ACCESSING INSURANCE

UAE 2018 | FUJAIRAH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Antoine Maalouli, General Manager of Al Fujairah National Insurance Company (AFNIC), on innovative services and products, stiff competition, and portfolio composition.

Antoine Maalouli
BIOGRAPHY
Antoine Maalouli has around 40 years of experience, 36 of which were spent in the insurance sector. He worked in different roles such as Finance and Administration Manager, Deputy General Manager, and now General Manager. He has served as General Manager since 2004.

What milestones has AFNIC reached over the past year?

Our company started in 1976, and the government of Fujairah owns 85%, of which 15% is owned by the royal family of Fujairah, while the rest is public shareholding. In 2016 we did more than AED200 million in business; our net profits were more than AED18 million, with our total assets grossing more than AED580 million. Also, we were rated B-AA-1 by Moody's. At the moment, around 50% of our business comes from Fujairah, and the remaining 50% is mostly from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and the other Emirates.
Can you elaborate on AFNIC's ATM concept, and how that is changing the way you approach the market?
The Insurance ATM started seven years ago. When the idea was initially suggested, the ingenuity of the concept was immediately recognized. For this, management created an in-house team to develop the idea and run the project, making us the first provider of insurance ATMs in the world. Today, we have around 10 ATMs that are installed in various ENOC and EPPCO petrol stations in Dubai. It is an automated machine where quick transactions can be performed within five minutes. The ATMs operate from 8am until 10pm, six days a week, and are serviced by an attendant who can offer assistance to clients.

Which insurance lines are performing better under current market conditions?

Due to market competition in the UAE, we are concentrating on personal retail products such as motor, medical and life, world-wide personal accident, and home insurance, which are doing well. Motor insurance comprises around 50% of our portfolio, and other significant pieces of our portfolio include life, medical, property, and engineering-product insurance. We do all these types of insurance as well as aviation, hull, and all kinds of general insurance.

What are the biggest challenges in the insurance industry at the moment, and how does AFNIC stand out among the competition?

The biggest challenge in the UAE market is tough competition. There are around 60 insurance companies in this market, and in addition to that there are around 150 brokers, which means there is stiff competition because all the insurance companies are competing to increase market share. This creates the second problem of the low price environment, which is pushing premium prices further down.

What market developments are you expecting in the medium term?

Due to the intervention of the UAE Insurance Authority to make sure that motor and medical insurance was being correctly priced, we have seen more stability and greater market potential.
What are your expectations for the year ahead?
We are expecting to increase premium volumes by 10-15% in 2017, and we will be deploying more ATMs. We will also be launching two retail products, which are currently undergoing approval by the Insurance Authority.