INSURANCE INNOVATION

Dubai 2018 | FINANCE | FOCUS: INSURETECH

Insuretech, or rather technology that is disrupting the insurance space, is a significant driver of insurance sector growth in a country and region with notoriously low penetration rates.

In 2014, Dubai's Health Insurance Law mandated health insurance for nearly 3 million citizens in Dubai, providing the catalyst for growing insurance awareness and an industry ready to expand. Implementation of the law, overseen by the Dubai Health Authority, took over three years, but the legislation is largely regarded as boosting the health, and broader, insurance market.

Four years later, insuretech is also making waves in the Emirate's insurance industry. Several start-ups are using insuretech to further penetrate the still unsaturated market, targeting specifically those who cannot access or afford conventional insurance policies. As of 2015, insurance penetration in the UAE was 2.35%, according to Swiss Re's World Insurance Reports. For comparison, the UAE was behind only one other country in the region: Bahrain, with a 2.45% rate. Though, both still lagged behind Africa's continental average of 2.9%.
Democrance, whose slogan is “democratizing insurance," uses technology and partnerships to bring insurance products to those who most need them in the UAE. Democrance is a digital platform that connects people to insurance providers through telecommunications companies. In other words, anyone with a mobile phone can have access to insurance.

Globally, insuretech start-ups raised USD2.2 billion in 2017, a 36% increase from USD1.7 billion in 2016. Another Dubai-based insuretech start-up, Aqeed.com, laid claim to a sizeable chunk of that global investment, raising USD18 million in Series A funding. Many other tech start-ups in the Emirate offer similar financial products, but Aqeed is the first to focus solely on insurance. And, Aqueed's first-round funding will help the start-up increase penetration rates in Dubai and the UAE more broadly.

But, no doubt, Dubai is at the center of the UAE's insuretech scene. In October 2017, the Emirate hosted the Innovation and Insuretech conference, organized by Global Reinsurance. More than 70 leaders in the region's insurance industry attended the one-day event where the keynote speaker discussed Dubai's innovation in the global context.

The emergence of insuretech start-ups and digital innovation in the insurance space comes as Expo 2020 preparations are expected to boost economic growth, and in turn support increased demand for insurance products in the Emirate.