|A.M. Best upgrades American West to A- (Excellent)
OLDWICK, N.J., March 16, 2017—A.M. Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) to A- (Excellent) from B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to “a-” from “bbb+” of American West Insurance Company (American West) (Fargo, ND), a wholly owned and separately rated subsidiary of Nodak Insurance Company (formerly Nodak Mutual Insurance Company) (Fargo, ND). The outlooks of these Credit Ratings (ratings) have been revised to stable from positive. In addition, A.M. Best has affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICR of “a” for the members of the Nodak Mutual Group (Nodak): Nodak Insurance Company and its reinsurance affiliate, Battle Creek Mutual Insurance Company (Battle Creek, NE). The outlook of the Long-Term ICR remains positive while the outlook of the FSR remains stable.
Concurrently, A.M. Best has assigned the Long-Term ICR of “bbb” to NI Holdings, Inc. (Fargo, ND) (NASDAQ: NODK), a recently formed publicly traded holding company for the demutualization of Nodak Mutual Insurance Company. The outlook assigned to the rating is positive. NI Holdings owns 100% of Nodak Insurance Company. In its initial public offering the company closed at the maximum of $103.5 million. The transaction closed on March 14, 2017, and the stock began trading on March 16, 2017.
American West’s upgrade is a result of its trend of favorable underwriting income in recent years, resulting in steady surplus growth in each of the past four years and a strong balance sheet. It also benefits from
the explicit and implicit support of the Nodak group as it is fully integrated in the group’s enterprise risk management framework and is protected by the group’s extensive reinsurance program. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors are the company’s geographic concentration of risk and limited product offerings. Business is produced in South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota, which subjects results to frequent and severe weather-related events. In addition, crop results are in direct correlation with commodity pricing, which management has no control over.
The affirmation of the ratings and continuation of the positive Long-Term ICR outlook on Nodak is a result of the group’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization, positive operating results and market profile as one the leading writers of property/casualty insurance in North Dakota. Strong surplus growth over the past five years is attributable to overall positive underwriting income, complemented by a steady stream of net investment income. The group’s long-term favorable operating results arise from management’s conservative operating strategies and local market expertise. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors is Nodak’s concentration in North Dakota, which exposes it to frequent and severe weather-related events, as well as judicial and regulatory actions. Management does look for ways to diversify the company’s profile and mitigate business concentration through ceded reinsurance treaties.
This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on A.M. 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 A.M. Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Understanding Best’s Credit Ratings.
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