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A.M. Best Insurance Rating. What Does it Mean and Why You Should Care?

Amalgamated rated A- by AM BestSummary:

At Amalgamated, we recognize that our customers are looking for the best commercial insurance possible. That is why we take pride in our A.M. Best A- rating. Founded in 1899, A.M. Best is a credit rating organization dedicated specifically to rating the insurance industry. A.M. Best issues financial strength ratings measuring insurance companies’ ability to pay claims and measure risk. Amalgamated Casualty Insurnace Company has been rated by AM Best since 1961.

 

The article below originally appeared on the Insurance Industry Institute website and broadly explains rating scales of the five independent agencies. A.M. Best is the only global credit rating agency with a unique focus on the insurance industry. 

How to assess the financial strength of an insurance company

Five independent agencies—A.M. Best, Fitch, Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA), Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s—rate the financial strength of insurance companies. Each has its own rating scale, its own rating standards, its own population of rated companies, and its own distribution of companies across its scale. Each agency uses numbers or plusses and minuses to indicate minor variations in rating from another rating class.

The agencies disagree often enough so that you should consider a company’s rating from two or more agencies before judging whether to buy or keep a policy from that company. Moreover, agencies will announce changes of ratings on any day. It’s probably prudent to check annually on the ratings of any company you’re interested in.

Some points for using the ratings:

  • Don’t rely only on what the insurance companies say about their ratings from these agencies. Companies are likely to highlight a higher rating from one agency and ignore a lower one from another agency, or to select the most favorable comments from a rating agency’s report.
  • To use the ratings from more than one independent agency, you need to understand that each agency’s rating code is different from the others. For example, an A+ from A.M. Best is the next-to-top rating of its 15 categories, but an A+ from Fitch, Kroll or S&P is their 5th-highest rating (out of 24 categories for Fitch, 22 categories for Kroll and out of 19 categories for S&P). Moreover, Moody’s doesn’t have an A+ rating.

However, the ratings can be classified into “secure” and “vulnerable” mega-categories.

Ratings Agency Contact Information

All of the ratings agencies can be found on the Web or reached by phone.

Agency

Website

Address

Phone number

A.M. Best Company, Inc

www.ambest.com

Ambest Rd.
Oldwick, NJ 08858

908-439-2200

Fitch Ratings

www.fitchibca.com

1 State Street Plaza
New York, NY 10004

1-800-75-FITCH

Kroll Bond Rating
Agency, Inc. (KBRA)

www.kbra.com

845 Third Avenue, 8th Fl
New York, NY 10022

646-731-2368

Moody’s Investor Services*

www.moodys.com

99 Church Street
New York, NY 10007

212-553-0300

Standard & Poor’s
Insurance Ratings
Services*

www2.standardandpoors.com

55 Water Street
New York, NY 10004

212-438-2000

*To use these Web sites, you have to register, but the service is free.