2021 was another challenging year and only slightly less so than the prior year, simply because we had the benefit of a year of understanding how to operate within a Covid-19 environment. During 2021, the development and roll out of vaccinations and the continuation of other Covid-19 counter measures showed increasing positive effects, allowing the start of a gradual return to physical interactions and some degree of ‘normalcy’. However, the year was not without its challenges, as the original virus evolved over time bringing new variants of concern and frustrating plans to discontinue the Covid-19 restrictions which had been implemented.
As the Covid-19 restrictions became less onerous during the year, and the effects of infection more manageable, the region’s reopening gained traction. We noted an increase in tourism in the islands and this contributed positively both from a morale and confidence perspective and provided a needed economic boost in the islands, which also had a similar knock-on effect on the NAGICO group’s portfolio retention and annual production.
In 2021 we really challenged our team: our staff, agents and brokers. We shared our revised underwriting plans and objectives; engaged with them, explaining our rationale and having discussions on relevant parameters; we set and agreed desired results; and we empowered them to deliver. The property and casualty gross premium result is directly attributable to their efforts, which is a product of the customers’ trust and confidence in them and our brand; while the growth in life premiums noted, was driven primarily by the portfolio acquisition that was concluded in 2021.
In the midst of the continued pandemic, our colleagues on the island of St. Vincent also dealt with the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano. And while this was the only major natural catastrophe to affect one of the territories in which NAGICO operates in 2021, we were not spared a brush with hurricane Elsa in St. Lucia and other shock losses that are an essential reason for our company’s existence; to accept the risks which our policyholders transfer to us.
We are indeed especially proud that NAGICO has done exceptionally well to make good on its promise to its customers, delivering fair settlements which aid recovery and make our customers whole again. Reshaping the way in which we do business, in 2021 we employed more flexibility in our claims operations and invested in infrastructure improvements and digital transformation which will focus on the ease of doing business and improving the customer experience while increasing transparency in the process. We look forward to the continued journey of transformation to serve our customers better.
The restructuring of our reinsurance Catastrophe program was another one of the big successes of the NAGICO group in 2021. The decisions taken in this regard, combined with the strategic review and revision of our underwriting appetite and daily monitoring of dashboards led to significant cost savings and improved underwriting performance. The level of transparency, risk acceptance culture and approach to decision making also improved within the business. There was a unified focus on sustainable profit and customer service.
Customer service being front of mind, as we look to the future and being cognizant of the need for digital transformation, we commenced our journey in 2021, and are excited by what our new system will bring.