Best Affirms Gulf Ins. ‘A-‘ Rating

January 3, 2006

A.M. Best Co. announced that it has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) of Trinidad’s Gulf Insurance Limited, with a stable outlook.

“The rating reflects Gulf’s consistently favorable operating performance, liquid investment portfolio, geographic spread of risk and conservative underwriting practice,” said best. “The company’s operating results continue to be favorable, reflective of its conservative operating strategies. Furthermore, Gulf’s investment portfolio remains concentrated in short-term investments, which provide rapid access to funds, if necessary.”

Best explained that “Gulf provides coverage in several classes of property/casualty lines of business across a number of English speaking Caribbean islands as well as Netherlands Antilles. Its main lines of business include property, fire, motor, accident, marine and workers’ compensation insurance.

“The company operates through a network of local Trinidad agencies and branches as well as other agents in the Caribbean. The company’s key geographic sources of business are located in Trinidad and Tobago, the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and Nevis.”

However, Best noted that “partially offsetting these positive factors is Gulf’s dependence on reinsurance due to inherent exposure to weather-related catastrophic risks in the region. To mitigate this exposure, Gulf has established a comprehensive reinsurance program that minimizes net exposure to severe catastrophic events.

“The insurance market in the Caribbean has also become increasingly competitive, presenting challenges to regional companies to maintain market share and profitability. Additionally the relative small size and uncertainty of the regional financial markets limits investment opportunities, which could dampen investment returns.”

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