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.
Global Insurance Market Records Losses in H1 2021
The global insurance market in the first half of 2021 was inundated with claims from natural disasters and catastrophes as well as claims from civil unrest, a report by the global insurance broker, Aon has revealed.
According to the report, claims from the risks are estimated to have reached $42 billion for the first half of 2021. Aon in the report stated that the claims are 2 percent higher than the 10-year average.
In Nigeria, while both the Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA), which is the umbrella body of insurance underwriters and the regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) are still collating the actual claims figure paid by insurers within the period, many insurers are still battling with a backlog of claims resulting from the October 2020 EndSARS protest.
Insurers told explained that the EndSARS protest claims are already clashing with their claims responsibilities in the first half of the year.
According to NIA, there are a total of 1,661 protest-induced claims as a result of the #EndSars protests, of which 143 substantiated claims worth an N105.0million have been settled.
A similar experience is shared by South African insurers as reports from that clime said losses from week-long riots were estimated at over $690 million.
According to Reuters, claims from damage and theft from businesses affected by civil unrest in South Africa are likely to be between ZAR7bn ($484m) and ZAR10bn ($692m).
The news agency said the riots and looting which started on July 9 and ended July 17, left more than 117 people dead, hurt thousands of businesses and damaged major infrastructure, including telecommunications towers, in some of the worst civil unrest in decades.
It said the unrest triggered by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma failing to appear at a corruption inquiry, widened into an outpouring of anger over poverty and inequality.
South African Special Risks Insurance Association (Sasria), a state-owned insurer set up after private firms stopped underwriting risks relating to political violence due to unrest during apartheid, has received around ZAR100m in claims so far, its managing director Cedric Masondo told Reuters, adding this was expected to rise significantly.
Aon, said that while $42 billion of first-half catastrophe insured losses is only 2 percent higher than the 10-year average ($41 billion), it is 39 percent higher than the 21st Century average ($30 billion) and 101 percent higher than the average of all years since 1980 ($21 billion).
In total, Aon estimated that natural disasters cost the global economy around $93 billion in the first half of 2021.
It stated, “The economic loss tally is some 32 percent lower than the previous decade ($136 billion), 16 percent lower since 2000 ($110 billion), but 9 percent higher than the average of all years since 1980 ($85 billion). All of these numbers remain preliminary, “it stated.
Aon’s data comes from a minimum of 163 natural disaster events that occurred in H1 2021, which was below the 21st Century average (191) and median (197).
In terms of loss of life, it said natural disasters claimed 3,000 lives during the first half, which is well below the long-term average (since 1980) of 38,900 and the median of 7,600.
Across the events, Aon counted 22 that drove billion-dollar economic losses, the majority of which were weather-related.
The global broker said there were at least 10 separate billion-dollar industry catastrophe loss events on an insured loss basis, it also said the costliest of them all was the US winter storm and freezing weather delivered by the polar vortex, which Aon pegs at the generally accepted $15 billion levels.
It added, “After that, the severe weather event in Europe in June drove a $3.4 billion industry loss, the Fukushima offshore earthquake a $2.5 billion loss and another US severe weather event $2.5 billion as well.”
Again, African Alliance Insurance Delays Filing, to Release Financial Statements (H1, 2021) on or Before September 29th
African Alliance Insurance Plc on Monday announced it will not be filing the company’s unaudited financial statements for the period ended 30th June 2021 before the regulatory due date of 30th July 2021.
This was contained in a statement signed by Anthonia Udeh, Company Secretary.
The company attributed the delay to its failure to file its audited financial statements for the period ended 31st December 2020, a prerequisite for filing Q2, 2021.
It would be recalled that Investors King had reported that the Nigerian Exchange Limited had suspended the trading license of African Alliance Insurance Plc and three other companies on Friday 2, July 2021 for failing to file their financial reports.
However, African Alliance Insurance Plc has now submitted the 2020 Audited Financial Statements to its primary regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) for approval, according to the company.
To prevent another suspension, the company, therefore, stated that it has obtained approval from the Nigerian Exchange Limited for an extension until 29 September 2021 to Submit the unaudited financial statements for the second quarter of 2021.
The statement reads “African Alliance Insurance Plc (the Company) regrets to notify its esteemed shareholders and other stakeholders that the Company’s Unaudited Financial Statements (UFS) for the period ended 30th June 2021 (2021 Q2 UFS) will not be filed before the regulatory due date of 30th July 2021.
“This delay is occasioned by the fact that the Company is yet to file its Audited Financial Statement (AFS) for the period ended 31st December 2020 which is a prerequisite for filing the 2020 Q2, UFS.
“However, the 2020 AFS has been submitted to its primary regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) for approval and the Company is awaiting the Commission’s nod.
“The Company has sought and obtained approval of the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX or the Exchange) extension of time up to 29 September 2021 to submit the 2021 Q2 UFS.
“We wish to reassure you that the Company is working assiduously towards submitting its Q2, 2021 Unaudited Financial Statements (UFS) within the period extended by the Exchange.”
NAICOM Moves to Achieve N1.5 Trillion Gross Premium, 10% Density
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has prospects to achieve 10 per cent penetration, N1.5 trillion Gross Written Premium (GWP) and 10 per cent increase in insurance density.
Thus the commission plans to work with Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) cohorts across geo-political zones.
Besides, the commission aims to build trust among the insured leading to more referrals; build confidence in the sector by reducing incidences of fake insurance and implementing penalty for nonpayment of claims; and work with digital companies with access to data and information for wider reach and impact.
NAICOM Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Olorunda Thomas in an interview with repoters said the commission launched Market Development and Restructuring Initiative (MDRI) in 2009 as a vehicle to, among others, drive the enforcement of compulsory insurances, reduce incidences of fake insurance and in the process grow the industry.
He stated the commission’s strategic focus is on compulsory insurances, government assets, microinsurance and takaful insurance.
He said: “Target market however is Government, Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and Millennials and Gen Z, which make up 60 per cent of our population.
“Our strategic themes include increased awareness and education; stakeholder’ grooming/partnerships; high-impact media productions; and a social/digital NAICOM
“To increase awareness and education, we will also launch a joint implementation task force with police, FS, FRSC, Ministry of Justice, Mobile Courts, Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) at all levels, among others. We will hold insurance stakeholder’s forum/town hall meetings, launch the Insurance Industry Thought Leadership Series on Testimonials and Endorsements, among others.”
On the commission’s ‘2021-2023 Strategic Plan’, the commissioner stated that as a sector of the national economy, the commission has statutory mandates.
He said: “We know that the driver of the economy is the people at the lower level of the pyramid and therefore we are taking financial inclusion policy very seriously. While it is now a national policy, the insurance sector is far behind but we are doing a lot of catch up. To this effect, two Takaful companies have been licensed in addition to the existing ones. We have four micro insurance company that has also been licensed and two are on the verge of being licensed. We believe that if we are able to properly take care of the supply side, the demand aspect of it is will run smoothly. Similarly, the traditional method of distributing insurance has become inadequate to take care of the speed we want to gain and the people who want to reach and so we must begin to develop other channels of distribution. There are few of them that have been developed and waiting for final touches here and there for them to be released.
“We are conscious of the fact that the sector is a knowledge-based sector and therefore human capacity to drive this initiative is critical. The development in the actuarial profession has been on the drawing board for years. The first sets of those who will write the actuarial exam will qualify as certified actuarial analyst. The exam was held last week and I was made to understand that in the next six weeks or so, they will hear the results. We have made a pledge to see the possibility of having about 100 of them in the next four years. It’s a target and we see how far we can go. We believe that we need actuarial analyst to stand in the gap pending the time that we will have sufficient number of actuaries for the market.
“I want to say that we are also conscious that technology drives business. We have started with ourselves at the commission and our automation plans have commenced. We want to see how far we can run within the commission. The plan by the commission to have a portal started about now nine to 10 years ago and until last year, nothing was happening. But we picked it up last year and the first phase of the portal has been successfully completed. On the strategic plan of the commission, the last one ended in 2020. So, we have picked it up from 2021 to 2023. We are following and pursuing it. We believe that with what we have in the plan, we should be able to make a difference in the market.
Thomas, however, noted that the enforcement of compulsory insurances was also on. ‘’Last week, we played host to the Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps. About a month ago, we were with the FCT minister and two weeks ago, the Minister of Road Transport, Mrs. Gbemisola Saraki was with us in the commission. We have been trying to engage across the country. We visited the Governor of Ekiti State and we were to visit the Governor of Enugu State but for the prevailing security issues that happened there recently.
“The fire service management was in our office two weeks ago. This is some of the engagements that we have been having because we are determined to make a difference. We want to encourage our operators to increase their budgets in publicity. We are too far behind because not much of insurance is known. The regulator will do its bit but the operators must cooperate with us for all of us to be on the same page,” he added.
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