Fitch Completes Insurance Notching Review for U.S. Life Insurance

CHICAGO--()--Fitch Ratings has completed a portfolio review covering 28 life insurance groups within the U.S. Life Insurance sector. The review focused exclusively on the application of Fitch's recently updated notching criteria for the insurance industry. Its purpose was to identify any ratings that should be changed as a result of the application of the updated notching criteria.

SUMMARY OF RATING ACTIONS

The review resulted in 28 life insurance group rating affirmations.

A link to a summary report that details all of the rating actions taken as part of the portfolio review is available at the end of this release.

The linked summary report includes:

--A full list of ratings and related rating actions;

--A hyperlink to each rated entity's ratings summary page on the Fitch website;

--Primary analyst and secondary analyst contact information;

--Participation status.

Fitch published updated insurance notching criteria on July 14, 2015, following publication of an initial exposure draft of proposed criteria on May 12, 2015. The updated notching criteria appear in Section VI of the insurance master criteria report 'Insurance Rating Methodology'.

Notching refers to the practice of establishing a given rating relative to a defined 'anchor' rating, using guidelines linked to certain characteristics of the rating that is being notched. For Fitch's insurance ratings, the Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating is the initial anchor rating, and other ratings that are notched relative to it include Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of operating and holding companies, and debt/hybrid obligation ratings.

Fitch updated its notching criteria in light of changes in the regulatory landscape, including the movement in Europe and other jurisdictions to Solvency 2 or a Solvency 2-type regulatory framework. As a result, from a global perspective, notching changes are more pronounced in Europe and other such jurisdictions, and more limited in the U.S. and similarly regulated countries.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

For this ratings review, the key rating driver was the impact of updated notching criteria. See most recently published rating action commentaries or research reports for additional information on other Key Ratings Drivers pertinent to specific entity ratings.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

Not applicable to this portfolio review given its limited focus on implementation of updated notching criteria. See most recently published rating action commentaries or research reports for additional information on Rating Sensitivities pertinent to specific entity ratings.

PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED ENTITIES

While included in the U.S. Life Insurance sector, the ratings for the following groups were not reviewed as part of the portfolio review. These entities' ratings were previously updated to reflect the new notching criteria, with details available via the rating action commentary links below.

--Sagicor Financial Corporation (July 23, 2015)

www.fitchratings.com/site/fitch-home/pressrelease?id=988397

--Aegon N.V. (Aug. 3, 2015)

www.fitchratings.com/site/fitch-home/pressrelease?id=988937

--Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (Aug. 5, 2015)

www.fitchratings.com/site/fitch-home/pressrelease?id=989051

--New York Life Insurance Company (Aug. 11, 2015)

www.fitchratings.com/site/fitch-home/pressrelease?id=989328

--Great-West Lifeco (Aug. 19, 2015)

www.fitchratings.com/site/fitch-home/pressrelease?id=989685

--Manulife Financial Corporation (Aug. 19, 2015)

www.fitchratings.com/site/fitch-home/pressrelease?id=989670

--Sun Life Financial Inc. (Aug. 19, 2015)

www.fitchratings.com/site/fitch-home/pressrelease?id=989666

LIMITATIONS

The portfolio review was limited in scope, and only included an assessment of updated notching criteria as outlined in Section VI (Notching: Debt, Hybrid, IFS Rating and Holding Companies) of Fitch's insurance master criteria. None of the factors outlined in Section I (Key Rating Factors) of the master criteria, or any other elements discussed in the master criteria, were reviewed. Where relevant, Fitch considered the appropriateness of the relative ranking of ratings in the U.S. Life Insurance sector, after initial consideration of updated notching guidelines, as part of the portfolio review.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com

The following issuer(s) did not participate in the rating process, or provide additional information, beyond the issuer's available public disclosure: Genworth Life Insurance Companies, StanCorp Financial Group, Inc.

Fitch Completes Insurance Notching Review for U.S. Life Insurance

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=870097

Applicable Criteria

Global Non-Bank Financial Institutions Rating Criteria (pub. 28 Apr 2015)

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=865351

Insurance Rating Methodology (pub. 14 Jul 2015)

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=868367

Additional Disclosures

Dodd-Frank Rating Information Disclosure Form

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/press_releases/content/ridf_frame.cfm?pr_id=989733

Solicitation Status

https://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=989733

Endorsement Policy

https://www.fitchratings.com/jsp/creditdesk/PolicyRegulation.faces?context=2&detail=31

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.

Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Committee Chairperson
Keith M. Buckley, CFA
Managing Director
+1-312-368-3211
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
70 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60602
or
Media Relations:
Alyssa Castelli, +1-212-908-0540
alyssa.castelli@fitchratings.com

Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Committee Chairperson
Keith M. Buckley, CFA
Managing Director
+1-312-368-3211
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
70 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60602
or
Media Relations:
Alyssa Castelli, +1-212-908-0540
alyssa.castelli@fitchratings.com