Sunday 18, June 2017 by Georgina Enzer

A.M. Best affirms credit ratings of Gulf Insurance Group K.S.C.P. and Gulf Insurance & Reinsurance

A.M. Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Ratings of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings of “a” of Gulf Insurance Group K.S.C.P. (GIG) and its subsidiary, Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Company K.S.C. (Closed) (GIRI) (both domiciled in Kuwait).

The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) remains stable.

The ratings of GIG reflect its excellent regional business profile, good risk-adjusted capitalisation, and track record of robust underwriting profitability. An offsetting rating factor is the execution risk associated with GIG’s inorganic expansion strategy.

GIRI is a composite insurer with a leading position in the Kuwaiti insurance market. The company is strategically important to GIG and strongly integrated into its operations. Accordingly, GIRI receives full rating enhancement from its parent company.

GIG is amongst the largest and most diversified insurance operators in the Middle East and North Africa region, with strong market positions in Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain and Egypt. The group also has interests in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In 2016, GIG grew its gross written premium by 14 per cent to KWD 217 million ($710 million), driven by the implementation of medical insurance for retirees in Kuwait (the Afya medical scheme). Significant growth is further expected in 2017, stemming from the first full year of premium revenue from Afya, as well as inorganic growth from acquisitions in Turkey and Bahrain.

GIG’s risk-adjusted capitalisation remains good, despite the company suffering foreign exchange translation losses in Egypt, which drove down capital and surplus by nine per cent to KWD 83 million ($625 million) at year-end 2016. Whilst GIG’s risk-adjusted capitalisation is anticipated to be negatively impacted by increased capital requirements stemming from its inorganic expansion strategy, A.M. Best expects management to take appropriate actions to maintain capitalisation at a level supportive of the ratings over the cycle.

GIG has a track record of solid results, underpinned by robust underwriting profitability and stable investment returns. Despite elevated levels of competition in its operating markets, GIG has delivered an excellent five-year (2012-2016) average combined ratio of 87 per cent, which was complemented by an average investment return of four per cent over the same period. As a result, GIG has produced a strong average return on equity of 17 per cent over the past five years.

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