AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Nat Re

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AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “bbb” of National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines (Nat Re) (Philippines). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is negative.

The ratings reflect Nat Re’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

Nat Re’s balance sheet strength is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), which is expected to remain at the strongest level over the medium term. Capital adequacy is supported by the company’s low underwriting leverage. However, this is offset by Nat Re’s sizable holding of local equity investments, with fair value movements having driven a level of volatility in capital and surplus over recent years. The company is expected, however, to reduce its exposure to this higher risk asset class during 2019, and increase its allocation toward cash, deposits and fixed income instruments.

During the past five years, Nat Re’s overall earnings have remained positive, driven by a steady stream of investment income, which has helped offset unfavorable technical results. Since 2013, Nat Re has undertaken a series of portfolio remediation exercises aimed at improving underwriting profitability and reducing volatility. In particular, the company has reduced its exposure to underperforming property lines of business and increased its business allocation to life reinsurance, which is currently profitable. While the company’s combined ratio has improved over recent years, it remained loss making in 2018. The negative outlooks for Nat Re’s ratings reflect the continued pressure and volatility that AM Best expects underwriting performance to place on overall earnings over the near term.

Nat Re is the only domestic reinsurer in the Philippines, and benefits from strong relationships with local cedants and access to business through mandatory local cessions. In addition, the company underwrites a sizable portfolio of overseas business, which aids with geographic and line-of-business diversification. Offsetting business profile factors include the company’s moderate cedant concentration, and the ongoing challenging market conditions and competition from larger international reinsurers.