The insurance and takaful industry saw a boost in profitability in 2012, spurred by improving premiums growth and healthier combined ratios in the general insurance/takaful sectors. Despite notable increases in equity exposure and concerns on interest rate risk, insurers’ risk exposure remains reasonable. BNM intends to tighten scrutiny of the insurance/takaful industry, as recommended by the IMF Country Report. We remain NEUTRAL on the sector.
Better 2012. The life insurance and family takaful sector reported a 38.2% increase in net income or excess income over outgo, backed by premiums/contributions growth of 11.2%. Meanwhile, the general insurance and takaful segment’s operating profits surged by 72.6% to RM2.9bn on the back of premiums/contributions growth of 11.1%. The general insurance and takaful industry also benefited from a low combined ratio of 96.9% (vs 104.7% in 2011).
Regulations tighten their grip. The industry’s capital adequacy ratios (CAR) leveled at 222.3% (vs 222.5% in 2011), well above Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)'s supervisory target capital level (STCL) requirement of 130%. The IMF Country Report acknowledges the strength and comprehensiveness of the local insurance regulatory measures versus the international framework. Meanwhile, the country’s cross-border operations are still small relative to the industry, which we believe may have prompted BNM to relax cross-border financial activities for resident insurers and takaful operators. The central bank intends to enhance the existing prudential requirements with the Financial Services Act (FSA), as well as other measures which may include containment of systemic risks and cross-border risks. This should boost the sustainability of the industry, which being liberalised.
NEUTRAL. We retain NEUTRAL on the sector, with our Top Picks being Syarikat Takaful for its exposure to the takaful industry, and LPI Capital for its robust business model and solid underwriting strength.