The Business Year

Though insurance penetration is still relatively low in the region, the insurance industry is becoming a key growth contributor in this part of the world.

Cédric Charpentier

CEO, AXA Insurance (Gulf)

Whilst insurance penetration is still relatively low in the UAE and Gulf region as a whole, the insurance industry is starting to be recognized in this part of the world as a key growth contributor. As both individuals and corporations become more aware of the benefits of insurance, the market will start to grow and mature in the coming years. AXA Insurance has been in the region for more than 65 years. In that time, we have built a sustainable business with strong foundations, which we and the AXA Group are very proud of. Our vision, both here and throughout the AXA Group, is to empower people to live a better life, a large ambition that requires significant dedication from our side. First and foremost, we must bring the most relevant and innovative insurance practices to this market. We are at an advantage, as we belong to the AXA Group and have at hand a wealth of resources and talent from every corner of the globe to do so, and ensure it is right for this region.

Kamal Sartawi

General Manager, Al Dhafra Insurance

Most insurance companies did well in 2017, and part of the reason is because of the new regulations in the market. We are moving from an unregulated market to one that has excellent regulations from the Insurance Authority. In the past, insurance companies were free to invest their assets wherever they wanted to, but this has changed. Now there is a ceiling on how much we can invest in bonds, equities, properties, and so forth, both inside and outside the country. Moreover, insurance companies also have to use an actuary to price their products for all classes of underwriting every six months. This pricing, which has to be seen by the board of directors, will mean that eventually the market will be based on performance. This does not eliminate another major challenge we face, which is the fact there are more than 60 insurance companies in the market, making it saturated. Consolidation is one solution; however, raising the minimum capital requirement could be a more realistic solution to reduce the number of players. With minimum prices set, all companies now offer similar prices, and customers should distinguish between good and bad insurers based on service.

Mohammad Al Hawari

Executive Board Member & Managing Director, Mohammad Al Hawari

The number-one issue in the insurance industry is that customers do not trust their insurers. They do not trust them to pay a claim, and they feel like it will be a hassle to get the claim paid out. Insurance companies also do not trust their customers because they are always wary of fraud. We believe blockchain will solve that. It creates authenticity and trust. Additionally, we will use smart contracts that will not be transferable, and they speak only to the specific client’s needs and do not require signatures. We will not have to manually check records anymore. Everything will cost significantly less as well. That is why we want to be the first to implement this. Agents will be obsolete, and chat bots and automated call center operations will become the new norm. We make it an attractive product and pull people in without using agents. We need to sell with a combination of IT, big data, analytics, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. We believe we need data and IT specialists for the future, not financial experts. The final piece is R&D. I always push people to think about innovation.



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