AM Best Information Services

MARCH 05, 2007 12:00 AM (EST)

A.M. Best Places Ratings of Bristol West Insurance Group Under Review With Positive Implications

Michael Venezia
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5034

Jeffrey Mango, CPA
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5204
Public Relations
Jim Peavy
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5644

Rachelle Morrow
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5378


OLDWICK, N.J. - MARCH 05, 2007 12:00 AM (EST)
A.M. Best Co. has placed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and the issuer credit ratings (ICR) of "a-" of Bristol West Insurance Group (Bristol West) (Davie, FL) and its members under review with positive implications. Concurrently, A.M. Best has placed the ICR of "bbb-" of Bristol West's holding company, Bristol West Holdings, Inc. (Bristol West Holdings) [NYSE: BRW], under review with positive implications.

These rating actions have been taken due to the announcement that Bristol West Holdings has agreed to be acquired by Farmers Group, Inc. (FGI) (Los Angeles, CA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services Group. (Zurich) (Zurich, Switzerland). The transaction is valued at $712 million, and at December 31, 2006, Bristol West's policyholders' surplus was approximately $350 million. Under the terms of the agreement, the holders of Bristol West Holdings common stock will receive $22.50 per share in cash for their shares.

FGI is the attorney-in-fact for the lead reciprocal exchange within the Farmers Insurance Group (Farmers) and is a U.S. subsidiary of Zurich. The members of Farmers have an FSR of A (Excellent) and ICRs of "a", and at December 31, 2006, the group's policyholders' surplus was over $5 billion.

These ratings apply to the lead company, Farmers Insurance Exchange (California), and its17 affiliated members. Farmers is a leading personal lines insurer in the United States, with a particularly strong market position in the West and Southwest.

Bristol West provides private passenger automobile liability and physical damage insurance exclusively through independent agents and brokers in 22 states.

The ratings of Bristol West will remain under review pending shareholder and regulatory approval and further discussions with management regarding Bristol West's integration into FGI.

Bristol West Preferred Insurance Company (Michigan) is included in this sale.

The FSR of A- (Excellent) and the ICRs of "a-" have been placed under review with positive implications for Bristol West Insurance Group and its following members:

- Bristol West Casualty Insurance Company

- Bristol West Insurance Company

- Coast National Insurance Company

- Security National Insurance Company

The ICR of "bbb-" for Bristol West Holdings, Inc. has been placed under review with positive implications.

For Best's Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit Best's Rating Center.

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the financial services industries, including the banking and insurance sectors.

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