OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A.M. Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICR) of “a-” of State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company (State Auto) and its operating subsidiaries. Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the Long-Term ICR of “bbb-” of State Auto’s intermediate holding company, State Auto Financial Corporation (STFC) (NASDAQ:STFC). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. All the above companies are headquartered in Columbus, OH. (See below for a listing of the companies.)
The ratings reflect State Auto's strong risk-adjusted capitalization, long-standing regional market presence, well-established agency relationships, solid brand name recognition and diversified product offerings. State Auto’s capital position is derived from its sound overall liquidity position and manageable catastrophe exposure, partially offset by above-average underwriting and common stock leverage. State Auto also benefits from its software technology, which further enhances and cultivates agency relationships while improving overall operating efficiencies. The ratings also reflect the financial flexibility and access to capital through State Auto Financial Corporation, State Auto's publicly traded intermediate holding company.
These positive rating factors are offset by State Auto’s exposure to localized tornadoes/hail storms and hurricane activity, as well as its moderately adverse reserve development reported in recent accident and calendar years. The increased frequency and severity of storm losses in 2012 and again in 2016 adversely impacted State Auto’s underwriting profitability, overall earnings and surplus position. However, these exposures are mitigated through a comprehensive reinsurance program, as well as underwriting initiatives aimed at reducing catastrophe exposures. Adverse loss reserve development has been driven partially by greater-than-expected losses in the group’s specialty lines commercial trucking and commercial restaurant programs, which are now in run-off. To mitigate further adverse development in the commercial restaurant program, the company purchased an adverse development cover with $40 million of coverage at the end of 2014. More recent adverse loss reserve development has been driven primarily by higher severity in the lines of business with auto exposures. Underwriting results also remain pressured by the company’s above-average underwriting expense ratio, which primarily relates to higher agents’ commissions.
A.M. Best believes that upward rating movement at this time is unlikely. Negative rating actions could occur if there is a sustained deterioration in underwriting or operating results, an occurrence of a sudden large or catastrophic loss event that materially hinders risk-adjusted capitalization or if there is any material deviation from the company’s submitted financial projections.
The FSR of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICRs of “a-” have been affirmed for the following operating subsidiaries of State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company:
- State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company
- Milbank Insurance Company
- State Auto Insurance Company of Ohio
- Patrons Mutual Insurance Company of Connecticut
- Meridian Security Insurance Company
- State Auto Insurance Company of Wisconsin
- Rockhill Insurance Company
- Plaza Insurance Company
- American Compensation Insurance Company
- Bloomington Compensation Insurance Company
This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on A.M. Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see A.M. Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Understanding Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and A.M. Best press releases, please view Guide for Media - Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and A.M. Best Rating Action Press Releases.
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