We are also pleased that AM Best has just reaffirmed our "A- (Excellent)" rating with a "stable" outlook. In our discussions regarding their assessment, they noted our "strong operating performance in 2009" as well as our "more robust and enhanced risk management process" and our "proven track record of developing long-lasting partnerships with members and brokers".
They also noted, however, the substantial amount of energy industry excess liability and D+O losses we incurred going back to the early 2000s, as well as the effect of the recent financial market meltdown on our surplus. And although they remain concerned about the need to continue to grow surplus to support our inherent risk volatility, especially during a time of tentative economic recovery, they also noted that we continue to demonstrate a strong market profile as evidenced by our high member retention ratio, the adaptability and responsiveness of our management team, and our continued expansion of programs to meet our mission.
We believe AM Best understands and appreciates the wisdom of the steps we've taken during the past 18 months to improve capital adequacy, and their reaffirmation of our rating acknowledges our progress. We have clearly been able to maintain our business and market leadership during the past year and we are confident that our business plan – along with strong member support – will continue to strengthen our capital base.