OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A.M. Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A- (Excellent) from B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to “a-” from “bbb+” of Argus Insurance Company Limited (Argus Insurance) and Bermuda Life Insurance Company Limited (Bermuda Life). Each is a subsidiary of Argus Group Holdings Limited (Argus Group) [BSE: AGH.BH]. Concurrently, A.M. Best has upgraded the Long-Term ICR of Argus Group to “bbb-” from “bb+”. All companies are domiciled in Hamilton, Bermuda. The outlook for these Credit Ratings (ratings) has been revised to stable from positive.
The ratings reflect Argus Group’s balance sheet strength, which A.M. Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
The rating upgrades reflect Argus Group’s improved balance sheet strength and consistent favorable operating performance. Over the past several years, the company successfully de-risked its balance sheet with an improved quality of invested assets achieved via reduced exposure to Bermuda-based equities, underperforming mortgages, as well as lower intercompany receivables at the insurance entities. In addition, favorable earnings in health and property lines of business contribute to capital retention. As a result, the company’s risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), is very strong. The good capital position is somewhat lessened by ongoing shareholder’ dividends and occasional capital returned to the holding company.
A.M. Best notes that Argus Insurance’s employee benefits segment adds diversification and favorably contributes to net operating earnings. While an increase in health claims experience may pressure earnings over the near-term, A.M. Best expects Argus Insurance’s results to remain profitable. Argus Insurance garners strong market share in its health and property segments; however, the market for business in its primary market of Bermuda is limited and its competitors writing similar product lines all compete for the same eligible population. Its property business segment does have operations in the European Union, albeit a small percentage of business is derived from these operations.
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