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Nat Re's underwriting results to be backed by portfolio remediation

The prospective underwriting performance of National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines (Nat Re) is expected to be supported by ongoing portfolio remediation measures, including reduced participation and/or exiting from unprofitable non-life treaties, says AM Best.

Business growth in the more profitable domestic life reinsurance segment and other specialty lines will also back the reinsurer’s underwriting performance.

Nat Re has an operating performance that is assessed as adequate, with a five-year average return-on-equity ratio of 2.3% (2018-2022), says AM Best.

The reinsurer’s net profit declined in 2022 compared to the prior year. While the company reported lower underwriting losses in 2022, compared to 2021, the improvement was outweighed by lower investment income, which was partially impacted by investment impairment and fair value losses on equity investments.

Although Nat Re’s underwriting performance improved in 2022, it continued to show a lack of profitability, mainly driven by unfavourable reserve development in its foreign non-life portfolio and higher-than-expected COVID-19-related claims. Investment income arising mainly from interest and dividend income continues to contribute positively to operating earnings despite declining in 2022.

Ratings affirmed

AM Best has affirmed Nat Re’s Financial Strength Rating of ‘B++’ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of ‘bbb’ (Good). Additionally, AM Best has assigned the Philippines National Scale Rating (NSR) of’ aa+.PH ‘(Superior) to Nat Re. The outlook of these credit ratings is ‘Stable’.

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

Balance sheet strength

Nat Re’s balance sheet strength is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), which remained at the strongest level in 2022.

AM Best views the company’s investment portfolio as having moderate risk. Despite some exposure to corporate bonds and equity investments, the majority of Nat Re’s portfolio is composed of fixed-income securities issued by the Philippines’ government.

The company’s allocation to equity investments has gradually reduced over recent years, with the expectation of continued portfolio de-risking over the medium term.

Nat Re’s balance sheet is sensitive to natural catastrophe exposure, although this risk is partially mitigated through the use of retrocession.

Business profile

AM Best views Nat Re’s business profile as ‘Neutral’. The company is the only domestic reinsurer in the Philippines, benefiting from strong relationships with local cedants and access to business through mandatory local cessions.

Nat Re is well-positioned for business opportunities emanating from local government initiatives, this includes its engagement in the design and launch of underwriting facilities in the Philippines market, which enables it to write greater business volumes in excess of the level stipulated by the mandatory cessions.

The company’s underwriting portfolio is viewed to be moderately diversified by geography and it writes both non-life and life reinsurance. In recent years, Nat Re’s shift in product mix towards the domestic life reinsurance segment has supported its improvement in portfolio diversification.

AM Best considers Nat Re’s ERM approach to be appropriate given the current size and complexity of its operations. The company’s risk management framework and corporate governance capabilities are viewed to have strengthened over recent years.



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