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AM BEST'S MONTHLY INSURANCE MAGAZINE



Standing the Test of Time
Standing the Test of Time — 2022 Edition

In 2021, 66 property/casualty and 19 life/health carriers have maintained a Best’s Financial Strength Rating of A or higher for at least 75 years.
  • Anthony Bellano
  • July 2022

A life insurer that was founded on the eve of the Civil War received a Best's Financial Strength Rating of A or higher in 1947 and has maintained it for 75 consecutive years, enduring the challenges of the 20th century and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guardian Life Insurance Company of America joins 85 insurance companies that have maintained an A or higher rating for at least 75 years, including 66 property/casualty and 19 life/health insurance companies.

Guardian was one of four newcomers to the list of insurers that have maintained a Best's Financial Strength Rating of A or higher for at least half a century.

In this 14th edition of “Standing the Test of Time,” Alfa Mutual Insurance Co., Cincinnati Casualty Co. and Millville Mutual Insurance Co. joined 76 other insurers that have maintained a Best's Financial Strength Rating of A or higher for at least 50 years. That includes 61 property/casualty and 15 life/health companies.

Initially founded in 1860, Guardian serves 29 million people through a range of insurance and financial products, according to its website. The company was founded by a group of 21 prominent German-American businessmen, led by civil rights lawyer Hugo Wesendonck, who met at Delmonico's restaurant in New York City. They raised $200,000 in equity capital, which was twice what was required under New York state law.

Founded as the Germania Life Insurance Company of America, it was renamed The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in 1918. In 1925, it evolved from a mixed stock and mutual company into one that is wholly owned by its policyholders.

Guardian closed 2021 with $90.6 billion in admitted assets, according to Best's Rankings of U.S. Life/Health — 2021 Financial Results published in March. Its net written premiums were $9.75 billion and ranked 25th on the list.

Related: The Leaders Issue Features Best’s Review’s Top Global Brokers and Standing the Test of Time

“Twenty-twenty-one was one of our best years, driven by our strong long-term investment focus, sound underwriting, prudent expense management, and earnings from complementary businesses,” Guardian told Best's Review in an email. “We achieved these results despite the uncertain economic environment and the adverse impact of COVID-19.”

In 2021, operating income rose 10% to a record $1.9 billion, according to Guardian. The company ended the year with $10.7 billion in capital, 13% more than in 2020, the company said.

The company also marked its first full year under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Andrew McMahon.

Longstanding Alabama Mutual Company Joins List

Alfa Mutual joined the list of companies that have maintained an A rating or better for at least 50 straight years on May 6, when AM Best affirmed its rating of A (Excellent). It is the No. 1 insurer in some rural areas and No. 3 in total market share for Alabama, according to Alfa Mutual and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell.

Alfa primarily underwrites a mix of personal automobile, personal property, business insurance and specialty insurance in its three core states of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, according to its AM Best profile. The company also underwrites nonstandard automobile coverage.

Alfa Mutual started as an outgrowth of the Alabama Farmers Federation in 1946, initially offering fire insurance primarily to farmers, according to its website. The federation, which was founded in 1921, represents more than 340,000 member families through county organizations in all 67 Alabama counties, the company told Best's Review in an email.

Alfa employs more than 2,000 people across its core states, including about 700 at its Montgomery, Alabama, headquarters. Parnell said the organization's investment in technology, new products, expanded service options and leadership development has positioned Alfa well for the future.

Alfa Mutual reported $1.58 billion in admitted assets for 2021, according to Best's Rankings of the U.S. Property/Casualty — 2021 Financial Results. It wrote $555.3 million in net premiums and $842.2 million in direct premiums. It had $751.3 million in policyholder surplus.

Company Ranked for 68 Straight Years Sees Subsidiary Join List

Although Cincinnati Casualty Co. is just joining the list of companies ranked for 50 straight years, its parent company, Cincinnati Insurance Co., has maintained an A+ (Superior) rating for 68 years. In February, AM Best affirmed that rating for Cincinnati Financial Corp. and most of its subsidiaries.

“While stock holdings consist of dividend-paying stocks, which augment investment income, they expose surplus and risk-adjusted capitalization to equity market fluctuations,” AM Best said at the time. “However, CFC has shown the ability to weather these fluctuations, AM Best believes capitalization will remain supportive of CFC's ratings. Additionally, CFC, which is predominantly a property/casualty group of insurers that markets its products primarily through independent insurance agencies, has recorded underwriting profits in each year since 2012 and through the first three quarters of 2021. Overall, CFC's operating metrics generally outperform its peers.”

At the end of last year, Cincinnati Casualty had $18.64 billion in admitted assets and $7.2 billion in policyholder surplus, according to the Best's Rankings of U.S. Property/Casualty — 2021 Financial Results. It wrote $6.30 billion in net premiums in 2021 and was ranked 22nd in the Top 25 Property/Casualty Writers.

Longtime Pennsylvania Business Hits 50-Year Mark

Millville Mutual Insurance is one of the four oldest continuously operating businesses in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, according to the company's website. Founded in 1875, it has expanded its reach beyond Pennsylvania, branching out into New York through its wholly owned subsidiary, Millville Insurance Company of New York.

As of Dec. 31, 2021, Millville Mutual Insurance had $132.8 million in admitted assets and $91.5 million in policyholder surplus, according to Best's Rankings U.S. Property/Casualty — 2021 Financial Results. It wrote $44.4 million in direct premiums and $40 million in net premiums.

A Long Tradition

For 116 years, AM Best has been issuing Financial Strength Ratings or opinions on the ability of individual insurers to pay claims on the coverage they have underwritten.

To identify the companies with the longest record of consistent financial strength, Best's analysts pored over the rating agency's proprietary data—primarily Best's Key Rating Guides and Best's Insurance Reports—to accumulate and verify ratings and other pertinent data dating to 1905.

AM Best's Rating Scale has changed over time in an ongoing effort to increasingly distinguish the relative financial strength of insurers and adapt to changes in the insurance industry.

Related: Standing the Test of Time - 2021 Edition

Therefore, in certain circumstances it was necessary to translate or convert older ratings to conform to the present rating scale. These translations do not represent any material change or reevaluation of a company's rating; they are merely a conversion from one scale to another.

The original rating system, implemented in 1906, was devised by the company's founder, Alfred M. Best.

In 1921 a new rating scale, General Policyholder Ratings, replaced the previously used Desirability Ratings, which applied only to property/casualty insurers.

Desirability Ratings consisted of two components: a loss-paying record, ranked on an alphabetical scale with “A” being the best; and a rating of management quality on a numeric scale with “1” being the best.

An Evolving Process

The rating scale adopted in 1932 had two components: the New Resource Rating, the forerunner of today's Financial Size Category; and the General Policyholders Rating, which evolved into today's Financial Strength Ratings.

From 1935 to 1975, AM Best did not assign letter ratings to life/health companies. Instead they had “comments.”

In order to complete this rating history project, a translation was devised to convert the comments to equivalent letter ratings. For example, from 1935 to 1952, “More than Ample” was found to be equivalent to today's A rating.

Property/Casualty Insurers Rated A or Higher for 75 Years

AMB# Company Name First
Year
Rated
A or
Better
Since
Consecutive
Years
Rated A
or Better
Rating
000354 Farm Bureau Prop & Cas Ins Co 1946 1946 76 A
003263 Swiss Reinsurance America Corp 1945 1945 77 A+
002034 American Home Assurance Co 1906 1944 78 A
002086 Vigilant Insurance Company 1943 1943 79 A++
002131 Transportation Insurance Co 1941 1941 81 A
000348 Erie Insurance Exchange 1928 1939 83 A+
002022 American Family Mutual Ins Co 1931 1939 83 A
002276 Economy Fire & Casualty Co 1922 1939 83 A
002477 State Farm Fire & Casualty Co 1939 1939 83 A++
002357 Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins Co 1938 1938 84 A+
002182 National Surety Corporation 1922 1937 85 A+
002361 Illinois National Insurance Co 1926 1937 85 A
003152 Otsego Mutual Fire Ins Co 1926 1938 85 A+
000700 New York Central Mutual Fire 1925 1936 86 A
000974 Western Surety Company 1922 1935 87 A
002054 Cambridge Mutual Fire Ins Co 1923 1935 87 A
002035 Insurance Co of the State PA 1907 1934 88 A
002177 American Insurance Company 1907 1934 88 A+
002351 National Union Fire Ins Co PA 1907 1934 88 A
002381 Ohio Farmers Insurance Co 1911 1935 88 A
000384 Federated Mutual Insurance Co 1920 1934 89 A+
000694 New Jersey Manufacturers Ins 1922 1934 89 A+
002176 American Automobile Ins Co 1915 1933 89 A+
002382 Westfield Insurance Company 1930 1934 89 A
003260 Mutual Assurance Society of VA 1922 1933 89 A
000558 Lititz Mutual Insurance Co 1932 1932 90 A
002249 COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Co 1931 1931 91 A+
000826 Selective Ins Co of America 1930 1930 92 A+
002229 Hartford Casualty Ins Co 1930 1930 92 A+
002287 American States Insurance Co 1930 1930 92 A
002358 Nationwide Mutual Ins Co 1929 1929 93 A+
002446 First National Ins Co of Amer 1929 1929 93 A
002479 State Farm Mutual Auto Ins Co 1927 1929 93 A++
002349 AIG Property Casualty Company 1907 1928 94 A
002385 Pacific Indemnity Company 1928 1928 94 A++
000228 CSAA Insurance Exchange 1927 1927 95 A
000918 Tri-State Ins Co of Minnesota 1927 1927 95 A+
002198 General Reinsurance Corp 1925 1928 95 A++
000934 United Services Auto Assn 1927 1927 96 A++
002232 Hartford Underwriters Ins Co 1926 1926 96 A+
002447 General Ins Co of America 1926 1926 96 A
002452 St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins Co 1926 1926 96 A++
000662 Montgomery Mutual Ins Co 1922 1925 97 A
002360 Granite State Insurance Co 1907 1925 97 A
002179 Fireman's Fund Insurance Co 1918 1924 98 A+
000414 Germantown Mutual Ins Co 1922 1923 99 A
002085 Great Northern Insurance Co 1923 1923 99 A++
000320 Pharmacists Mutual Ins Co 1922 1922 100 A
000347 Westport Insurance Corp 1922 1922 100 A+
000371 Farmers Mutual Ins Co of NE 1922 1922 100 A
000387 Fidelity and Deposit Co of MD 1922 1922 100 A+
000465 Hartford Steam Boiler I & I 1922 1922 100 A++
000796 Quincy Mutual Fire Ins Co 1922 1922 100 A+
002097 Euler Hermes NA Insurance Co. 1922 1922 100 A+
002128 Continental Casualty Company 1922 1922 100 A
002230 Hartford Accident & Indem Co 1922 1922 100 A+
002394 Peerless Insurance Company 1922 1922 100 A
002162 Amica Mutual Insurance Co 1922 1922 101 A+
002235 Twin City Fire Insurance Co 1916 1921 101 A+
002055 Merrimack Mutual Fire Ins Co 1920 1920 102 A
002129 Natl Fire Ins Co of Hartford 1907 1914 108 A
002213 Great American Insurance Co 1908 1908 114 A+
002084 Federal Insurance Company 1907 1907 115 A++
002231 Hartford Fire Insurance Co 1907 1907 115 A+
002363 New Hampshire Insurance Co 1907 1907 115 A

Source: AM Best data and research. Ratings as of May 9, 2022

Property/Casualty Insurers Rated A or Higher for 50 Years

AMB# Company Name First
Year
Rated
A or
Better
Since
Consecutive
Years
Rated A
or Better
Rating
0000540 Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual 1949 1949 74 A
003314 Alfa Mutual General Ins Co 1972 1973 50 A
004289 Cincinnati Casualty Company 1973 1973 50 A+
004760 Millville Mutual Insurance Co 1973 1973 50 A
000964 West Bend Mutual Ins Co 1922 1971 51 A
002389 AIU Insurance Company 1906 1971 51 A
003031 American Modern Home Ins Co 1971 1971 51 A+
003132 Western World Insurance Co 1970 1971 51 A
004311 St. Paul Guardian Ins Co 1971 1971 51 A++
002251 Indiana Farmers Mutual Ins 1933 1969 53 A
004049 USAA Casualty Insurance Co 1970 1970 53 A++
000188 Auto-Owners Insurance Co 1922 1968 54 A++
000422 Grange Insurance Company 1940 1968 54 A
000900 Hawkeye-Security Insurance Co 1967 1968 54 A
002065 American Commerce Insurance Co 1951 1968 54 A
002453 St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co 1968 1968 54 A++
004043 Westfield National Ins Co 1969 1969 54 A
002023 Amer Standard Ins Co of WI 1967 1967 55 A
003030 Hiscox Insurance Company Inc. 1958 1967 55 A
003521 Great American Alliance Ins Co 1950 1967 55 A+
000595 Mercury Casualty Company 1967 1967 56 A
002186 America First Insurance Co 1966 1966 56 A
002350 Lexington Insurance Company 1966 1966 56 A
002407 Progressive Casualty Ins Co 1960 1967 56 A+
002542 Inland Insurance Company 1965 1966 57 A
000708 North Carolina Farm Bureau Mut 1958 1963 60 A
000860 Pioneer State Mutual Ins Co 1962 1962 60 A+
002050 Standard Guaranty Ins Co 1962 1962 60 A
002284 Lightning Rod Mutual Ins Co 1962 1962 60 A
002476 State Farm County Mut of Texas 1961 1961 61 A++
000464 Hastings Mutual Insurance Co 1928 1961 62 A
002014 AMCO Insurance Company 1960 1960 62 A+
002285 Western Reserve Mutual Cas 1955 1960 62 A
002286 American Economy Insurance Co 1960 1960 62 A
002540 Mount Vernon Fire Ins Co 1960 1960 62 A++
004000 Commerce and Industry Ins Co 1958 1958 64 A
000594 Merchants Bonding Co (Mutual) 1953 1958 65 A
003073 Generali USB 1957 1957 65 A
002053 Bay State Insurance Company 1956 1956 66 A
002290 Amer States Ins Co of Texas 1956 1956 66 A
002323 Midwestern Indemnity Company 1956 1956 66 A
002297 Universal Underwriters Ins Co 1955 1955 67 A+
002448 Safeco Ins Co of America 1955 1955 67 A
002541 United States Liability Ins Co 1922 1955 67 A++
000258 Cincinnati Insurance Company 1955 1955 68 A+
000886 Tennessee Farmers Mut Ins Co 1953 1954 68 A+
000714 North Star Mutual Ins Co 1953 1953 69 A+
002428 National Fire & Marine Ins Co 1954 1954 69 A++
002005 Alfa Mutual Insurance Company 1953 1953 70 A
002049 American Security Insurance Co 1950 1952 70 A
002429 National Indemnity Company 1947 1953 70 A++
000259 Church Mutual Ins Co, S.I. 1950 1951 71 A
000971 Continental Western Ins Co 1918 1951 71 A+
002004 Great American Assurance Co 1908 1951 71 A+
002532 Union Insurance Company 1921 1951 71 A+
002543 Universal Surety Company 1952 1952 71 A
002132 Valley Forge Insurance Co 1948 1950 72 A
000203 Barnstable County Mut Ins Co 1922 1949 73 A
002127 American Cas Co of Reading, PA 1922 1949 73 A
002210 Great Amer Ins Co of New York 1918 1949 73 A+
002393 Netherlands Insurance Co 1906 1949 73 A

Source: AM Best data and research. Ratings as of May 9, 2022

Life/Health Insurers Rated A or Higher for 75 Years

AMB# Company Name First Year
Rated
A or
Better
Since
Consecutive
Years
Rated A
or Better
Rating
006508 Guardian Life Ins Co of Amer 1928 1947 75 A++
006493 Canada Life Assurance Company 1928 1945 77 A+
007101 Sun Life Assur Co of Canada 1928 1946 77 A+
006087 American National Insurance Co 1928 1941 82 A
006724 Minnesota Life Insurance Co 1928 1940 82 A+
006962 Protective Life Insurance Co 1928 1940 82 A+
006664 Lincoln National Life Ins Co 1928 1940 83 A+
006688 Manufacturers Life Ins Co 1928 1939 83 A+
006695 Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins 1928 1939 83 A++
006244 Columbus Life Insurance Co 1928 1938 84 A+
006294 COUNTRY Life Insurance Company 1933 1933 89 A+
006704 Metropolitan Life Ins Co 1928 1928 94 A+
006820 New York Life Insurance Co 1928 1928 94 A++
006845 Northwestern Mutual Life Ins 1928 1928 94 A++
006974 Prudential Ins Co of America 1928 1928 94 A+
007069 Standard Insurance Company 1928 1928 94 A
007243 Western & Southern Life Ins Co 1928 1928 94 A+
006150 Principal Life Insurance Co 1928 1928 95 A+
006903 Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co 1928 1928 95 A+

Source: AM Best data and research. Ratings as of May 9, 2022

Life/Health Insurers Rated A or Higher for 50 Years

AMB# Company Name First Year
Rated
A or
Better
Since
Consecutive
Years
Rated A
or Better
Rating
006617 Lafayette Life Insurance Co 1928 1970 52 A+
006827 North American Co for L&H Ins 1922 1969 53 A+
007053 Southern Farm Bureau Life Ins 1952 1970 53 A+
006058 American General Life Ins Co 1928 1968 54 A
006852 Ohio National Life Ins Co 1928 1964 58 A
007112 Teachers Ins & Annuity Assn 1928 1964 58 A++
006468 Banner Life Insurance Company 1955 1963 59 A+
007168 United Farm Family Life Ins Co 1950 1961 61 A
006885 Pacific Life Insurance Company 1928 1959 63 A+
007192 United States Life Ins in NY 1928 1959 63 A
006629 Liberty National Life Ins Co 1934 1958 64 A
007164 United of Omaha Life Ins Co 1931 1956 67 A+
006812 Nationwide Life Ins Co 1935 1954 68 A+
007080 State Farm Life Insurance Co 1934 1954 68 A++
006109 American United Life Ins Co 1936 1950 72 A+

Source: AM Best data and research. Ratings as of May 9, 2022

Best’s Ratings

The Rating History Project is based on Best's Financial Strength Ratings. A Best's Financial Strength Rating is an independent opinion of an insurer's financial strength and ability to meet its ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations. The rating is based on a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of a company's balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile.

AM Best was founded in 1899 with the purpose of performing a constructive and objective role in the insurance industry toward the prevention and detection of insurer insolvency. This mission led to the development of Best's Ratings, which are now recognized worldwide as the benchmark of assessing insurers' financial strength. Best's Ratings' opinions reflect an in-depth understanding of business fundamentals garnered for more than 100 years of focusing solely on the insurance industry. This is one reason why insurance industry professionals have consistently ranked Best's Ratings No. 1 in confidence, usefulness and understanding.

A Best's Rating is an independent third-party evaluation that subjects all insurers to the same rigorous criteria, providing a valuable benchmark for comparing insurers, regardless of their country of domicile. Such a benchmark is increasingly important to an international market that looks for a strong indication of stability in the face of widespread deregulation, mergers, acquisitions and other dynamic factors.

 

BestMark for Rated Insurers

AM Best rated insurers can showcase their Best's Credit Rating by displaying their BestMark, a well-known icon customized with their assigned level of financial strength, in marketing materials. A BestMark shows the financial industry, agents, brokers, customers, prospects and consumers verification of their financial strength, and that the insurer has undergone AM Best's rigorous rating process.

A BestMark can be featured in marketing materials such as websites, print ads, brochures, web banner ads, social media, email signatures, business cards, and conference and events materials.

To provide more detailed information on their company to their audiences, insurers have the option to embed a link in their BestMark icon that opens their company's profile page on the AM Best website. To find a company's profile page, enter the company's name in the Search for a Best's Credit Rating box.

For instructions on how to embed the link, please visit: https://www3.ambest.com/bestmark/.

Insurers can provide permission for its agents and/or brokers to use BestMark once the rated company has provided approval to AM Best via bestmarkinsurers@ambest.com.

To obtain a BestMark or for further information, please contact bestmarkinsurers@ambest.com or visit ambest.com/bestmark.

BestMark logo in black
BestMark logo in gold
BestMark logo in blue

 

BestMark for ‘Standing the Test of Time’ Insurers

Companies listed in “Standing the Test of Time” receive a BestMark to feature on their website, social media and other promotional materials to showcase their inclusion in this elite list.

BestMark logo in black

Anthony Bellano is an associate editor. He can be reached at anthony.bellano@ambest.com.



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