AM Best has revised the outlooks to positive from stable and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) of “a-” of Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Co. (Michigan Millers) in Lansing, Michigan.
Concurrently, AM Best affirmed the FSR of A+ (Superior) and the Long-Term ICRs of “aa-” of Western National Mutual Insurance Co. in Edina, Minnesota, and its affiliates, collectively called Western National Insurance Pool (Western National). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) remains stable.
The ratings of Michigan Miller reflect its balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its marginal operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM). Michigan Millers’ ratings also benefit from support from its affiliation with Western National.
The revised outlooks for Michigan Millers’ ratings recognize the improved operating performance in three consecutive years following its affiliation with Western National in 2015. AM Best’s assessment of Michigan Millers’ operating performance as marginal is a function of the company’s historical, long-term performance. However, since its affiliation arrangement, the company reported improved operating earnings in each of the past three years through 2018, primarily driven by sound and growing investment income coupled with profitable underwriting results.
The improved underwriting performance is due largely to significant underwriting initiatives (generated by affiliation arrangement) such as; exiting the personal lines book of business and a managing general agency relationship, freezing the defined pension benefit plan and strengthening of loss reserves, as well as reinsurance protection for its personal lines run-off book of business from Western National.
Additionally, the ratings reflect Michigan Millers’ very strong balance sheet strength, based on its strongest level of risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), conservative investment portfolio, improving liquidity measures and comprehensive reinsurance program, which is offset partially with the company’s limited financial flexibility and scale.
The ratings also reflect Michigan Millers’ limited business profile, which is due to the limited geographical spread in Michigan and New York, which exposes the company to weather events, as well as potential judicial and regulatory challenges.
Western National is a super-regional carrier with well-diversified geographic representation and product risk spread, as the group underwrites a variety of commercial and personal lines products in 20 states.
The FSR of A+ (Superior) and the Long-Term ICRs of “aa-“, each with a stable outlook have been affirmed for the members of Western National Insurance Pool.
Source: AM Best
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