AMSTERDAM, December 01, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of "a" (Excellent) of Santa Lucía S.A. Compañía de Seguros y Reaseguros (Santalucía) (Spain). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.
The ratings reflect Santalucía’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
Santalucía’s risk-adjusted capitalisation remains at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), on both a standard and cat-stressed basis. The company’s balance sheet strength assessment also reflects its adequate reserving approach and limited catastrophe exposure, as most natural perils in Spain are covered by the Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros, the compulsory government natural catastrophe scheme covering physical damage. Offsetting factors include the risk profile of the company’s investment portfolio compared with peers although well diversified by asset-class, short-term financial liabilities and intangible assets (recognised in its balance sheet after acquiring Aviva’s Spanish life insurance business in 2017). AM Best expects the company’s prospective capital position to benefit from organic capital generation, supported by a prudent dividend policy of approximately 30% of net profit results.
Santalucía’s operating performance benefits from a track record of solid technical earnings primarily stemming from the funeral expenses (decesos) line of business, in which it has a leading market position. In 2020, Santalucía’s profit before tax remained positive but significantly decreased to EUR 129.2 million from EUR 181.6 million, equivalent to a return on equity of 4.8%. The non-life combined ratio deteriorated to 95.1% from 94.2% in 2019, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on decesos, which was offset partially by better performance on the household and health segments. The life business reported a steep drop in gross written premium, in line with the market trend. At half-year 2021, Santalucía reported an improving non-life combined ratio of 90%. Life gross written premium volumes continue to be challenged by current market conditions.
Santalucía has an established profile as a provider of personal lines insurance in Spain and benefits from a long-standing brand and good reputation in the sector. Following the acquisition of Aviva’s Spanish life insurance business, Santalucía diversified its portfolio with gross written premium split: 41.8% life and 58.2% non-life in 2020. However, production is concentrated in Spain, where increasing competition is adding pressure to the company’s current position as the 10th-largest group, mainly on the life business. Geographical expansion is limited but expected to grow according to the company’s strategic plan.
This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best's Credit Ratings. For information on the proper use of Best’s Credit Ratings, Best’s Preliminary Credit Assessments and AM Best press releases, please view Guide to Proper Use of Best’s Ratings & Assessments.
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