A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A+ (Superior) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of "aa" of the members of RLI Group (RLI). A.M. Best also has affirmed the ICR of "a" and debt rating of "a" on $100 million 5.95% senior unsecured notes due 2014 of RLI's publicly traded parent holding company, RLI Corp. [NYSE: RLI]. In addition, A.M. Best has affirmed the FSR of A+ (Superior) and ICR of “aa-” of Contractors Bonding and Insurance Company (CBIC) (Seattle, WA). The outlook for all ratings is stable. All companies are domiciled in Peoria, IL, unless otherwise specified. (See below for a detailed listing of the companies.) The ratings take into consideration RLI Corp.’s first quarter 2013 earnings announcement and reflect RLI's sustained long-term operating profitability, superior capitalization and excellent business profile as one of the leading specialty property/casualty insurers in the United States. Due to its focus as an accomplished niche underwriting company, RLI has been able to maintain its strong operating results through concentrating on markets that are often underserved, which helps somewhat insulate it from the different stages of the traditional property/casualty market cycle. The ratings also reflect the financial flexibility afforded by RLI Corp., as well as its modest financial leverage and strong fixed charge coverage. At March 31, 2013, RLI Corp.’s debt-to-capital ratio (excluding other comprehensive income /loss) stood at a modest 12.9%. Partially offsetting these favorable rating factors is RLI’s above average equity leverage and the resulting susceptibility of earnings to the volatility of the financial markets. The rating affirmations of CBIC acknowledge its strong risk-adjusted capitalization, historically profitable operating and underwriting results, demonstrated expertise in the surety and small contractor market and the benefits derived from its affiliation with RLI. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors is CBIC’s limited business profile and the slight decline in its core profitability trends over the last couple of years as a result of soft market conditions.
A.M. Best believes that RLI is well positioned at its current rating level. Key rating drivers that could lead to downward rating pressures is deterioration in RLI's underwriting performance and a significant decline in its risk-adjusted capitalization.The FSR of A+ (Superior) and ICRs of “aa” have been affirmed for the following members of RLI Group:
- Mt. Hawley Insurance Company
- RLI Indemnity Company
- RLI Insurance Company