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Insurance ratings actions, Oct. 18

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Insurance ratings actions, Oct. 18

S&P Global Market Intelligence compiles ratings actions in the insurance space daily through 5:30 p.m. ET. Actions after 5:30 p.m. ET will be included in the following day's roundup.

Managed care

Fitch Ratings has affirmed UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s long-term issuer default rating at A.

In addition, Fitch has affirmed the AA- insurer financial strength ratings of the company's insurance subsidiaries and revised the outlook to stable from negative.

The subsidiaries are UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co., UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. of Illinois, UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. of New York, Sierra Health & Life Insurance Co. Inc., Health Plan of Nevada Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Florida Inc., PacifiCare of Arizona Inc., Oxford Health Insurance Inc., Oxford Health Plans of New York Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin Inc., UnitedHealthcare Benefits of Texas Inc., UHC of California, PacifiCare Life & Health Insurance Co. and UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley Inc.

The affirmation reflects the company's strong capitalization, leverage and very strong financial performance, Fitch said.

The outlook revision reflects Fitch's view that UnitedHealth will maintain average financial leverage ratios of 40% and debt-to-EBITDA below 2.0x.

Multiline

Moody's has placed on review for downgrade the Baa2 senior unsecured debt rating of Assurant Inc. and the A2 insurance financial strength ratings of Assurant's property and casualty insurance operating subsidiaries American Bankers Insurance Co. of Florida and American Security Insurance Co., along with the A3 insurance financial strength ratings of Assurant's life insurance subsidiaries American Bankers Life Assurance Co. of Florida and Union Security Insurance Co.

The outlooks of the companies were changed to rating under review from stable.

The ratings actions follow the announcement that Assurant has agreed to acquire Warranty Group Inc., a portfolio company of TPG Capital Management LP, in a deal valued at about $2.5 billion.

The review for downgrade of Assurant's ratings reflects Moody's view that the acquisition would increase the company's financial leverage, goodwill and intangibles. Moody's said the ratings are based on the group's strong market position in a number of niche, specialty property and casualty insurance markets.

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Following the announcement of the Warranty Group deal, S&P Global Ratings has also placed its BBB+ long-term issuer credit rating on Assurant on CreditWatch Negative and affirmed its A-2 short-term issuer credit rating.

The rating agency has also affirmed A long-term issuer credit rating and financial strength ratings on Assurant's core operating insurance subsidiaries American Bankers Insurance Co. of Florida, Union Security Insurance, American Security Insurance, American Memorial Life Insurance Co. and American Bankers Life Assurance Co. of Florida.

S&P views Assurant's planned acquisition favorably considering the combined prospective competitive position and operating performance. The agency sees the acquisition as materially improving Assurant's competitive position in the vehicle-protection business. Additionally, S&P believes that Assurant's earnings should benefit from the transaction as Warranty Group has a demonstrated record of strong underwriting and operating results.

Property and casualty

After the announcement that Assurant is acquiring Warranty Group, A.M. Best has placed under review with positive implications the financial strength rating of A- and the long-term issuer credit rating of "a-" of Warranty Group's subsidiary Virginia Surety Co. Inc.

The rating agency has also placed under review with developing implications the financial strength ratings of A- and the long-term issuer credit ratings of "a-" of Warranty Group's U.K.-based subsidiaries London General Insurance Co. Ltd. and London General Life Co. Ltd.

A.M. Best said the merger provides Virginia Surety with strategic synergies as well as the backing of an owner with a history of commitment to providing similar products and services. The ratings will remain under review pending closing of the transaction, the agency said.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.