Judicial Manager declares CLICO (Guyana) insolvent
…worse case scenario liability outweighs assets by more than $11B
By Gary Eleazar
Judicial Manager of Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) Guyana, Maria Van Beek, in a report to the High Court, says that its financial position reveals that the company does not have the resources to allow it to carry on its business and it is therefore insolvent.
She added, in the report, that the sale of assets of the company appears to be unavoidable under any foreseeable scenario.
It was pointed out that upon the announcement by the Trinidadian authorities at the end of January that some of the assets of CL Financial were being taken over by the authorities in Trinidad, including the insurance company Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd. (CLICO Trinidad), the company began experiencing heavier than normal surrenders.
As at the end of February $1.5B in claims were paid during 2009 and $1.6B remained outstanding at that time.
Prior to the Judicial takeover on February 25, the Company was unable to raise additional funds or liquidity from its parent company or the group.
“Further, it was unable to recoup during this time, any of its investments totalling US$34 million held by CLICO (Bahamas) Limited, which represents in excess of 50 per cent of the assets of the company.
“CLICO (Bahamas) Limited was subsequently placed under provisional liquidation on 24th February 2009. As a result I as Commissioner of Insurance petitioned the Court and was subsequently appointed Judicial Manager on 25th February 2009.”
The Judicial Manager reported that based on the investigation by Nizam Ali & Company, the book value of the Company’s assets and liabilities shows the net asset position of the Company is approximately $1.6 billion which clearly attests to the claim that the Company is insolvent.
It was pointed out that given the likely impairment of the Bahamas investment valued at $7.1 billion and assuming some write-off in the value of the remaining assets of the Company, the net deficit could rise to $11.9 billion should the Company be wound-up.
She added also that it should be stressed however that the estimates are very dependent on the value of the long term liabilities produced by the Actuary who in turn is dependent on the policy data stored and compiled by staff of CLICO Trinidad who have been sub-contracted to perform this work.
“The significant deterioration in the Company’s net position compared to 31st December 2007 is as a result of an increase in liabilities of about $4 billion compared to an increase in assets of about $1.7 billion amounting to a reduction in net assets of about $2.3 billion. Part of this loss is due to a change in the actuarial basis.”
As it relates to the company’s liquidity, van Beek told the court that the cash assets of the Company total approximately $560 million and it had a cash deficiency of about $1.5 B at the end of February this year.
“This however assumes that surrenders of Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA), Flexible Premium Annuity (FPA), Group Flexible Premium Annuity (GFPA) policies totalling about $1.6 billion will be paid.”
It was pointed out that, at present, in order to preserve the liquidity of the Company, no payments on surrenders of any long term insurance contract have been made and it has been projected that the Company can remain in a liquid position for three months or more provided claims arising from Life and Pensions remain suspended until additional liquidity is obtained through the sale of the Company’s investments or by some other means.
Van Beek in her report lamented the fact that the documentation by the Company has been generally very poor and based on the documents reviewed to date and a review of the investment decisions made by the Company, it appears that any assessment of the appropriateness of the investments in Group subsidiaries was ineffectual.
It was pointed out that this is of particular concern given that two of the Directors are also Directors on the Board of CLICO (Bahamas) Ltd.
She added that while the investment in the Bahamas appeared liquid on the Company’s books, the Directors should have been aware of the high level of liquidity risk that the investments in the Bahamas entailed in recent years.
It was also pointed out that there was also some common directorship with Caribbean Resources Ltd (CRL).
“It does not appear that there were clear lines of communication between the Actuary, the management and the Board of Directors and discussions, if any, on critical assumptions for the actuarial valuation of the long term liabilities do not appear to have been properly documented….
“The Directors and management of the Company operated either without a basic understanding of managing an insurance business or pursued a strategy that has resulted in significant losses to the Company….This has jeopardised the ability of the Company to meet its policyholder obligations.”
At February month’s end, the Company has approximately $1.7 billion in EFPA and FPA claims outstanding and approximately $382M in other claims outstanding.
She added that following that date at least a further $5.7 billion in EFPA and FPA claims were submitted.
Van Beek added that if additional time is permitted she intends to instruct Nizam Ali to review the claims paid by the Company during 2009 and to determine whether any preferential disbursement was made.
At present the Total outstanding claims are estimated as; EFPA/FPA/GFPAs – $7.4B; Ordinary Life & Group Life $213M; Auto $8M; Health $10M; Fire $80 million and
Accident and Liability $72M.
Van Beek added that the analysis excludes claims under litigation.
“About 70 per cent of the EPFA and 97 per cent of FPA surrendered policies are for claims with a cash surrender value of $5M or less per policy…However most of the FPA policies remain un-surrendered due to high surrender penalties.”
She added that the total liabilities of the FPA policies are about $800M, “Of the remaining EFPA policies that have not surrendered about 85 per cent of these policies have surrender values of less than $5M…Of the 14 GFPA policies on the books, the total liability of these policies is about $900M but the majority of these policies have a cash surrender value exceeding $5M.
A hindrance that was pointed out by van Beek was the fact that the policy administration and accounting system of the Company are based in CLICO Trinidad.
Some functions also rely on their support. “While we have tried to minimise this by moving various functionalities back to the Company (such as claims underwriting and payroll processing), to move all functions back to the Company would require the purchase of an IT system for policy administration.”
She posited that the cost of a new IT system would be in excess of US$300,000 and the system would not necessarily be compatible with those of any other insurance company. “In addition the accounting system would have to be changed…At this time CLICO Trinidad has quoted approximately US$6400 per month for their services… A consequence of this arrangement is the Company is wholly dependent on CLICO Trinidad to produce information and accounting information and this has caused some delays during this reporting period…
“Further any data problems have to be discussed with personnel in Trinidad. In particular, data reconciliations for the actuarial report have proved to be difficult and time-consuming.”
It was pointed out that aggressive marketing and the promise of high investment returns for EFPA/FPA/GFPA policies resulted in significant growth in funds under management since the products were launched in 1994.
The liabilities of this group of policies on February 28, 2009 account for $10.5B out of total policyholder liabilities of about $11.6B or 90 per cent of total policyholder liabilities.