Interboro Mutual, Sterling Casualty, and Care West
Downgraded by Weiss Ratings
207 Property and Casualty Insurers Downgraded; 107 Upgraded in Recent Review

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., July 1, 2003 - Interboro Mutual Indemnity Insurance Company, Sterling Casualty Company, and Care West Insurance Company were among 207 companies downgraded by Weiss Ratings, Inc., in its recent review of more than 2,400 property and casualty insurers. In contrast, 107 companies, including Occidental Fire and Casualty of North Carolina, Hartford Fire Insurance Company, and New Jersey Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange, received upgrades by Weiss, the nation's leading independent provider of ratings and analyses of financial services companies, mutual funds, and stocks.

Interboro Mutual Indemnity Insurance Company (Mineola, N.Y.) was downgraded to E (Very Weak) from D+ (Weak) due to a significant decrease in capital and surplus during the fourth quarter of 2002. Capital and surplus declined 46.5 percent, or $4.7 million, from $10.1 million at September 30, 2002 to $5.4 million at December 31, 2002, due to a $4.6 million loss for the quarter. For the full year, the company experienced a $13.2 million net loss, which represents 244 percent of its ending period capital. The company's overall loss ratio rose from 61.9 percent to 88.9 percent resulting in part from an increase in its commercial auto loss ratio, which jumped from 48.6 percent to 108.4 percent.

Sterling Casualty Company (Newport Beach, Calif.) was downgraded to E (Very Weak) from D (Weak) due to a significant decline in capital since year-end 2001. Sterling's capital fell 57.3 percent, from $18.4 million at December 31, 2001 to $7.8 million at December 31, 2002. Premiums increased 183 percent, from $30 million at year-end 2001 to $84.9 million at year-end 2002, however, the increased exposure, coupled with the plunge in capital, caused Sterling's capitalization index to weaken, falling from 5.1 (Good) to 0.0 (Very Weak).

Care West Insurance Company (Rocklin, Calif.) was downgraded to D (Weak) from C (Fair) due to a substantial decline in capital and surplus since December 31, 2001. The company's capital and surplus declined 43.4 percent, or $3.6 million, from $8.3 million at year-end 2001 to $4.7 million at year-end 2002. Although premiums increased to $12.5 million at year-end 2002 from $5.9 million a year earlier, the increased exposure as well as the deterioration in capital caused Care West's capitalization index to fall from 5.0 (Good) to 0.0 (Very Weak). The company's overall loss ratio, which reflects its only line of business — workers' compensation - rose to 124.1 percent from 97.6 percent.

107 companies receive Weiss Safety Rating Upgrades

Occidental Fire & Casualty Company (Raleigh, N.C.) was upgraded to C- (Fair) from D- (Weak) due to increases in assets and capital and surplus since year-end 2001. The company increased its asset base by 22.2 percent, or $25.4 million, from $114.5 million at December 31, 2001 to $139.9 million at December 31, 2002. Capital and surplus rose 10.8 percent, from $57.4 million to $63.6 million during the same period. Occidental Fire and Casualty, a member of the McMillen Group, has provided critical details about management's focus on capital growth and profitability through conservative underwriting and reserving programs. The upgrade also reflects the financial improvement of other insurers within the McMillen group of companies.

New Jersey Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange (Princeton, N.J.) was upgraded to D-(Weak) from E (Very Weak) due to a substantial increase in capital since year-end 2001. Capital surged 62.5 percent, from $6.2 million at December 31, 2001 to $10.1 million at December 31, 2002. In addition, assets rose to $49.8 million at year-end 2002, or 52.9 percent, compared to $32.6 million at year-end 2001. Net premiums jumped to $32.8 million, or 51.2 percent, from $21.7 million during the same period.

Hartford Fire Insurance Company (Hartford, Conn.) was upgraded to B+ (Good) from B (Good) due to increases in capital and assets throughout 2002. Hartford Fire's capital increased 12.8 percent, or $.7 billion, from $5.6 billion at December 31, 2001 to $6.3 billion at December 31, 2002. Hartford's assets increased to $14.9 billion, or 10.4 percent, at year-end 2002 from $13.5 billion at year-end 2001. In addition, the company's overall loss ratio declined to 59.9 percent from 69.6 percent due to improved results across all lines of business.

Weiss Ratings issues safety ratings on more than 15,000 financial institutions, including HMOs, life and health insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, property and casualty insurers, banks and brokers. Weiss also rates the risk-adjusted performance of more than 12,000 mutual funds and more than 7,000 stocks. Weiss Ratings is the only major rating agency that receives no compensation from the companies it rates. Revenues are derived strictly from sales of its products to consumers, businesses, and libraries.

Consumers needing more information on the financial safety of a specific company can purchase a rating and summary analysis for as little as $7.95 through www.WeissRatings.com, or starting at $15 by calling 800-289-9222.

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