A.M. Best Affirms and Assigns Ratings to Wawanesa Insurance Companies

    OLDWICK, N.J., October 25 /CNW/ - A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the
financial strength rating (FSR) of A+ (Superior) and assigned issuer credit
ratings (ICR) of "aa" to The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company (WMIC)
(Winnipeg) and The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company (United States Branch).
Additionally, A.M. Best has affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and assigned an
ICR of "a" to WMIC's wholly owned life/health subsidiary, The Wawanesa Life
Insurance Company (Wawanesa Life) (Winnipeg). The outlook for the FSRs is
stable, and the outlook assigned to the ICRs is stable.

    A.M. Best also has affirmed the FSR of A+ (Superior) and assigned an ICR
of "aa-" to WMIC's wholly owned subsidiary, Wawanesa General Insurance Company
(WGIC) (San Diego, CA). The outlook for the FSR has been revised to negative
from stable, and the outlook assigned to the ICR is negative.

    The ratings of WMIC are based on its superior level of capitalization and
strong, liquid balance sheet supported by profitable operating performance,
geographic diversification and its market position among the Canadian
property/casualty insurance industry leaders, as well as WMIC's diversified
product mix and experienced management team.

    These rating strengths are offset in part by the challenges WMIC faces in
the personal lines automobile market due to regulatory reforms, increasing
claims frequency, increased competitive pricing pressures mainly on commercial
lines business and the weaker capitalization and operating performance of WGIC
in the United States.

    WGIC's revised rating outlook is due to a decline in its risk-adjusted
capitalization and a continuance of its below average operating performance,
which are not consistent with its current ratings. Partially offsetting these
rating weaknesses is the explicit financial support of WGIC's Superior rated
parent, WMIC, and WGIC's competitive marketing strategies as a direct writer
in the California personal auto and property markets.

    The ratings of Wawanesa Life recognize its strong risk-adjusted capital
position, profitable operations and the support it receives from WMIC through
shared management, operating platforms and common customer base. Wawanesa Life
continues to compete in markets dominated by considerably larger players,
which have significant economies of scale to drive down unit costs.

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

For further information:

For further information: A.M. Best Co. Analysts: Charles M. Huber,
908-439-2200, ext. 5122 charles.huber@ambest.com or Richard McMillan,
908-439-2200, ext. 5615 richard.mcmillan@ambest.com or Public Relations: Jim
Peavy, 908-439-2200, ext. 5644 james.peavy@ambest.com or Rachelle Morrow,
908-439-2200, ext. 5378 rachelle.morrow@ambest.com

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