AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) of “a-” (Excellent) of W. R. Berkley Corporation (W. R. Berkley) (Greenwich, CT) [NYSE: WRB] and all associated Long-Term Issue Credit Ratings (Long-Term IRs) and indicative Long-Term IRs for securities issued by W. R. Berkley. At the same time, AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A+ (Superior) and the Long-Term ICRs of “aa-” (Superior) of Berkley Insurance Company (Wilmington, DE) and its reinsured subsidiaries and affiliates, collectively referred to as W. R. Berkley Insurance Group (Berkley Group). AM Best also has affirmed the FSR of A+ (Superior) and the Long-Term ICR of “aa-” (Superior) of Berkley Life and Health Insurance Company (Berkley Life and Health) (Urbandale, IA). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. (See below for a detailed list of the companies and ratings).
Concurrently, AM Best has assigned an FSR of A+ (Superior) and a Long-Term ICR of “aa-” (Superior) to W. R. Berkley’s newly reinsured affiliate, Berkley Prestige Insurance Company (Urbandale, IA). The outlook assigned to these ratings is stable.
The ratings of Berkley Group reflect its balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as strongest, as well as its strong operating performance, favorable business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).
Berkley Group’s balance sheet strength assessment is anchored by its consistent strongest level of risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). The company continues to demonstrate its ability to access capital markets as necessary and has continued to be focused on creating enhanced permanency of capital and lower cost of debt. Debt leverage has trended downward over the past five-year period and was 21.5%, adjusted as of year-end 2022. The group’s interest coverage and liquidity metrics remain strong. Berkley Group effectively maintains a diversified portfolio of investments to support its liabilities and is focused on creating the most favorable return while maintaining its risk tolerance levels.
The group continues to maintain favorable market share in its core lines of business, as well as growth organically through new businesses and opportunities. Berkley Group’s recognized presence in domestic and international markets and its diversity of distribution and operations are key factors in its favorable top and bottom-line trends reported over the past five-year period. The group’s historically consistent operating results and profitability metrics point to nimble underwriting and pricing discipline, as well as effective risk management expertise. Berkley Group reported net premium growth across most of its core lines of business in the first quarter of 2023, with GAAP return on equity of 17.4%. Berkley Group’s effective ERM practices and risk modelling capabilities are supportive of its current investment and operational risks as demonstrated by the lack of volatility of financial results and overall capitalization of the enterprise.
The ratings of Berkley Life and Health reflect its balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as strongest, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate ERM. The ratings also reflect the financial and operational support of the parent company.
Berkley Life and Health’s balance sheet strength assessment is supported by its risk-adjusted capitalization assessed at the strongest level, as measured by BCAR. The company has strengthened its risk-adjusted capitalization incrementally annually over the past five years, while also maintaining conservative, high-quality investments and favorable liquidity metrics.
Berkley Life and Health continues to grow premium driven by new and renewal sales of its group captive and medical stop-loss products. The company has reported increasing pre-tax net operating gains in recent years driven by favorable underwriting experience and lower expenses.
Berkley Life and Health is a market leader in the group captive market and maintains a market niche in the small group medical stop-loss space. However, the medical stop-loss market is highly competitive and is dominated by larger national carriers. The company receives explicit and implicit support from W. R. Berkley and is integrated fully into the parent organization’s operations and strategic plans.
The FSR of A+ (Superior) and the Long-Term ICRs of “aa-” (Superior) have been affirmed with stable outlooks for the following members of W. R. Berkley Insurance Group:
- Acadia Insurance Company
- Admiral Indemnity Company
- Admiral Insurance Company
- Berkley Casualty Company
- Berkley Assurance Company
- Berkley Insurance Company
- Berkley National Insurance Company
- Berkley Regional Insurance Company
- Berkley Specialty Insurance Company
- Carolina Casualty Insurance Company
- Clermont Insurance Company
- Continental Western Insurance Company
- Firemen’s Insurance Company of Washington, D.C.
- Gemini Insurance Company
- Great Divide Insurance Company
- Intrepid Casualty Company
- Intrepid Insurance Company
- Intrepid Specialty Insurance Company
- Key Risk Insurance Company
- Midwest Employers Casualty Company
- Nautilus Insurance Company
- Preferred Employers Insurance Company
- Queen’s Island Insurance Company, Ltd.
- Riverport Insurance Company
- StarNet Insurance Company
- Tri-State Insurance Company of Minnesota
- Union Insurance Company
- Union Standard Lloyds
- W. R. Berkley Europe AG
- Berkley International Seguros Mexico S.A.
- Berkley International Fianzas Mexico S.A.
The following Long-Term IRs have been affirmed with stable outlooks:
W. R. Berkley Corporation—
-- “a-” (Excellent) on $250 million, 6.25% senior unsecured notes, due 2037
-- “a-” (Excellent) on $350 million, 4.75% senior unsecured notes, due 2044
-- “a-” (Excellent) on 470 million, 4.0% senior unsecured notes, due 2050
-- “a-” (Excellent) on $400 million, 3.55% senior unsecured notes, due 2052
-- “a-” (Excellent) on $350 million, 3.15% senior unsecured notes, due 2061
-- “bbb+” (Good) on $185 million, 5.7% subordinated debentures, due 2058
-- “bbb+” (Good) on $300 million, 5.1% subordinated debentures, due 2059
-- “bbb+” (Good) on $250 million, 4.25% subordinated debentures, due 2060
-- “bbb+” (Good) on $300 million, 4.125% subordinated debentures, due 2061
The following indicative Long-Term IRs under the shelf registration have been affirmed with stable outlooks:
W. R. Berkley Corporation—
-- “a-” (Excellent) on senior unsecured debt
-- “bbb+” (Good) on subordinated debt
-- “bbb” (Good) on preferred stock
W. R. Berkley Capital Trust III—
-- “bbb” (Good) on preferred securities
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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