AMSTERDAM, December 09, 2022--(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 catastrophe-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 Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros, the compulsory government natural catastrophe scheme covering physical damage. Offsetting factors include the elevated risk profile of the company’s investment portfolio compared with peers, as well as its relatively high level of short-term financial liabilities and intangible assets (recognised in its balance sheet after acquiring Aviva plc 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 2021, Santalucía reported profit before tax of EUR 183.9 million (2020: EUR 129.2 million), which is in line with its pre-pandemic result. The company’s return on equity stood at 6.5% (2020: 4.8%). The non-life combined ratio improved to 91.0% in 2021 from 95.1% in 2020, reflecting the significantly lower impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the decesos line of business, which was offset partially by the worse performance of the household segment. The life business reported another steep drop in gross written premium (GWP), driven by the challenging market conditions. Life business profitability remained in line with recent years.
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. Santalucía business mix is relatively well-diversified, with a GWP split of 36% life and 64% non-life in 2021. However, production is concentrated in Spain, where increasing competition is adding pressure to the company’s current position as the ninth-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 Performance Assessments, 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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Jose Berenguer, CFA
Senior Financial Analyst
+31 20 308 5429
Manager, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159
Dr Angela Yeo
Senior Director, Analytics
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Senior Public Relations Specialist
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