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COMMENTS

Environmental, Social, And Governance: ESG Industry Report Card: EMEA Insurance


Environmental, Social, And Governance: ESG Industry Report Card: EMEA Insurance

Analytic Approach

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities can affect an entity's capacity to meet its financial commitments in many ways (see table below). S&P Global Ratings incorporates these considerations into its ratings methodology and analytics, which enables analysts to factor in short-, medium-, and long-term impacts--both qualitative and quantitative--to multiple steps of their credit analysis. Strong ESG credentials do not necessarily indicate strong creditworthiness (see "The Role Of Environmental, Social, And Governance Credit Factors In Our Ratings Analysis," published Sept. 12, 2019).

Our ESG report cards qualitatively explore the relative exposures (average, below, above average) of sectors to environmental and social credit factors over the short, medium, and long term. In addition to our sector views, this report card lists ESG insights for individual companies, including how and why ESG factors may have a more positive or negative influence on an entity's credit quality compared to sector peers or the broader sector. These comparative views of environmental and social risks are qualitative and established by analysts during industry portfolio discussions, with the goal of providing more insight and transparency.

The list of entities covered in this report is not exhaustive. We may provide additional ESG insights in individual company analyses throughout the year as they change or develop, with companies expected to increasingly focus on ESG in their communication and strategy updates.

Insurance Companies Face ESG Risks Both Directly And Indirectly

When it comes to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, S&P Global Ratings believes that the insurance industry is different from other sectors in that insurers face ESG risks and opportunities not only directly through their own operations, but also indirectly through their role as risk carriers and investors in other sectors. Insurance companies face direct ESG risks, such as treating their customers fairly, ensuring proper governance and transparency, and enabling gender equality in their workforce. In addition, in their role as risk carriers, they assume their counterparties' exposure to risks through their investment portfolios and insurance liabilities. In many cases, these indirect exposures to ESG risks and opportunities can be more material than the direct sources.

In EMEA, ESG factors have materially influenced our ratings on 15 insurers. On the downside, the ratings on six non-life reinsurers incorporate heightened exposure to environmental risk compared with the general insurance industry, including life and health insurers. In each case, we believe that environmental risk manifests through heightened volatility to capital and earnings due to increased claims from extreme weather driven by climate change. Similarly, there are six insurers in our region whose governance practices over the past three years have led us to revise down our assessment of governance; in some cases, this has led to a revised outlook or downgrade. These actions are typically triggered significant changes in management that bring the consistency or credibility of strategy into question or sometimes by accounting qualifications or misstatements that imply governance or oversight deficiencies. On the upside, there are three ratings in EMEA where we believe that the social benefit provided by these insurers to the general populations of homeowners or pensioners are more significant that the general social benefit provided by insurance, and positively affects our rating on these companies.

Our comparative views of environmental and social risks are qualitative, and we established them during our sector portfolio discussions. They do not influence the rating, but rather aim to provide more insight into our opinion of credit risks and opportunities. By contrast, our views on governance are directly embedded in our rating methodology as part of our governance assessment.

Environmental

Since insurance is a service industry, companies' direct exposure to environmental risks is fairly limited, relative to other, more resource-intensive industries such as manufacturing, metals and mining, and agriculture. Insurers tend to have smaller carbon footprints, limited water use, and are not significant greenhouse gas emitters. The industry's exposure to environmental risk largely stems from indirect sources of risk through its underwriting and investment activities. Indirect environmental risks, namely climate change, manifest in three ways for insurers:

  • Physical risks, or the risk of increasing insurance claims due to weather-related events;
  • Transition risks, such as the potential for significant losses in asset values as changes in policy or public opinion affect the attractiveness of certain sectors or products; and
  • Liability risks if individuals or corporations look for compensation for losses associated with physical or transition risks, leading to lawsuits and insurance claims.

Environmental risk, namely potential for increased claims due to extreme weather driven by climate change, can be a material source of risk for (re)insurers that write predominantly property/catastrophe risks. Between 2017 and 2019, weather-related insured payouts including hurricanes, floods, and wildfires reached nearly $275 billion globally. Our insurance ratings can reflect significant concentrations or accumulations of this risk through our assessment of potential volatility to capital and earnings. Our consideration of its materiality to ratings can be tempered by an individual (re)insurer's ability to reprice, steer away or mitigate, and manage its exposures through strong capital and enterprise risk management. Building on their expertise in risk identification, modeling, and management, non-life insurers can help to design solutions that increase resilience to environmental risk. Working with local and national governments and international donors to develop insurance-related solutions can open up new risk pools, helping to boost and diversify profits. We recognize that these opportunities could help insurers diversify their sources of revenue and open up new markets that have historically been underpenetrated by insurance protection. Although this could benefit the competitive and earnings profiles of insurers in the future, we have yet to observe any significant benefit that we consider material to ratings.

While generally less meaningful, localized environmental events have had isolated effects on life and health insurers. For example, wildfires and heatwaves such as those experienced in Europe in 2018 and 2019 have led to higher morbidity in asthma patients, while behavioral health care needs increase after significant environmental disasters. Additionally, health insurers have to adapt to the closure of health care facilities during and after such events, as was evidenced in New York City after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma in 2017. Although life insurers could experience increased frequency or severity of claims from environmental risks--for example, increasing mortality from heatstroke or respiratory diseases as the temperature rises in more densely populated areas--their main exposure to environmental factors come via their investment portfolios.

Insurers' assets are at risk of devaluation due to the risk associated with policy transition. This could be a source of significant risk for companies heavily invested in asset classes such as real estate, or sectors with heavy greenhouse gas emissions such as oil & gas, metals and mining, or nonrenewable electricity production because these sectors are most exposed to policy changes that could impair their valuations. In addition, insurers that have longer duration asset profiles could face more risk of devaluation. Although it is unclear when policy changes might trigger revaluations, the longer the period of inaction, the more severe will be the response, and therefore the impact. We believe that the industry as a whole exhibits a moderate exposure to this transition risk in investment portfolios, largely because most portfolios are well diversified and carry limited exposure to corporate assets. That said, life insurers are more exposed through their larger asset bases and longer duration profiles.

However, the news isn't all negative. The need to build a society that is more resilient and adaptive to climate change presents opportunities for insurers to invest in the infrastructure necessary to support this adaptation. ESG continues to gain prominence in the investment community, including insurers, who hold $80 trillion of investments on their balance sheets globally. We have seen an increasing number of insurers making concerted efforts to expand responsible investing, underwriting, and product offerings. Recognizing that climate-related risk is systemic and nondiversifiable, we look for tangible evidence of how an insurer's sustainable investment and underwriting approach might translate to reduced earnings and capital volatility, improved diversification, or even become a differentiator in a competitive market.

Social

Social exposures are more relevant to life and health insurers, given their susceptibility to demographic changes, such as consumer behavior, mortality, and morbidity trends. Since the industrial revolution, Europe has experienced a steady trend of improvements in life expectancy, largely credited to improvements in public health and medical advancements. The trend is expected to continue, albeit at a slower rate, for the foreseeable future. Although these demographic trends are generally factored into insurers' assumptions when setting their reserves, significant deviations, for example, caused by a cure for cancer, could lead to more rapid improvements than projected, influencing claims intensity and new product pricing.

Recently, we have observed how rising legal risks (known in the industry as "social inflation") have affected certain insurers that have significant U.S. casualty business amid higher-cost jury verdicts, the rise in litigation financing, and high settlement values. Liabilities leading to claims or benefit payments that arise from social risk exposure normally carry a long gestation period, leading to uncertainty about both the timing of payments and the financial impact. Our view of this risk reflects an insurer's ability to detect early mega trends, the reasonableness of its underlying actuarial assumptions, and scenario/stress testing to enable adequate pricing.

Conduct risk also presents a direct social exposure for insurers, particularly as regulators are increasingly focused on ensuring that insurers are treating customers fairly and providing value in the financial advice they are giving. In recent years, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has implemented a directive on how insurance products are developed and sold by insurers and intermediaries (the Insurance Distribution Directive or IDD) and last year updated its framework for monitoring the appropriateness of insurance products throughout their lifetimes.

In the U.K., the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently published the findings and proposed remedies following a market study on the fairness of renewal pricing for existing customers of home and motor policies. The proposals don't envisage fines or financial penalties at this stage, but do suggest some possible limitations on practices deemed to encourage poor pricing practices. Although we do not yet anticipate any rating implications, as conduct risk climbs the regulatory agenda it could become increasingly relevant for insurers dealing directly with consumers, such as life, health, and personal lines writers.

Insurance companies are also susceptible to data privacy and security breaches, a serious and common threat to the data-intensive industry. To address information technology (IT) and cybersecurity risk, insurers continuing to invest in state-of-the-art threat-detection systems and extensive research in quantifying and mitigating exposures to cyber risk--both internally, and externally in the cyber insurance policies they write. We also examine efforts to exploit advanced modeling techniques to better understand the potential financial impact of cyber exposure.

Governance

We monitor the governance oversight and direction conducted by an enterprise's owners, board, executives, and managers. For insurers, our analysis of governance risk examines:

  • Board independence from management;
  • Board's control;
  • Presence of a professional and independent board that is engaged in risk oversight;
  • Quality of public disclosures;
  • Track record of regulatory, tax, and legal infractions; and
  • Consistent and effective communication to stakeholders.

Furthermore, our view of an insurer's risk-management culture informs our assessment of governance. Areas of risk culture embedded in our analysis include risk governance, risk-appetite framework, risk reporting, and incentive compensation structure. Our governance assessment, which doesn't provide any uplift to ratings under our methodology, is generally neutral for the majority of insurers we rate.

ESG Risks In EMEA Insurance

Company/Rating*/Comments Analyst
Aegon N.V.(AA-/Negative/--)  
We consider Aegon's exposure to environmental and social risks to be in line with the insurance sector globally, but more concentrated in social risks than its global multi-line insurance (GMI) peers, such as Allianz or Zurich. Its core markets are the U.S. and Dutch term life and pension insurance. The company's liabilities could rise due to increased longevity and chronic illness caused by lifestyle changes in its core markets. Aegon's property/casualty (P/C) business is proportionally smaller and more retail-oriented than its GMI peers. As a result, its main exposure to environmental risk is through its investment portfolio, where changes in policy or public opinion regarding climate change could cause greater asset valuation volatility. Aegon's exposure to longevity trends is moderate overall, as Aegon has entered into longevity reinsurance contracts in its two largest life markets. We also take comfort in Aegon's strong track record of identifying, modeling, and managing this risk. We value Aegon's capacity to manage asset-liability mismatch (ALM) risks, which allows the group to anticipate, model, and pre-emptively include how social trends will affect its guaranteed life business and variable annuities. Aegon's life and pension insurance activity in the U.K. and the Netherlands is gradually running off. This limits its exposure to social factors, given that Aegon’s provisions and longevity reinsurance contracts already incorporate assumptions on social trends. Governance factors are consistent with what we see across the Netherlands and the U.S. Taos Fudji
Ageas SA/NV(A/Positive/--)  
In our view, Ageas' exposure to environmental and social risks is similar to that of the global insurance industry and peers in continental Europe, such as Vienna Insurance Group or CNP Assurances. Environmental risk primarily arises from the risk that the frequency and severity of claims for extreme weather events will increase as a result of climate change in its main markets of Belgium, Portugal, and the U.K. Further exposure stems from Ageas' investment portfolio, where changes in policy or public opinion regarding climate change could cause greater asset valuation volatility. Ageas' Belgian life and pension insurance business is exposed to social risks. The company's liabilities could rise due to chronic illness caused by lifestyle changes. Ageas’ exposure to increased longevity is modest overall because most Belgians take their pension insurance as capital at retirement age, instead of converting it into annuities, as is allowed under Belgian law. Based on Solvency II reporting, Ageas' life underwriting risks (which include longevity, mortality, and lapse risk) represented 9% of total Solvency II capital requirements before diversification and loss-absorption. Its non-life underwriting risks (which include weather event exposure) represent 10%. Ageas' retail-oriented and simple products limit its exposure to environmental risks through its P/C activity and this is complemented by comprehensive reinsurance. We also consider that exposure to social risks stemming from the Belgian pension portfolio is under control and well-managed. Ageas has a strong track record of managing its ALM risks, which allows the group to anticipate, model, and pre-emptively include how social trends will affect its guaranteed life business. Governance factors are typical for Belgium. Taos Fudji
Al Buhaira National Insurance Co. (PSC)(BB+/Negative/--)  
Although we generally consider corporate governance practices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to be satisfactory, ABNIC's governance has proved to be weaker than that of other UAE companies. Our rating on ABNIC has a negative outlook, largely because it declared a solvency deficit in its audited financial statement for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017. It also has a higher risk appetite than its peers. ABNIC has been in active discussions with its regulator and has submitted a recovery plan. However, we see a risk that financial performance in the next couple of years may fall short of the projections in its recovery plan. This could result in the regulator taking action against ABNIC. Sachin Sahni
Al-Khaleej Takaful Insurance Co. Q.P.S.C.(BBB/Stable/--)  
In our view, corporate governance practices in Qatar are generally satisfactory and AKT's exposure to environmental and social risks is consistent with the insurance industry. That said, it has become more common to see audit qualifications in the Gulf Cooperation Council in recent years. AKT displayed some financial reporting deficiencies and saw its 2017 results qualified in relation to unrecognized impairment losses on equity and real estate investments. Although AKT resolved these key audit matters during 2018, the incident altered our view of AKT's governance, and consequently our financial strength rating. Since then, we have revised our outlook on AKT to stable from negative following the corrective steps taken by the insurer, but would require a longer track record of satisfactory financial reporting standards to revise our view. Mario Chakar
Allianz SE(AA/Stable/--)  
From our perspective, Allianz's exposure to environmental and social risk factors are in line with the overall insurance industry, and with other global multiline peers such as AIG, AXA, and Zurich. Allianz's exposure to environmental risk factors largely stems from the risk that climate change could increase the frequency and severity of claims for damage due to extreme weather. It is also exposed through its investment portfolio--changes in climate-related policy or public opinion could increase the volatility of asset valuations. Allianz benefits from a sophisticated risk-management framework through which it identifies, models, and controls risk. Overall, we consider Allianz is well protected against extreme natural catastrophe events, as it demonstrated in 2017 when it reported limited losses following Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma. Natural catastrophe losses after reinsurance were less than €400 million, while its overall claims stood at €31 billion. Shareholder equity was €65 billion in 2017. Allianz offers a wide range of life insurance products, including saving products and annuities. We regard Allianz's exposure to social factors as comparable with that of other life insurance companies. For example, demographic developments are causing an increase in longevity, a trend that will increase insurance liabilities. Sebastian Dany
Aspen Group(A/Negative/--)  
Like many other non-life reinsurers, Bermudian and London market specialty writers, we think Aspen's natural catastrophe business makes it more exposed to environmental risk than the wider insurance industry. For example, climate change could cause an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. We consider Aspen's exposure to losses from extreme weather could cause earnings volatility and even affect its capital. In 2017 and 2018, it reported severe losses related to the U.S. hurricanes and Japanese typhoons that hit its capital base. Since then, Aspen has materially reduced its appetite for natural catastrophe risk. Its ability to reprice most of its contracts annually helps to protect it against slow increases in claims trends. Nevertheless, consistent with its peers, its reinsurance business model inherently leaves Aspen more exposed than other insurers to environmental factors, through pricing and modeling risks. Aspen's corporate governance is consistent with that we observe in Bermuda. Charles-Marie Delpuech
Aviva PLC(AA-/Stable/--)  
We consider Aviva's exposure to environmental and social risk factors to be in line with the global insurance industry. Despite having material P/C operations, Aviva's exposure to environmental risk primarily stems from its investment portfolio and asset management business. Many of the assets it has invested in are subject to transition risk (that is, the risk that sudden changes in policy or public opinion regarding climate change could lead to significant volatility or a devaluation in asset prices). However, this exposure is similar to other GMIs, such as AXA, Zurich, and AIG. Aviva is at the forefront of assessing and trying to quantify this exposure. Aviva's life insurance-orientated business model exposes the group to potential increased liabilities as a result of changing longevity and mortality trends, although these are heavily reinsured. Aviva Investors, as a significant active investment firm, can and has exerted pressure to change on the companies it invests in. We consider Aviva to be a thought leader in this space. As part of this, Aviva continues to develop its capabilities to invest in long-dated assets such as infrastructure or real estate, to help manage its ALM risk. David Masters
AXA Group(AA-/Stable/--)  
We view AXA's exposure to environmental and social risk factors as consistent with the global insurance industry. As a GMI, the group is exposed to environmental risks related to climate change, such as increased insurance claims from extreme weather events or pandemics. AXA is largely protected from these risks thanks to a very high degree of reinsurance. In addition, the group benefits from sophisticated risk management tools. We consider AXA's capital position is well protected against extreme natural catastrophe events, despite the additional exposure brought by the former XL Group, which it acquired in 2018. Its normalized exposure to natural catastrophe risk accounts for just 3% of its premium. AXA's investment portfolio and asset management business is a second source of exposure to environmental risk. It accounted for €1.4 trillion of managed assets as of year-end 2018. Many of the assets it invests in are subject to transition risk (that is, the risk that sudden changes in policy or public opinion regarding climate change could lead to significant volatility or a devaluation in asset prices). However, this exposure is similar to other GMIs, such as Aviva, Zurich, and AIG. AXA also underwrites a wide range of life insurance products (€63 billion in 2018, including saving, health, and protection-related premium). We regard AXA's exposure to social factors as comparable with that of other life insurance companies. For example, demographic developments are causing an increase in longevity, a trend that will increase insurance liabilities. Governance practices are in line with what we see across France and our own expectations. Marc-Philippe Juilliard
Caisse Centrale de Reassurance(AA/Stable/--)  
We consider that CCR is more exposed to environmental risk factors than the industry average. At the same time, we recognize the social role that CCR plays in France. Therefore, we view the company as a positive outlier regarding its social contribution, relative to the industry. CCR's main source of potential earnings and capital volatility is its significant exposure to extreme weather events, such as flood or drought, which may see an increase in frequency and severity because of climate change. CCR offers unlimited coverage for state-backed business, which exposes its balance sheet to material losses if a 1-in-250-year event were to occur. Losses following such an event are likely to exceed CCR's current equalization reserves, at which time, unlimited financial support from the French government would be available. However, CCR plays a vital social role in enabling solidarity across French territories by assuming these catastrophe risks for all French citizens. Indeed, CCR's natural disaster reinsurance enables every household and business across the country, especially in catastrophe-prone areas, to be insured against this risk at an affordable price. This social benefit underpins our assessment of CCR's integral link with the French state. Governance factors are in line with those we see across France. Olivier Karusisi
CNP Assurances(A/Stable/--)  
CNP's exposure to environmental and social risk factors is in line with the global insurance sector. Environmental risk arises through its investment portfolio because changes in policy or public opinion regarding climate change could cause significant volatility in asset prices. That said, this is a common risk across the insurance industry. We consider that CNP monitors its underwriting tightly, including the pricing of its personal risk and protection portfolio. In particular, it uses a centralized information technology system and limits the influence of distribution networks on pricing. This typically helps to mitigate risks associated with rises in chronic diseases. Most of the group's exposure to social risk factors stems from the impact of demographic changes, especially in its French pension portfolio. Increased longevity increases pension liabilities. CNP manages its French pension portfolio following best practices, such as certifying its longevity tables based on its own experience. In our view, CNP's take a similar approach to handling these exposures as its direct peers, Ageas and SGAM AG2R La Mondiale. Governance factors are consistent with those we see in the French industry. Charlotte Chausserie-Laprée
Doha Bank Assurance Co. LLC(BBB/Negative/--)  
DBAC has similar exposure to environmental and social risk factors as the rest of the insurance industry and we consider corporate governance practices in Qatar are generally satisfactory. That said, its governance has proved weaker than that of its Qatari peers. In 2018, DBAC received a few unexpected large claims, which represented a significant exposure compared with total capital--about 37% of total shareholders' equity reported at year-end 2018. We incorporated this significant source of earnings volatility in our risk exposure assessment. DBAC had insufficient reinsurance coverage to cover these losses, which contributed to the Qatari riyal (QAR) 59 million net losses DBAC reported for the first three quarters of 2019. In our opinion, this indicates deficiencies in DBAC's risk management practices. We also note that DBAC is in the process of filling key management roles to strengthen its business development. Mario Chakar
Echo Rueckversicherungs-AG(A-/Stable/--)  
Like other non-life reinsurers, such as Aspen and CCR, much of Echo Re's exposure to environmental factors stems from the risk that climate change will cause an increase in the frequency and severity of claims from extreme weather and natural catastrophes, as experienced in 2018 and 2019. Echo Re is smaller than its peers and its profitability is lower, making its capital and earnings more sensitive to natural catastrophe claims. In particular, we consider that a 1-in-10-year loss would affect Echo Re's earnings before interest and taxes more than its peers. Overall, we view Echo Re as well protected against extreme natural catastrophe events, as the net 1-in-250-year probable maximum loss is roughly 20% of the company's shareholders' equity. In addition, Echo Re can adjust premium annually and has a solid capital base. Its parent DEVK has demonstrated its support several times in the past by making capital injections. Echo Re also shows strong and prudent reserving and a comprehensive retrocession program. As Echo Re diversifies further into more regions globally, its sensitivity to regional events will gradually reduce. Manuel Adam
Flood Re Ltd.(A-/Stable/--)  
Flood Re is more exposed to environmental risks than the industry average. However, we recognize that Flood Re provides U.K. homeowners with social benefits. Unlike most reinsurance companies, which are diversified by geography and line of business, flood cover is Flood Re's only product, and it writes policies in just one country. The company was set up to attract some of the worst risks in the U.K., notably flooding for homes built before Jan. 1, 2009; to promote the availability and affordability of household insurance; and to allow U.K. home insurers to pass the flood element of a home insurance policy to Flood Re. It provides U.K. homeowners with policies priced at a discounted rate, supported by a levy scheme. Flood Re's low-frequency, high-severity exposure is undeniably a source of earnings volatility. Nevertheless, the company has so far displayed solid claims experience, thanks to the benign flood experience since its inception. Flood Re charges the U.K. insurance industry an annual £180 million through its levy scheme. It also has the right to raise a second, top-up levy on participating insurers should it experience a capital or liquidity shortfall. The levy scheme is key to mitigating Floor Re's exposure to environmental risks. By assuming flood risks for U.K. homeowners, we believe that Flood Re provides a social benefit that is more significant than the rest of the insurance industry. It helps to provide coverage to more homeowners and to keep prices affordable. According to a survey done by an independent party on behalf of Flood Re, 93% of surveyed homes that have prior flood claims can now receive quotes from five or more insurers. Before Flood Re was set up, 9% of homes used to get two quotes only. In addition, 80% of households that have previous flood claims have seen a price reduction of more than 50%. Mario Chakar
Hannover Rueck SE(AA-/Stable/--)  
Hannover Re's exposure to environmental and social risk factors is in line with the general insurance industry and with global reinsurance peers such as Swiss Re, Munich Re, and SCOR. Standards for corporate governance are typically high in Germany and in many of the other countries where Hannover Re has material exposure. Hannover Re is mainly exposed to environmental factors through its P/C reinsurance business. In particular, climate change could cause an increase in the frequency and severity of claims from extreme weather events, including natural catastrophes, as we saw in 2017 and 2018. Hannover Re managed these events better than many of its mainly non-life reinsurance peers, thanks in part to its diversified portfolio, strong modeling and risk controls, and comprehensive retrocession program. Although we consider that Hannover Re's exposure to catastrophe risk could be a source of material capital and earnings volatility, the group is able to reprice its catastrophe contracts annually, which helps it to absorb the gradual increase in claim trends. It currently sets an annual natural catastrophe budget of €975 million as a buffer for extraordinary events. Given the group's strong risk management and modeling capabilities, we consider it unlikely to experience losses greater than its risk tolerance. Hannover Re is exposed to social factors like demographic trends through its life reinsurance business. For example, changes to longevity and mortality could increase liabilities. Although this is a growing segment for Hannover Re, we see it as well diversified within the group. Johannes Bender
Talanx Primary Insurance Group(A+/Stable/--)  
We consider Talanx Primary Insurance Group's (TPG) exposure to environmental and social risks as on par with the insurance sector globally, and with peers such as Mapfre and Allianz. Standards for corporate governance are typically high in Germany and in many of the other countries where TPG has material exposure. The group has three business segments in the primary insurance segment and a majority shareholding in Hannover Re. Much of TPG's exposure to environmental factors stems from its industrial lines sector. For example, climate change could cause an increase in the frequency and severity of claims from extreme weather events, including natural catastrophes. However, we consider that TPG has contained the risk through sound reinsurance protection and conservative natural catastrophe and other large-loss budgeting--its budget for this was €315 million in 2019. TPG's life operations are exposed to social factors such as demographic trends relating to improved longevity or rising chronic diseases. These trends could increase its liabilities especially in Germany. That said, this is a common problem for life insurers. TPG's diversification by business line and the variety of life insurance products it offers mitigates the risks. Volker Kudszus
Kommunal Landspensjonskasse(A-/Stable/--)  
We regard KLP's exposure to social factors as favorable, relative to the insurance industry, and more in line with the public pensions sector. KLP has a unique ability to reprice its interest rate guarantees annually, which materially reduces the risks related to its guaranteed pension products. Furthermore, unlike other insurers, KLP carries longevity risk only for people who have already retired. As a result, improved longevity trends will have less of an inflationary effect on its insurance liabilities. Because the company is the leading municipal pension insurer in Norway, it is also one of the largest investors in Norway. KLP's well-diversified investment portfolio includes a material amount of loans to Norwegian municipalities. This helps to manage its asset-liability profile while also improving municipalities' capacity to provide numerous social benefits. It also promotes regional economic growth in various parts of Norway. Jure Kimovec
SGAM AG2R La Mondiale(A-/Positive/--)  
SGAM AG2R La Mondiale's exposure to environmental and social risk factors is similar to that of its insurance peers. The group's risks are mainly concentrated in life and pension insurance, and so are more subject to social risk than to environmental risks. Some of SGAM AG2R La Mondiale's long-term pension liabilities carry guarantees, increasing its sensitivity to increased longevity trends. The group is working to reduce its exposure to these risks by improving its underwriting. It has also gradually shifted to less capital-intensive, unit-linked life policies, which now make up 30% of total policies, above average for the French life insurance market. Governance factors are in line with those we see across France. Olivier Karusisi
Legal & General Group PLC(AA-/Stable/--)  
U.K.-based Legal & General's exposure to environmental and social risks is on a par with that of the global insurance industry and industry peers such as Aegon, Aviva, NN, and Prudential. L&G's business model partially depends on finding or generating long-term investments to match the long-dated life insurance policies it writes. As one of the leading life and pensions providers in the U.K., L&G is also one of the largest investors in the U.K. stock market. It would be exposed to transition risk, the risk that sudden changes in policy or public opinion lead to changes in asset prices. It has partially mitigated this risk by having a well-diversified investment portfolio. As one of the leading annuity providers in the U.K., L&G is also actively expanding its direct investments arm, which now comprises 24% of total group investments of £79.5 billion. It is investing in housing, urban regeneration, and clean energy projects to back its annuity liabilities. In the long term, we expect these direct investments to support L&G's business growth and ability to deliver sustainable profitability levels. They should also help L&G to manage its asset-liability profile, while also underpinning its well-established brand and competitive position. Through its annuity book, L&G is exposed to longevity risk--longer life expectancy could impair its operating performance or capitalization. However, L&G’s book is primarily unit linked--80% of its IFRS-based technical provisions are unit-linked--and the company actively purchases longevity reinsurance protection and longevity swaps to mitigate longevity risk. Tatiana Grineva
Lloyd's(A+/Stable/--)  
In our view, Lloyd's is more exposed to environmental risk than the industry average because it writes significant amounts of property reinsurance and insurance. In particular, it is more exposed to natural catastrophe risk than some other large non-life insurers like RSA or Mapfre, which can increase capital and earnings volatility. We revised the outlook on Lloyd's to negative from stable after Lloyd's suffered significant catastrophe claims in 2017, for example. It reported losses of £4.5 billion, representing about 16% of total reported capital. Lloyd's current catastrophe exposure is in line with that of most non-life reinsurance or specialty writers. We do not consider that Lloyd's exposure to social risks materially differs from other non-life and reinsurance players. Robert Greensted
Mapfre Group(A+/Stable/--)  
We consider Mapfre Group's exposure to environmental and social risks is in line with the insurance sector globally. Due to its presence in both developed and emerging countries, Mapfre's risks are more concentrated on environmental factors than similarly rated, Europe-focused multiline insurance peers, such as Talanx or Vienna Insurance Group. Climate change could increase claims related to extreme weather, affecting Mapfre's P/C business in its key markets in Latin America and North America. Mapfre's life business is much smaller, being mainly focused on Spain and Brazil. In addition to environmental risk in its retail business, Mapfre is also exposed to environmental risks through its reinsurance subsidiary, Mapfre Re, which writes natural catastrophe business. Global reinsurance and industrial risks represent about 20% of the group's premium. We consider Mapfre's exposure to such risks is below reinsurance industry average because Mapfre Re has displayed a below-average appetite for reinsuring catastrophes. Much of the risk is retroceded to other reinsurers. In addition, the state covers the cost of catastrophe events in Spain, Mapfre's biggest market, via the Consorcio. Mapfre's life business is exposed to social risks, such as increased liabilities caused by greater longevity and the increase in chronic diseases. Most of these risks stem from Spain and Brazil, but the company has smaller exposures in Malta and Latin America. Mapfre's governance standards are typical for Spain and are in line with European regulatory requirements. Jean-Paul Huby-Klein
Mediterranean & Gulf Cooperative Insurance and Reinsurance Co.(B/Positive/--)  
The regulations defining corporate governance requirements for insurers in Saudi Arabia are clearly laid out, but not always consistently followed. MedGulf's governance arrangements have historically proved to be weaker than those of most of its local peers. This was particularly the case in 2016-2018, when MedGulf's solvency position saw a significant decline and the company experienced a regulatory suspension. As a result, we lowered the rating on MedGulf by multiple notches on several occasions. Although MedGulf still faces outstanding audit qualifications regarding some reinsurance transactions, we assess governance as a neutral factor for the ratings. This is mainly because of the company's improving capital position, governance, and internal controls following the appointment of a new board and management team in 2018. The execution of a new strategy has also led to an improvement in the outlook. Emir Mujkic
Munich Reinsurance Co.(AA-/Stable/--)  
Munich Re's exposure to environmental and social risks is consistent with that of the global insurance industry and broadly in line with global reinsurance peers such as Swiss Re, SCOR, and Hannover Re. Standards for corporate governance are typically high in Germany and in many of the other countries where Munich Re has material exposure. Munich Re's main exposure to environmental factors stems from its non-life business. For example, climate change could cause an increase in the frequency and severity of claims from extreme weather events, including natural catastrophes. However, Munich Re has built a strong capital buffer to safeguard its business against adverse market developments, including high catastrophe losses like those seen in 2017 and 2018, by diversifying its portfolio across various business lines and regions. Although we consider that Munich Re's exposure to catastrophe risk could be a source of material capital and earnings volatility, the group is able to reprice its catastrophe contracts annually. This helps it to absorb the gradual increase in claims trends. In addition, Munich Re's yearly budget includes a provision for natural catastrophe losses equal to about 8% of its reinsurance premium. Given the group's strong risk management and modeling capabilities, we think that it is unlikely to experience losses greater than its risk tolerance. Through its life reinsurance and its primary life insurance business, Munich Re is exposed to social factors such as changes in demographic trends. Greater longevity and other mortality trends can increase insurance liabilities. That said, this is a common problem for life insurers and reinsurers. We anticipate that Munich Re's diversification in its global book of business and the variety of life insurance products it offers will mitigate the risks. Jean-Paul Huby-Klein
NN Group N.V.(A/Stable/--)  
Netherlands-based multiline insurer NN's exposure to environmental and social risk factors is on a par with the overall insurance industry. Most of NN's P/C insurance business stems from The Netherlands. This exposes it to the risk that climate change could increase the frequency and severity of claims caused by extreme weather events, such as natural catastrophes and floods. NN Group's main focus is life insurance. Although much of its new business is capital-light, the group's back-book includes long-running contracts that contain a guarantee. In these traditional life and savings business lines, NN Group is somewhat more exposed to social factors than it is through other lines, such as unit-linked or protection products. For example, demographic developments could lead to greater longevity, which could increase insurance liabilities. We view NN's exposure as being similar to that of peers with a similar business mix like ASR or Storebrand. Corporate governance practices at NN are typical for the Netherlands. Sebastian Dany
PZU Group(A-/Positive/--)  
In recent years, weaker governance practices at PZU have had negative implications for its rating. Subsequently, a turnaround in management and better execution of strategy caused us to revise the outlook upward. In 2016 and at the beginning of 2017, the company saw frequent management changes. The lack of management consistency caused us to revise down our assessment of its management and governance, and thus its stand-alone rating profile. The management team appointed in April 2017 has successfully completed the acquisition of a stake in Bank Pekao and taken action to counterbalance the impact of the acquisition while retaining the group's creditworthiness intact. PZU has also materially outperformed its domestic and international peers, causing us to revise the outlook to positive in 2019. Jure Kimovec
Prudential PLC(AA-/Stable/--)  
We consider Prudential's overall exposure to environmental and social risk factors to be in line with the global insurance industry. Much of its exposure to environmental risk comes from its investment portfolio and asset management business. Many of the assets in which it invests are subject to transition risk (that is, the risk that sudden changes in policy or public opinion regarding climate change could lead to significant volatility or a devaluation in asset prices). However, other GMIs, such as AXA, Zurich, and Aviva face similar risks. Prudential's own investments, combined with its various asset management businesses, make it a significant active investment firm. It can, and has, exerted pressure to change on the companies it invests in. Although Prudential's exposure to environmental risks is relatively low, because it does not write P/C business, this is partially mitigated by the potential for changing mortality and longevity trends to affect its life insurance business. It makes use of reinsurance to mitigate these risks. David Masters
Qatar Insurance Co. S.A.Q.(A/Negative/--)  
QIC's environmental and social risk factors are broadly in line with the insurance industry. However, questions have arisen regarding its governance practices, following recent uncertainty regarding payments due from Markerstudy (see "Qatar Insurance Co. S.A.Q. Outlook Revised To Negative On Potential Implications From Markerstudy; 'A' Ratings Affirmed," published on Nov. 25, 2019. We believe its governance practices have proved weaker than is typical for companies in the markets where QIC operates, in particular Bermuda and the U.K., and to a lesser degree, Qatar. In addition, QIC has seen rapid premium growth--gross premium increased by 27% between 2016 and 2018--and significant changes in business mix in recent years. Although QIC writes natural catastrophe business through its Lloyd's platform and reinsurance arm (Qatar Re), the group has less exposure to common environmental factors such as extreme weather events than reinsurance peers such as Aspen, RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. For example, losses from natural catastrophes added less than 3 percentage points (pps) to QIC's 2018 combined (loss and expense) ratio of 101%. The average for the top 20 global reinsurers was almost 10 pps. The group's exposure to catastrophe risk could prove to be a source of modest capital and earnings volatility. Consequently, we think that QIC is unlikely to experience losses greater than its risk tolerance, given that its modeled net exposure is not material relative to its total capital. Robert Greensted
Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance PLC(A/Stable/--)  
RSA's exposure to ESG risks does not materially differ from that of other insurers and direct peers such as Aviva, If, or Intact. RSA's results in 2018 and 2017 were affected by forest fire claims from its Canadian and Scandinavian portfolios and hurricane activity in its London market segment. However, the group's extensive reinsurance protection moderated the impact and the group still recorded an underwriting profit in both years. The group's combined ratios of 98.3% in 2018 and 96.3% in 2017 were not significantly higher than it had recorded in previous years. In our opinion, RSA's risk management practices throughout the group are strong and include controls regarding the group's natural catastrophe risk exposure. The group's risk exposure controls mitigate the likelihood that it will record losses outside of its risk appetite. Solid governance practices suggest that RSA is also unlikely to significantly increase its appetite for risks that would increase its environmental exposure. Robert Greensted
Sampo PLC(A+/Stable/--)  
In general, Sampo's exposure to environmental and social risk factors is consistent with the industry and its more direct peers such as Gjensidige, Lansforsakringar, and Pohjola Insurance. As a financial conglomerate that has a large P/C insurance business, Sampo is exposed to environmental risk, such as the potential for climate change to increase the frequency and severity of claims caused by extreme weather events, such natural catastrophes. However, we regard the Nordic region as less exposed to extreme natural catastrophe events. Sampo's life insurance business is mainly focused on unit-linked business. As such, we view Sampo as less exposed than other life insurers to social risk factors such as changes in demographic trends; for example, the trend toward greater longevity, which could increase insurance liabilities. Sebastian Dany
SCOR SE(AA-/Stable/--)  
SCOR's exposure to environmental and social risk factors are in line with the general insurance industry. Standards for corporate governance are typically high in France and in many of the other countries where SCOR has material exposure. Like its global reinsurance peers Swiss Re, Munich Re and Hannover Re, SCOR SE has a balanced business mix of life (60% of premium) and non-life (40%). Combined with its well-managed portfolio, this limits the potential effect of extreme weather events caused by climate change on the company's financial risk profile. Although we consider that the group's exposure to losses from extreme weather could be a source of material capital and earnings volatility, the group has the option to reprice its catastrophe contracts annually. This should help it to absorb the gradual increase in claims. Additionally, due to the group's strong risk management and modeling capabilities, we think that it is unlikely to experience losses greater than its risk tolerance. We view SCOR's underwriting risk controls as positive. Combined with its comprehensive "capital shield" retrocession program, they should help it manage volatility risk from large natural catastrophes, as well as mortality shocks and pandemics. SCOR has a normalized budget for catastrophe losses of 7% of non-life premium, which reduces its capital and earnings sensitivity to weather events, compared with pure natural catastrophe writers. In its life reinsurance business, SCOR is exposed to social factors, such as change in demographics that lead to improved longevity and mortality, which can increase liabilities. However, SCOR is a globally diversified group and this exposure is broadly in line with the industry average. Marc-Philippe Juilliard
Sirius International Group Ltd.(A-/Stable/--)  
Sirius' exposure to social risks is generally on par with that of other non-life and reinsurance players. However, as a global re/insurer, its exposure to environmental risks is outsized compared with the general insurance industry. This is due to the proportion of the business it writes covering property, which increases its exposure to natural catastrophe risk. As a result, Sirius may record underwriting losses in periods of large insured natural catastrophes. In 2017, Sirius reported a loss before taxes of $110 million, largely due to claims from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That said, Sirius can reprice most of its policies annually and make use of risk-sharing mechanisms, allowing management to adjust the company's risk exposure and rates effectively. In the medium-to-long term, we expect Sirius' management will seek to move the group toward a more-balanced mix of business in which property re/insurance plays a less dominant role. For example, Sirius has expanded into accident and health business, which now accounts for one-third of its premium. Since its IPO on November 2018, Sirius has enhanced its governance structure, which includes strong shareholder protections and a majority-independent board. Robert Greensted
Swiss Life AG(A+/Stable/--)  
We believe Swiss Life's exposure to environmental and social risks is in line with the industry and its closest local peers, such as Baloise and Helvetia. The group's risks are mainly concentrated in life insurance where, like its peers, it faces greater social than environmental risk. The group's main exposure to environmental risk is through its investment portfolio, where changes in policy or public opinion regarding climate change could cause greater asset valuation volatility. Swiss Life's business portfolio mainly consists of protection, distribution, and asset management businesses. Because Swiss Life is the leading provider of group life business in Switzerland, it is exposed to social factors like changes in demographic trends that improve longevity and so increase certain liabilities. Swiss Life has a strong track record of identifying, modeling, and managing risks, especially the ALM risks related to guaranteed life business, where it operates with an ALM mismatch of one year. The group also offers a variety of products, such as group and individual life in Switzerland, non-life in France, insurance distribution via independent financial advisors in several European countries, as well as asset management products and services. These mitigate its exposure to regional trends or single social trends. Governance factors are consistent with those we see across Switzerland. Silke Longoni
Swiss Reinsurance Co. Ltd.(AA-/Stable/--)  
Swiss Re's exposure to environmental and social risks is on a par with the global insurance sector and broadly in line with global reinsurance peers Munich Re, SCOR, and Hannover Re. Standards for corporate governance are typically high in Switzerland and in many of the other countries where Swiss Re has material exposure. Swiss Re's exposure to environmental risk mainly stems from the prospect of increased claims from extreme weather events, including windstorms, wildfires, or floods, due to climate change. Although the group's exposure to catastrophe risk could materially increase capital and earnings volatility, the group has the option to reprice its catastrophe contracts annually. This will help it absorb a gradual increase in claims. Given the group's strong risk management and modeling capabilities, we do not expect it to experience losses greater than its risk tolerance. This is despite the significant increase in the group's natural catastrophe exposure in 2019, compared with 2018 (for example, Tropical Cyclone North Atlantic exposure increased by 40% to $6.5 billion net of retrocession, which equates to about 20% of the group's reported equity as at June 30, 2019). Swiss Re is less vulnerable to large natural catastrophe losses than less diversified reinsurers, thanks to its diversified risk profile particularly through its life business. Swiss Re is a thought leader in climate risk research, raising awareness of the implications for society and highlighting the importance of building resilience. For over a decade, the group has been working with the public sector to create insurance-based solutions to help close the disaster protection gap in affected areas. Through its life reinsurance business, Swiss Re is exposed to social factors like changes in demographic trends, including improved longevity and mortality trends that can increase insurance liabilities. However, this is in line with other life re/insurers and we believe that the diversification of its global book of business mitigates those risks. Ali Karakuyu
Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co. K.S.C.(B/Stable/--)  
We generally view corporate governance practices in Kuwait as satisfactory. However, in Wethaq's case, we note some governance deficiencies in relation to financial reporting standards. These weighed on our assessment of Wethaq's financial risk profile. Wethaq has more exposure to governance risk factors than is typical for Kuwait. It has become more common to see audit qualifications in the GCC region in recent years and Wethaq's annual reports for 2017, 2018, and the first half of 2019 were qualified, first in relation to doubtful debts without provisions and then also for Wethaq's investment property under its Egyptian subsidiary, for which there are no financial statements. We continue to treat the amount of doubtful debt as a provision in our forecast and assess Wethaq's financial risk profile as weak. Sachin Sahni
Zurich Insurance Co. Ltd.(AA-/Positive/--)  
We consider Zurich's exposure to environmental and social risk factors to be in line with the global insurance industry and other global multiline peers such as AXA, AIG, and Allianz. Standards for corporate governance are typically high in Switzerland and in many of the other countries where Zurich has material exposure. Zurich has a strong track record of identifying, modeling, and managing risks, including through its centralized reinsurance strategy, despite its global exposure to environmental risks. These include increasing claims from extreme weather exacerbated by climate change. The 2017 hurricane events, Harvey, Irma, and Maria (HIM), demonstrate Zurich's well developed risk culture. Although Zurich was affected at a local level and through some global lines, the final impact after reinsurance was just US$700 million and was well below Zurich’s market share in the relevant markets. As a result, HIM losses did not materially affect Zurich's net income for 2017 of US$3.3 billion. Zurich's exposure to life insurance focuses on some mature European and some Latin American markets. Compared with the rest of the life insurance sector, Zurich focuses far more on protection and unit-linked products. It also has some legacy exposure to traditional life insurance in Germany. Given its protection and unit-linked focus, we assume Zurich is somewhat less exposed to social factors like changes in demographic trends leading to improved life expectancy than insurers that write more traditional life business, with guarantees. Jure Kimovec
*Financial strength rating for the operating company, as of Feb. 7, 2020.

Related Criteria And Research

Related Criteria
  • Insurers Rating Methodology, July 1, 2019
Related Research
  • The Role Of Environmental, Social, And Governance Credit Factors In Our Ratings Analysis, Sept. 12, 2019
  • How Environmental, Social, And Governance Factors Help Shape The Ratings On Governments, Insurers, And Financial Institutions, Oct. 23, 2018

This report does not constitute a rating action.

Primary Credit Analyst:Dennis P Sugrue, London (44) 20-7176-7056;
dennis.sugrue@spglobal.com
Secondary Contacts:David J Masters, London (44) 20-7176-7047;
david.masters@spglobal.com
Volker Kudszus, Frankfurt (49) 69-33-999-192;
volker.kudszus@spglobal.com
Additional Contact:Insurance Ratings Europe;
insurance_interactive_europe@spglobal.com

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