AHMAD IDRIS

Dubai 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

Good auditing is just as necessary to the health of the industry as preventative care.

Ahmad Idris
BIOGRAPHY

The CEO of ADNIC, Ahmad Idris has extensive management and leadership experience in his more than 40 years in the insurance industry. Known for his professionalism and commitment to quality, he has been responsible for leading, developing, and executing the company's strategy. Under his leadership, ADNIC has won numerous industry awards and registered steady and continuous financial growth. His last role at ADNIC before assuming the role of CEO was deputy CEO. Starting his career at Kuwait Insurance Company in 1977, he brings a wealth of knowledge and industry experience to ADNIC. He holds a BS in mathematics from Kuwait University.

How does ADNIC differentiate itself in a competitive insurance landscape?
The key to ADNIC's strategy is that it is customer-centric. We have invested heavily in pursuing this approach by improving service delivery and developing our human resources. Investing in talent inevitably translates into sustained success in the market, which is how we differentiate ourselves and build the ADNIC brand.

What cost pressures does ADNIC face, and what are the company's strategies to mitigate them?
The main challenge is the severe level of unhealthy competition and price warring in the market, which, unfortunately, we expect to continue for some time. Similar to others in the region, the Dubai market is driven more by price, and the margin for loyalty is smaller in most cases. Interestingly, the SME segment is larger in Dubai than other Emirates, and that is considered in our approach to this market. Although there are large segments of the market in which price is the only driving factor for customer decision-making, ADNIC remains competitive by playing separately from other companies. We may not be always the best regarding price, though we compensate for those challenges by catering to clients who consider both price and service delivery. These clients, including corporate business and individual customers, are able to pay more for superior service. Of course, service expectations are continuously changing. ADNIC strives to continuously enhance the customer experience and service offering. New technologies allow us to explore and apply new delivery methods. For example, it has been observed that clients lose their patience over time; if one year they are happy to wait 10 minutes for a service, the following year they only expect to wait five. Automation allows ADNIC to shorten this time for walk-in customers. Moreover, we continuously update our mobile app, as our clients benchmark us against peer insurance companies as well as the major banking apps in the market.

As a national insurance company, what role does ADNIC play in raising awareness of genetic diseases, and how do initiatives in this area reduce the number of claims?
Building awareness of pre-existing health conditions is an important task for an insurance company, and there are two sides to this. One is ADNIC's CSR and commitment to the wellbeing of the people of the UAE. The other is the positive impact on our business if the population is healthier, and the consumption of health services decreases. There is a prevalence of genetic and lifestyle diseases in the region that costs governments millions of dollars annually. ADNIC has an audit unit within its risk management division that comprises a group of doctors who frequently meet with health providers to help reduce fraud levels, overuse, and abuse. This partially addresses the issue; however, efforts are also required from other stakeholders, such as the regulatory bodies in the sector. This is also a matter of concern for them, and they are working hard to address this.

Can you tell us about the work you are planning with the Al Etihad Credit Bureau?
Receivables is one of the most serious challenges facing the insurance industry. Our relationship with Al Etihad Credit Bureau allows us to mitigate the risk proactively. By evaluating credit risk in advance, we are in less danger of incurring defaults. It helps strengthen our ability to control and manage credit risk exposure in our operations, and in turn proactively select clients on the basis of appropriate credit and financial screening. Other innovative technologies we are applying allow us to immediately assess the level of risk when the underwriters submit a quotation, so that we can be aware of risk before making a commitment.

What is your assessment of the sharia-compliant insurance market?
The sharia-compliant market has grown but not as much as expected. An important feature in the takaful concept is that the policyholder is also a shareholder, so at the end of the year he or she receives part of the profit.