Escalating claims associated with COVID-19 related deaths continue to reduce profitability in the insurance business, this publication has established.
According to a report released by Bank of Botswana (BoB) late last month, claims in the insurance sector increased significantly to P2.8 billion in 2021 from P1.9 billion in 2019, while 45 339 policies were terminated in 2021 compared to 37 931 in 2019. “As a result, the sector experienced reduced profitability, with the Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), a leading financial services company, recording a 56 percent year-on-year decline in operating profit as at December 31, 2021,” BoB says. “NBFIRA continues to monitor NBFIs to ensure compliance and restore financial stability.”
Titled Financial Stability Report (FSR) of June 2022, the BoB report was prepared by BoB in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MFED), the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) and the Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL). It was approved for publication by the Financial Stability Council (FSC), a multi-agency body launched in 2019 to collaborate and exchange information on financial stability issues affecting Botswana’s financial system.
BoB says gross premium incomes for life insurance companies increased by 5.1 percent from P3.9 billion in 2019 to P4.1 billion in 2020. “Insurance assets amounted to P20.6 billion in the second quarter of 2021 compared to P19.9 billion in the second quarter of 2020,” reads the BoB report. “In response to the pandemic, some insurers became more innovative in their business offerings, distribution channels and customer service as evidenced by a shift towards investment in online/digital sales platforms. Furthermore, some insurers introduced measures such as flexible payment terms and premium holidays to retain customers.”
Additionally, BoB says the insurance and pension sector continues to be highly solvent with retirement funds having excess assets over liabilities of over P733 million and funding ratio of 100.9 percent in 2021, an indication that member benefits would be settled when they fall due. It says all life assurance companies maintained adequate capital levels as at December 31, 2020. “Life and general insurers leverage ratio was 135.4 percent and 104.5 percent, respectively in 2020,” the report reads. “Overall, the risk to domestic financial stability arising from NBFIs is considered low.”