EASY NOW

Saudi Arabia 2016 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Raeed A. Al-Tamimi, CEO of The Company for Cooperative Insurance (Tawuniya), on increasing awareness of insurance offerings and the company's evolving role within the sector.

Raeed A. Al-Tamimi
BIOGRAPHY
Raeed A. Al-Tamimi has been with The Company for Cooperative Insurance (Tawuniya) since 1996 and is currently the company’s CEO. After obtaining a BSc from the University of Wales, he occupied such other positions within Tawuniya as Vice President of Medical and Takaful Insurance and Senior Vice President of Technical Divisions. He has received such certificates as the CPHHA from the American Institute of Healthcare Quality and the MHP from the American Health Insurance Plan. He serves as the Chairman of General Insurance Committee of Insurance Companies CEOs under SAMA. He is a board member for both the Business School Advisory Board of Prince Sultan University and the Waseel Company.

How do you see the level of awareness for insurance changing in Saudi Arabia, especially for motor products?

Awareness is still picking up as we go because we are a young industry. However, people tend to better understand motor insurance than they do other insurance, as it is compulsory. Awareness is there in terms of the product itself, but we need more time in order to reflect the importance of the relationship. Customers need to understand that the relationship with insurance companies is long term, that they are building a history in the database, and that it is no longer about just having a policy because the premium and claims experience is important. We are still not where we would like to be, but we are progressing. We run communications campaigns from time to time for our customers, and we launched our “TRUST" campaign aimed at raising awareness of motor insurance products. The word trust was actually an important element in the campaign, because it reflects how people perceive Tawuniya. The team undertook research and found that the most important word related to Tawuniya is trust. We were glad to see that we are a trusted company and that people were willing to stay with us. We strive to provide the best services, be competitive and innovative, increase customer satisfaction, and prove our leadership. We try to do our best to ensure that the company is solid and strong enough to perform its duties and commitments to clients and to provide a reasonable return on investment to our shareholders.

How do you see the sector evolving and what role will Tawuniya play in the future market?

We have a lot of issues because the industry is young; however, the good thing is that there is huge potential for growth. Our insurance penetration rate in Saudi Arabia is low, even compared to other GCC countries, so there is a huge opportunity for growth. If we compare ourselves to the West, there is even more space to grow, which is something good for the industry. Things will change. Right now, there are many companies in the country that are losing and they cannot continue to lose—they will either improve or make the call to exit or merge. This will be the case in the future, where it is not going to be as easy as it was before in terms of increasing capital just to stay in the market. There is more regulation and there will be well-reviewed business plans and commitments made by companies towards their future. The company that will win in the end will be the one that can provide excellent services, profitable margins, and high efficiency. Companies must be different and should not do what others are doing. Long-term strategies and targets make a difference because a company may grow tremendously, then lose money, and then need to exit the market or increase your capital through a merger or acquisition. That is not the right strategy. It needs to be slow and directed at a target. At the moment, we do not see any value added to the company to acquire or merge with another company. If you look at mergers, we are large compared to most companies in the market and, therefore, we have no plans to merge. But to acquire companies would require us to consider what is in it for us. So far, we have not seen any company that would add value to Tawuniya in terms of services or unique products that would help us move forward. Should we see an opportunity that would improve Tawuniya's position, we will seriously consider it. Our goal is to improve our market share in profitable segments. To increase our own market share, we have to improve our efficiency, our claims control, and our management tools, to ensure that we expand at the right time.