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What does a "pi" rating mean from Standard & Poor's?

A financial rating from Standard & Poor's that includes a "pi" subscript indicates the rating is based solely on an analysis of published financial information and other public data about the insurance company.

Ratings that don't have the Pi subscript are based on additional in-depth information, including meetings with company executives, and are therefore more comprehensive than Pi ratings. A rating of Api, for instance, would indicate strong financial security (A) based on public information (pi).

Standard & Poor's reviews Pi ratings annually based on the year's financial statements, but may review some companies on an interim basis if a major event occurs that could affect the insurance company's financial security.

Checking the financial strength of insurance companies is a critical step in the process of buying insurance. Besides comparing insurance policies and premiums, it's important to choose insurers who are on solid financial ground.

Standard & Poor's financial strength ratings range from the highest rating of AAA, which means a company has "extremely strong" financial security characteristics to CC, the lowest rating for companies who aren't under regulatory supervision. A company with a CC rating has "extremely weak" financial security characteristics and is likely not to meet some of its financial obligations. An "R" rating means a company is under regulatory supervision because of its financial condition, and "NR" means the company is not rated.

A plus or minus sign following a rating from AA to CC shows the company's relative standing within a major rating category. A company with a BBB+ rating, for instance, would mean the insurer is closer to the next highest rating of A than the next lowest rating of BB.

For more, see Standard & Poor's ratings definitions and the Insurance Company Ratings Lookup Tool.

Last updated: Mar. 23, 2011