Announcements

GCR affirms SIC Insurance Company Limited’s rating of A-(GH); Rating Watch

Johannesburg, 01 March 2016 — Global Credit Ratings has today affirmed the national scale claims paying ability rating assigned to SIC Insurance Company Limited of A-(GH). In addition, the rating has been maintained on ‘Rating Watch’. The rating expires on the 31st August 2016.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

Global Credit Ratings (“GCR”) has accorded the above credit rating to SIC Insurance Company Limited (“SIC”) based on the following key criteria:

SIC’s rating has been maintained on Rating Watch, taking cognisance of the uncertainty relating to the ultimate settlement of a potentially significant guarantee claim. Should the guarantee holder succeed in defending this claim, this could adversely impact on SIC’s capital adequacy levels in the absence of shareholder support. Accordingly, any indication of potential capital strain could result in a downgrade of the insurer’s rating, with the severity depending on the value of the ultimate legal obligation.

Furthermore, in view of the ongoing pressure associated with other credit guarantee claims that materialised in FY14 and FY15, GCR will continue to monitor the financial performance and balance sheet strength of the company throughout the rating horizon.

Should the aforementioned dispute be settled in favour of SIC, the A-(GH) rating would be underpinned by strong competitive positioning, sound capital adequacy and enhanced liquidity levels. The following rating factors assume that the insurer has met all of its obligations under the above mentioned guarantee (following the payment made in 1H FY15) and that no further material deterioration in profitability arises from guarantees that were written outside of the board mandate.

SIC holds substantial underwriting capacity relative to competitors. Accordingly, the company is the market leader in the short term insurance industry, although the differential could narrow over the medium term (potentially exacerbated by reputational issues).

Solvency remains strong on a nominal and risk adjusted basis. However, the ability to leverage off capital strength to support volume growth and associated efficiencies will be key to achieving earnings stability and longer term capital preservation. The improvement in liquidity has contributed towards enhanced balance sheet strength, which is expected to be sustained over the short to medium term. Furthermore, note is taken of the adoption of a more formalised investment allocation approach, which should assist in managing liquidity and asset risk going forward.

Per risk and event net deductibles are limited to moderately conservative levels relative to capital. However, given that these are USD denominated, the insurer is exposed to elevated foreign currency risk, particularly in view of ongoing depreciation of the GHS and the absence of foreign currency cash holdings.

The industry remains susceptible to ongoing economic constraints, which may continue to pressure growth and the ability to re-rate underperforming portfolios of business.

The rating has been maintained on Rating Watch pending the outcome of the dispute relating to the aforementioned large guarantee claim. Other factors that could lead to negative action include either 1) a further deterioration in operating profitability; 2) a weakening in capital adequacy and/or liquidity to levels that are not deemed to be rating appropriate. Upward movement of the rating or outlook is unlikely in the absence of a sustained turnaround in operating profitability.

NATIONAL SCALE RATINGS HISTORY   ANALYTICAL CONTACTS
     
Initial rating (September 2009)   Primary Analyst
Claims paying ability: AA(GH)   Susan Hawthorne
Outlook: Negative   Senior Credit Analyst
    (011) 784-1771
Last rating (October 2015)   susanh@globalratings.net
Claims paying ability: A-(GH)    
Outlook: Rating Watch   Committee Chairperson
    Marc Chadwick
    Sector Head: Insurance Ratings
    (011) 784-1771
    chadwick@globalratings.net

APPLICABLE METHODOLOGIES AND RELATED RESEARCH

Criteria for Rating Short Term Insurance Companies, updated July 2015

SIC Insurance Company Limited rating reports, 2009 – 2015

RATING LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS

ALL GCR’S CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET/UNDERSTANDING-RATINGS. IN ADDITION, GCR’S RATING SCALES AND DEFINITIONS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AT THE FOLLOWING LINK: HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET/RATINGS-INFO. GCR’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, PUBLICATION TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE AT HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS/ACRONYMS USED IN THIS DOCUMENT AS PER GCR’S INSURANCE GLOSSARY

Audited Financial Statements Financial statements that bear the report of independent auditors (attesting to the financial statements’ fairness and compliance with generally accepted accounting principles).
Balance Sheet Also known as a Statement of Financial Position. A statement of a company’s assets and liabilities provided for the benefit of shareholders and regulators. It gives a snapshot at a specific point in time of the assets the company holds and how they have been financed.
Budget Financial plan that serves as an estimate of future cost, revenues or both.
Capacity The largest amount of insurance available from a company. In a broader sense, it can refer to the largest amount of insurance available in the marketplace.
Capital The sum of money that is invested to generate proceeds.
Capital Adequacy A measure of the adequacy of an entity’s capital resources in relation to its risks.
Cash Funds that can be readily spent or used to meet current obligations.
Claim A request for payment of a loss, which may come under the terms of an insurance contract.
Credit Rating An opinion regarding the creditworthiness of an entity, a security or financial instrument, or an issuer of securities or financial instruments, using an established and defined ranking system of rating categories.
Credit Rating Agency An entity that provides credit rating services.
Creditworthiness An assessment of a debtor’s ability to meet debt obligations.
Currency Risk The potential for losses arising from adverse movements in exchange rates.
Deductible The portion of an insured loss to be borne by the insured before he is entitled to recovery from the insurer.
Downgrade The assignment of a lower credit rating to an insurer by a credit rating agency. Opposite of upgrade.
Exchange Rate The value of one country’s currency expressed in terms of another.
Financial Statements Presentation of financial data including balance sheets, income statements and statements of cash flow, or any supporting statement that is intended to communicate an entity’s financial position at a point in time.
Income Statement A summary of all the expenditure and income of a company over a set period.
Interest Money paid for the use of money.
Liabilities All financial claims, debts or potential losses incurred by an individual or an organisation.
Liquidity The speed at which assets can be converted to cash. The ability of an insurer to convert its assets into cash to pay claims if necessary. Market liquidity refers to the ease with which a security can be bought or sold quickly and in large volumes without substantially affecting the market price.
Liquidity Risk The risk that a company may not be able to meet its financial obligations or other operational cash requirements due to an inability to timeously realise cash from its assets. Regarding securities, the risk that a financial instrument cannot be traded at its market price due to the size, structure or efficiency of the market.
Loss The happening of the event for which insurance pays.
National Scale Rating The national scale provides a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities only within the country concerned. Under this rating scale, a ‘AAA’ long term national scale rating will typically be assigned to the lowest relative risk within that country, which in most cases will be the sovereign state.
Operating Profit Profits from a company’s ordinary revenue-producing activities, calculated before taxes and interest costs.
Policy The legal document issued by the company to the policyholder, which outlines the conditions and terms of the insurance.
Policyholder The person in actual possession of an insurance policy.
Portfolio All of the insurer’s in-force policies and outstanding losses, with respect to described segments of its business.
Rating Horizon The rating outlook period
Rating Outlook A rating outlook indicates the potential direction of a rated entity’s rating over the medium term, typically one to two years. An outlook may be defined as: ‘Stable’ (nothing to suggest that the rating will change), ‘Positive’ (the rating symbol may be raised), ‘Negative’ (the rating symbol may be lowered) or ‘Evolving’ (the rating symbol may be raised or lowered).
Rating Watch Indicates that a rating is under review for possible change in the short term and the movement may be either positive or negative.
Reinsurance The practice whereby one party, called the Reinsurer, in consideration of a premium paid to him agrees to indemnify another party, called the Reinsured, for part or all of the liability assumed by the latter party under a policy or policies of insurance, which it has issued. The reinsured may be referred to as the Original or Primary Insurer, or Direct Writing Company, or the Ceding Company.
Securities Various instruments used in the capital market to raise funds.
Shareholder An individual, entity or financial institution that holds shares or stock in an organisation or company.
Short Term Current; ordinarily less than one year.
Solvency With regard to insurers, having sufficient assets (capital, surplus, reserves) and being able to satisfy financial requirements (investments, annual reports, examinations) to be eligible to transact insurance business and meet liabilities.
Under Review Failure to carry out a full review of a rated entity within the designated timeframe, either through lack of information or delays in finalisation, i.e. review is ongoing.
Underwriting The process of selecting risks and classifying them according to their degrees of insurability so that the appropriate rates may be assigned. The process also includes rejection of those risks that do not qualify.
Upgrade The assignment of a higher credit rating to an insurer by a credit rating agency. Opposite of downgrade.

For a detailed glossary of terms please click here

SALIENT FEATURES OF ACCORDED RATINGS

GCR affirms that a.) no part of the rating was influenced by any other business activities of the credit rating agency; b.) the rating was based solely on the merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument being rated; c.) such rating was an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument.

SIC Insurance Company Limited participated in the rating process via face-to-face management meetings, teleconferences and other written correspondence. Furthermore, the quality of information received was considered adequate and has been independently verified where possible.

The credit rating has been disclosed to SIC Insurance Company Limited with no contestation of the rating.

The information received from SIC Insurance Company Limited and other reliable third parties to accord the credit rating included:

  • Unaudited draft financial statements to 31 December 2015
  • Four prior years of audited financial statements to 31 December
  • The 2015 reinsurance cover notes
  • Other relevant information

The rating above was solicited by, or on behalf of, the rated client, and therefore, GCR has been compensated for the provision of the ratings.

GCR affirms SIC Insurance Company Limited’s rating of A-(GH); Rating Watch

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