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United Fire & Casualty : A.M. Best Assigns Issuer Credit Rating to United Fire Group, Inc.

02/08/2012 | 03:55pm US/Eastern

A.M. Best Co. has assigned an issuer credit rating (ICR) of "bbb" to the newly formed holding company, United Fire Group, Inc. (UFG, Inc.) (Cedar Rapids, IA) [NASDAQ: UFCS]. The assigned outlook is negative.

This rating action follows the February 2, 2012 reorganization of United Fire & Casualty Group (United Fire) (Cedar Rapids, IA), whereby UFG, Inc. replaced United Fire & Casualty Company as the ultimate publicly traded parent of United Fire and its members, allowing the group to operate under a more traditional holding company structure.

The ICR of UFG, Inc. reflects the use of typical notching from the current ICR of United Fire. UFG, Inc. maintains modest financial leverage, and A.M. Best anticipates interest coverage ratios to fall within its guidelines for its assigned ICR.

The financial strength rating of A (Excellent) and ICRs of "a" of United Fire and its members are unaffected by this transaction. The outlook for these ratings is negative.

Factors that may lead to negative rating actions for UFG, Inc. include further deterioration in underwriting and operating performance as well as a decrease in risk-adjusted capitalization to a level that would no longer support the ratings of United Fire.

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: "A.M. Best's Ratings &the Treatment of Debt"; "Equity Credit for Hybrid Securities"; "Rating Members of Insurance Groups"; and "Risk Management and the Rating Process for Insurance Companies." 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 © 2012 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

A.M. Best Company
Michael Russo, 908-439-2200, ext. 5372
Financial Analyst
Michael Lagomarsino, CFA, 908-439-2200, ext. 5810
Assistant Vice President
Rachelle Morrow, 908-439-2200, ext. 5378
Senior Manager, Public Relations
Jim Peavy, 908-439-2200, ext. 5644
Assistant Vice President, Public Relations

© Business Wire 2012
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