Standard & Poor’s Affirms Ratings, Upgrades Outlook on Universal Group
SAN JUAN–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P) affirmed its ‘BBB-’ long-term counterparty credit rating on Universal Group Inc. (UGI) and its ‘A-‘ long-term counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on UGI’s operating subsidiary, Universal Insurance Co. (PR) (UNICO) on Wednesday. At the same time, S&P revised its outlooks on UGI and UNICO to stable from negative. Subsequently, S&P withdrew its ratings at the group’s request.
“We revised the outlook to stable from negative to reflect our view of the group’s improving trend of underwriting results amid unfavorable market and economic conditions, in both its core markets of Puerto Rico and the U.S.,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Neil Stein. “The company has successfully integrated its early 2015 acquisition of Point Guard Insurance Co. while maintaining profitability in this line of business. The company has, meanwhile, preserved its strong financial risk profile supported by extremely strong capital adequacy according to our risk-based capital model. Partially offsetting these factors is our opinion is that the company, despite its top market position in home markets, may continue to face headwinds in its operations since its largest source of premiums is from Puerto Rico.”
The ratings reflected S&P’s view of the group’s satisfactory business risk profile and strong financial risk profile, which are built on an intermediate insurance industry and country risk assessment, an adequate competitive position, very strong capital and earnings, moderate risk position, and adequate financial flexibility.
“We assessed its enterprise risk management and management governance as adequate and supportive of the rating,” Stein added. “The ratings further reflected the structural subordination of UGI to its insurance subsidiary, UNICO. As an insurance holding company, UGI largely relies on distributions from its regulated insurance units to meet its obligations.”
Monique Miranda, president & CEO of Universal Group Inc., commented, “We confirm the commitment of Universal Group Inc. with our clients and insurers, as these ratings confirm the daily efforts of our team faces, in a successful manner, an unfavorable, highly-competitive market and an unprecedented economic situation. Beyond the service we have demonstrated to our clients and insurers, we reiterate our commitment with Puerto Rico.”
Established 34 years ago, Universal Group Inc. is one of the largest insurance groups in Puerto Rico. In 2004 the company entered the mainland U. S. market, and now has operations in 17 U.S. states and offers insurance products, policy financing and investment options.