A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A++ (Superior) of the property/casualty subsidiaries of The Chubb Corporation (Chubb) and has affirmed the issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “aa-” and “aa+” of Chubb and Federal Insurance Company, respectively. A.M. Best has also assigned ICRs of “aa+” to the other property/casualty subsidiaries of Chubb.
Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the existing senior debt ratings of “aa-” of Chubb and Chubb Executive Risk Inc, the “a+” of the capital securities of Executive Risk Capital Trust and the AMB-1+ on the commercial paper of Chubb. All companies are headquartered in Warren, N.J. Additionally, A.M. Best has affirmed the indicative ratings on securities to be issued under Chubb’s shelf registration. All ratings have a stable outlook.
The FSR of each of Chubb’s member companies reflects their respective roles within the group and their contributions which, in collaboration, are viewed to be integral to Chubb’s overall worldwide business strategy. The rating is reflective of the group’s solid capitalization, substantially improved operating performance in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and favorable prospects for 2006.
The rating also considers Chubb’s well-recognized global franchise, strong market position and sustainable competitive advantage in its specialty insurance and upscale personal lines businesses. The rating also recognizes the group’s proven financial flexibility, long-standing producer relationships and disciplined capital and liquidity management.
These positive factors are partially offset by Chubb’s unfavorable–albeit declining–prior year loss reserve development in each of the past four years; exposure to potential future professional liability claims given its significant market share in this business; susceptibility to catastrophes (including acts of terrorism); and the continued emergence of asbestos and environmental claims.
Furthermore, Chubb as well as other insurers and brokers have received subpoenas and other information requests over the past two years from attorneys general in several states and regulators relating to certain business practices.
Despite these factors, A.M. Best considers Chubb favorably positioned and sufficiently well-capitalized to absorb these challenges and those posed by current softening property/casualty markets, both in the United States and abroad.
Chubb’s current liquidity is significant with approximately $2.0 billion of liquid funds held at Dec. 31, 2005. Its debt-to-total capital ratio at year-end was moderate at 16.6%, down from 21.7% at year-end 2004. Chubb’s planned share repurchase program in 2006 will lower its level of liquid funds, though to a level that still should be substantial–well in excess of $1 billion–at year-end.
Given Chubb’s favorable prospects in 2006, its debt-to-total capital ratio should be relatively unaffected.
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