A. M. Best

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A. M. Best Company, Inc., a privately held firm, is designated as an Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. It was founded in 1899, in New York City by Alfred M. Best.

Contents

Company Overview

A.M. Best issues financial-strength ratings measuring insurance companies' ability to pay claims. It also rates financial instruments issued by insurance companies, such as bonds, notes, and securitization products.

Unlike fellow NRSROs Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings -- all three of which issue ratings for a broad range of business sectors -- A. M. Best historically has specialized exclusively on the insurance marketplace; however, the company recently began issuing debt and financial-strength ratings for small and mid-sized commercial banks.

The company publishes BestWeek, a popular weekly insurance industry newsletter with three regional editions (U.S./Canada, Europe and Asia/Pacific). The company also publishes a monthly magazine, Best's Review, and an online wire service called BestWire. In addition, it annually presents the E-Fusion Awards, granted for outstanding technological innovation in the insurance industry. [1]

Founded in 1899 by Alfred M. Best in New York City, the company moved to Morristown, New Jersey, in 1965, and subsequently to Oldwick, New Jersey, in 1974. It also maintains offices in London and Hong Kong and a news bureau in Washington, D.C..

The company is best known in the United States. Its overseas operations comprise of A. M. Best Europe, headquartered in London, which began operations in 1997 and the Hong Kong office, which hosts A. M. Best Asia-Pacific, which opened in 2000. A.M. Best shut down its Canadian office in 2003.

Rating System Explanation

Best's Financial Strength Ratings (FSR) represent the company's assessment of an insurer's ability to meet its obligations to policyholders. The rating process involves quantitative and qualitative reviews of a company's balance sheet, operating performance and business profile, including comparisons to peers and industry standards and assessments of an insurer's operating plans, philosophy and management. The ratings formulae are proprietary.

The ratings scale includes six "secure" ratings:

  • A++, A+ (Superior)
  • A, A- (Excellent)
  • B++, B+ (Good)

The scale also includes ten ratings for companies deemed "vulnerable":

  • B, B- (Fair)
  • C++, C+ (Marginal)
  • C, C- (Weak)
  • D (Poor)
  • E (Under Regulatory Supervision)
  • F (In Liquidation)
  • S (Rating Suspended)

A. M. Best also assigns five Not Rated Categories (NR) to insurers that the company may, nonetheless, follow and report on in other respects:

  • NR-1: Insufficient Data
  • NR-2: Insufficient Size and/or Operating Experience
  • NR-3: Rating Procedure Inapplicable
  • NR-4: Company Request
  • NR-5: Not Formally Followed

Long-Term Credit Ratings

Long-Term Credit Ratings assess the ability of an insurance company, holding company or other legal entity to meet its senior obligations. Ratings from "aa" to "ccc" sometimes are enhanced with a "+" (plus) or "-" (minus) to indicate whether the issuer is near the top or bottom of a category, and may be designated as Under Review ("u") when recent positive, negative or developing events dictate the rating may be subject to change in the near-term.

Insurance Company Issuer Credit Ratings

Investment Grade
  • aaa (Exceptional)
  • aa (Very Strong)
  • a (Strong)
  • bbb (Adequate)
Non-Investment Grade
  • bb (Fair)
  • b (Marginal)
  • ccc, cc (Weak)
  • c (Poor)
  • d (In Default)

Non-Insurance Company Issuer Credit Ratings

Investment Grade
  • aaa (Exceptional)
  • aa (Very Strong)
  • a (Strong)
  • bbb (Adequate)
Non-Investment Grade
  • bb (Speculative)
  • b (Very Speculative)
  • ccc, cc, c (Extremely Speculative)
  • d (In Default)

Short-Term Issuer Credit Ratings

Short-Term Issuer Credit Ratings assess the ability of a rated entity to meet senior financial commitments on obligations maturing in generally less than one year.

Investment Grade
  • AMB-1+ (Strongest)
  • AMB-1 (Outstanding)
  • AMB-2 (Satisfactory)
  • AMB-3 (Adequate)
Non-Investment Grade
  • AMB-4 (Speculative)
  • d (In Default)

Current Executive Officers

  • David Pilla (International editor)
  • Andrew Edelsberg (Vice President - Life/Health Division)
  • Scott Jordan (Special Accounts Representative)
  • Khanh Vuong (Vice President)
  • Brian Cummings (Systems Specialist)

Competitors/contemporaries

References

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