AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of "a-" of Police Health Plan Limited (PHP) (New Zealand). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.
The ratings reflect PHP’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. In addition, the ratings factor in a neutral impact from the company’s ultimate ownership by the New Zealand Police Association (NZPA).
PHP’s balance sheet strength assessment is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalisation, which remains at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). This reflects the company’s moderate underwriting leverage and conservative investment approach. As a not-for-profit insurer, AM Best views the company’s financial flexibility as limited, although this is partially mitigated by the company’s prudent capital management and track record of robust internal capital generation. An offsetting balance sheet factor is the company’s modest-sized absolute capital base, which increases the sensitivity of capital adequacy to stress scenarios or fluctuations in performance.
AM Best assesses PHP’s operating performance as adequate, with a five-year average return-on-equity ratio of 5.5% (fiscal-years 2016-2020), albeit with a moderate level of volatility over this period. PHP benefits from an efficient cost structure that allows it to offer competitive health coverage and premiums to its members. As a not-for-profit insurer, PHP’s strategy is to achieve near break-even operating results over time. Notwithstanding this, the company reported robust operating earnings over the past two years. The company’s claims volume declined in fiscal-year 2020 due to the deferral of elective surgeries amid the COVID-19 pandemic; a subsequent catch-up in this activity is anticipated in fiscal-year 2021. AM Best expects PHP to maintain adequate operating results, supported by robust investment returns and its demonstrated ability to adjust premium rates rapidly if its claim experience deteriorates.
PHP is a not-for-profit organisation that provides health insurance exclusively to current and former members of the New Zealand police force and their families. Despite having a market share of less than 3% in New Zealand’s health insurance market, the company’s business profile assessment factors in its high penetration rate within the police force and its close integration with its ultimate parent, NZPA, which gives rise to synergy and efficiency benefits. PHP has preferential access to its member base, benefits from low distribution costs and shares overheads with the broader group. Despite challenging market conditions, the company’s membership has grown steadily in recent years due to government initiatives aimed at expanding the police force.
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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Sin Yee Chuah
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Senior Financial Analyst
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Manager, Public Relations
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