U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 50 mins

AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Argus Group Holdings Limited and Its Subsidiaries

AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) of "a-" of Argus Insurance Company Limited (Argus Insurance) and Bermuda Life Insurance Company Limited (Bermuda Life). Both companies are subsidiaries of Argus Group Holdings Limited (Argus Group) [BSE:AGH.BH]. Concurrently, AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term ICR of Argus Group at "bbb-". The outlook for these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. All companies are domiciled in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The ratings reflect Argus Group’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

Argus Group’s operating performance in fiscal year-end 2019 (March 31, 2019) improved significantly compared with the prior year reported losses in which the company had a large write-off of non-performing assets. The company is focused on reducing its exposure to illiquid assets and redeploying capital into high quality and marketable securities to increase liquidity and add financial flexibility. Argus reported favorable earnings through the second quarter (Sept. 30, 2019) in its health division, but these were offset by losses from Hurricane Humberto that affected property/casualty lines. The positive earnings have contributed to the company’s solid risk-adjusted capitalization. AM Best anticipates that the Argus Group will continue to reduce its level of asset risk from its property holdings, and prudently manage its catastrophe risk exposure to maintain its strongest level of balance sheet strength assessment over the medium term.

The challenges for the company involve premium development within Bermuda and extending its reach into other markets. Argus underwrites approximately a third of the health insurance market in Bermuda; however, the country has limited growth potential and poses concentration risk. Argus’ health segment contributes over 70% of net premiums.

Furthermore, the additional health reform policy changes significantly affect the funding dynamics within the health care insurance market. Changes in funding Bermuda’s only hospital took effect June 1, 2019 in what is deemed a first phase of the island nation’s health reform. The current fee-for-service payment model, funded through the standard premium rate, has been replaced by a set grant paid directly by the Bermuda government and funded in part through an increase in the Mutual Reinsurance Fund (MRF). The change in the funding approach will reduce the premiums retained by Argus by the amount of the increase in the MRF. The corresponding claims will now be retained by the Bermuda Hospital Board. The details and the timing of a next phase of reform is uncertain at this time.

AM Best acknowledges Argus’ drive to expand and diversify premium and earnings. Over the last several years, geographic diversification has increased through the company's P/C segment's growing presence in Malta and Gibraltar.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media - Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data provider specializing in the insurance industry. The company does business in more than 100 countries. Headquartered in Oldwick, NJ, AM Best has offices in cities around the world, including London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2019 by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191218005753/en/


Wayne Kaminski
Senior Financial Analyst-L/H
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5061

Christopher Sharkey
Manager, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159

Alexander Sarfo
Senior Financial Analyst-P/C
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5779

Jim Peavy
Director, Public Relations

+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5644