Weekly Wrap: Premium funder exits NZ

Weekly Wrap: Premium funder exits NZ | Insurance Business Australia

Weekly Wrap: Premium funder exits NZ
Premium funder exits NZ
Centrepoint Alliance has confirmed it is exiting the New Zealand market just nine months after expanding the Australian business here.

CEO Bob Dodd told brokers in a recent letter that the company would cease writing new business with immediate effect but would honour all existing business into run off.

“We over-estimated the level of potential support for another New Zealand funder with volumes achieved way below expectations,” Dodd told Insurance Business.

“Our board made the decision to cease new business and refocus our investment in the Australian market only.
“This decision also unfortunately impacts Mark Kreling, our local representative, and his role has been made redundant. We thank him for his efforts and wish him well for the future too.”

Kreling told Insurance Business that while he was disappointed by how things had turned out, he was currently considering a couple of other opportunities.

 Insurer’s ratings affirmed
Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) has affirmed the A+ financial strength rating on QBE Insurance Group Ltd.’s core operating companies, and its A- issuer credit rating on QBE. S&P also revised the outlook of QBE’s core operating entities and other subsidiaries from “Stable” to “Positive,” the insurer reported.

“I am very pleased that S&P recognises both the progress we have made in improving QBE’s performance and the strength of our capital base,” commented QBE Group CEO John Neal on S&P’s release.

Earlier this year, QBE Chairman Marty Becker said that the business overall has largely achieved target, having delivered on its 2015 promises, and expressed confidence for the Group’s future success.

The insurer had reported a cash profit of $893 million and an adjusted combined rating operating ratio of 94% for 2015.

“The announcement reflects S&P’s expectation that QBE’s earning profile will improve over the medium term, together with reduced earnings volatility, greater reserving stability, and a return to top line growth,” said Neal.

S&P has also acknowledged QBE’s capital adequacy as AA equivalent. Neal added that “Many, if not all, of the themes noted by S&P in support of their decision were detailed in QBE’s Investor Update held in Sydney yesterday [May 10].”

Improvement measures take effect on insurer’s quarterly results
Zurich has reported a business operating profit (BOP) of US$1.1 billion for the three months ended 31 March 2016 which it said was proof that improvement plans for its general insurance division were working.

CFO George Quinn said: “While it is still early in the process, these results show that the measures we put in place to improve the performance of our general insurance business are taking effect.

“Even adjusting for a benign catastrophe claims environment, there has been an underlying improvement and we expect to see this trend continue throughout the year.”

The general insurance division reported a BOP of US$542 million for the first three months of 2016, down from 23% from the prior year period but Zurich said it was a significant improvement on an operating loss of US$120 million in the previous quarter.

The combined ratio of 97.7% for the first three months of 2016 was also significantly better than the 103.6% combined ratio for the full year 2015 and one percentage point higher than in the same period in the previous year.

Gross written premiums declined 5% in local currency or 10% in US dollar terms, largely due to re-underwriting and de-risking actions to improve performance announced last year.

Zurich said these initiatives contributed to rate increases on renewal business of 3% in the quarter and an improvement in the accident year loss ratio ex-catastrophes to 66.5% in the period, from 69.5% in the previous quarter.

“It is expected that further benefits from these and other measures to reduce costs will continue to flow through to results towards the latter half of this year,” the company said.