Insurance company ratings or current annuity rateswhich “R” trumps the other? I don’t know about you but I’m hearing this question more than ever before. We all want to get the best annuity rate we possibly can for our clients but when the carrier rating is the trade-off, what is really best?
Such questions are even further complicated, in my opinion, by the fact that there are five major ratings firms (Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings, A.M. Best, Moody Investors Service and Weiss Ratings) that issue financial strength ratings for insurance companies. Each one is slightly different and their rating categories can also differ, i.e., an A+ from one may not mean the same as an A+ from another and some don’t have an A+ rating at all. I don’t think anyone is saying that it’s easy to understand or easy to explain to a client but is it important? I, for one, think it is. Here’s why:
First, ratings should help us support our insurance carrier recommendations to our clients and their ultimate decision to buy protection coverage or invest in their future financial well-being. These ratings are from independent third parties whose evaluation should help all parties determine the ability of an insurer to fulfill its financial obligations. In addition, having multiple carrier ratings available can provide valuable comparison benchmarks.
Second, a company’s rating should be a barometer of its ability to pay claims. The higher the rating the more the independent third party rating firm, in their opinion, believes in the ability of the company to meet their on-going obligations. Simply put, a high rating indicates the company has the assets and reserves needed to pay claims.