AM Best has revised the outlook to positive from stable for the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term ICR of “bbb” (Good) of Guardian Insurance Company, Inc. (Guardian) (St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands). The outlook of the FSR is stable.
The Credit Ratings (ratings) reflect Guardian’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as strong, as well as its marginal operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
The positive Long-Term ICR outlook reflects the improvement in Guardian’s operating performance over the past three years, with that trend continuing into 2023. Since 2020, the company has reported favorable net underwriting income, positive pre-tax operating income, and overall net income of over $6.5 million. These results are due primarily to improved underwriting performance, steady net investment income and, to a lesser extent, other income. As a result, the company’s five-year average pre-tax and total returns on revenue and equity compare favorably with the composite.
Guardian’s balance sheet strength metrics also have improved as additions to policyholder surplus have been reported for three consecutive years and through June 30, 2023. In recent years, surplus growth has outpaced premium expansion resulting in lower underwriting leverage ratios. Despite this improvement, net and gross underwriting leverage ratios compare unfavorably with the composite. Also, overall surplus growth and overall risk-adjusted capitalization are dampened by periodic dividends paid to its ultimate parent, Lockhart Companies, Inc.
Guardian writes about two-thirds of its business in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the other one-third in Puerto Rico. Despite this geographic and product concentration, the company maintains a neutral business profile due to its market leader position in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with over 60% of the automobile market. In addition, Guardian is the largest domestic insurer, and it controls 73% of its gross written premium through its own agency.
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