AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “a-” (Excellent) of ZhongAn Online P & C Insurance Co., Ltd. (ZhongAn) (China). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.
The ratings reflect ZhongAn’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its marginal operating performance, favourable business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.
The very strong balance sheet strength assessment is underpinned by ZhongAn’s risk-adjusted capitalization at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). As of year-end 2022, ZhongAn’s capital and surplus including minority interest reached RMB 17.03 billion (USD 2.46 billion). Being publicly listed, the company maintains good access to both debt and equity markets, demonstrated by its successful issuance of senior notes denominated in USD 1 billion in 2020. Other supporting factors include the company’s diversified and liquid invested assets, with the majority allocated to fixed-income type of assets, as well as cash and cash equivalents.
AM Best assesses ZhongAn’s operating performance as marginal. After two consecutive years of net profit in 2020 and 2021 following three years of net losses until 2019, ZhongAn reported a net loss of RMB 1.633 billion largely driven by unrealized investment losses amid volatile capital market, foreign exchange losses and adoption of HKFRS9 in 2022. The company’s non-life underwriting performance has been improving over the past five years, with stablisation of its loss ratio and expense ratio in 2021 and 2022 and achieving underwriting profit for both years. Going forward, AM Best expects the company’s earnings will continue to be subject to uncertainties arising from investment volatility, as well as the business execution risk and timeline in the turnaround strategies of the banking and technology segments.
AM Best views ZhongAn’s business profile as favorable. As of 2022, the company maintained 1.6% market share in terms of direct premium written and was ranked ninth in China’s non-life market. Its underwriting portfolio and distribution channel have been diversified. Its major business lines include health and accident, as well as shipping return, credit and guarantee, and motor. ZhongAn is the first online-only non-life insurance company in China. AM Best views the company as an innovative industry leader, which provides solid support of AM Best’s business profile assessment. The company has leveraged its technology capability to underwrite and distribute insurance policies. In addition, ZhongAn exports technology service to domestic and overseas insurers, insurance brokers and pan-financial companies. The company’s revenue from technology has achieved substantial growth over the years with an enlarging client base. AM Best expects the company to continue benefiting from its innovative capability and to integrate such capability into its insurance operations.
Positive rating actions could occur if the company demonstrates sustained improvement in operating performance with stablisation of underwriting profit margin and successful business execution of its non-insurance operations, while without being exposed to unfavourable volatility in its investment results. Negative rating actions could occur if there is significant adverse deviation from the company’s business plan, or if there is a material decline in its risk-adjusted capitalisation due to faster-than-expected growth in underwriting or asset risks. Negative rating actions may arise if its partnerships with key shareholders weaken such that it no longer supports a favourable business profile assessment.
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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