A.M. Best Affirms Rating of Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund Inc
June 10, 2008
OLDWICK, N.J. - A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and assigned an issuer credit rating (ICR) of “a-” to Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund Inc (Attorneys’ Title) (Orlando, FL). The outlook for the FSR is stable, and the outlook assigned to the ICR is stable.
The ratings reflect Attorneys’ Title’s favorable capitalization, long operating history in the Florida title insurance marketplace and a strong brand identity and business profile as one of the largest title insurance underwriters in Florida.
These positive rating factors are somewhat offset by the company’s high geographic concentration in Florida with its challenge to manage that state’s current downswing in the real estate cycle. The rating outlook is based on Attorneys’ Title’s strong capitalization and leading market position in Florida.
The company’s positive rating factors are derived from its favorable capital position and moderate underwriting leverage, which support its current ratings. Prior to 2007, Attorneys’ Title experienced substantial growth in its revenue base as a result of the favorable conditions in the real estate market from 2001-2006, during which the company posted consistently strong operating results and tripled its statutory surplus base. Furthermore, Attorneys’ Title has made critical investments in cost saving technology, which enables it to further build its brand in the highly competitive Florida market.
Negative rating factors include the inherent risk associated with Attorneys’ Title’s significant geographic concentration in Florida, where a deteriorating real estate environment resulted in a significant decline in operating revenues and caused a sizeable underwriting loss in 2007. While Attorneys’ Title has recently begun to address this negative trend by initiating expense reductions, the company remains challenged to manage this ongoing downswing in the real estate cycle by realigning its cost structure to reflect the declining revenue trend. Moreover, there has been an increase in loss trends in 2007 due to emergence of claims from recent policy years driven partly by the substantial growth in premium volume during the “boom” years of 2004-2006. However, these negative trends are somewhat mitigated by Florida’s favorable demographics trend as evidenced by a continued strong population growth and economic fundamentals, which are expected to sustain long-term demand for housing and by derivation, demand for the title insurance product and its ancillary services.
Source: AM Best