About Those A+, A, And A- Ratings

As you do your research (especially on the various comparison sites you'll see some A. M. Best ratings shown. What do they mean and how important are they?

Your travel insurance coverage is brought to you by a number of companies. For example, the plan may be developed, managed, and marketed by one insurance company (CSA, Travelex, Travel Guard, etc), underwritten by another (Stonebridge, Old Republic, etc), the claims may be administered in-house or sub-comtracted to a third company (Trip Mate is one of these), and the services such as emergency evacuation or the 24-hour help line may be handled by a company that specializes in that function such as OneCall.

So when you go to a comparison site and see that a plan is rated A+ who's really being rated and for what?

The rating you see will be from A.M. Best and will apply only to the underwriter. The primary function of the underwriter is to ensure that there will be enough money available to pay your loss in the case of a claim. A.M. Best examines the financial strength of the underwriter and issues an opinion of the underwriter's ability to pay any claims presented to it.

On the comparison sites you'll see ratings ranging from A+ to A to A-. As far as A.M. Best is concerned, any underwriters with ratings in this range have "excellent" financial strength and ability to pay your claim.

So the ratings are important but just don't read any more into them than there actually is. The ratings won't tell you anything about any of the following:

  • A relative ranking of one plan's coverages against another
  • The quality of the insurer's customer service
  • The fairness and accuracy of the claims process
  • The quality of information available through the 24-hour assistance service
Our opinion is that since all of the insurers you'll find on the major comparison sites will have an underwriter rated "excellent" by A.M. Best, these ratings should be about your last consideration in choosing a plan.  

travel insurance basics