Standard & Poor’s will change the way it assigns global ratings to insurers, in part to increase the consideration of country risk in the way a company is evaluated, the credit ratings agency said on Thursday.
The changes will apply to all insurance lines except bond and mortgage. The agency made some controversial changes to the way it rates bond insurers last year.
In a statement, S&P analysts said the “significant majority” of company ratings would be either unchanged or moved by at most one notch as a result of the new criteria.
S&P said it would introduce an Insurance Industry Country Risk Assessment, “which addresses the risks that insurers typically face operating in specific industries and countries.”
The new country risk assessment will be modeled on one already used for the banking industry, though it will count less for insurers than it does for banks, given S&P’s view that insurers are less susceptible to systemic issues.
The country risk will go into a “business risk profile,” which will also consider a company’s competitive position. That profile will be paired with a separate “financial risk profile,” which considers capital and financial flexibility, as a basis for the rating.
Various modifiers will also be applied, like the quality of the company’s enterprise risk management, as well as caps like a liquidity test.
In general, the agency said the overhaul was designed to make insurance ratings more transparent and more comparable to those in other sectors.
The new criteria are expected to be published late this year or early next year, following a comment period.
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