A.M. Best Upgrades Ratings of Members of Optimum General Insurance Group

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating (FSR) to B (Fair) from B- (Fair) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) to “bb+” from “bb-” of Optimum Insurance Company Inc, its wholly owned subsidiary, Optimum Farm Insurance Inc (both of Montreal, Canada) and Optimum West Insurance Company (Vancouver, Canada). Together these members are known as Optimum General Insurance Group. All ratings have a stable outlook.

Concurrently, A.M. Best has withdrawn the ICR of “ccc+” of Optimum General Inc (Canada), a holding company that is no longer a publicly traded entity.

These rating actions reflect A.M. Best’s view that the group maintains adequate capitalization, having reported improved operating results and consistently favorable reserve development on both an accident and calendar year basis.

Partially offsetting these positive factors are conditions derived from older years where below average underwriting results strained overall profitability, although the group has experienced substantial improvement during the latest five year period.

The group’s results continue to improve as evidenced by favorable underwriting and investment income as well as improved pure loss ratios. This is reflected in its 2007 full year performance, which generated a combined ratio of 95.4 and operating ratio of 89.0. The grouphas benefited from management’s implementation of corrective actions to improve performance, tighten underwriting guidelines and improve rate adequacy. Indications are favorable as improved performance has been reported in several key financial measures including operating earnings, net underwriting income, net investment income and reserve development.

Optimum Insurance Company writes commercial and personal lines insurance business mainly in Ontario and Quebec, while Optimum Farm Insurance Company writes similar lines exclusively in Quebec. Optimum West Insurance Company provides residential and automobile insurance to individuals and property and liability insurance to commercial clients in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon Territory.

For Best’s Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit www.ambest.com/ratings.

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.