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BRASS Business Guide - INSURANCE: Researching Insurance Companies & Rating Info

Sponsored by the BRASS Education Committee.

How Can I Research Insurance Companies and How They Are Rated?

Insurance ratings are the report cards for the industry. Ratings measure an insurance company's financial strength, operating performance, and ability to meet the obligations of their policyholders. Some rating sources are available online and in libraries. Major rating services include A.M. Best, Standard & Poors, Merchants/Moody's, and Fitch:

  • Best's Insurance Reports. Life-Health and the Best's Insurance Reports. Property-Casualty. (Oldwick, N.J.: A.M. Best Co.) - A.M. Best.com publishes regular reports on insurance companies that profiles their finances and assigns rating. vides the most famous rating service for insurance companies in the United States. These annual directories list insurance companies and assigns them letter grades for different segments of their operation. The reports also provide directory and financial information about different insurers.
  • Insurance Forum (Ratings Issue) - Published monthly, the Insurance Forum is a general newsletter for the industry. The Special Ratings issue contains comparisons of ratings assigned to U.S. and Canadian insurance companies by A. M. Best, Fitch, Moody's, and Standard & Poor's and includes a discussion of various rating systems used by these services. Separate lists Lists life-health companies that show signs of difficulty and provides a suggested list of more conservative companies for consumers.
  • Mergent Moody's Bank & Finance Manual, Volume 2 (New York: Moody's Investment Services). - Profiles of large insurance companies with financials statements and the Moody's rating information. All aspects of the insurance industry are covered, with detailed statements on a comparative basis. It provides basic financial statements, and Moody's rating information for insurance companies. Available online as the Mergent Online database (minus the ratings).
  • Standard & Poor's Insurance Rating Service (New York: McGraw-Hill). - Provides ratings for financial strength, solvency, credit, and claims paying ability of insurance organizations. S&P covers over 2,500 insurers for life, property-casualty, and health insurance lines. As with Best ratings, S&P ratings are prestigious.
  • TheStreet.com Ratings' Guide to Life and Annuity Insurers (Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing) - Quarterly (or annual) publication that provides basic ratings and profiles aimed at helping evaulate companies that offer life insurance policies and annuities. Includes a section of recommendations and ratings of companies by state. Annual edition is also published.
  • TheStreet.com Ratings' Property & Casualty Insurers (Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing) - Quarterly analysis on more than 2,800 U.S. insurance companies, offering auto & homeowners insurance, business insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, product liability insurance, medical malpractice and other professional liability insurance.
  • TheStreet.com Ratings' Guide to Health Insurers (Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing) - Financial profiles of more than 6,000 health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and all of the Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. Available as a quarterly or annual edition.

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