With last week's AA-minus rating from Standard & Poor's and $39 million in fresh capital, Triad Guaranty Insurance Corp. is poised for a major expansion.

Triad's book of mortgage insurance has been limited in recent years because its lack of capital made a top-flight rating out of reach. "There have been a number of mortgage banks that won't do business with us, or limit the business they will do, without a rating," said William T. Ratliff 3d, chairman of the Winston-Salem. N.C., company.

Now that the company is rated and has sufficient capital, it plans a big push to increase its client roster and do more business outside its traditional stronghold in the Southeast, said Mr. Ratliff.

Eye on Freddie and Fannie

Triad is owned by Collateral Mortgage Ltd., Birmingham, Ala., of which Mr. Ratliff is president. Collateral obtained Triad from Primerica Corp. in 1989.

An extremely important consideration in going public and seeking the ratings was Triad's concern that it remain an accredited mortgage insurer for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Triad had been operating under a waiver of Fannie Mae's requirement of an AA rating, and Freddie Mac has been considering implementing a similar edict. Since the vast majority of mortgages are securitized through the secondary market agencies, a mortgage insurer unable to do business through them would be effectively barred from the market.

The S&P rating will also allow Triad to begin providing insurance for jumbo mortgages, a sector of the market that it has not previously served. "We hope that accessing the jumbo market will allow us to reach new clients," said Mr. Ratliff.

Triad, the smallest mortgage insurer in the country, has enjoyed rapid growth over the past several years. In 1991 the company wrote $578 million of new insurance, a figure more than doubled by last year's $1.23 billion total. In the first nine months of this year. Triad has booked $1.17 billion of new insurance, versus $860 million in the same period last year.

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