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AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Berkley International Fianzas Mexico S.A.

AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A+ (Superior), the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of "aa-" and the Mexico National Scale Rating of "aaa.MX" of Berkley International Fianzas Mexico S.A. (BFM) (Mexico City, Mexico). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.

BFM is a member of W. R. Berkley Insurance Group (Berkley Group), which on a consolidated basis, has a balance sheet strength that AM Best categorizes as strongest, as well as strong operating performance, a favorable business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The ratings reflect BFM’s substantial reinsurance support from its group through the Berkley Insurance Company. Additionally, the ratings factor in BFM’s integration with its parent company, W. R. Berkley Corporation (W. R. Berkley), in terms of underwriting, ERM and capital commitments. Limiting the ratings is the inherent risk of a startup company implementing its business plan, accentuated by the challenges derived from the weakening of the Mexico’s economy in 2019, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

BFM was formed in November 2016, and is the Mexico surety subsidiary of W. R. Berkley. The company received regulatory approval for operations in June 2017 and issued its first policy that same month. The company plans to develop a regional presence in northwest Mexico, through a predominant mix of administrative surety, and a lesser portion of credit and judicial products strongly backed by a comprehensive reinsurance contract with its parent company.

BFM’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization is derived from its strong capital position in support of its premium growth during its first years of operation, which is strengthened further by the comprehensive reinsurance contract with its parent company. Furthermore, AM Best recognizes W. R. Berkley’s commitment to its subsidiaries providing additional capital fungibility to the Mexico operation.

As a recently formed company, BFM has been able to grow it business volume during the last three years. For the first three months of 2020, business performance and generation has not been significantly impacted by the economic crisis and pandemic. Even though growth in Mexico’s surety segment for 2020 faces several challenges posted by the COVID-19 pandemic on an already slowed down Mexican economy, BFM’s experienced team of underwriters expect their underwriting capabilities to provide resources for the company to continue to develop its business base.

If positive rating actions are taken on the main operating subsidiaries of the Berkley Group for substantial and sustained improvement in its operating performance metrics relative to their peers, BFM’s ratings likely would move in tandem. Conversely, if negative rating actions are taken on the Berkley Group, as a result of a sustained deterioration in the group's underwriting or operating results driven by either current accident year results or adverse development of loss reserves from prior years, the ratings of BFM would mirror those same actions. Negative rating actions also could occur if the ultimate parent’s financial position weakens, and requires the withdrawal of capital from the group’s various insurance companies or causes an increase in financial leverage or decline in interest coverage at the holding company that is not supportive of the current ratings level. If the volatility in the equity markets leads to a significant drop in equity and prevents the organization from maintaining the expected risk-adjusted capitalization levels, negative rating actions could be taken on the Berkley Group, and BFM’s ratings would reflect those actions.

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 media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media - Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.

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. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2020 by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Inger Rodriguez
Associate Financial Analyst
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Elí Sánchez
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Jim Peavy
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