Foreign insurance news in brief

SINGAPORE: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has assigned BBB+ local currency counter-party credit and insurer financial strength ratings to Thai Life Insurance Co Ltd, with a stable outlook. 

“The ratings reflect Thai Life’s sound financial profile, which is underpinned by its solid market position, its strong profitability, conservative balance sheet, and good management,” said S&P credit analyst Adrian Chee. 

Chee said the family ownership of Thailand’s second largest life insurer “limits its financial flexibility as any additional funds must be generated internally, but profits are largely retained within the life insurer.”  

Thailand’s relatively unsophisticated domestic investment market also limited the firm’s overall asset quality, although its investment portfolio was strong by domestic standards, he said. 

Thai Life accounts for 16% of total premium income in Thailand and profitability has been strong for five years, in contrast to most life insurers there, which are operating at a loss, according to Chee. 

“Thai Life should be able to consolidate its strong market position and capitalise on the strong growth prospects in the domestic life industry.  

“Its financial profile is expected to remain sound over the near-to-medium term, underpinned by a consistent record of profitability, conservative asset management, and adequate capitalisation,” he said. – AFX 

BEIJING: China’s life assurance companies paid out 3.49 million yuan in compensation to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) patients as of June 16, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said on its website. 

The commission said the life assurance companies received 477 claims as of June 16, with 229 of them compensated.  

The companies paid out around 2.51 million yuan for deaths and 975,800 yuan for hospitalisation and treatment. 

China’s life assurance companies paid out 2.816 million yuan in compensation to SARS patients as of June 9, and received 458 claims, with 202 compensated. – AFX 

SYDNEY: Moody’s Investors Service has assigned an A3 issuer rating to QBE Insurance Group Ltd and a Baa1 rating to its planned senior subordinated debt issue. 

Moody’s said in a statement the outlook on the rating was stable.  

QBE Insurance said it had successfully launched a US$250mil subordinated note issue into the US private market. 

“The ratings reflect QBE’s experienced and proactive senior management team, integrated management philosophy, disciplined approach to acquisitions and its position as the lead or joint lead underwriter in most of its markets,” Moody’s said. 

“They further reflect its moderately diversified operations, good underwriting performance, conservative risk and investment management policies and its stated objecting of lowering its financial leverage.”  

Moody’s said at the same time, the ratings reflected QBE’s rapid growth, its relatively high operating and financial leverage levels and its expansion into longer-tail, riskier lines of business. – AFX 

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