NU Online News Service, Sept. 19, 6:32 p.m. – Fitch Inc. has downgraded 35 life insurance companies, or 42% of the 83 companies in its life company universe.
The downgrades are not the result of any significant deterioration at specific insurers, but rather the result of a change in the life industry outlook and a change in analysts’ long-term perspective on the ratings, according to Julie Burke, a managing director in the Fitch office in Chicago.
No company was downgraded by more than two notches, and Burke emphasized during a conference call that the downgrades were “not deep shifts,” but rather “modest adjustments” to life insurer ratings.
Burke could not say whether Fitch was conducting similar sweeping reviews of other financial services industries.
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Mutual insurers and companies selling traditional whole life products fared the best.
Of six “AAA”-rated insurers, two, were property-casualty groups and four were life insurance groups. All of the AAA-rated life insurers were mutual companies that could be managed conservatively, free of pressure to meet shareholder interests, Burke said.