TBY talks to Oybek N. Khalilov, Chairman of Chartis Kazakhstan, on the Chartis brand, its strategies, and the distinctiveness of the Kazakhstani market.
TBY Chartis is the new brand name of a well-established insurance company. What level of operations does it have in Kazakhstan?
OYBEK N. KHALILOV On September 27, 2010 Chartis Insurance Company, the new brand adopted by AIG’s non-life insurance business around the world, was launched in Kazakhstan. Taking the Greek word for map, chartis, the company’s name suggests our ability to set a course for clients and to help them explore new possibilities. Our new brand line is “Your world, insured”. The phrase “your world” helps to personalize our brand and communicate our commitment to clients and partners. It declares that we meet their insurance needs—large or small, individual or commercial. The term “insured” alludes to the security and assurance that our products and services provide to customers. Today, Chartis serves 40 million clients in over 160 countries and jurisdictions. By adopting a new brand for AIG general insurance companies, we are changing our identity, but preserving the enduring strengths and qualities for which clients have recognized in us over the past 90 years. These qualities are our commitment to client service, innovative thinking and solutions, and our network of global experts. We are extremely proud of our new brand, as well as the unity and values that it represents.
Chartis Kazakhstan provides insurance services to multinational customers from underwriting to loss control to claims payment. We have made considerable efforts to develop the market, and our insurance services meet the highest international standards including the quality and reliability of reinsurance protection. Our partners in reinsurance undergo the thorough analysis of Chartis head office to ensure the best interests of the insured and the reputation of the market as a whole. Typically, we work with professional reinsurance companies with ratings no lower than A- according to S&P.
In Kazakhstan, we have been known mainly as a leading corporate insurer. Our goal has been to penetrate new sectors, building on our successful corporate insurance practice. To this extent we’re increasing our exposure to the medium-sized sector and trying to develop a consumer lines business. Our company has traditionally not served the retail sector. The way we have chosen to get into retail is through electronic sales. Right now we’re developing two projects where we’ll be able to sell our travel, accident, and health insurance products through our partners’ websites. This allows us to minimize local administration and capitalize on the expertise and best practices of Chartis’ global network.
How have strategies changed in the post-crisis environment?
In two ways. First, we have revisited our governance model and re-calibrated it to meet the most exacting global corporate requirements. From a business perspective we are keener to “localize” or “countrify” our offerings. Clearly, some of the products that were successful within the Chartis group in one country are sometimes not appropriate in a new market. As a result, we are trying to promote the lines that are truly applicable to the Kazakhstani market. As a truly international company, we are setting the standards for other insurance companies in terms of technical underwriting ability, innovations in the insurance field, and the knowledge we hold. We have a level of expertise and strength that will never leave the company.
What makes Kazakhstan different from other countries that Chartis is present in?
Obviously I cannot comment about the entire world. As a branch of an international company that feels and acts locally, our underwriting techniques and guidelines will be different in different countries. And this has always been Chartis’ advantage—underwriting techniques and the ability to introduce new products and cover niche areas at a country level.
In Kazakhstan, we observe a more “mature” competition, in the sense that other firms are skilled enough to develop diverse products. The market is very well integrated. That makes Kazakhstan different from any other Central Asian country. It is the most diversified and sophisticated financial market in the region, because of the ability of several companies to compete on an even basis.
In the face of competition in classic insurance areas, what niches are you targeting to expand your reach?
The number of products-from very conventional to the most sophisticated-we can offer to the market is really big; what really distinguishes us from the competition on core products is our ability to provide value-added including the largest capacity in the market, in-depth expertise, risk engineering capabilities, quality of service, and fast, fair claims settlements.
How has your competitive advantage changed vis-à-vis local companies?
This is a fast evolving and maturing market, with increasing competition and rapidly changing dynamics. What we offer to our customers is unparalleled consistency, long-term stability, quality of service and the strength, experience, and sophistication of one of the most internationally acclaimed insurance providers. We are committed to the Kazakhstani market, which offers the most promising opportunities amongst all Central Asian republics. We are here to stay and service our local and international clients exceptionally. This is, in short, Chartis’ unique value proposition for the Kazakhstani market.
© The Business Year