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Insurance ratings actions: S&P affirms UnitedHealth, National Western Life

S&P Global Market Intelligence compiles ratings actions in the insurance space daily through 5 p.m. ET. Actions after 5 p.m. ET will be included in the following day's roundup.

U.S. and Canada

A.M. Best affirmed the financial strength rating of B- and the long-term issuer credit rating of "bb-" of Southern General Insurance Co.

The ratings reflect the company's balance sheet strength, which A.M. Best categorizes as adequate, as well as its weak operating performance, limited business profile and marginal enterprise risk management.

The outlook was revised to positive from stable, reflecting the improvement in operating performance in the past few years caused by underwriting initiatives to improve rate adequacy and risk selection.

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A.M. Best upgraded the financial strength rating to A- from B++ and the long-term issuer credit rating to "a-" from "bbb+" of Brookfield Annuity Co., a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. The outlook remains stable.

The ratings reflect the company's balance sheet strength, which A.M. Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

The upgrade of the long-term issuer credit rating reflects Brookfield Annuity's ability to execute on its business plan, including posting positive earnings in 2018 and good underlying business fundamentals.

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Fitch Ratings assigned a new long-term issuer default rating of A- to Employers Mutual Casualty Co. The outlook is stable.

The rating agency ranks the company's business profile as moderate relative to other U.S. nonlife insurance companies. The company has a very strong capital position, and its investment portfolio is conservatively managed and has high asset quality and strong liquidity characteristics, according to Fitch.

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S&P Global Ratings affirmed the A+/A-1 issuer credit rating of UnitedHealth Group Inc. and the AA- long-term issuer credit and financial strength ratings of the insurer's core insurance subsidiaries.

The outlook is stable, taking into account the rating agency's expectation that the company will generate strong operating results from 2019 until 2020.

UnitedHealth's key rating strengths include its unmatched scale and business diversity in the U.S. managed care and healthcare services sectors, and its unique strategic and medical/operating cost advantages from its UnitedHealthcare and Optum businesses, S&P Global Ratings said.

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S&P Global Ratings downgraded the long-term issuer credit rating to BBB- from BBB of Ohio National Financial Services Inc. and the long-term issuer credit and insurer financial strength ratings of the company's core subsidiaries to A- from A.

The outlook is negative, reflecting the rating agency's continued uncertainty regarding Ohio National's operating performance and its limited financial flexibility related to future capital needs.

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S&P Global Ratings affirmed the A- insurer financial strength and long-term issuer credit ratings of National Western Life Insurance Co.

The outlook is stable due to the rating agency's projection that the company can maintain its capital and results in line with peers while it focuses on the U.S. foreign national market.

The ratings action comes after S&P Global Ratings' annual review of the company.

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S&P Global Ratings affirmed the AA- ratings of Chevron Corp. subsidiaries Iron Horse Insurance Co. and Traders Insurance Ltd.

The outlook is stable, reflecting that of Chevron and the rating agency's expectation that Chevron's operations and financial performance will maintain at current levels anticipated for the rating.

The affirmation considers S&P Global Ratings' view that the companies are highly strategic subsidiaries of the parent.

Europe

Moody's affirmed the A2 insurance financial strength ratings of Aspen Insurance UK Ltd. and Aspen Bermuda Ltd. The outlook stays negative.

The affirmation considers the significant and credible actions the group has taken to enhance its underwriting performance, as well as the meaningful reduction in natural catastrophe exposure, both in absolute terms and relative to capital, Moody's said.

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S&P Global Ratings affirmed the BBB+ long-term insurer financial strength and issuer credit ratings of U.K.-based Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Ltd.

The outlook is stable, reflecting the rating agency's view that the company's capital adequacy will strengthen due to the proceeds from the sale of its general insurance business, and will stabilize afterward.

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S&P Global Ratings affirmed the A- long-term insurer financial strength and issuer credit ratings of Norway's Storebrand Livsforsikring AS and the BBB+ issuer credit rating of Storebrand group holding company Storebrand ASA.

The outlook is stable, considering the rating agency's expectation that the Storebrand group will be able to defend its strong position in the Norwegian life and pension market, specifically in the occupational sector.

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S&P Global Ratings affirmed the A- insurer financial strength and issuer credit ratings of U.K.-based Ecclesiastical Insurance Office PLC.

The outlook is stable, taking into consideration the rating agency's expectation that Ecclesiastical Insurance will maintain its strong underwriting and investment performance while it continues its strategy to build on its favorable brand and reputation in its core markets over the next two years.

Ecclesiastical Insurance's ratings reflect its very strong capital position, sound brand recognition and dominant position in the specialist commercial nonlife insurance business lines in the U.K., including faith, real estate, and education insurance, S&P Global Ratings said. The rating agency also sees the company's good underwriting performance favorably.

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S&P Global Ratings affirmed the A long-term insurer financial strength and issuer credit ratings of Norwegian Hull Club following a change in criteria.

The outlook is stable, signifying that the company has differentiated its operating performance from that of its peers through the strength of its brand and its business mix.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.

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