AM Best has downgraded the Financial Strength Rating to B++ (Good) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “bbb+” (Good) from “a-” (Excellent) of Thaire Life Assurance Public Company Limited (Thaire Life) (Thailand). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) has been revised to stable from negative.
The ratings reflect Thaire Life’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
The rating downgrades reflect a deterioration in AM Best’s view of Thaire Life’s operating performance, which is no longer considered supportive of the previous strong assessment. Whilst remaining profitable, the company’s return-on-equity ratio has exhibited a generally declining trend and increased volatility over the past five years, ranging between 6.8% and 17.0% (2018-2022). Thaire Life’s underwriting performance has been pressured over recent years due to business growth in the less profitable health class of business and adverse claims experience in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although underwriting results improved in 2022 following remedial actions taken by the company, its claims experience was volatile in the first six months of 2023. This was largely driven by increased medical cost inflation and abnormally high medical claim frequency from catch-up activity post-COVID-19. Prospectively, Thaire Life is expected to continue growing and diversifying its business portfolio according to demand driven by the domestic market, while executing remedial actions aimed at improving profitability. Nonetheless, AM Best expects challenges to remain for the company in executing its business plan, given the competitive market conditions in Thailand’s life and health market.
Thaire Life’s balance sheet strength assessment is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalisation, which remained at the strongest level at fiscal year-end 2022, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). AM Best considers the company to have a moderate risk investment portfolio given its exposure to higher-risk asset classes of equities and mutual funds, although this is in part mitigated by a good level of overall portfolio diversification. Partially offsetting balance sheet strength factors include the company’s high dividend payout ratio over recent years, which has constrained growth in its capital and surplus. In addition, AM Best views the company’s modest absolute capital base to have the potential to increase the sensitivity of its capital adequacy to shock events, as well as to changes in future performance.
AM Best considers Thaire Life’s business profile to be neutral. The company is the only domestic life reinsurer in Thailand and it maintains long-standing relationships with key cedants. In light of limited opportunities for sustainable growth from Thailand’s domestic life insurance industry, the company has shifted its focus to expand health reinsurance business in response to higher market demand for health insurance in recent years. AM Best expects Thaire Life’s future business expansion to be supported by new product development initiatives, strategic business partnerships and distribution channel diversification.
Ratings are communicated to rated entities prior to publication. Unless stated otherwise, the ratings were not amended subsequent to that communication.
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