AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A+ (Superior) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICR) of “aa-” (Superior) of National Life Insurance Company (NLIC) (Montpelier, VT) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Life Insurance Company of the Southwest (Addison, TX). Concurrently, AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term Issue Credit Ratings (Long-Term IRs) of “a” (Excellent) of the surplus notes of NLIC. Both companies are life insurance subsidiaries of NLV Financial Corporation (NLVF) (headquartered in Montpelier, VT), which is the intermediate holding company in the organization’s mutual holding company structure, and are collectively known as National Life Group (NL Group). AM Best also has affirmed the Long-Term ICR and the Long-Term IRs of “a-” (Excellent) of NLVF. The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. (See below for a detailed listing of the Long-Term IRs).
The ratings reflect NL Group’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong as well as its strong operating performance, favorable business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).
The ratings also indicate continued favorable trends in NL Group’s balance sheet strength metrics, supported by its very strong risk-adjusted capitalization, which is projected to be at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). Continued strategic management initiatives have resulted in further growth of the group’s life/annuity sales in 2022, but sales for the industry could be challenged to grow at a similar pace in the near future with economic uncertainty and its impact on the insurance industry’s competitive landscape. NL Group recently has improved the risk profile of its investment portfolio through de-risking initiatives. Despite a challenging credit market, and against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, overall default losses and credit migrations remained very limited in 2022, as actual results continued to be well-below stressed scenarios.
In addition, despite NL Group’s NAIC risk-based capital ratio slightly declining, it has continued to remain strong and well-above regulatory requirements over the past several years. There has been moderate volatility in net income levels, driven by non-core earnings that reflect GAAP accounting reserving changes for indexed products, as well as short-term movement in equity markets and interest-rate curves.
NL Group has a long history of successfully targeting life insurance and annuity product solutions to the middle market segment through its growing agency force consisting of career and independent agents. Higher-than-expected mortality that has occurred recently on NL Group’s life insurance business has improved and seems to have returned to expected levels. However, recent profitable growth has led to an improved market position and increasing market share through its niche products, such as its offerings in the K-12 educator and indexed universal life markets. The ERM assessment of appropriate is reflective of NL Group’s well-established governance structure, culture, and risk management controls, which is continuing to evolve and become more sophisticated.
The following Long-Term IRs have been affirmed with stable outlooks:
NLV Financial Corporation—
-- “a-” (Excellent) on $75 million 6.50% senior unsecured notes, due 2035
-- “a-” (Excellent) on $200 million 7.50% senior unsecured notes, due 2033
National Life Insurance Company—
-- “a” (Excellent) on $200 million 10.50% surplus notes, due 2039
-- “a” (Excellent) on $500 million 5.25% surplus notes, due 2068
This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM 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 AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best's Credit Ratings. For information on the proper use of Best’s Credit Ratings, Best’s Performance Assessments, Best’s Preliminary Credit Assessments and AM Best press releases, please view Guide to Proper Use of Best’s Ratings & Assessments.
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