- A.M. Best's Ratings System
A. M. Best Co. is the oldest insurance rating agency in the world and has been reporting on the financial condition of insurance companies since 1899. It has been assigning an alphabetic rating scale to insurance companies since 1976. Best's evaluates a company's Relative Financial Strength and overall performance in comparison with others. Best's ratings should not be taken as a guaranty of any insurer's current or future ability to meet its contractual obligations.
A. M. Best's rating is assigned after evaluating a company's financial condition and operating performance both in qualitative and quantitative terms. Quantitative evaluation examines (1) profitability, (2) leverage, (3) liquidity, (4) reserve adequacy, and (5) reinsurance. Qualitative evaluation is based on (1) spread of risk, (2) soundness and appropriates of reinsurance, (3) quality and diversification of assets, (4) adequacy of policy reserves, and (5) adequacy of surplus, (6) capital structure, and (7) management experience. Ratings are reviewed both on an annual and a quarterly basis.
The rating scale uses letter grades ranging from A++ (Superior), the highest, to F (In Liquidation), the lowest. The letter grade can also have a modifier that qualifies it. The A++ highest rating is based on a company's favorable comparison of profitability, leverage, and liquidity with industry norms; favorable experience from mortality, lapses, and expenses; quality and diversification of investment portfolio; strong policy reserves and a surplus to risk ratio that is above that for the average life insurance company. Also examined are the amount and soundness of its reinsurance and the competence and experience of management.
The rating categories and modifiers are as follows:
|E||Under Regulatory Supervision|
|Not Rated Designation|
|NR||Assigned to companies that are not rated by A.M.Best.|
Ratings and reports on individual companies are available from A.M. Best.