May. 27, 2020


Ebrahim Obaid Al-Zaabi

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Ebrahim Obaid Al-Zaabi

Director General, Insurance Authority (IA)

With a mandate to encourage insurance penetration through regulation and simple-yet-effective media campaigns, the IA is creating the path for growth in the sector.

BIO

Ebrahim Obaid Al-Zaabi has held the position of the Director General of the IA since 2013. He started his career in Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in 1993, where he occupied several positions, including the manager of internal investment funds. In early 2002, he began work at the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) as deputy CEO. He is a member of the executive committee of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) for the second consecutive session. He was elected as member of several committees of the Ministry of Economy, the Central Bank of Emirates, SCA, and the Arab Councils. He has participated in many international conferences in the fields of insurance, financial markets, economic development, public administration, and others.


How does the IA continue to facilitate the development of the insurance sector, and how does this serve the economy?
The IA was established to identify key areas where the UAE insurance sector could develop. The authority formulates strategy and creates a framework to ensure the industry can be brought in line with international standards. Since its inception, the IA has overseen notable successes, such as the implementation of regulatory and supervision laws to increase awareness and the application of training programs. These advancements enhance the ability of IA to work on its mandate. Moreover, it also promotes competitiveness in the local market by providing social and economic protection. The authority has future strategic plans, initiatives, and projects to further this agenda. We aim to safeguard policyholders and insurers in addition to establishing preventive controls to avoid money laundering in insurance activities. This will reduce the likelihood that insurance companies will be exposed to these issues. Additionally, we will roll out a comprehensive campaign to spread insurance awareness among all segments of society. Some of our other strategic plans include increasing mandatory insurance protection for catastrophic risks; organization of reinsurance work; and developing interest in Takaful and marketing insurance policies through banks. Additionally, we wish to create smart applications and focus on innovation in the insurance sector. The UAE's insurance sector is expected to continue as a key driver of economic development and maintain a high rate of growth in the coming years.

What will be the impact of compulsory health insurances in the UAE's northern Emirates?
Health insurance is one of the most important types of insurance that concerns all segments of the population and is compulsory in most countries. Health insurance has been compulsory in Abu Dhabi as of 2006 and in Dubai since 2017. In 2017, health insurance premiums reached AED19.4 billion, representing 43% of the gross written premium. Compulsory health insurance in the UAE will provide insurance protection to the entire population and increase insurance penetration and insurance density (in terms of premiums per capita), which will benefit the UAE's economy and its citizens.

With around 51% of UAE residents without life insurance, how can awareness of this line be furthered, and what other areas offer significant growth potential?
The IA has created incentives to increase the rate of coverage, in particular for business, general, and life insurance. Several new regulations and amendments that seek to create further awareness have contributed to increased marketing of insurance products. Moreover, draft regulations concerning the electronic insurance regulations are in place to encourage marketing of insurance produces on nontraditional channels. Notably, the IA has vast experience in developing insurance awareness through an array of activities that bring a variety of promotional and educational programs to the national audience. For example, we launch insurance awareness campaigns through visual media suitable for all ages and categories of policyholders. Moreover, we have produced short awareness films and broadcasted these through media platforms, cinemas, exhibitions, conferences, and workshops. Similarly, we have created cartoon characters to motivate the public and policyholder's awareness to help drive this message.

How critical is engagement with insurance leaders when the authority designs regulations, and what new regulations are in the works?
The IA is keen to involve the entire insurance sector and relevant stakeholders in consultation whenever new drafts of legislations, regulations, and decisions are being reviewed. Moving forward, the authority has many strategic plans, initiatives, and projects, including newly proposed regulations. These include regulations for the organization of reinsurance operations; the licensing, organization, and control of insurance agents' operations; and the rules of ownership ratios in the capital of insurance companies. Moreover, draft regulations concerning the sharia controller's role in takaful insurance companies operating in the UAE and life insurance activities in the UAE will be examined.

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