OLDWICK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AM Best has revised the outlook to stable from positive for the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICR) and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term ICRs of “bbb” of Wisconsin Reinsurance Corporation (WRC) and 1st Auto & Casualty Insurance Company (1st Auto), collectively referred to as Wisconsin Reinsurance Group (WRG) (Madison, Wisconsin). The outlook of the FSR is stable.
The Credit Ratings (ratings) reflect WRG’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).
The revised Long-Term ICR outlook reflects surplus declines in recent years driven by the negative impact of weather-related events and continued below-average performance in the automobile insurance book of business.
WRG’s strong balance sheet strength is supported by the strongest level of risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), and high quality investment portfolio. These strengths are partially offset by elevated underwriting leverage metrics relative to peers, primarily driven by above-average premium leverage and higher reinsurance dependence, as measured by ceded leverage. Additional offsetting factors include limited financial flexibility, with surplus growth tempered by stockholder dividend payments and changes in nonadmitted assets.
WRG’s adequate operating performance reflects pretax operating income reported in four of the last five years, with 2019 being the outlier as severe weather-related events swept across central and northern Wisconsin and influenced results. Additionally, recent performance has been pressured by declining profitability in reinsured business written by client companies, as well as continued weak performance in the direct auto insurance book. The limited business profile reflects the group’s geographic concentration in the Midwest and susceptibility to weather-related losses operating as a reinsurance provider to mutual insurance companies. AM Best considers the ERM framework and risk management capabilities appropriate for the risk profile of the organization. The group’s exposure to severe weather events is partially mitigated through a comprehensive reinsurance program that includes a diversified panel of high quality reinsurers.
This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media – Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.
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