GABORONE – Botswana Life Insurance Limited (Botswana Life) continues to anchor the Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Group as a key subsidiary, contributing to sound results for the holding company. This was revealed during the Group presentation of abridged audited financial results for the year ending 31 December 2021.
Botswana Life delivered a solid set of results within the 2021 financial year, despite the COVID-19 burdened economic climate. Income for the year grew despite the headwinds largely attributable to COVID-19 Pandemic and slower than expected economic recovery.
Premium income grew by 7% from P2.9 billion in 2020 to P3.1 billion and Net Recurring premium income grew 16% from P1.58 billion to P1.83 billion. This line represents a sustainable source of profits in the long term, the Group notes. Total new business grew 42% with most income lines showing a recovery from 2020. The value of new business, which represents the present value of future profits from new business premiums written during the period, grew by 37% compared to prior year due to higher sales volumes for some retail and corporate business portfolios and a shift towards a more profitable mix of new business.
Operating profit declined by 65% year on year from P379 million to P134 million. Said the BIHL Group CEO, Catherine Lesetedi, “We are pleased with the performance of both Botswana Life and the BIFM Group, as key Subsidiaries within the BIHL Group. The major contributor to the decline in operating profit was the unprecedented amount of COVID-19 claims which impacted all risk product lines. The net insurance claims and benefits paid increased by 41% in total compared to prior year. This was a direct result of general excess mortality and COVID-19 related claims during the year 2021, though we have seen an improvement in mortality since the vaccine rollouts and into 2022.”
Standing by Batswana and paying out claims in a timeous manner was a non-negotiable, Botswana Life CEO, Ronald Samuels, affirms. “Our clients already have so much on their shoulders; they do not need struggles with claims on top of that. This is how we stand by them through life and more. Our Sales Team in particular, keenly aware of the socioeconomic climate that we find ourselves in, has been a model of excellence in utilising digital channels and growing new business lines despite the challenges.”
Exercising prudent financial management during this period bore strong fruits. In 2021, Botswana Life management continued with cost optimisation initiatives to manage the cost base within optimal levels underpinned by process automation and shift to online channels. Digitisation was fast-tracked, realising operational online streaming of sales distribution processes (end-to-end), customer self-service and collaborative e-payments platforms complementing existing traditional channels. In line with the Se Sarona 5-year strategy, the business also launched an exciting new offering, the Botswana Life Fiduciary Services which will assist clients with their estate planning needs, further cementing its role in innovating and collaborating for meaningful progress to ultimately benefit customers.
The increased claims did, however, mean an erosion of Group profit lines, while operating profit decreased by 56% (to P171 million), and core earnings decreased by 54% (to P197 million). This was on the back of otherwise strong revenues, with recurring premium income having increased by 15% to P1.9 billion, the value of the new business increased by 37% to P176 million and assets under management increased by 19% to P36 billion.
The BIHL Group remains well capitalised, with the required capital for the Subsidiaries covered 6.8 times (Dec 2020: 6.3 times). The Board has proposed a final dividend of P200 million net of tax (Dec 2020: P184 million net of tax).