How to Check a Rating with AM Best

Written by Scott W Johnson

Check Ratings with AM BestIf you are researching life insurance, Don’t Buy a policy until you check their rating.  Not just any rating but their financial strength rating.

  • AM Best is an Exclusive Insurance Rater
  • The Full Financial Picture can only be seen by reviewing an insurer’s rating.
  • Learn how to check a rating with AM Best
  • Always check ratings when buying life insurance.
  • Discover the secret of FSRs.

About AM Best:

AM Best is known as a Rating Agency.  Unlike many other credit rating agencies, AM Best generally deals exclusively with the Insurance Industry.    It does not typically do Business Ratings such as Fitch Rating, Standard and Poors, and Moodys.   This separates out AM Best from the crowd.  They specialize in Life Insurance Ratings as well as other forms of insurance as well.

According to the AM Best Website they were formed in 1899 by Alfred Best.   The corporation is based in New Jersey in Oldwick.  Arthur Snyder the third is the current President and Chairman, as of 2017.

Being that AM Best deals mostly with insurance and reinsurance companies they are a useful rating agency for consumers of insurance to be aware of.   When purchasing any type of insurance it can be helpful to consider the rating of your insurance company before making that purchase.

AM Best rates  3,400 companies in about 80 countries.

“AM Best Only Rates Insurance Companies.”

Property Casualty and Life Insurance:

When purchasing home insurance, the credit quality of your insurer is important.    Its even more important if the home insurer is a non admitted insurance company.  A non admitted insurance company is one that is not backed up by the state guarantee fund and is not regulated by your state insurance regulator.  So the credit quality of your insurer is important in this situation.   Possibly more so for more expensive homes.

However when you are buying home insurance, typically you are buying the insurance for periods of one year.  If the home insurance company were to go out of business, you would be free to change insurers either when that happened or when your policy came up for renewal.

With Life Insurance, you are buying an insurance company for either the length of your term policy of your entire life with whole life.   Therefore understanding the rating of your insurer is extremely important.   After all if you are considering a whole life insurance policy you may need the life insurance carrier to stick around for sixty plus years.

You should always check the Life Insurance Ratings of any company you will be doing business with.


The world of credit ratings is not opaque for consumers.  Needless to say there are numerous ways to rate companies, insurance and otherwise.   When reviewing an insurance companies rating, you need to understand what they are well… rating.   Some forms of rating are more designed if a company has a bond offering.  However, the insurance consumer probably need not worry about their that rating but rather more about their ability to pay up if a life insurance claim is made.

To add further detail to the confusion, the abbreviation FSR is basically the same as IFS or IFSR.  These are all short for Insurer Financial Strength Rating.


ICR stands for Issuer Credit Rating and rates the insurance company on their “ability to meet its ongoing financial obligations and can be issued on either a long or short term basis.”  Source: Understanding Best’s Credit Rating.   An Issuer Credit Rating has to do with the companies ability to meet its “ongoing financial obligations as they come due.  An ICR does not address any other risk.”  There are numerous disclaimers about this, which you can of course read on AM Bests website.

ICR long term issuer ratings are issued on a scale including: AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, B, CCC, CC, C.  With AAA being considered Exceptional and C being Poor.  Pluses and Minusses are also added the various members of that scale.

ICR short term issuer ratins are issued on a scale including: AMB-1+, AMB-1, AMB-2, AMB-3, AMB-4, d,e,f,s,nr.  IWth AMB-1+ being considered

“Look for the FSR Rating with AM Best”


FSR stands for Financial Strength Rating and rates the insurance companies on their “ability to meet its ongoing policy and contract obligations.” Source: Understanding Best’s Credit Rating.  FSRs are not assigned to any “insurance policies” and “does not address other risks including, but not limited to, an insurer’s claims-payment policies or procedures; the ability of the insurer to dispute or deny claims payments on grounds…”   In other words the FSR, or Financial Strength Rating is a rating of its “ongoing insurance…obligations.”   This seems to be the simplest definition.

AM Best FSR ratings are issued on a scale including: A++, A+, A, A-, B++, B+, B, B-, C++, C+, C, C-, D.  With A++ being the rated Superior and the highest, and D being poor.  Of note is that A+ is also considered Superior by AM Best.

As stated A++ and A+ are both considered Superior, while A, and A- are both considered Excellent.  All four of these AM Best Ratings are where the majority of well functioning life insurance companies are.  I would really do your homework if you are considering purchasing any life insurance policy for any policy below these levels.   Ratings B++. B+, B, and B- might sound OK, but in the world of insurance generally insurance agents shy away from them.


AM Best also rates insurers on the Policyholder Surplus.  This is an amount of money that is left over after a fiscal year.  This is similar, although not the exact same, as a net worth.  Policyholder Surplus can also be written as Policy Holder Surplus.

How to Check a Rating with AM Best:

  1. Go to
  2. Go to Search for a Company, in the middle of the page towards the top.
  3. Type in the name of an insurance company, click Go.
  4. Click on the name of the insurance company that you wish to view.  (Please read the note.)
  5. If you do not yet have a free AM Best account,  you will need to create a new account, otherwise login.

One note here, when considering a life insurance policy you may have to to ask your life insurance agent for the EXACT name of the life insurance company.  Many companies have many corporate entities and their ratings can differ from one to another.  Also, for life insurance policies it is often best to also consider checking the rating with a second rating agency such as Fitchs, S&P,or Moodys.

“Always Check the Financial Rating of Any Company you Plan on Buying Insurance From.”

How to Check a Rating with AM BestWhy You Should Check the Rating of a Life Insurance Carrier:

When purchasing any form of life insurance it is imperative for you as the consumer to do your due diligence.   Ask your insurance agent their opinion.  Read up about the insurance company. And  check their Financial Strength Rating at a credit rater such as AMBest.    You should check your life insurers rating because you need to be relatively certain that the insurance company will be able to pay your claim.   Why buy an insurance product if the insurance company may not be able to pay the claim?  Ignoring your life insurance companies rating is like buying a house without an inspection.  Or like not researching a bank that you are depositing a large sum in.

Thanks for reading How to Check a Rating with AM Best.  The Financial Health of your future insurance policy can only be checked if you yourself take action.  Confused, please contact us directly at for more information.

Sources for this reading: Understanding Best’s Credit Rating  Publication Date: September 1st, 2016.




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