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Fitch affirms Endurance’s ratings

Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd and its operating subsidiaries have had their ratings affirmed by Fitch Ratings after the company made a net loss of $82 million during the first nine months of the year driven by claims from natural disasters. The ratings included the Issuer Default Rating (IDR) for Endurance at ‘A-’, and the Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating of Endurance Specialty Insurance Ltd at ‘A’. The rating outlook is stable. Fitch said that Endurance’s ratings reflected the company’s favourable historical earnings and interest coverage, moderate financial leverage, and high-quality and liquid investment portfolio. The ratings also showed the inherent earnings volatility derived from the company’s catastrophe exposure, potential uncertainty in the company’s loss reserve estimates for long-tail business lines and a higher underlying combined ratio due to increased losses and competitive property/casualty market conditions, said Fitch. Endurance’s losses were due to sizeable catastrophe losses from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, New Zealand earthquake, Australia floods, US tornadoes and Midwest storms, Hurricane Irene and Danish flood that adversely affected primarily the reinsurance segment. However, Fitch said it viewed Endurance’s run-rate profitability as strong, characterised by low and stable combined ratios and high returns on capital, with the company averaging an 85.5 percent combined ratio and 17.7 percent return on common equity over the most recent five-year period (2006 to 2010). The ratings agency said this was an important factor in supporting the company’s ratings and evidence of its underwriting skills.