Weak operating environment challenges insurers

Weak operating environment challenges insurers

Weak operating environment challenges insurers

Written by Zulfick Farzan

09 Jun, 2023 | 9:43 am

Fitch Ratings says Weak operating conditions for Sri Lankan insurers raise near-term downside risks to their credit profiles. 

In a report, titled “Sri Lankan Insurers’ Operating Risks Intensify”, Fitch says that operating risks have risen due to the sovereign’s deteriorated credit profile and the resultant lowering of the national ratings of some state-owned and private-sector institutions.

The negative rating actions on the Sri Lanka sovereign since 2022 and various financial institutions underscore the risks to domestic insurers, whose investment portfolios are dominated by fixed-income securities issued or guaranteed by the government, and deposits and securities issued by local banks, non-bank financial institutions and corporations.

Fitch believes the sparse foreign-currency liquidity in the local banking system could limit insurers' ability to meet foreign-currency obligations.

The global credit rating agency expects insurers’ earnings to come under pressure. Underwriting profit for non-life insurers will be squeezed by rising motor spare-part costs due to currency devaluation, while overall costs for both life and non-life insurers will climb with rising inflation. 

Fitch expects insurers will have only a limited ability to reprice policies, due to a fall in customers' disposable incomes.

Fitch also believes the heightened investment risks and earnings pressure could affect insurers' regulatory capital profiles. 

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