The Rating Game: When A+ Equals C

If you had called A. M. Best Co. on July 1 and asked for a rating on Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., you would have been soothed by the answer: A+. One week later, the venerable agency seemed only slightly less upbeat, rating the insurer "contingent A"--Best's designation for sound companies with temporary troubles. But on July 16, there was no rating at all. Mutual Benefit had been seized by New Jersey's regulators.

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