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A.M. Best Downgrades Ratings of National Fire and Casualty Company

Posted on 30 Jun 2009

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OLDWICK, N.J. June 24 (BestWire) — A.M. Best Co. has downgraded the financial strength rating to A- (Excellent) from A (Excellent) and issuer credit rating to “a-” from “a” of National Fire and Casualty Company (NF&C) (Bloomington, IL), a subsidiary of WBL Corp. (Memphis, TN). The outlook for both ratings has been revised to stable from negative.

These rating actions primarily stem from the continued deterioration in NF&C’s net underwriting and operating results through first quarter 2009, the continued challenges brought on by high reinsurance costs and the impact of soft market conditions, which together have resulted in declining premium revenue, a relatively higher net expense ratio and lower net profit margins. Although risk-adjusted capitalization remains strong, NF&C’s high common stock investment leverage also has contributed to the decline in surplus by generating net capital losses in 2007 and 2008.

Despite these actions, NF&C continues to maintain “excellent” ratings, which reflect the company’s specialty niche business orientation, its solid risk-adjusted capitalization and conservative balance sheet. The decline in premium revenue also is a sign of management’s adherence to sound underwriting and pricing practices that have generally led to favorable gross underwriting results.

The stable outlook recognizes A.M. Best’s expectation that management will continue to enforce its stringent underwriting and pricing standards and that risk-adjusted capitalization will remain well supportive of the company’s ratings.

For Best’s Credit Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit

The principal methodologies used in determining these ratings, including any additional methodologies and factors that may have been considered, can be found at BN-NJ-06-24-2009 1436 ET #