2013-12-18 17:47:01 -
A.M. Best Europe – Rating Services Limited has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and issuer credit rating of “a-” of Schweizerische National-Versicherungs-Gesellschaft AG (Nationale Suisse) (Switzerland). The outlook for both ratings remains positive.
The rating affirmations and the positive outlook reflect Nationale Suisse’s overall solid operating performance and strong risk-adjusted capitalisation. The ratings also take into account the company's evolving business profile.
Nationale Suisse’s profit before tax was relatively stable at CHF 53.2 million at half-year 2013, and the company is expected to post solid earnings for the full year, supported by the well-performing domestic non-life segment. However, the technical result of the foreign business is anticipated to decline when compared with 2012, due to higher claims in engineering
and marine risks and a decrease in specialty premiums, which is negatively impacting the operating expense ratio.
The company’s capital levels have further improved in the last couple of years as a result of retained earnings (typically, dividends of one-third to one-half of net profit have been paid out). A.M. Best believes that Nationale Suisse’s risk-adjusted capitalisation will remain strong in 2013 and 2014, considering the company’s expected earnings, modest growth plans and relatively low risk profile.
Nationale Suisse maintains a good business profile in its domestic market where it has achieved above-average growth in its target lines.
Since the disposal of the group life portfolio in 2011, the company has increased its focus on developing its specialty lines and foreign business in an effort to improve diversification and achieve a larger scale. However, the difficult economic conditions continue to impair the sales of credit life and engineering lines, and total gross written premiums are likely to be below expectations at approximately CHF 1.5 billion at year-end 2013. Going forward, the company is targeting an overall growth rate in the low single digit range.
The ratings of Nationale Suisse are likely to be upgraded if it improves the profitability of its foreign business while maintaining the strong technical results in its core Swiss segment. Conversely, excessive premium growth leading to a deterioration of both earnings and risk-adjusted capitalisation may have a negative impact on its ratings.
The methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology, which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M.
Best’s rating process and contains the different rating criteria employed in the rating process. Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology : cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww ..
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