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AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Mercury Casualty Group’s Members and Mercury General Corporation

January 28, 2020 GMT

OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan 28, 2020--

AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICR) of “a+” of the members of Mercury Casualty Group (Mercury) (headquartered in Los Angeles, CA). Concurrently, AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term ICR of “bbb+” of the organization’s publicly traded ultimate parent, Mercury General Corporation (MGC) (Los Angeles, CA) [NYSE: MCY]. In addition, AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term Issue Credit Rating of “bbb+” of MGC’s $375 million 4.4% senior unsecured notes due 2027. Lastly, AM Best has affirmed the FSR of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICRs of “a-” of the insurance entities within the American Mercury Insurance Group (AMI) (headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. (See below for a detailed listing of companies.)

The ratings of Mercury reflect the group’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The very strong balance sheet assessment reflects Mercury’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization, strong liquidity measures and generally conservative investment portfolio. Financial flexibility is afforded through the publicly traded parent, MGC. These aspects are offset partially by recent adverse prior-year reserve development and net leverage ratios that exceed those of the composite. Mercury strengthened is reinsurance program in 2019 to provide additional capacity for large weather events, notably wildfire losses. This action was taken in response to the impact of California wildfires on the group’s results and recognition of future potential exposures. The strong operating performance reflects the long-term stability in Mercury’s underwriting and operating results and total returns that compare favorably with the composite. These results are supported by expense ratios favorable to industry results. Assessment of the business profile captures the group’s significant market share in private passenger auto and homeowners insurance markets in its domicile of California, strong independent agency relationships and depth of experience managing the intricacies of the jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the concentration exposes Mercury to market volatility, such as adverse trends in bodily injury loss costs, catastrophe losses (as seen is 2017 and 2018), legislative changes and judicial decisions. ERM is considered appropriate for an organization of Mercury’s profile and market position.

The ratings of Mercury could be downgraded if the group were to experience adverse operating performance, deterioration in its risk-adjusted capitalization or material adverse reserve development.

The ratings of AMI reflect the group’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate ERM.

The overall assessment of risk-adjusted capital captures inherent strengths in the balance sheet that are moderated by limits in financial flexibility and adverse reserve development that inhibits capacity. Variability in underwriting results is offset by consistency within investment results, leading to overall supportive operating performance. AMI’s business profile concentrates its exposures to include jurisdictions with distinct weather exposures. The group receives the benefits of being affiliated with Mercury, including alignment of ERM, common management, brand recognition and an enterprise reinsurance program.

Negative rating action could occur if the group experiences a deterioration in operating performance, or if there is any material change in the relationship between the affiliated entities of AMI and other affiliates within Mercury.

The financial flexibility provided by MGC was demonstrated when it issued $375 million of senior unsecured notes in 2017. Financial leverage remains modest and interest coverage remains strong. MGC also has over $140 million of liquid assets available if needed.

The FSR of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICRs of “a+” have been affirmed with stable outlooks for the following members of Mercury Casualty Group:

The FSR of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICRs of “a-” have been affirmed with stable outlooks for the following members of American Mercury Insurance Group:

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 media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media - Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in New York, London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2020 by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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