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Amid growing public concerns about financial institutions, the Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) on Thursday released a ranking of 20 major life insurance firms in terms of ability to provide payouts.The list included 10 life insurers whose ratings had been previously released in accordance with paid contracts with JCR, a private agency. It also added two firms that requested the evaluation and a group of eight firms that did not.Evaluation of the eight new additions was carried out on JCR’s own initiative, using publicly available data, it said. This group includes Nippon Life Insurance Co., rated “AAp,” as well as Daihyaku Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Taisho Life Insurance Co., which were rated “BBp.”In JCR’s ratings system, “AAA” indicates the highest ability to pay and “D” means default. The lower case “p” shows the rating was based on publicly available data. “BB” means the firm can pay claims for a few years but faces uncertainty beyond that point. “B” means the firm’s ability to pay is poor and that its future is bleak, according to the JCR. None of the firms listed in the JCR evaluation is “B” or worse.The remaining 12 insurers, which requested evaluation, were rated based on interviews with top management and information the firms specially disclosed to the agency, JCR officials said. This group includes Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Meiji Life Insurance Co., which were rated “AA.” The worst rated firm in this group was Toho Mutual Life Insurance Co, which was given a “BB-.” Minus and plus signs show relative position among firms with the same ranking.The rating list does not include the probabilities for each firm to default because there is only one precedent for failure among domestic life insurers, the officials said. Nissan Mutual Life Insurance Co. failed last April.JCR ratings place emphasis on insurance contracts, profitability, solvency margins and the fund management ability of each firm. The Tokyo-based rating agency is funded by financial institutions, including life insurers and nonlife insurers. It says its ratings are not influenced by these firms.

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