Jan. 4, 2015


Hala Haidar

Lebanon

Hala Haidar

General Manager, AIG Lebanon

BIO

Hala Haidar has spent the past 24 years in insurance. She started her career with the reinsurance company Arab Re, and then moved on to work with the international reinsurer, Cologne Re. She has been with AIG for 12 years. Currently the Country Manager for Lebanese operations, she also works on other regional assignments. She holds a BA Degree in Statistics and Economics from the American University of Beirut.

Could you talk about how the financial crisis affected the country?

What happened in 2008 affected the whole world. Firstly, AIG came out of the crisis a smaller company; however, we are nimbler, more solid, and more regulated. We find it a positive to become more regulated. Secondly, the crisis did not affect the insurance companies and subsidiaries of AIG, which honored all of their liabilities vis-à-vis the policyholders. Thirdly, the US government provided financial support to AIG because it had faith that ultimately, it would be beneficial to the global financial system as a whole. In four years, we repaid the $182 billion loan, with a profit of $22.7 billion. As a result, local regulators are more confident of our financial position and acknowledged our commitment to the local market.

How did this affect the strategy of AIG internationally?

We honored our commitment to the international community. We continued to provide our product innovation, services, and expertise to our clients and brokers and maintained our global footprint. The operation in Lebanon also maintained its position as market leaders in commercial insurance.

How has your portfolio changed over the past decade?

When we started in 2001, our goal was to be a leading insurer in commercial lines. There was a great need in the market for expertise in commercial lines, hence we decided to support the market with lead terms in the various business areas that comprise commercial lines: marine, casualty, property, energy, construction, and financial lines. We are known for product innovation and are the first insurer to offer cyber coverage.

How would you assess the market for financial lines in Lebanon?

The market for financial lines still needs further encouragement, because it is confined to Bankers Blanket Bonds (BBB) coverage for banks. Other products, such as directors and officers, professional liability, and cyber, have yet to develop. We won't see much activity unless there is a requirement by law to buy a professional liability or management liability policy.

How important is Lebanon for the company's overall presence?

AIG is a global insurer, and is a great advocate of diversity and inclusion. This is part of our value proposition to our customers. The business model that we follow varies and depends on the size and potential of the market. In Lebanon, we look specifically at multinational clients, Lebanese interests abroad, and the local presence of a wide network of regional brokers. We also try to benefit from the Lebanese diaspora abroad. In Lebanon, there are around 4 million people, but outside Lebanon there are another 14 million expatriates and their children.

Who are your other target clients?

Corporate clients, banks, financial institutions, investment bankers, high-impact accounts, big projects in development, electricity, and infrastructure are the main areas we target. We benefit from the global network of Lebanese expatriates working outside their home country.

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