Ratings Roundup: State Auto/Hallmark, Claremont Liability

January 13, 2011

A.M. Best Co. has assigned a financial strength rating (FSR) of ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of “a-” to Ohio-based State Auto National Insurance Company, following its December 31, 2010 acquisition by Hallmark Insurance Company from State Auto Financial Corporation. The outlook assigned to both ratings is stable. The ratings “reflect the benefits State Auto National will receive as being a wholly owned subsidiary of Hallmark, which includes shared services, common board control and an improved geographic footprint,” Best explained. In addition, State Auto National’s name is expected to change in the near term, following regulatory approval, to reflect its new ownership by Hallmark. Furthermore, it is anticipated that State Auto National will be added to Hallmark Insurance Group’s inter-company pooling agreement. In addition Best said that the FSR of ‘A-‘ (Excellent) and ICRs of “a-” of Hallmark Group and its operating members and the ICR of “bbb-” of its holding company parent, Hallmark Financial Services, Inc. “are unchanged following the acquisition. The legal entity known as State Auto National was sold as a shell company to Hallmark. As a result, its previous FSR of ‘A+’ (Superior) and ICR of “aa-” with a negative outlook, have been withdrawn, and an NR-5 (Not Formally Followed) has been assigned to the FSR and an “nr” to the ICR. This legal entity was a member of the State Auto Insurance Companies.”

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of ‘B+’ (Good) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of “bbb-” of Oakland, Calif.-based Claremont Liability Insurance Company (CLIC), both with negative outlooks. Concurrently, Best withdrew the ratings and assigned a category NR-5 (Not Formally Followed) to the FSR and an “nr” to the ICR. Best noted that “on December 31, 2010, CLIC was purchased by Enstar Group Limited in an all cash transaction. CLIC was previously owned by Medical Insurance Exchange of California.”

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