OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A.M. Best has revised the outlook to positive from stable for the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A+ (Superior) and the Long-Term ICRs of “aa-” of The Cincinnati Insurance Company, the lead property/casualty company, and its subsidiaries, The Cincinnati Indemnity Company, The Cincinnati Casualty Company and The Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company (Wilmington, DE), which are collectively referred to as The Cincinnati Insurance Companies (CIC). The outlook of the FSR remains stable. Concurrently, A.M. Best has revised the outlooks to positive from stable and affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICR of “a+” of The Cincinnati Life Insurance Company (CLIC), the life insurance subsidiary of The Cincinnati Insurance Company. Finally, A.M. Best has revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the Long-Term ICR of “a-” and the Long-Term Issue Credit Ratings (Long-Term IR) of the companies’ publicly traded parent, Cincinnati Financial Corporation (CINF) (NASDAQ:CINF). All companies are domiciled in Fairfield, OH, except where specified.
The Credit Ratings (ratings) reflect CIC’s balance sheet strength, which A.M. Best categorizes as strongest, as well as its adequate operating performance, favorable business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. The rating affirmations also consider the historically conservative loss reserving standards that have resulted in recognition of the substantial favorable development of prior accident-year loss reserves. The ratings also reflect the group’s strong operating earnings, which have continued to improve in recent years. In addition, the ratings recognize the strong distribution network within its targeted regional markets that is centered on cultivating strong, long-term relationships with local independent insurance agencies. Lastly, CIC benefits from the financial flexibility afforded by CINF, which maintains modest financial leverage and is a source of additional liquidity through its access to capital markets and lines of credit.
The positive rating factors are partially offset by the variability in CIC’s earnings in certain lines of business, particularly its personal and commercial auto lines of business. The group continues to address the below-average performance on these lines of business and has recognized the need for re-underwriting, which includes rate increases and improving pricing precision, aided by utilization of predictive analytics. Additionally, CIC maintains high common stock leverage relative to its peers. While the stock holdings consist of diversified dividend-paying stocks that enhance investment income, they expose risk-adjusted capitalization to equity market fluctuations.
The revised outlooks reflect CIC’s continued improvement in underwriting and operating performance while maintaining the strongest level of risk-adjusted capitalization, as well as A.M. Best’s expectation that management’s recent underwriting initiatives will result in sustained improvement in underwriting and operating results.
The ratings of CLIC reflect its balance sheet strength, which A.M. Best categorizes as strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. The ratings also reflect CLIC’s role within the organization as the provider of life and annuity products. Over the last few years, the impact of new business strain resulted in statutory net operating losses, particularly relating to Regulation XXX reserve requirements on its term life products. However, strategic management of sales and increased product diversification have resulted in an improving trend of earnings. Additionally, the implementation of principles-based reserving eliminates the XXX requirements on new business, which is expected to improve profitability going forward. Operating losses resulted in material declines in absolute and risk-adjusted capital; however the balance sheet strength is qualitative enhanced by the company’s self-funding the XXX reserves.
The following Long-Term IRs have been affirmed with the outlook revised to positive from stable:
Cincinnati Financial Corporation—
-- “a-” on $28.0 million 6.90% senior unsecured debentures, due 2028
-- “a-” on $374 million 6.125% senior unsecured notes, due 2034
-- “a-” on $391 million 6.92% senior unsecured debentures, due 2028
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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