Standard & Poor’s has revised its outlook on Markel Corp. (Markel), Markel International Insurance Co. Ltd., and Markel’s U.S. insurance subsidiaries to positive from negative because of the historically strong underwriting results of Markel’s U.S. insurance operations, the company’s position as a leading writer in the U.S. surplus lines market, and adequate operating company capitalization.
It also affirmed its ‘BBB-’ counterparty credit rating on Markel, its ‘A-’ counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on Markel’s U.S. insurance subsidiaries, and its ‘BBB-’ counterparty credit and
financial strength ratings on Markel International Insurance Co. Ltd.
“Partially offsetting these strengths are the parent’s relatively low
fixed charge coverage ratio, and the lingering impact on performance of Markel International, the London operations acquired in 2000 with the purchase of Terra Nova (Bermuda) Holdings Ltd.,” observed credit analyst John Iten.
Earnings, fixed charge coverage, and capitalization measures are expected to improve during 2003, as Markel benefits from the continued strong pricing environment in the property/casualty market and the reunderwriting of its London book of business. The combined ratio for the U.S. operations is expected to improve to about 90 percent in 2003 and remain strong into 2004.
Markel International’s continuing operations should approach underwriting profitability, while discontinued operations should be less of a drag on overall profitability.