AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “a” of Compañía Internacional de Seguros, S.A. (CIS) (Panama City, Panama). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.
The ratings reflect CIS’ balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as strongest, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
CIS’ overall strength is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalization at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), historically positive technical and bottom-line results, its leading position in Panama’s insurance market, a strong reinsurance program, a seasoned management team, solid risk-management practices and increased geographic diversification through Aseguradora del Istmo (ADISA) S.A. in Costa Rica. Partially offsetting these positive rating factors are the challenges CIS faces operating in a relatively limited and increasingly competitive insurance market.
CIS initiated operations in 1910 as a multiline insurer and ranks among the top companies in Panama in terms of premium market share. The company’s largest business lines include health, automobile, miscellaneous, group and individual life insurance. CIS operates through a network of brokers and office branches in several cities throughout Panama.
Historically, CIS has increased its capital base at a 9.0% compound annual growth rate as a result of positive bottom-line results, driven by a consistent inflow of underwriting and investment income, which reflects the management team’s market knowledge and experience. AM Best expects the company’s risk-adjusted capitalization to remain stable.
In 2020, CIS operating performance was characterized by a combined ratio of 87.4% and a return on earned premiums of 21.9%. These results were supported by continued positive performance in its auto, health and group life businesses, which constitute 78% of net earned premium. The company leverages its health segment performance through Blue Cross Blue Shield, a health care provider network in the United States. In addition, CIS’ fire business has improved due to a strategic focus on specific niches, in conjunction with lower reinsurance costs, despite strong competition in this business line that historically has generated losses. Financial income continues to support CIS’ results while it maintains a sound risk profile; however, the company is not dependent on this revenue to achieve positive bottom-line results. Although the company’s overall performance is strong, it constantly reviews its underwriting guidelines to improve the performance of business segments that are deviating from targets.
Despite the many positive characteristics of CIS, the ratings are limited by the competitive environment present in its domestic market, as well as AM Best’s perception of country risk in Panama, which has an AM Best country risk tier ranking of CRT-4, the second-highest level in this scale.
AM Best considers CIS to be well-positioned at its current rating levels, and positive rating actions are not expected in the near term. Factors that might lead to negative rating actions include protracted adverse underwriting and overall operating performance, a change in the Blue Cross Blue Shield alliance, a significant deterioration in CIS’ risk-adjusted capitalization or a downgrade of Panama’s country risk tier rating.
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