A.M. Best Takes Various Rating Actions on 53 Canadian Property/Casualty Insurers

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength ratings (FSR) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of 30 Canadian property/casualty companies; upgraded seven FSRs and ICRs; upgraded seven ICRs (with no change to the FSRs); assigned four FSRs and ICRs; and downgraded five FSRs and ICRs. (See below for a detailed list of the companies and ratings.)

These ratings are based solely upon public information and present the most informed view A.M. Best can offer, short of an insurer participating in the full interactive rating process. A.M. Best uses the same rating scale and definitions as it does for its long-term financial strength interactive ratings, but applies a pd modifier to ensure the user is aware of the more limited information basis for the rating.

A.M. Best has affirmed the FSRs and ICRs of the following Canadian property/casualty companies: -0- *T Company Name FSR ICR Algoma Mutual Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" Allstate Insurance Company of Canada A- (Excellent) "a-" Antigonish Farmers Mutual Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" Aviva Insurance Company of Canada A- (Excellent) "a-" BCAA Insurance Corporation B+ (Good) "bbb-" Canadian Direct Insurance Inc. B+ (Good) "bbb-" La Capitale, Compagnie D'Assurance Generale A- (Excellent) "a-" Certas Direct Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" Clare Mutual Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company A- (Excellent) "a-" Economical Mutual Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" Federation Insurance Company of Canada B+ (Good) "bbb-" Fenchurch General Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" First North American Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" Glengarry Mutual Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" The Kings Mutual Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" Legacy General Insurance Company A- (Excellent) "a-" London and Midland General Insurance Company A- (Excellent) "a-" The Missisquoi Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of B.C. B++ (Good) "bbb+" North Waterloo Farmers Mutual Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" Pacific Coast Fishermens Mutual Marine Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" The Personal Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" Perth Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" Pool Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" The Portage La Prairie Mutual Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" Promutuel Reassurance B++ (Good) "bbb" Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company A- (Excellent) "a-" Traders General Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" Waterloo Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" *T

A.M. Best has upgraded the FSRs and ICRs of the following Canadian property/casualty companies: -0- *T Company Name FSR ICR CUMIS General Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" Grain Insurance and Guarantee Company A- (Excellent) "a-" Pembridge Insurance Company A- (Excellent) "a-" RBC Insurance Company of Canada A- (Excellent) "a-" RBC General Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" Red River Valley Mutual Insurance Company A- (Excellent) "a-" L'Unique Compagnie D'Assurances Generales A- (Excellent) "a-" *T

A.M. Best has affirmed the FSRs and upgraded ICRs of the following Canadian property/casualty companies: -0- *T Company Name FSR ICR Farmers' Mutual Insurance Company (Lindsay) B++ (Good) "bbb+" Gore Mutual Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb+" Green Shield Canada B++ (Good) "bbb+" Industrial-Alliance General Insurance Company C++ (Marginal) "b+" Pictou County Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb+" Prince Edward Island Mutual Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb+" Western Surety Company B++ (Good) "bbb+" *T

A.M. Best has assigned FSRs and ICRs to the following Canadian property/casualty companies: -0- *T Company Name FSR ICR Alpha Assurance Company A- (Excellent) "a-" Desjardins Assurances Generales Inc B (Fair) "bb+" Personal General Insurance Inc. C+ (Marginal) "b-" TD Home and Auto Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" *T

A.M. Best has downgraded the FSRs and ICRs of the following Canadian property/casualty companies: -0- *T Company Name FSR ICR Alberta Motor Association Insurance Company B++ (Good) "bbb" Elite Insurance Company B (Fair) "bb" Primmum Insurance Company B (Fair) "bb" Security National Insurance Company B+ (Good) "bbb-" TD General Insurance Company B (Fair) "bb+" *T

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.

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In Lesson 22

the test

Top things to know

Why insurance costs so much

1. You're a statistic.

To an insurer, you're not a person, you're a set of risks. An insurer bases its premium (or its decision to insure you at all) on your "risk factors," including some things that may seem unrelated to driving a car, including your occupation, who you are, and how you live.

2. Insurers differ.

As with anything else you buy, what seems to be the same product can have different prices, depending on the company. You can save money by comparison shopping.

3. Don't just look at price.

A low price is no bargain if an insurer takes forever to service your claim. Research the insurer's record for claims service, as well as its financial stability.

4. Go beyond the basics.

Most states require only a minimum of auto-insurance liability coverage, but you should look for more coverage than that.

5. Demand discounts.

Insurers provide discounts to reward behavior that reduces risk. However, Americans waste some $300 billion a year because they forget to ask for them!

6. Ask for the real thing.

Insurers cut costs by paying only for car parts made by companies other than the car's manufacturer. These parts can be inferior. Demand parts by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

7. At claims time, your insurer isn't necessarily your friend.

Your idea of fair compensation may not match your insurer's. Your insurer's job is to restore you financially. Your job is to prove your losses so you get what you need.

8. Prepare before you have to file a claim.

Keep your policy updated, and re-read it before you file a claim so there are no surprises

When to get long-term-care insurance

It can be a great way to protect your heirs - or a giant waste of your savings. Here's how to tell which.
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April 29, 2008: 6:07 AM EDT

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(Money Magazine) -- It's not alarmist to think that you'll need long-term care in your lifetime. Among Americans who reach their 65th birthday, 45% will have to pay for some kind of long-term-care services, according to the actuarial firm Milliman.

Yet the decision whether to buy a long-term-care insurance policy, which pays out for nursing-home and certain at-home care, is one of the toughest calls you'll ever have to make. Insurance could preserve your estate for your heirs and save incredible heartache. On the other hand, it's expensive and chances are you won't need it.

Unlike most stories you'll read in Money Magazne, this one won't give you a definitive answer. But we'll tell you what to consider as you weigh your comfort level with playing the odds.

Strictly by the numbers
There's no question that years in a nursing home can decimate your savings. The average facility now costs $213 a day, according to a MetLife survey; based on last year's 3% yearly price increase, by 2030 you can expect to pay $408 a day, or $148,967 a year. For a 2½-year average stay, the tab would be about $372,000.

The chances that you'll need that much care, however, are small. Only 9% of 65-year-olds can expect a lengthy nursing-home stay, according to Milliman (another 18% will need long-term assisted-living care).

But even a long-term stay could be a matter of months, not years. Suppose you're a healthy 58-year-old. You'd pay at least $1,000 a year for a policy with a $150 daily benefit that adjusts for inflation each year.

Invest that money instead and you'll end up with $65,330 at age 80 (assuming 8% annual returns). While that wouldn't even cover six months in a nursing home in 2030, it's money you can spend or leave to your heirs if you never need long-term care.

But wait...
What if a debilitating illness runs in your family? In that case, your odds of needing expensive long-term care increase. Or perhaps you want the peace of mind of knowing that a lengthy nursing-home stay wouldn't financially devastate your spouse or your kids.

Even if you feel that you're a candidate for this insurance, you have to confront the policies' expense. Don't buy unless you can afford a premium hike of 10% to 20% and can continue to make payments for 30 or so years.

A good rule of thumb: Spend no more than 7% of your income on premiums. And keep in mind that the average $1,000-a-year policy pays $150 a day, only 70% of the typical cost of care today.

If you want to avoid a shortfall - or if nursing- home costs are high in your area - you may need a more expensive policy. And if you can't pay at any point, you'll likely be left with no coverage at all. Then the money would really have been wasted.

Keep in mind
If you want to purchase long-term-care insurance, get the maximum flexibility you can afford. To keep your premium down, pick a 90-day elimination period (the long-term-care version of a deductible). But opt for 5% yearly "compounding" inflation, which costs more but will ensure that your coverage keeps up with price hikes. And keep saving - even if you have insurance, you'll wind up paying for a portion of your care.

Is universal life too good to be true?

Take charge of your health care