DECEMBER 21, 2020 10:01 AM (EST)

AM Best Clarifies How Insurers’ ESG Risks Are Considered in Credit Rating Process

 Maura McGuigan
Director, Credit Rating Research
& Analytics
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5317

Ghislain Le Cam, CFA, FRM
Director, Analytics
+44 297 397 0268

Jessica Botelho-Young, CA
Associate Director, Analytics
+44 297 397 0310
Christopher Sharkey
Manager, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159

Jim Peavy
Director, Communications
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5644


OLDWICK - DECEMBER 21, 2020 10:01 AM (EST)
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) principals have gained significant global traction as companies look to improve transparency of risks not captured by standard financial metrics so that stakeholders can make informed choices. As ESG information is increasingly relevant to insurance companies’ decision-making, AM Best has refined its Best’s Credit Rating Methodology (BCRM) to enhance transparency as to how it contemplates ESG risks as part of the credit rating analysis. AM Best will continue addressing climate risk, innovation and enterprise risk management in the assignment of a rating.

Insurance companies play a unique role as it regards ESG principals, as they are risk carriers, asset managers and institutional investors. However, with no insurance industry-wide ESG standards in place, it can be overwhelming for market participants to understand how to implement and disclose ESG practices. For enhanced transparency, AM Best’s BCRM now explicitly identifies ESG risks for insurers in the credit rating process. How an insurance company has incorporated ESG practices into its underwriting process and management of catastrophe risk, investment policy, product offerings and scenario stress-testing are some of the discussion points AM Best raises with its rated entities. Governance and risk culture remain key components of the ERM framework evaluation, and AM Best also considers the potential for ESG-related litigation and the impact of social inflation on insurers’ financial results. While AM Best does not issue a separate assessment or score related to ESG, it discloses on its website in the Rating Disclosure Form that accompanies all ratings when an ESG factor is a key rating driver upon a rating action. Any ESG factor driving a rating action also will be detailed in the press release and Best’s Credit Report that is published in conjunction with a rating release.

AM Best notes that ESG integration can reduce operational and reputational risks as identification of ESG factors can assist companies in identifying risks and opportunities that may not be captured by conventional financial metrics. A recent AM Best survey of insurers in Europe and Asia Pacific, “Insurers and Reinsurers: Ignoring ESG Factors Poses Reputational Risk,” showed that individual carriers are at different stages of their journey to integrate ESG factors into their businesses. The survey found that while most respondents recognize that proper understanding and integration of ESG factors is increasingly critical to the long-term viability of their businesses, there remains a marked lag between recognition and action being taken to mitigate those ESG risks. To access a copy of AM Best’s ESG survey, please visit .

“Consumers are demanding that businesses take positions on societal issues and are more willing to engage with those companies that share their values,” said Stefan Holzberger, chief rating officer, AM Best. “Furthermore, regulatory authorities, particularly in Europe, are compelling insurers and reinsurers to demonstrate greater transparency, and disclose how they adapt and consider ESG risks and opportunities in their operations. Failure to act on stakeholder pressure around ESG issues could lead to long-term reputational challenges for organizations and the insurance industry at large.”

Best’s Credit Rating Methodology provides a comprehensive explanation of AM Best’s rating process, and contains the different rating criteria employed in the rating process. Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at .

A recent webinar about the ESG survey with key AM Best analysts is also available. To view the webinar, please go to .

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.