03 September 2021GABORONE - As COVID-19 continues to take a veritable socio-economic toll, businesses who stand to bear a direct as well as indirect strain from the worsening pandemic situation are gearing themselves to withstand any further shocks for the remainder of the situation. This includes but is not limited to the Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Group, who shared financial results for the 6 months ended 30 June 2021 before key stakeholders and which spoke to lower financial performance indicators than the prior year..Most notably, operating profit for the Group decreased by 44% over the 6 months to June 2021 compared to the prior year, and operating profit for Botswana Life decreased by 48% to P102 million. This was on account of excess mortality experienced during the period. P119 million worth of claims were classified as COVID-19 claims across the different product lines, representing 29% of the total claims..Said the BIHL Group Chairman, Batsho Dambe-Groth, “The impact of COVID-19 on financial performance was notable during the period and is reflected in the results shared. Despite increased claims affecting business performance, across the BIHL Group, we have worked to keep our promise and pay benefit claims during this difficult time when Batswana need us the most. With our team – considered as frontline workers - at the branches operating even on weekends, we have worked to ensure that we are able to assist clients for funeral claims. The last thing we want clients to worry about is delays or difficulties on claim pay-outs.”.Other markers on financial performance of the BIHL Group for the period included:Net insurance premium income increased by 28% to P1.56 billionRecurring premium income increased by 13% to P917 millionFee revenue increased by 16% to P62 millionValue of new business increased by 47% to P91 millionAssets under management increased by 10% to P33.4 billionEmbedded value increased to P4.94 billion (June 2020: P4.69 billion)Core earnings decreased by 42% to P118 millionProfit attributable to equity holders decreased by 24% to P200 millionReturn on Group Embedded Value decreased to 11.7% (June 2020: 12.4%).Continued Dambe-Groth, “The year started with successful vaccine rollouts in the first world countries and announcements of further fiscal stimulus that led to the market expectation of a full re-opening of the global economy. Europe made substantial progress on the vaccination front, closing the gap with the US and UK, whilst emerging economies continued to experience slow vaccine rollout. In Botswana, the Nationwide Government vaccination drive continues, and we join the business community and indeed all members of the community in hoping this brings us closer to some greater measure of stability and normalcy. This is the background within which our business worked, all of which have born significant impact on the performance in the period.”.Despite some reduced performance indicators, there have been notable strides made in the period. Across the Group, the value of new business increased by 47% to P91 million compared to prior year. New business volumes for the individual life retail and group funeral portfolios were higher compared to prior year. The annuity portfolio also performed very well with better value of new business margins and improved volumes..Said the BIHL Group CEO, Catherine Lesetedi, “The focus continues, across the Group, on ensuring continued resilience and an ability to absorb any further negative shocks and fluctuations. Management will be implementing appropriate actions to mitigate this risk to ensure the Group’s value proposition remains sound going into the future. The risk mitigating actions include driving profitable topline growth to ensure the business is able to navigate the current wave while delivering much-needed support to our policyholders.”.The Group has also augmented efforts to safeguard the safety and wellbeing of employees and clients from the risks of transmissions, by a combination of actions. This includes introduction of a hybrid structure of working between office and home, dispersing essential staff in several locations and ramping up the use of digital channels to limit face to face interactions. A steady adoption of digital platforms has been observed with an acceleration in the second half of the period. The Group will continue to explore ways to limit unnecessary face to face interaction between staff and clients while ensuring that the quality of service remains uncompromised. The focus on collaboration within the group with a view towards ensuring greater synergies, shared value and mutually beneficial partnerships to benefit clients and customers continues..Concluded Lesetedi, “We would like to thank all our Clients, Brokers, Agents, Staff and other Stakeholders for the on-going partnerships and support and look forward to serving them in the future.”ENDS.