Standard & Poor's has raised its long-term counterparty credit and financial strength rating on Iron Trades Insurance Company to A+ from an A-. The outlook is stable.

The raised rating is based on the support Iron Trades has received from its parent, QBE Insurance, in the form of a network maintenance agreement.

QBE has undertaken to ensure Iron Trades' capital is maintained at a prudent level, that Iron Trades maintains sufficient liquid assets to meet maturing obligations at all times and that it will remain a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Iron Trades retains its good stand-alone

profile based on its very strong capitalisation, good niche position in employer's liability insurance and good prospective operating performance in this line of business.

These positive factors are offset by

Iron Trades' lack of geographic or product diversity and its relatively short earnings record in the company's substantially restructured form.

Iron Trades was bought by QBE last year and changed its focus to mainly writing UK employer's liability.