Best's Review

A.M. BEST'S MONTHLY INSURANCE MAGAZINE



Leaders
Standing the Test of Time

Several auto insurers have joined the ranks of companies that have maintained a Best’s Financial Strength Rating of A or higher for at least 50 years.
  • Lori Chordas
  • July 2018
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Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, one of the largest U.S. auto insurers, is among the 11 property/casualty companies that have joined the ranks of insurers that have maintained an A or higher Best’s Financial Strength Rating for at least 50 years.

Progressive Mutual, which was founded in 1937, formed Progressive Casualty in 1956 to write auto insurance for high-risk drivers. The insurer has steadily grown over the years, thanks to innovations such as comparison rates and round-the-clock customer and claims services, by its parent company, Progressive. Progressive was the first major auto insurer in the world to launch a website. In 1996, customers could begin obtaining comparison rates online, and the following year, they could purchase auto policies online in real time.

Property/Casualty Insurers Rated A or Higher for 75 Years

AMB# Company Name Rated A or Higher Since Rating
002349 AIG Property Casualty Co 1928 A
002176 American Automobile Ins Co 1933 A+
002022 American Family Mutual Ins Co, S.I. 1939 A
002177 The American Insurance Co 1934 A+
002287 American States Insurance Co 1930 A
002162 Amica Mutual Insurance Co 1922 A+
002178 Associated Indemnity Corporation 1939 A+
002054 Cambridge Mutual Fire Ins Co 1935 A+
002128 Continental Casualty Co 1922 A
002249 COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Co 1931 A+
000228 CSAA Insurance Exchange 1927 A
002276 Economy Fire & Casualty Co 1939 A
000348 Erie Insurance Exchange 1939 A+
002097 Euler Hermes North America Ins Co 1922 A+
000371 Farmers Mutual Ins Co of Nebraska 1922 A
002084 Federal Insurance Company 1907 A++
000384 Federated Mutual Ins Co 1934 A+
000387 Fidelity and Deposit Co of Maryland 1922 A+
002179 Fireman’s Fund Ins Co 1924 A+
002446 First National Ins Co of America 1929 A
002447 General Ins Co of America 1926 A
002198 General Reinsurance Corporation 1928 A++
000414 Germantown Mutual Ins Co 1923 A
002360 Granite State Ins Co 1925 A
002213 Great American Ins Co 1908 A+
002085 Great Northern Ins Co 1923 A++
002230 Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co 1922 A+
002229 Hartford Casualty Ins Co 1930 A+
002231 Hartford Fire Ins Co 1907 A+
000465 The Hartford Steam Boiler I & I Co 1922 A++
002232 Hartford Underwriters Ins Co 1926 A+
002361 Illinois National Ins Co 1937 A
002035 The Insurance Co of the State of PA 1934 A
000558 Lititz Mutual Ins Co 1932 A
002055 Merrimack Mutual Fire Ins Co 1920 A+
000662 Montgomery Mutual Ins Co 1925 A
000149 Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. 1923 A+
003260 Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia 1933 A
002129 National Fire Ins Co of Hartford 1914 A
002182 National Surety Corporation 1937 A+
002351 National Union Fire Ins Co of Pittsburgh, Pa. 1934 A
002357 Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins Co 1938 A+
002358 Nationwide Mutual Ins Co 1929 A+
002363 New Hampshire Ins Co 1907 A
000694 New Jersey Manufacturers Ins Co 1934 A+
000700 New York Central Mutual Fire Ins Co 1936 A
002381 Ohio Farmers Ins Co 1935 A
003152 Otsego Mutual Fire Ins Co 1938 A+
002385 Pacific Indemnity Co 1928 A++
002394 Peerless Ins Co 1922 A
000320 Pharmacists Mutual Ins Co 1922 A
003112 Philadelphia Contrib for Ins 1922 A
000796 Quincy Mutual Fire Ins Co 1922 A+
002452 St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins Co 1926 A++
000826 Selective Ins Co of America 1930 A
002477 State Farm Fire and Casualty Company 1939 A++
002479 State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins Co 1929 A++
002131 Transportation Ins Co 1941 A
000918 Tri-State Ins Co of Minnesota 1927 A+
002359 21st Century Pacific Ins Co 1936 A
002235 Twin City Fire Ins Co 1921 A+
000934 United Services Automobile Assn 1927 A++
002086 Vigilant Ins Co 1943 A++
000974 Western Surety Co 1935 A
002382 Westfield Ins Co 1934 A
000347 Westport Ins Corporation 1922 A+

Source: A.M. Best data and research. Ratings as of May 16, 2018

In 2017, Progressive Casualty had more than $6.5 billion in net premiums and $8.4 billion in total admitted assets, according to A.M. Best. Last year, more than half of its business was in private passenger auto liability and 34% was devoted to the auto physical line.

Along with Progressive Casualty, several other insurers with sizable auto books of business have been added to the list of companies that have each maintained an A or higher rating since 1968. They include American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin, Grange Mutual Casualty and Mercury Casualty Co.

Other members of that group are American Commerce Insurance Co., Auto-Owners Insurance Co. and St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co.

Other property/casualty insurers that have kept their A or better Financial Strength Rating intact for at least 50 years or more include 21st Century Security Insurance Co., Hawkeye-Security Insurance, Hiscox Insurance Co. Inc. and Great American Alliance Insurance Co.

On the life side, American General Life Insurance Co., a unit of American International Group, has maintained an A or higher rating since 1968. It was incorporated in 1960 in Texas.

Vigilant Insurance Co. has joined the list of insurers on the property/casualty side with an A or better rating for 75 consecutive years. The company has maintained an A+ or higher rating since 1943.

Overall, 75 companies—57 property/casualty writers and 18 life/health insurers—have stood the test of time by retaining a Best’s Financial Strength Rating of A or higher for at least 50 consecutive years. Eighty-three companies—66 property/casualty insurers and 17 life/health insurers—have kept their A or higher rating intact for 75 years or more.

The insurance industry faces many challenges including market shifts, mergers, financial crises, natural and man-made disasters, regulation and disintermediation. But the 158 companies that have stood the test have ridden the waves of change and succeeded against those odds.

Of the auto insurers, the oldest is Auto-Owners, founded in 1916 by Vern V. Moulton and four of his associates in one room of the Commercial Block Building in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The company wrote exclusively in the state until 1935 when it entered Indiana.

In 1917, Auto-Owners had one book of policyholder names and $174.25 in assets. Today, the mutual insurer writes auto, home, business and life insurance in 26 states and has 2.7 million policyholders. Last year, the company had nearly $3.6 billion in net premiums and more than $15 billion in total admitted assets, according to A.M. Best.

Property/Casualty Insurers Rated A or Higher for 50 Years

AMB# Company Name Rated A or Higher Since Rating
002005 Alfa Mutual Insurance Company 1953 A
002014 AMCO Insurance Company 1960 A+
002186 America First Insurance Company 1966 A
002127 American Casualty Co of Reading, PA 1949 A
002065 American Commerce Ins Co 1968 A
002286 American Economy Ins Co 1960 A
002034 American Home Assurance Co 1944 A
002049 American Security Ins Co 1952 A
002023 American Standard Ins Co of Wisconsin 1967 A
002290 American States Ins Co of Texas 1956 A
000188 Auto-Owners Ins Co 1968 A++
000203 Barnstable County Mutual In Co 1949 A
002053 Bay State Ins Co 1956 A+
000259 Church Mutual Ins Co 1951 A
000258 The Cincinnati Ins Co 1955 A+
004000 Commerce and Industry Ins Co 1958 A
000971 Continental Western Ins Co 1951 A+
000355 Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co of Idaho 1959 A
000354 Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Ins Co 1946 A
002395 The Farmers Automobile Ins Assn 1960 A
003073 Generali (United States Branch) 1957 A
000422 Grange Mutual Casualty Co 1968 A
003521 Great American Alliance Ins Co 1967 A+
002004 Great American Assurance Co 1951 A+
002210 Great American Ins Co of NY 1949 A+
000464 Hastings Mutual Ins Co 1961 A
000900 Hawkeye-Security Ins Co 1968 A
003030 Hiscox Ins Co Inc. 1967 A
002542 Inland Ins Co 1966 A
000540 Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co 1949 A
002350 Lexington Ins Co 1966 A
002284 Lightning Rod Mutual Ins Co 1962 A
000594 Merchants Bonding Co (Mutual) 1958 A
000595 Mercury Casualty Co 1967 A+
002323 The Midwestern Indemnity Co 1956 A
002540 Mount Vernon Fire Ins Co 1960 A++
002428 National Fire & Marine Ins Co 1954 A++
002429 National Indemnity Co 1953 A++
002393 The Netherlands Ins Co 1949 A
000708 North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co 1963 A
000714 North Star Mutual Ins Co 1953 A+
003111 Philadelphia Contributionship Ins Co 1961 A
000860 Pioneer State Mutual Ins Co 1962 A+
002407 Progressive Casualty Ins Co 1967 A+
002448 Safeco Ins Co of America 1955 A
002453 St. Paul Mercury Ins Co 1968 A++
002050 Standard Guaranty Ins Co 1962 A
002476 State Farm County Mutual Ins Co of Texas 1961 A++
003263 Swiss Reinsurance America Corporation 1945 A+
000886 Tennessee Farmers Mutual Ins Co 1954 A+
000577 21st Century Security Ins Co 1968 A
002532 Union Ins Co 1951 A+
002541 United States Liability Ins Co 1955 A++
002543 Universal Surety Company 1952 A
002297 Universal Underwriters Ins Co 1955 A+
002132 Valley Forge Ins Co 1950 A
002285 Western Reserve Mutual Casualty Co 1960 A

Source: A.M. Best data and research. Ratings as of May 16, 2018

Auto-Owners Insurance Group is the 14th-largest U.S. property/casualty insurer based on 2017 net premiums written, according to A.M. Best.

Auto-Owners consists of five property/casualty companies and a life/health/annuity carrier. Auto-Owners Insurance Life Co. was formed in 1966. In 2017, the life company had $37 billion of life insurance in force. It nets more than 48,000 applications annually.

American Commerce is the largest auto insurer in Massachusetts. The company was founded as the Automobile Club Insurance Co. in 1946 to write personal lines insurance.

American Commerce is a unit of Madrid-based Fundación Mapfre. It is one of five American subsidiaries selling insurance under the Mapfre brand name. American Commerce writes auto, conversion vehicle, golf cart, motorcycle, recreational vehicle, home and renters insurance.

Last year, American Commerce had more than $340 million in assets compared to $306 million in 2013, according to A.M. Best. Net premiums climbed from $168 million in 2013 to $194 million last year.

In 2017, nearly half of American Commerce’s business was in private passenger auto liability, with $93.8 million in net premiums in the line. Auto physical damage made up more than one-third of its business, with more than $74 million in net premiums last year.

St. Paul Mercury is a unit of Travelers Group—the 6th-largest U.S. property/casualty insurer based on 2017 net premiums written, according to A.M. Best. St. Paul Mercury was founded in 1964.

Today, the fire and casualty insurer writes auto, health, home, boat, airplane and business insurance. Last year, St. Paul Mercury had $341 million in total admitted assets, $31 million in direct premiums and $116 million in policyholders’ surplus, A.M. Best reports. About 13% of its 2017 business was in private passenger auto liability and 10.5% was in auto physical damage.

Vigilant, based in New York, was founded in 1939 as the Reserve Insurance Co. to provide general fire and marine insurance business. It was renamed Vigilant Insurance Co. in May 1941.

In 1969, the company became part of The Chubb Group. Ace Ltd. acquired Chubb Corp. in January 2016 and adopted the Chubb name globally. Chubb (AMB # 018498) is the 11th-largest U.S. property/casualty insurer based on 2017 net premiums written, according to A.M. Best.

Life/Health Insurers Rated A or Higher for 75 Years

AMB# Company Name Rated A or Higher Since Rating
006087 American National Ins Co 1941 A
006183 The Canada Life Assurance Company 1939 A+
006244 Columbus Life Ins Co 1938 A+
006294 COUNTRY Life Ins Co 1933 A+
006664 The Lincoln National Life Ins Co 1940 A+
006688 The Manufacturers Life Ins Co 1939 A+
006695 Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins Co 1939 A++
006704 Metropolitan Life Ins Co 1928 A+
006724 Minnesota Life Ins Co 1940 A+
006820 New York Life Ins Co 1928 A++
006845 The Northwestern Mutual Life Ins Co 1928 A++
006903 The Penn Mutual Life Ins Co 1928 A+
006150 Principal Life Ins Co 1928 A+
006962 Protective Life Ins Co 1940 A+
006974 The Prudential Ins Co of America 1928 A+
007069 Standard Ins Co 1928 A
007243 The Western and Southern Life Ins Co 1928 A+

Source: A.M. Best data and research. Ratings as of May 16, 2018

Today, Vigilant writes homeowners, commercial multiperil, workers’ compensation and a variety of other property/casualty lines. Vigilant sells its products through agents and brokers in the United States.

On the property/casualty side, three insurers stood the test of time with 111 consecutive years with an A or higher rating: Federal Insurance Co., Hartford Fire Insurance Co. and New Hampshire Insurance Co.

On the life/health side, four carriers have retained their A or higher rating for 91 consecutive years: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, Penn Mutual Life Insurance, Principal Life Insurance Co. and Prudential Insurance Company of America.

112-Year Tradition

For 112 years, A.M. Best has been issuing Financial Strength Ratings or opinions on the ability of individual insurers to pay claims on the coverage they have underwritten.

Life/Health Insurers Rated A or Higher for 50 Years

AMB# Company Name Rated A or Higher Since Rating
006058 American General Life Ins Co 1968 A
006109 American United Life Ins Co 1950 A+
006468 Banner Life Ins Co 1963 A+
006493 The Great-West Life Assurance Company 1945 A+
006508 Guardian Life Ins Co of America 1947 A++
006605 Kansas City Life Ins Co 1952 A
006629 Liberty National Life Ins Co 1958 A+
006812 Nationwide Life Ins Co 1954 A+
006852 The Ohio National Life Ins Co 1964 A+
006885 Pacific Life Ins Co 1959 A+
006846 ReliaStar Life Ins Co 1945 A u
007080 State Farm Life Ins Co 1954 A++
007101 Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada 1946 A+
007112 Teachers Ins and Annuity Assn of America 1964 A++
006742 Transamerica Premier Life Ins Co 1965 A+
007168 United Farm Family Life Ins Co 1961 A
007164 United of Omaha Life Ins Co 1956 A+
007192 United States Life Ins Co in the City of NY 1959 A

Source: A.M. Best data and research. Ratings as of May 16, 2018

A select group of carriers has consistently maintained strong Financial Strength Ratings for the past 50 and 75 years.

To identify the companies with the longest record of consistent financial strength, Best’s analysts pored over the rating agency’s proprietary data—primarily Best’s Key Rating Guides and Best’s Insurance Reports—to accumulate and verify ratings and other pertinent data dating back to 1905.

A.M. Best’s Rating Scale has changed over time in an ongoing effort to increasingly distinguish the relative financial strength of insurers and adapt to changes in the insurance industry.

Therefore, in certain circumstances it was necessary to translate or convert various older ratings to conform to the present rating scale. (Note that these translations do not represent any material change or re-evaluation of a company’s rating; they are merely a conversion from one scale to another.)

The original rating system, implemented in 1906, was devised by the company’s founder, Alfred M. Best.

In 1921, a new rating scale, General Policyholder Ratings, replaced the previously used Desirability Ratings, which applied only to property/casualty insurers.

Desirability Ratings consisted of two components: a loss-paying record, ranked on an alpha scale with "A" being the best; and a rating of management quality on a numeric scale with "1" being the best.

An Evolving Process

The rating scale adopted in 1932 had two components: the New Resource Rating, the forerunner of today’s Financial Size Category; and the General Policyholders Rating, which evolved into today’s Financial Strength Ratings.

From 1935 to 1975, A.M. Best did not assign letter ratings to life/health companies. Instead they had "comments."

In order to complete this rating history project, a translation was devised to convert these "comments" to equivalent letter ratings. For example, from 1935 to 1952, "More than Ample" was found to be equivalent to today’s "A" rating.

(Lori Chordas is a senior associate editor. She can be reached at lori.chordas@ambest.com.)


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