AM Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “a” from “a-” of SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc. (SSQ) (Quebec, Canada). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) has been revised to stable from positive.

The ratings reflect SSQ’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

SSQ is primarily involved in group insurance and holds significant market share within the Quebec province. As the sixth-largest life insurer in Canada by premium volume, SSQ also offers a variety of products including group and individual insurance, property/casualty insurance, and investment and retirement products. The company’s majority shareholder, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, is the largest developmental capital network within Quebec and assisted SSQ with the acquisition of AXA Life of Canada in 2012. SSQ continues to prioritize expanding outside of Quebec, with some success over the long term.

The rating upgrades reflect SSQ’s improved risk-adjusted capitalization, decreasing financial leverage, and growth of absolute capital over the previous several years. In addition to a favorable Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), the company also reported a robust regulatory solvency ratio through 2018 under Autorite Des Marches Financiers’s new capital regime, CARLI (capital adequacy requirements for life insurers), which took effect in Quebec on Jan. 1, 2018.

SSQ also continues to produce strong and consistent operating performance year-over-year, often posting low double-digit returns on equity. Despite some volatility in earnings by line, SSQ’s core group insurance business continues to generate favorable earnings on growing business volume, which is expected to accelerate in 2020, as the company takes on group business from the nearly 40,000 employees and retirees of HydroQuebec.

AM Best believes that SSQ will continue to support its very strong balance sheet strength over time, backed by favorable earnings and manage its concentration in Quebec, as it attempts to compete against larger more established entities throughout Canada.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Understanding Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media – Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency and information provider with an exclusive focus on the insurance industry. Visit www.ambest.com for more information.

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