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ALPS keeps A- rating

The Virginia State Bar’s endorsed insurance carrier has retained its healthy assessment from insurance rating agency A.M. Best.

ALPS Property & Casualty Insurance Company continues to hold an A- (Excellent) rating with a stable outlook, ALPS reported Wednesday.

The news comes as further reassurance to VSB officials who recently hired a consultant to report on ALPS and the bar’s relationship with the company. The $58,000 study – released in March – showed ALPS to be strong, and a good fit with the bar’s services to its members.

Based on the report, the VSB’s Special Committee on Lawyer Malpractice Insurance recommended no change in the bar’s relationship with ALPS.

The Best ratings reflect ALPS’ good risk-adjusted capital position, high policyholder retention and its geographic spread of risk, according to ALPS notice letter as quoted by ALPS.

The company’s “established relationships with various State Bar Associations aid in the production of lawyers professional liability insurance to insureds,” Best said. “The company’s pre-tax operating performance has been positive on an overall basis during the five-year period, as prior year loss reserves have developed favorably…,” Best said, as quoted by ALPS.

ALPS President & CEO David Bell highlighted the retention achievement.

“Our customer loyalty, as illustrated by our retention rate, is one of the factors highlighted by A.M. Best as an area of distinction within the lawyers’ professional liability insurance industry and the insurance industry as a whole. ALPS achieved a policy retention rate of 91% during 2013, which is inclusive of retirements and well above industry standards,” Bell said in a news release.

In 2013, ALPS achieved the highest gross written premium in company history at $42.2 million, the company said.

In May of 2013, Best revised its outlook for ALPS from “negative” to “stable,” relieving some concerns about the company among bar officials. ALPS had hoped for a “positive” outlook, but its current rating is similar to other malpractice carriers, said Leonard C. Heath Jr. of Newport News, a member of the bar’s malpractice insurance committee.

“They’re right in the ballpark with everybody else,” Heath said.

As the VSB’s endorsed carrier for legal malpractice insurance, ALPS uses a portion of its Virginia premiums to provide risk management programs for Virginia lawyers while getting a marketing boost from its status with the bar.

ALPS is affiliated with or endorsed by 14 state bars, more than any other legal malpractice carrier, the company said.

Updated on June 12 to add comment from Heath.

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