AM Best Downgrades Issuer Credit Rating of The Order of United Commercial Travelers of America

BY Business Wire | CORPORATE | 11/11/22 09:58 AM EST

OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- AM Best has downgraded the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to ?bb? (Fair) from ?bb+? (Fair) and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of B (Fair) of The Order of United Commercial Travelers of America (UCT) (Columbus, OH). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.

The ratings reflect UCT?s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as adequate, as well as its weak operating performance, limited business profile and marginal enterprise risk management.

The ratings also reflect UCT?s declining level of risk-adjusted capitalization in support of its insurance and investment risks (despite a conservative investment portfolio and the extensive use of reinsurance), a decline in direct premiums written, and negatively trending net income. The company also maintains an overall small absolute level of capital, which together with its limited financial flexibility and lack of diversification has the potential to magnify the impact of unfavorable operating trends on risk-adjusted capitalization.

UCT?s operating performance has been weak during the past couple of years due to headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic and higher-than-expected claims. The company maintains modest market positions in a highly competitive accident and health segment in which many of its competitors enjoy significant scale advantages, which limits UCT?s business profile.

However, AM Best notes that UCT implemented an Insurance Oversight Board in April 2019 to help manage its strategic planning, mitigate risks and provide insurance industry expertise. AM Best will continue to monitor UCT?s capital level and operating performance over the near term as the oversight board works with the company. AM Best also notes that UCT has been refocusing its dental, vision and hearing line of business as its primary product line to have it represent a smaller proportion of its written premiums, and provide better diversification between the products in its portfolio While the company has made strategic business shifts in products and distribution, the full impact has yet to be realized.

The stable Long-Term ICR outlook reflects AM Best?s expectation that the company will maintain an overall balance sheet assessment in the adequate range over the intermediate term and continue to focus on improving its weak operating performance.

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 use of Best?s Credit Ratings, Best?s Performance Assessments, Best?s Preliminary Credit Assessments and AM Best press releases, please view Guide to Proper Use of Best?s Ratings & Assessments.

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 London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright ? 2022 by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Source: AM Best

In general the bond market is volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. (As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. This effect is usually more pronounced for longer-term securities.) Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk and credit and default risks for both issuers and counterparties. Unlike individual bonds, most bond funds do not have a maturity date, so avoiding losses caused by price volatility by holding them until maturity is not possible.

Lower-quality debt securities generally offer higher yields, but also involve greater risk of default or price changes due to potential changes in the credit quality of the issuer. Any fixed income security sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to loss.

Before investing, consider the funds' investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. Contact Fidelity for a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus containing this information. Read it carefully.

fir_news_article