Ask the Life Insurance Expert
What does an insurance company rating of AApi mean?
A number of firms rate insurance companies for financial strength, including A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service, Weiss Ratings and Standard & Poor's. Checking the financial strength rating is important when evaluating an insurance company, particularly when purchasing life insurance, yet many consumers overlook this step.
Each rating service uses its own grading system, so one firm's B rating may not be the same as another's B. You can find definitions of ratings on each rating agency's website.
Standard & Poor's uses a system from AAA, the highest rating, to CC, for extremely weak, and R, under regulatory supervision because of its financial condition. To grade insurers, S&P analysts examine financial statements and review the company's management team, strategies and risk management ability. They also consider the variety of products the company sells, its financial history, competitive position and economic environment. S&P updates ratings annually, but also conducts discussions with insurance companies each quarter.
An AA rating, the second-highest rating a company can earn through S&P, means analysts think the company has "very strong" financial security characteristics. The "pi" subscript means the rating is based only on an analysis of the company's published financial information and other publicly available data. A "pi" rating does not reflect in-depth discussions with an insurance company's management, so it's based on less thorough information than a rating without a "pi" subscript.
Analysts at S&P review annual financial statements for insurance companies with "pi" ratings, but they also might review financial information more frequently if a major change occurs that could impact the insurance company's financial stability.