February 14, 2013 at 15:36 PM EST
A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Allstate New Jersey Insurance Group Members

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a-” of the members of the Allstate New Jersey Insurance Group (collectively referred to as Allstate New Jersey) (headquartered in Bridgewater, NJ). The outlook for all ratings is stable. Allstate New Jersey’s ultimate parent is The Allstate Corporation (Allstate) (Northbrook, IL) [NYSE: ALL]. (See below for a detailed listing of the companies.)

The rating affirmations are based on Allstate New Jersey’s adequate risk-adjusted capitalization and management’s local market knowledge. Allstate New Jersey continues to undertake various actions to enhance its overall operating results as the dedicated New Jersey property/casualty carrier for Allstate. In addition, Allstate New Jersey’s operating performance has generally benefited from its ability to quickly react to changing market conditions. Furthermore, the group’s private passenger automobile margins have improved due to recent rate activity, new business acceptance criteria and renewal book actions. To better match price with risk, Allstate New Jersey’s recent actions to improve its homeowners’ business have included rate increases, targeted customer/property inspections and a reduction in mono-line homeowners’ exposure. Additionally, the ratings acknowledge the operational and financial benefits Allstate New Jersey receives as an affiliate of Allstate Insurance Company, which is a market leader in the U.S. insurance industry.

Allstate New Jersey’s positive rating factors are somewhat offset by its geographic concentration within one state, which exposes its capitalization and earnings to weather-related losses, competitive pressures and regulatory mandates. This exposure has been evident in recent years as its homeowners and auto physical damage lines of business were negatively impacted by net catastrophe losses totaling approximately $260 million in 2012, primarily from Superstorm Sandy, and $95 million in 2011, with an overall combined ratio impact of approximately 22 points and 12 points, respectively. However, to reduce surplus volatility, Allstate New Jersey has not paid dividends in recent years and maintains a conservative investment portfolio.

While the outlook for the ratings of Allstate New Jersey is stable, the ratings could be downgraded if underwriting performance and/or capital levels fall materially short of A.M. Best’s expectations.

The FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICRs of “a-” have been affirmed for the following members of Allstate New Jersey Insurance Group:

• Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company

• Allstate New Jersey Property and Casualty Insurance Company

• Encompass Insurance Company of New Jersey

• Encompass Property and Casualty Insurance Company of New Jersey

• Esurance Insurance Company of New Jersey

The methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology, which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M. Best’s rating process and contains the different rating criteria employed in the rating process. Key criteria utilized include: “Risk Management and the Rating Process for Insurance Companies”; “Understanding BCAR for Property/Casualty Insurers”; “Catastrophe Analysis in A.M. Best Ratings”; and “Rating Members of Insurance Groups.” Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology.

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is the world's oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2013 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Contacts:

A.M. Best Co.
Michael T. Venezia, 908-439-2200, ext. 5034
Senior Financial Analyst
michael.venezia@ambest.com
or
Gary Davis, 908-439-2200, ext. 5665
Assistant Vice President
gary.davis@ambest.com
or
Rachelle Morrow, 908-439-2200, ext. 5378
Senior Manager, Public Relations
rachelle.morrow@ambest.com
or
Jim Peavy, 908-439-2200, ext. 5644
Assistant Vice President, Public Relations
james.peavy@ambest.com
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