Press Release

DBRS Morningstar Changes Trends on Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and its Affiliates to Positive from Stable, Confirms Ratings

Insurance Organizations
December 06, 2022

DBRS Limited (DBRS Morningstar) changed the trends on Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (Fairfax or the Company) and its related entities to Positive from Stable. DBRS Morningstar also confirmed all ratings, including Fairfax’s Issuer Rating, at BBB (high), with Northbridge General Insurance Corporation’s (Northbridge) and Federated Insurance Company of Canada’s Financial Strength Ratings at “A”.

The change in the trends to Positive from Stable recognizes Fairfax’s resilient, diversified and growing franchise; consistent underwriting profitability; strong liquidity position; and sound regulatory capital. The Company is a major international property and casualty (P&C) insurance and reinsurance player with a significant presence in key global markets through its geographically diversified insurance and reinsurance operating subsidiaries. Fairfax maintains ample liquid assets at both the holding and operating companies, as well as access to committed lines of credit. Fairfax’s earnings are subject to volatility as a result of exposure to natural catastrophe losses and the impact of financial market fluctuations on unrealized investment gains and losses. The Company’s subsidiaries maintain appropriate regulatory capital ratios with buffers above required solvency levels, allowing Fairfax to handle adverse events. The ratings also consider Fairfax’s improved risk profile, driven by the Company's recent shift towards investing in highly rated and liquid fixed-income securities while reducing holdings of noninvestment-grade bonds. AAA-rated bonds now account for the majority of Fairfax's bond portfolio.

DBRS Morningstar would upgrade the ratings on Fairfax and its subsidiaries, if the Company maintains its improved risk profile and overall profitability while reducing its financial leverage ratio.

Given the Positive trend, a downgrade in the near future is unlikely. However, the trend would revert to Stable if there is deterioration in the risk profile and overall profitability, or sustained elevated financial leverage.

DBRS Morningstar views the Company's franchise strength as Strong/Good, reflecting the size and diversity of its core operations. Fairfax has developed an extensive portfolio of global insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries over time, which the Company continues to expand through organic growth and prudent strategic acquisitions. Management of Fairfax’s insurance and reinsurance operating subsidiaries is decentralized, with each organization having its own autonomous management team. The breakdown of premiums written by line of business has remained consistent over the past five years, with casualty insurance accounting for just more than half of the gross premiums written. The Company ranks among the top five providers of commercial P&C insurance in Canada based on 2021 direct premiums written. Fairfax’s largest U.S.-based subsidiary, Odyssey Group, ranks among the 25 largest global P&C reinsurers. The Company’s U.K. subsidiary, Brit Limited (Brit), is the second largest Lloyd’s of London syndicate and a market leader in specialty insurance and reinsurance. Fairfax can compete with larger global players using various platforms in selected markets where it can achieve underwriting profitability. The Company’s gross written gross premiums have increased progressively over the past five years to $23.8 billion reported for year-end 2021.

Fairfax’s Good risk profile is supported by the Company’s strong underwriting and risk-limit controls, effective claims management, and appropriate reinsurance coverage for aggregate claim events or large losses. Moreover, Fairfax has appropriate internal controls and has been able to operate successfully in multiple jurisdictions. There has been a significant increase in the proportion of AAA rated bonds and a decline in the proportion of bonds rated BBB and below in the bond portfolio, resulting in a material improvement in the credit risk profile of the Company's fixed-income investment portfolio.

DBRS Morningstar assesses Fairfax’s earnings ability as Good. The Company is characterized by disciplined underwriting, supported by a long-term value investing approach that sometimes may introduce earnings volatility. The Company has a history of acquiring well-managed insurance companies, ensuring that it retains management to continue running these businesses. The results for the first nine months of 2022 (9M 2022) were negatively affected by market volatility, caused in part by the rapid increase in interest rates globally. As a result, Fairfax reported a consolidated net loss of $816 million as of 9M 2022. Nonetheless, Fairfax expects to report a small profit for full year due to realized gains ($1.3 billion on a pre-tax basis) upon the sale of the Company’s pet insurance business, which will be reflected in Q4 2022 earnings. The hardening reinsurance market is expected to contribute positively to Fairfax earnings in the short to medium term.

DBRS Morningstar assesses Fairfax’s liquidity profile as Strong/Good. Fairfax maintains a strong financial position at the holding company level, with approximately a $873.5 million total for cash and liquid investments as at Q3 2022. DBRS Morningstar considers this level of cash and investments as providing an important liquidity cushion for any potential uptick in insurance claims from the subsidiaries or potential catastrophe losses. The Company redeployed a significant amount of cash in 2022 to invest in AAA-rated U.S. Treasuries and Government of Canada bonds. This is expected to help increase earnings through interest income going forward while maintaining the Company’s resilient liquidity position. Fairfax maintains a committed credit facility of $2 billion that is available to support liquidity needs. The credit facility was largely undrawn as at September 30, 2022.

DBRS Morningstar assesses the capitalization of Fairfax as Good/Moderate. The Company’s insurance and reinsurance operating subsidiaries are appropriately capitalized. Fairfax’s fixed-charge coverage ratios have been volatile over time because of the impact of International Financial Reporting Standards’ accounting treatment of unrealized capital gains and losses within the investment portfolio. However, it improved significantly in 2021 because of the Company's strong earnings. The Company's financial leverage ratio (calculated by DBRS Morningstar on a consolidated basis as debt plus preferred shares to capital) increased to 35.7% at Q3 2022, in part due to the issuance of $750 million of senior debt in August 2022 and a decline in common equity. Any substantial further increase in leverage would change the Positive trend to Stable.


Environmental (E) Factors
Environmental concerns regarding Climate and Weather Risks are relevant to the rating of the Company as a P&C insurer but did not affect the assigned rating or trend. As part of its P&C product offering, Fairfax is exposed to weather-related losses from natural catastrophic events such as wind, wildfire, hail, flooding, and other extreme weather events. These events can lead to earnings volatility and increased reinsurance cost. DBRS Morningstar considered this ESG factor as part of product risk when assessing Fairfax’s risk profile. The Company has not yet adopted the processes of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

There were no Social or Governance factors that had a significant or relevant effect on the credit analysis.

A description of how DBRS Morningstar considers ESG factors within the DBRS Morningstar analytical framework can be found in the DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk Factors in Credit Ratings at (May 17, 2022).

The Grid Summary Grades for Fairfax are as follows: Franchise Strength – Strong/Good; Risk Profile – Good; Earnings Ability – Good; Liquidity – Strong/Good; Capitalization – Good/Moderate.

All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

The principal methodology is the Global Methodology for Rating Insurance Companies and Insurance Organizations (August 31, 2022). Other applicable methodologies include the DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Guarantees and Other Forms of Support ( (April 4, 2022). In addition, DBRS Morningstar uses the DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk Factors in Credit Ratings, (May 17, 2022) in its consideration of ESG factors.

The related regulatory disclosures pursuant to the National Instrument 25-101 Designated Rating Organizations are hereby incorporated by reference and can be found on the issuer page at

The rated entity or its related entities did participate in the rating process for this rating action. DBRS Morningstar had access to the accounts and other relevant internal documents of the rated entity or its related entities in connection with this rating action.

This rating is endorsed by DBRS Ratings Limited for use in the United Kingdom, and by DBRS Ratings GmbH for use in the European Union, respectively. The following additional regulatory disclosures apply to endorsed ratings:

Each of the principal methodologies employed in the analysis addressed one or more particular risks or aspects of the rating and were factored into the rating decision. Specifically, the “Global Methodology for Rating Insurance Companies and Insurance Organizations” (August 31, 2022) was used to evaluate the issuers, while the “DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Guarantees and Other Forms of Support” (April 4, 2022) was used to rate subsidiary debt issuances guaranteed by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and “DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk Factors in Credit Ratings” (May 17, 2022) was used to assess ESG factors.

The conditions that lead to the assignment of a Negative or Positive trend are generally resolved within a 12-month period. DBRS Morningstar’s outlooks and ratings are monitored.

For further information on DBRS Morningstar historical default rates published by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in a central repository, see: DBRS Morningstar understands further information on DBRS Morningstar historical default rates may be published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on its webpage:

Lead Analyst: Victor Adesanya, Vice President
Rating Committee Chair: William Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Credit Ratings, Credit Practices Group
Initial Rating Date: November 8, 1993

For more information on this credit or on this industry, visit

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