AM Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) to B++ (Good) from B+ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to "bbb" from "bbb-" of White Pine Insurance Company (White Pine). The outlook of the Credit Ratings (ratings) has been revised to negative from stable. Concurrently, AM Best has affirmed the FSR of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term ICR of "bbb" of Conifer Insurance Company (CIC); and the Long-Term ICR of "bb" of its parent holding company, Conifer Holdings, Inc. (CHI) [NASDAQ: CNFR]. The outlook of these ratings remains negative. All companies are domiciled in Birmingham, MI. Collectively these companies are referred to as Conifer Insurance Group (the group or Conifer).
The ratings reflect the group’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as strong, as well as its marginal operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
The upgrade of White Pine’s ratings reflects full rating enhancement as a member of the Conifer Insurance Group. which provides common management and an improving, complementary business profile to its affiliate, CIC, as well as its supportive insurance holding company. Together, these two companies write specialty commercial insurance coverage on an excess and surplus (E&S) basis (CIC) and on an admitted basis (White Pine) in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
The ratings reflect AM Best's view that the group will continue to make progress in returning to profitability as management refocuses its insurance operations toward the companies' niche commercial specialty lines of business. Prospectively, AM Best expects underwriting results to improve in the near to medium term as the group gains scale in the specialty lines segment and grows into CHI’s infrastructure. The companies within the group each have a track record of success in their niche commercial specialty lines, including liability coverage for restaurant/bars/taverns, quick service restaurants and security guards.
The group’s underwriting results have reflected declining levels of adverse development through 2019, while management has significantly reduced catastrophe loss exposure by rapidly and efficiently exiting its troubled Florida homeowners line and other wind-exposed business. The group’s ability to generate profits to help support organic capital growth is a very important issue that AM Best will continue to monitor.
The negative outlooks reflect the possibility that non-core lines of business could negatively impact capital adequacy if material adverse development resumes.
The ratings of CHI reflect standard notching from its lead insurance subsidiary, Conifer, and the outlook reflects the linkage of CHI’s rating to that of Conifer. CHI has been traded on the NASDAQ Global Market since August 2015. Its status as a publicly traded company offers potential financial flexibility for the enterprise with access to public debt and equity markets.
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.
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