “Rating Members of Insurance Groups”; “Catastrophe Analysis in A.M. Best Ratings”; “Risk Management and the Rating Process for Insurance Companies”; “Understanding BCAR for Property/Casualty Insurers”; and “Understanding Universal BCAR.” Best’s Credit Rating Methodology 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. Copyright © 2012 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings of “a” of the insurance operating subsidiaries of American Safety Insurance Holdings, Ltd. (ASI) (Hamilton, Bermuda) [NYSE:ASI], which includes: American Safety Casualty Insurance Company (Oklahoma, City, OK), American Safety Indemnity Company (Oklahoma City, OK), American Safety Reinsurance, Limited (ASRE) (Hamilton, Bermuda) and its affiliate, American Safety Risk Retention Group, Inc. (Burlington, VT). The ratings are based on the consolidated financial condition and operating performance of ASRE and its three U.S. domestic subsidiaries and affiliate (entities), with each one receiving significant quota share reinsurance support from ASRE. Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the ICR of “bbb” of ASI. The outlook for all ratings is stable. The ratings reflect the excellent consolidated capitalization of the ASI entities, their solid overall operating results and the effective management of their insurance operations. The ratings also recognize ASI’s underwriting expertise in its niche markets, with customized risk management programs and loss control services. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors is the variability of the underwriting results of some of the group’s entities. ASI’s overall capitalization is excellent considering its manageable underwriting leverage and modest investment leverage. ASI has taken advantage of its niche market expertise and focus to sufficiently generate operating earnings in support of business expansion and premium growth in recent years, providing a solid capital base to support its various business risks. However, its sizeable reinsurance recoverables make the entities in particular vulnerable to the associated credit risks. Nonetheless, by raising its retentions and increasing the utilization of ASRE as a reinsurer for its entities, ASI has reduced its reliance on external reinsurance. A.M. Best expects ASI to continue to provide explicit support as needed to ensure the capitalization of ASRE and the entities adequately reflects the ratings.