How Do I Check the Ratings of Insurance Companies?

by Cynthia Myers

Insurance companies pay claims, salaries, overhead and dividends to stockholders with the premiums they collect from individuals. If an insurer has insufficient reserve funds to pay claims, its policyholders would suffer. Several companies provide ratings of insurance companies. Checking these ratings -- along with the agency with oversight of insurers in your state -- can help you choose a financially stable insurer that is likely to be able to cover your claim.

Contact your state’s department of insurance. Each state maintains a list of insurance companies licensed to operate in the state. You should be able to learn whether the company has a valid license and if anyone has lodged a complaint against the company. Some states also provide information from one insurance rating company or more.

Check the company’s rating with A.M. Best (ambest.com). On the A.M. Best website, select “Ratings and Analysis” from the box on the left hand side of the home page. On the Ratings and Analysis page, select “Financial Strength Ratings” from the box on the left hand side of the page. This gives you an alphabetical list of all the companies A.M. Best rates. You may scan the list to find the name of your insurance company, or you may type the name of the company in the search box at the top of the page. Ratings are expressed as a letter grade from A++ (Superior) to D (poor). The higher the rating, the better the insurance company’s financial situation.

Log on to Demotech (Demotech.com) and select “Consumer Information” at the top of the page. Type the name of your insurance company into the search field on the left hand side of the page. From the results, select the company you’re interested in and click on the name. This will take you to a report page. Demotech uses both letter ratings and comparative financial observation, or CFO, which compares the financial position of the company to others in the field and shows this rating as below, at or above average.

Verify the insurance company’s rating with Fitch (Fitchratings.com). On the home page, select “Ratings and Research.” From the pull-down menu, click on “Insurance.” Type the company name into the “Search Within Sector” box at the top right-hand side of the page. From the list that appears, select the name of the company you’re interested in. Fitch uses ratings from AAA to D to indicate the financial stability of insurance companies.

Check the insurance company’s rating with Moody’s (moodys.com). Log on to the company website and select “Research and Ratings,” then select "Look Up a Rating.” Type the name of the insurance company into the search box that appears. Select the company name from the list that appears, then select “Ratings” from the menu bar at the top of the page. The report that appears will give you the company’s current rating, plus a history of the company’s ratings. Moody’s uses a combinations of letters and numbers for ratings from Aaa1 to Caa3.

Tips

  • Some of the ratings companies require you to register before you can conduct a search. Registration is free.
  • Always read the explanation of the company’s ratings methodology, as each ratings company employs slightly different terms and standards.
  • You may also request a copy of Best’s Insurance Reports from the reference librarian at your local library. This printed report is a compilation of the annual ratings for insurance companies, as compiled by A.M. Best Company.

Photo Credits

  • Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images