GCR Ratings (“GCR”) has assigned an initial national scale financial strength rating of A-(NG) to Lasaco Assurance Plc, with a Stable Outlook.
|Rated Entity / Issue||Rating class||Rating scale||Rating||Outlook / Watch|
|Lasaco Assurance Plc||Financial strength||National||A-(NG)||Stable Outlook|
The rating accorded to Lasaco Assurance Plc (“Lasaco”, “the insurer”) reflects the insurer’s moderately strong financial position, which partly offsets its limited competitive position in the highly fragmented Nigeria insurance industry.
Lasaco’s competitive profile somewhat constrains the rating. Lasaco is a mid-tier composite player within the Nigerian Insurance industry, with a track record of over four decades. The insurer controls an estimated market share and relative market share of 2.2% and 1.2x respectively as at FY20 based on total gross written premiums (“GWP”) of the industry. The premium base is somewhat concentrated, with group life business dominating premium mix over the review period with 60% contribution. This is somewhat offset by a diversified portfolio in the short-term business, with four lines of business contributing over 10% to the gross premium base. Going forward, the insurer’s competitive position is expected to be maintained within the same range, supported by entrenched market relationships with intermediaries and policyholders.
Earnings are at an intermediate level, with net profit supported by market sensitive income. In this regard, profitability in FY20 is underpinned by investment income and the highly volatile foreign exchange (“FX”) gains. Characterised by the low yield environment in 2020, largely due to the pandemic, investment income declined notably by 24.2% year on year (“YoY”) in FY20. This, coupled with an increase in net claims during the year, resulted to a moderation in operating margin. Looking ahead, given the strategic plans put in place, we expect planned premium growth to improve portfolio quality and support the volatile investment income, which in turn should result in earnings stability.
Lasaco’s capital adequacy is a positive rating factor. Though a slight 2.2% YoY decline in capital was reported at FY20 due to revaluation losses, capitalisation metrics remained strong. Both the international solvency and GCR capital adequacy ratio (“CAR”) were maintained well above 100% and 2.5x respectively over the review period, evidencing good loss absorbing capacity. The insurer plans to increase its shareholders’ funds by about N10bn over the medium term to enable participation on big policies, support business growth, and better position the insurer. This could be supportive to the rating should it be successfully implemented, with evidence of good capital management structures.
Liquidity is assessed within a relatively low range, given the fact that investment properties constitute about 22.5% of the investment portfolio at FY20 (FY19: 26%). That said, cash and stressed assets coverage of net technical liabilities registered a moderation to 1.3x at FY20 (FY19: 1.7x) due to cash absorption by reinsurance receivables. Similarly, operational cash coverage moderated to 10 months (FY19: 13.5 months), pressured by a spike in net claims incurred. Liquidity metrics are expected to improve over the near term based on the planned capital injection.
The Stable Outlook reflects GCR expectation that Lasaco will defend its competitive position as it deepens its relationship with the Lagos State, being the major shareholder. GCR expects the planned capital raise to improve the liquidity position over the next 12-18 months, while investment properties generate healthy returns for the insurer. we expect planned premium growth to improve portfolio quality, and support the volatile investment income, which in turn should result in earnings stability.
Positive rating action may stem from sustained improvement in earnings supporting a strengthening in liquidity and/or capitalisation. Conversely, a negative rating action could be triggered should investment property continue to dominate the investment portfolio without generating returns, with liquidity metrics moderating further. In addition, a sustained weakening in capitalisation and loss of market share would be negatively considered.
Prudential Zenith Life Insurance Grows Profit After Tax by 75 in 2021
Prudential Zenith Life Insurance Limited grew profit after tax by a whopping 75% to ₦1.13 billion, up from ₦646 million recorded in 2020.
Despite rising economic uncertainties and the challenging business environment experienced in 2021, Prudential Zenith Life Insurance Limited grew profit after tax by a whopping 75% to ₦1.13 billion, up from ₦646 million recorded in 2020.
The company disclosed this in its audited financial statement for the period ended December 31, 2021, and obtained by Investors King on Monday.
In the financial statement approved by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Gross Written Premium (GWP) and Annualized Premium Equivalent (APE) expanded by 16.3% and 9.3%, respectively. This was a result of the 27% growth recorded in new business acquisition for Group Life written during the period.
Similarly, investment income grew by 30% year-on-year due to a significant increase in the interest-generating assets of the company, and commission income also increased by 43% during the period.
The financial performance is a testament to the continued focus on investments, as the company remains committed to building a strong market-leading position in Nigeria by enhancing its capabilities, strengthening its digitally enabled multi-channel distribution network, and broadening the range of products and services that are available to customers in order to meet their needs.
Despite the challenges experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Prudential Zenith was able to achieve this strong growth in 2021 and is poised to continue improving its performance in the upcoming financial years. Prudential Zenith will continue to develop and launch unique products to meet customers’ needs, leveraging technology and its core corporate governance structure to deliver faster claims settlement. The company will also continue to prioritize the health, safety, and welfare of customers, who subscribe to its unique insurance product offerings.
Prudential Zenith Life Insurance Ltd (PZL) is a subsidiary of Prudential Plc., established in 2017 when Prudential Plc acquired a 51% holding in Zenith Life Insurance. PZL is one of the most capitalized companies in the Nigerian insurance industry with a wide range of individual products including savings & investments-linked products, endowment, and protection products designed to meet the needs of individuals and their families. For corporate clients, the company’s product offerings include Group Life, Key-Man Assurance, Credit Life, School Fees Protection, and Mortgage Protection, ensuring that the welfare of clients’ staff and families are met.
Prudential Plc provides life and health insurance, and asset management in Africa and Asia, helping people get the most out of life by making healthcare affordable and accessible and by promoting financial inclusion. Prudential protects people’s wealth, helps them grow their assets, and empowers them to save for their goals. It has more than 19 million life customers and is listed on stock exchanges in London (PRU), Hong Kong (2378), Singapore (K6S), and New York (PUK).
Prudential Plc has insurance operations in eight countries in Africa: Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Togo Uganda, and Zambia. With over 1 million customers, Prudential Africa works with over 11,000 agents and six exclusive bank partnerships, with access to over 600 branches to bring value-added insurance solutions to its customers.
AIICO to Realise N2.9 Billion in Profit in Nine Months Ended September 2022
AIICO Insurance Plc has projected a gross written premium of N63.333 billion from January to September 2022.
Investors King observed from the company’s earnings forecast signed by the Managing Director (MD), Babatunde Fajemirokun, that the leading insurance company expected to generate a net premium income of N51.938 billion, while the commission received is estimated at N1.747 billion, bringing the total insurance income to N53.685 billion.
AIICO forecasts net claims incurred to be N34.096 billion, while the underwriting expense (commission and maintenance) is estimated to be N7.190 billion. Change in life fund on the other hand would peak at N12.092 billion, according to this projection.
For underwriting costs, the company expected to spend a total of N53.378 billion in the period.
Profit before tax was estimated at N3.177 billion while the profit after tax for the 9 months prediction is N2.995 billion.
AIICO further estimates Profit from discontinued operations at N3.389 billion while profit after discontinued operations would be N6.385 billion.
The insurance firm explains that the Non-Life business represents 28% of the stated GWP while the Ordinary Life, Group Life and Annuity businesses represent 53%, 11% and 8% respectively.
Further, investment income will be driven mainly by bond investments and investments in other short-term financial assets.
Likewise, the reinsurance expenses is projected at an average of 12% of the projected gross written premium.
AIICO’s further estimations include:
- Cash and cash equivalents – Opening N25,490 billion
- Cash and cash equivalents – Closing N25,495 billion
Finance Minister Encourages Literacy Education on Insurance
The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has said that deliberate attention must be given to the low insurance literacy and education in the country.
Ahmed stated this while commissioning the new National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) portal during the weekend.
“The country’s low insurance literacy and education must be addressed, and that methods for insurance education, awareness, and enlightenment must be implemented,” she said.
“I believe with the commissioning of the NAICOM Portal today, the long overdue digital transformation of the insurance industry has begun with the attendant effect of increased penetration, reduction in the numbers of fake insurances, efficient service delivery and improving public trust in Insurance,” the minister added.
Ahmed mentioned that this also demonstrates the market’s abundance of growth opportunities, citing the need to develop new innovative products based on data and customer preferences, as well as the introduction of new distribution channels beyond what is currently available to reach new segments of the market.
While Ahmed praised the insurance regulator for this achievement, she pointed out that underwriters’ bad response to claim settlements has significantly contributed to the current public impression of the insurance industry, as well as a lack of trust and confidence in it.
“Indeed, prompt claims payment is the best advertisement for the industry, therefore all genuine claims that have been duly verified and due process followed, should be paid promptly.
“The Commission must put in place mechanisms to ensure Insurance companies meet their obligations to policyholders by paying claims promptly as that is the major reason they exist in the first place. Claims payment determines the valuable structure of the industry in the economy”, she stated.
She further urged stakeholders in the industry to consciously and intentionally expand insurance’s reach from major cities and a few states to other parts of the country, particularly rural areas, noting that low penetration in the retail end of the market must also be addressed through a vigorous push for inclusive insurance such as ‘microinsurance’ and ‘takaful’.
Investors King gathered that the NAICOM project was enacted to assist the regulator in transforming its operations, driving regulatory and supervisory functions, increasing operational efficiency, and improving business results using technology and data.
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