QATAR - Finance
COO & Deputy CEO, Seib Insurance and Reinsurance Company LLC
Elias R. Chedid is the COO & Deputy CEO of Seib Insurance and Reinsurance Company LLC. He has over 22 years of insurance experience, with a proven track record in leading successful change in various markets. His insurance career started in the UK, then covered other parts of the world including Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Gulf. He holds a master’s degree in leadership innovation and change from York St John University. He is also a graduate in mathematics from the American University of Beirut.
Seib Insurance recently organised the Seib Al Massiya Golf Tournament, in line with Qatar’s aim of building a strong sports sector in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. What opportunities does sport open up for insurers in Qatar?
Not only in the run-up to 2022, but equally as part of the Qatar National Vision 2030, we are proud to promote and sponsor sporting events that contribute to the nation’s health and well-being. As a provider of medical insurance coverage, there is obviously a certain synergy for us in associating our products with sport. That is why, together with our friends and partners at the Education City Golf Club, we organised the Seib Al Massiya Golf Tournament—”Massiya” being the name of our advanced healthcare plan. Giving prizes and policies with a total value of QR1 million, we have created a prestigious event that we believe makes a powerful statement about our commitment to helping build a stronger, more coherent community that will certainly lead to a better tomorrow.
Compared to global standards, annual premiums as a percentage of GDP are very low in Qatar and the Middle East generally. Has COVID-19 raised awareness of the need for improved insurance penetration across the region?
Over the past decade, Qatar’s insurance industry has been among the fastest growing in the region. But, as your question implies, that is because we were starting from a very low base—with huge potential for growth, which has still been only partially realized. Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic, whether you look at the health emergency itself or at the global business and economic crisis it has triggered, can only focus greater attention on the vital importance of the financial protections that the insurance sector offers.
How is Seib adapting to new insurtech trends, especially with regard to potentially high-growth service sectors in Qatar, such as SMEs and retail?
Insurtech as a business model is still emerging, along the same lines as the fintech concept. But a more tech-savvy approach does represent the future, and our investment in a range of new technologies has already been significant. As more and more insurance-related functions move online, we continue to invest in the systems security infrastructure needed to keep our clients’ data safe, as well as take us to the next level in digital distribution and AI. That said, we do believe that technology should assist customer service, not replace it. Person-to-person contact—especially in Arab cultures—is fundamental to good business, because of the trust and loyalty it generates. Our superior customer service, allied to innovative solutions, has been particularly attractive in the SME and retail segments, which in turn has helped make Seib Insurance one of Qatar’s great success stories.
Qatar has approved legislation to make health insurance mandatory for expatriates and visitors. What would be your assessment of the impact of the new law on the local insurance sector?
Clearly, the new health insurance law looks set to increase the uptake of private medical insurance and it is a piece of legislation that we are very enthusiastic about. All stakeholders should benefit—primarily the public, as no resident in the state of Qatar will be left uninsured, which supports the social and human development pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030. For the insurance market, the advantages are also expected to include a doubling of premiums in personal insurance, beyond the health insurance sector. Customer service will be key, and Seib’s excellence in building customer loyalty will give us a competitive edge. Medical centres in Qatar will compete on healthcare quality and delivery, ensuring the very highest global standards. Seib is ready for the new legislation and has already partnered with the best healthcare providers to serve our clients.
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