Qatar Insurance Group, the leading insurer in the Middle East North African region today announced solid financial results for the full year 2017. As a globally diversified insurance group, QIC successfully weathered severe headwinds from record global natural catastrophe losses and unexpected political challenges in the region. Defying such adversity, the Group reported robust growth and resilient profitability in the financial year ended 31 December, 2017. Presided by Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thani, Chairman & Managing Director, the Board of Directors approved the financial results for the reporting period at its latest meeting.
2017 has been a challenging year for the global insurance industry due to the exceptional natural catastrophe events impacting the US namely Harvey, Irma and Maria (HIM) windstorms. The impact has been exaggerated due to sequential nature of the windstorms that caused a total industry loss of up to USD 100 billion.
Other major event that adversely impacted insurers operating in the UK insurance market, where QIC Group also had exposure through its international operations, was the sharp and unexpected reduction of the Ogden discount rate in the UK in the first quarter in 2017 which forced the insurers to increase their loss reserves. The industry-wide impact of Ogden is estimated to be USD 10 billion increase in loss reserves.
The above unprecedented losses are well within QIC’s risk appetite and tolerance limits. The combined impact was only an earnings event and did not affect QIC Group’s solvency from a regulatory, ratings or internal capital adequacy point of view.
Against this adverse backdrop, QIC Group generated a net underwriting result of QAR 115 million in 2017, down by 86% compared with the previous year.
At the same time, QIC Group continued to expand across its global and regional target markets, lines of business and client segments, recording Gross Written Premiums (GWP) of QAR 11.7 billion, an increase of 18% compared with 2016. Once more, the Group’s key growth engines were Qatar Re, Antares and QIC Europe Limited (QEL) which now account for approximately 75% of the Group’s total GWP.
Domestically, Q Life and Medical Insurance Company (QLM), the dominant life and medical insurance company in Qatar added buoyancy to the Group’s overall performance.
QIC Group’s consolidated net profit for the full year 2017 came in at QAR 418 million, compared to QAR 1,034 million for the same period of the previous year. Despite political and other unrelated economic turbulences in the Middle East, QIC Group’s investment income and other income amounted to QAR 986 million in 2017 compared to QAR 925 million in 2016, further adding to a long track record of superior investment performance based on a careful diversification across geographies and asset classes. As a testament, in 2017, QIC was conferred the “Top Investment House from the MENA region” accolade by a publication and survey of global repute.
QIC Group’s reinsurance arm continued to benefit from its Bermuda domicile’s Solvency II equivalency and proximity to the world’s largest insurance market, the US, combined with a strong local presence in the major reinsurance hubs of Zurich, London, Singapore and Dubai.
Qatar Re continued on its path of diversification and expansion through its recent acquisition of Markerstudy’s Gibraltar-based insurance companies, namely, Markerstudy Insurance Company Limited, Zenith Insurance PLC, St Julians Insurance Company Limited and Ultimate Insurance Company Limited (subject to regulatory approvals). Markerstudy Group writes more than 5% of the UK motor insurance market, a book of about GBP 750 million. This transaction provides Qatar Re with access to lower volatility business with predictable returns, balancing other areas such as property and specialty reinsurance.
In addition, last year Qatar Re was successful in the placement of USD 450 million of Reg S Perpetual non-call 5.5 subordinated Tier 2 notes that were guaranteed on a subordinated basis by QIC to institutional investors representing its debut issuance in the international debt capital markets. The issue attracted over 290 orders for more than USD 6.5 billion and achieved a very balanced global distribution with investors from across the globe.
Alongside this development, in 2017, Antares, QIC’s specialist insurer and reinsurer at Lloyd’s in London and Antares Asia in Singapore and Shanghai continued to provide the Group with access to a broad, well-diversified underwriting portfolio in Property, Casualty, Terrorism, Political, Accident and Health, Energy, Marine and Aviation, and Reinsurance.
In addition, in 2017, QIC Europe Ltd (QEL), the Group’s fully-owned Malta-based subsidiary dedicated to underwrite risks across the European Economic Area (EEA) captured numerous new business opportunities. Capitalizing on its EU domicile, QEL further developed partnerships with chosen Managing General Agent (MGAs) and Lloyd’s cover holders to support carefully selected portfolios.
On the regional front, in 2017, the Group’s structural changes started showing positive results. Despite the prevailing challenges, QIC’s regional operations outperformed its peers in respective markets, exhibiting higher levels of profitability. For instance, the Group’s subsidiary in Oman, Oman Qatar Insurance Company (OQIC) was highly successful in floating the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 25% of its total share capital in the Muscat Securities Market.
2017 was a particularly successful year for the Group’s retail business in the Middle East. QIC’s retail business underwent a complete digital transformation, enabling product enhancements, improved service delivery and modernized distribution channels through a user-friendly online retail platform. This transformation has greatly enhanced overall customer experience, on the back of more convenient, quick and seamless insurance purchasing and claims settlement.
Mr. Khalifa Abdulla Turki Al Subaey, Group President & CEO of QIC Group commented: “In the face of almost unprecedented market adversity, QIC has proven its resilience and maintained its leading position across the MENA region. At the same time, we have continued to expand our global footprint, positioning us well for any market hardening going forward.”
Mr. Al Subaey continued: “QIC reaffirms its vision to develop into a global top 50 insurance group. In this endeavor, our focus on sustainable and profitable growth, based on underwriting and investment management excellence, in combination with superior cost-efficiency, will remain unchanged.”