By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamas First yesterday unveiled a 14.3 percent decline in total comprehensive income for the six months to end-June 2020 as reduced claims partially offset COVID-19's impact.
The property and casualty insurer, which joined the Bahamas International Securities Exchange's (BISX) main equities listing board earlier this year, said in a statement that net underwriting income for the half-year had risen by $2m year-over-year to reach $15.2m
Total comprehensive income of $1.8m, or $0.05 per share, was down on 2019's $2.1m or $0.06 per share. A 1.7 percent year-over-year decrease in top-line gross written premium was offset by an improvement in claims experience.
Acknowledging that it had "experienced some deterioration in its general insurance portfolio" due to COVID-19's economic fall-out, Bahamas First said the impact was somewhat softened by a 37 percent improvement in its claims experience compared to 2019. However, it suffered a $1.1m loss on its investments during the 2020 first half.
Bahamas First added that operating expenses were slightly higher than 2019, although it provided no figures. It added that a major factor contributing to this was the cost of currency conversion charges in relation to Hurricane Dorian claims. These non-recurring charges, which were about 15 percent of total expenses for the period, are expected to decline in the coming quarters.
The insurer said its Cayman First subsidiary performed well during the 2020 first half, contributing heavily towards the company’s profit for the period. The Cayman Islands’ containment of COVID-19 meant there was little impact on Cayman First’s health claims experience, while gross written premiums in the Cayman general insurance segment rose slightly compared to 2019.
Bahamas First said its equity attributable to ordinary shareholders increased to $59.4m, as opposed to $58m at December 2019.
“The first half of 2020 presented many challenges which will continue to impact the group for the rest of the year and into 2021,” said Bahamas First chair, Alison Treco. “However, we are fortunate to report that our performance figures to June 30, 2020, have held relatively steady compared to the comparative period in 2019.
"Whilst the future is unpredictable, we do expect to see a negative impact from the high unemployment levels and closure of businesses due to COVID-19, and we are making adjustments to minimise the potential adverse effects.”
Patrick Ward, Bahamas First's group president and chief executive, added: “During these extraordinarily challenging times, I couldn’t be prouder of our employees, many of whom have transitioned seamlessly into a remote environment and remain committed to serving our customers and helping our company create value for our shareholders.”