AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “bbb+” of First Insurance Company (Solidarity First Insurance Company or SFIC) (Jordan). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.
The ratings reflect SFIC’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorises as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. The ratings also consider, in the form of lift, SFIC’s strategic importance to its parent company, Solidarity Group Holding BSC (c), a leading provider of Islamic insurance solutions in Bahrain and Jordan.
SFIC’s balance sheet strength is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalisation at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), its very good level of liquidity and the absence of borrowings. The balance sheet strength assessment also considers SFIC’s high dependence on reinsurance, and elevated asset risk due to the concentration of its investments in Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
SFIC has a track record of adequate operating performance, demonstrated by a five-year (2015-2019) weighted average return on equity (ROE) of 6.8% (2014-2018: 6.5%), supported by stable underwriting and investment performance. Operating results between 2016 and 2018 have benefited from a three-year tax exemption, following the acquisition of Yarmouk Insurance Company in 2015. This exemption ceased in 2019, and the ROE decreased to 6.9% from 8.3% in 2018 as a result. Despite the issues associated with the performance of mandatory motor third-party liability business experienced in Jordan’s insurance market, the company achieved a solid five-year (2015-2019) weighted average combined ratio of 93.9% (2014-2018: 93.1%), as calculated by AM Best. Solid underwriting results are expected for 2020, as the lockdown and travel restrictions imposed by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to result in reduced claims, notably on the motor line of business.
SFIC has a good competitive position within Jordan, with gross written premium (GWP) of JOD 46.3 million (USD 65.4 million) in 2019. The company has pursued a strong growth strategy over recent years, which has led it to become the third-largest insurer in the market by GWP in 2019. Nevertheless, SFIC’s business profile is constrained by its concentration in Jordan, which is a relatively small and very competitive insurance market.
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