What were the reasons behind your excellent results in 2019?
Striking the correct balance between our technical and investment income, in 2018 we had to make adjustments as a result of large claims from our re-insurance arm. We made the decision at the end of 2018 to run off our engineering and property portfolios in MENA RE, our reinsurance company. We focused on more profitable lines including casualty and liability. We changed our stance from top growth to bottom line driven. As a result, we saw positive figures in insurance and this proved to be successful in 2019. During the change, there is often a drop in topline revenues, though we made up for it by increasing our market share in Qatar and in our Beirut branch. We have a presence in the UK, though that is still pre-revenue. We will be ready to start operations by 2Q2020.
How do you assess the potential of takaful in the market?
There is always a market for takaful business, especially among the younger generation for individual retail rather than corporations. We are extremely proud of our subsidiary. Now, it is focused on general lines while we develop ideas as to whether we specialize in certain underwriting products down the line. While the principle is the same as mutual insurances in the West, with similar coverage, the methodology of calculation is different. This is what is attractive to people: the share of profit and risk. Now, Doha Takaful is a standalone company, with its own organization structure and capital.
How do you assess the relevance of national insurance companies in Qatar?
We are proud to have the trust of the largest strategic and important clients in Qatar—Qatar Airways, the Armed Forces, and Qatar Petroleum, to name a few—and we will be involved in their projects and expansions in Qatar. The national companies are there to support anything to do with national industry. The 2022 FIFA World Cup and its related projects has also been something of a success story for all national companies since the start. All infrastructure projects, the Qatar Rail project, and all the stadiums are insured by national companies. All national companies have enough support to cover all government needs. The Qatari market and national companies are always extremely attractive to partner with reinsurers. DIG only deals with A-rated companies and securities, including many Lloyd's reinsurers and its European counterparts. We have been rated A- since 2013. This is our main promise to all our clients as well as our main advantage; we do not go cheap, nor will we because we do not sacrifice our service or our promise.
How is Doha Insurance transitioning toward offering digital solutions?
It is always under development. Our company in Jordan develops all our in-house products and needs. We have seen growth in our online sales, applications, and the online portal. Customers can complete their claims online. Our computer authenticates photos to ensure there was no tampering or photoshopping. In addition, DIG is actively embracing automation technology, the latest introduction being a new software automated robotic system called Sanad. Across the business, we saw opportunities to turn manual, time-intensive processes with legacy systems into competitive advantages through increased efficiency, capacity, and output volume by leveraging automation. DIG is focused on the long-term digital transformation of its business processes. This platform was selected to enable our team of dedicated resources to build and manage their digital workforces. This helped with the rapid adoption of robotic process automation and opened new doors for innovation-led processes. The solutions were implemented for reconciliation and claims process and in record time too. We have successfully started with two divisions, claims and finance. Most of our claims are now handled by Sanad, and human interaction only comes into play when flags are raised. Hopefully, by the end of 1Q2020, we will have a clearer picture and likely roll out the program even further.