OLDWICK, N.J. - AM Best has removed from under review with positive implications and upgraded the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to “a+” from “a-” of Westminster American Insurance Company (Westminster) (Owings Mills, MD). In addition, AM Best has assigned an FSR of A (Excellent) and a Long-Term ICR of “a+” to Primero Insurance Company (Primero) (Las Vegas, NV) and Direct Auto Insurance Company (Direct Auto) (Chicago, IL). The outlook assigned to each of the aforementioned Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. Concurrently, AM Best has upgraded the FSR to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICR to “a+” from “a-” of American West Insurance Company (American West) (Fargo, ND). At the same time, AM Best has affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICR of “a+” of Battle Creek Mutual Insurance Company (Battle Creek) (Battle Creek, NE) and Nodak Insurance Company (Nodak Insurance) (Fargo, ND). These companies comprise Nodak Insurance Group (Nodak), which is ultimately owned by NI Holdings, Inc. AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term ICR of “bbb+” for NI Holdings, Inc. (Fargo, ND) [NASDAQ: NODK], a publicly traded holding company. The outlook of these ratings remains stable.
The ratings reflect Nodak Insurance Group’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as strongest, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).
Nodak’s balance sheet assessment level of strongest reflects its risk-adjusted capitalization also being at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), its favorable net and gross underwriting leverage, and financial flexibility. The strong level of operating performance is driven by consistently favorable combined and operating ratios, which have driven surplus growth. Nodak’s neutral business profile is driven by the group’s position as a market leader in personal lines, farm and crop insurance in North Dakota. In addition, the group has continued to diversify geographically. The company’s ERM practices are appropriate for the risk profile with a developed risk framework.
The rating upgrade for Westminster reflects its completed sale to NI Holdings on Jan. 1, 2020 and subsequent execution of an inter-company pooling agreement with Nodak Insurance. The acquisition is part of Nodak’s geographic expansion efforts. In conjunction with the pooling agreement, Nodak Insurance expanded the pool participants to include currently owned subsidiaries and affiliates – American West, Primero, Direct Auto and Battle Creek.
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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.