General Insurance Companies
17th October 2018 (Version 1)

Executive summary:

General insurance (Non-Life) companies play an important role in the financial services sector by offering risk cover against various non-life related risks through a wide range of products and services. They offer a wide range of products and services across business segments such as motor, fire, health, marine, aviation, engineering, liability, personal accident etc. Acuité assigns' Financial Strength Rating' (FSR) to the general insurance companies to reflect the ability of the insurance company to meet its claims related obligations towards the policy holders.

Acuité assesses the standalone credit risk profile of the general insurance company based on the evaluation of the industry risk, business risk, and financial risk profiles of the company. In addition, Acuité also factors parent/group/government support into the rating for companies backed by strong parent/promoter groups or the government, which are expected to provide regular support to the rated insurance company to meet its growth and regulatory capital requirements.

Rating Methodology:

Industry Risk:

Industry risk assessment includes evaluation of various factors impacting the general insurance industry including the market size and historical growth trend, future growth potential and drivers for the same, competitive dynamics of the various segments within the general insurance industry and the players therein, and impact of competition on the pricing strategy and business practices of the insurance companies. Acuité also analyses the impact of the economic conditions, government policies and regulatory environment for the industry and the various individual segments. Any material changes in regulations or industry practices in the underwriting norms, claims and investment pattern, solvency margin requirements or taxation may significantly impact the industry and alter the competitive positioning of the players.

Business Risk:

Market position

Market position assessment includes evaluation of the rated entity's presence across business segments within the industry, its competitive strength compared to other players within each business segent, franchise, distribution network, and growth enablers including assessment of business/operational linkages with the parent/group. Leadership position across one or more business segments provides competitive edge over peers in the industry and pricing flexibility. Diversity across business, customer, and geographical presence provides long-term business sustainability and flexibility during times of stress.

Underwriting policies and practices

Evaluation of the rated entity's underwriting policies and practices is a critical input to the business risk assessment, as it is the key to the long-term sustainability of the company in the industry. It reflects adequacy/inadequacy of the pricing of risks against the claims to be incurred in future. A separate business segment wise and an overall assessment is undertaken as the risk dynamics are different across the various business segments and can significantly impact the overall performance.

It involves assessment of the impact of the past and current underwriting policies and practices on the company's performance (past and future) as well as the management's future strategy. Underwriting policy and practices will be driven by the various factors including industry dynamics and management's strategy with respect to future growth plan and mix, market penetration, risk-based pricing, profitability etc.

India has seen emergence of single business segment focused insurers in recent times – several standalone health insurance companies are present in the market and competing with the diversified general insurance companies. The ability of these companies to have deep understanding of the business, and price the risks appropriately is critical for their growth.

Apart from qualitative factors, the evaluation also includes various quantitative factors of business performance such as underwriting margin, combined ratio, incurred claims ratio, etc.

Reinsurance strategy

Reinsurance is critical for any insurance business as it enables sharing of risks across the global insurance sector, especially in the event of any major catastrophic risks. It enables general insurance companies to limit the losses on the originally underwritten portfolio, thereby strengthening their underwriting capabilities. The assessment includes evaluation of the reinsurance strategies with respect to the proportion of the reinsurance undertaken through various reinsurance schemes across business segments, sharing of claims in excess of the retention limit, track record of reinsurance claims recoverability and the credit profile of the reinsurance companies. The assessment also includes evaluation of reinsurance accepted by the rated entity from the other insurance companies and the track record of claims payable from such reinsurance.

Investment management

General insurance companies invest policy holder funds surplus inline with the stipulated regulatory guidelines across various asset classes including equities, corporate debt and government securities. Consequently, investment management is integral part of the general insurance business and enables to boost the overall profitability (or helps in mitigating the pressure arising due to underwriting related losses). A well-diversified good quality portfolio with limits on single borrower and industry exposure concentration is expected to generate stable returns over the long term. To achieve this, disciplined investment management across economic and business cycles is critical.In addition to the historical performance, the assessment includes evaluation of the investment and risk management philosophyin relation to the insurance liabilities and the internal controls, especially with respect to credit risk, market risk, liquidity risk. Assessment also includes evaluation of the top exposures across asset classes including equities, corporate debt, and others.

Financial Risk:


Evaluation of capitalisation is critical for assessing the Financial Strength Rating of an insurance company. General insurance companies must ensure compliance with minimum capital (Rs.100 Cr. currently) and solvency margin (1.5 currently) requirements.

Solvency margin of an insurance company is the size of capital relative to the risk taken, which is all liabilities subtracted from total assets. It indicates the soundness of the insurance company and ability to honour all the claims. Solvency ratio (defined as available solvency margin / required solvency margin)indicates adequacy of capital against underwriting risks and growth.

The analysis also includes assessment of the planned capital infusion and projected solvency margin. Furthermore, ability and willingness to bring in additional capital to meet any catastrophe or significant unforeseen underwriting losses is critical to sustain business operations. It will enable assessment of the availability of adequate capital for growth and insurance company's ability to honour claims to the policy holders.

General insurance companies are also permitted to raise other forms of capital (Preference Shares and Subordinated Debt), which helps them to diversify their capital base and also buttress their solvency margin. However, there are stringent requirements associated with this form of capital, especially to service the dividend / interest on these instruments.


A general insurance company's business model assessment provides an indication of the quality and sustainability of its earnings profile and overall financial strength. A company with a healthy business risk profile will be able to achieve profitable growth despite high competitive intensity in the industry. Sound underwriting practices and good investment management philosophy will enable the insurance company to sustain a healthy earnings profile over the medium term. A detailed assessment of the underwriting practices across each business segment is undertaken to evaluate the inherent risks, claims ratio and underwriting performance and its impact on the overall underwriting profits. Underwriting profits are the core earnings of any insurance business and a reflection of its long-term sustainability. However, any volatility in the underwriting performance (even underwriting losses) can be offset by stable investment income. The investment portfolio including the mix of debt and equity also needs to be analysed to assess the stability of its returns and the extent of volatility in the same.

Liquidity and financial flexibility

Any insurance company needs to maintain adequate liquidity to meet its claims related obligations towards the policy holders on a timely basis. This will be primarily in the form of a highly liquid investment portfolio and the operating cashflows. Hence, the risk assessment of the underwritten portfolio, crystallisation of claims and the management's philosophy towards maintaining adequate liquidity on a regular basis in line with the emerging claim obligations is critical. Other sources include the financial flexibility of the promoters to facilitate funding in times of need.

Management Risk:

Corporate Governance

Corporate governance evaluation takes into account management risk in terms of performance and accountability of the management towards various stakeholders such as regulators, shareholders, employees, customers and suppliers. Acuité shall also analyse the qualitative and quantitative parameters that determine accountability of the management towards various stakeholders. In addition, management is appraised on the following parameters


Competency of the management is assessed based on the management credentials, organisation structure, performance track record, strategies employed by the management in response to the change in environment and finally impact of the strategy implemented on the performance of the company.


Integrity of the management is assessed based on the track record of the management in adhering to statutory requirements by various regulatory authorities, litigation and such related issues. Management for this purpose includes senior management of the company, directors and promoters.

Risk Appetite

Risk Appetite of the management is an important parameter in assessing management risk. It is ascertained based on the willingness of the management to enter into riskier business segments, exposure to such segments in the past and management philosophy for mergers and acquisitions.


Acuité will also factor in parent/group or government support incase of general insurance companies which are promoted by strong parent/groups/government (please refer to the criteria 'Criteria For Group And Parent Support' for details). It is based on the evaluation of various factors including the strategic importance of the insurance business to the parent/group, ownership pattern and management control, operational linkages and synergies, common branding, past and future financial support. Acuité also assesses the financial flexibility of the parent/group to provide support both for growth and to address the losses arising from any catastrophic events.