A.M. Best Co. has revised the outlook to stable from negative and affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of "a-" for Fidelity National Financial Group (Fidelity) and its ten title insurance members. In addition, A.M. Best revised the outlook to stable from negative and affirmed the ICR of "bbb-" of the parent holding company, Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (FNF) (headquartered in Jacksonville, FL) [NYSE: FNF]. (Please see below a detailed listing of the companies and ratings).
The ratings are being affirmed and the outlook is being revised to stable from negative due to the group's stronger capitalization in 2009 as compared to 2008 as evidenced by a significant improvement in its underwriting leverage measures. The improved capitalization reflects the successful integration of the four former Land America underwriters that Fidelity had acquired in late 2008.
Also contributing to a change in outlook is a turnaround in Fidelity's operating performance in 2009 as compared to 2008 when the group suffered a significant operating loss due to a reserve strengthening of approximately $300 million primarily as a result of adverse development of the 2006 and 2007 policy years.
The parent holding company, FNF, has also strengthened its balance sheet following the issuance of approximately $330 million in additional common stock in 2009 which was almost exclusively used to pay down debt. As a result, FNF's financial leverage measures have improved as evidenced by a decrease in its debt-to-capital ratio from approximately 32% as of 2008 Year End to approximately 21% as of 2009 Year End.
The aforementioned acquisition of the four Land America companies has also resulted in Fidelity becoming the largest domestic title insurer in the United States with a market share of over 40% as of 2009.
The FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICRs of "a-" have been affirmed and the outlook revised to stable from negative for Fidelity National Financial Group and its following members:
--Alamo Title Insurance
--Chicago Title Insurance Company of Oregon
--Chicago Title Insurance Company
--Fidelity National Title Insurance Company
--Security Union Title Insurance Company
--Ticor Title Insurance Company
--Lawyers' Title Insurance Corporation
--Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company
--United Capital Title Insurance Company
--Continental Title Insurance Company
The FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICR of "a-" have been withdrawn for Ticor Title Insurance Company of Florida, previously a member of the Fidelity National Financial Group, and an NR-5 (Not Formally Followed) has been assigned to the FSR and an "nr" to the ICR following its merger into Chicago Title Insurance Company, an existing member of the group.
The ICR of "bbb-" has been affirmed and the outlook revised to stable from negative for Fidelity National Financial, Inc.
The FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICRs of "a-" have been affirmed with a stable outlook for Fidelity National Group and its following property/casualty members:
--Fidelity National Insurance Company
--Fidelity National Indemnity Insurance Company
--Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Company
For Best's Credit Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit Best's Ratings & Analysis.
The principal methodologies used in determining these ratings, including any additional methodologies and factors that may have been considered, can be found at Best's Credit Rating Methodology.
Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a global full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the financial and health care service industries, including insurance companies, banks, hospitals and health care system providers.
View a list of companies related to this press release. The list will include Best's Ratings along with links to additional company specific information including related news and reports.