The State of the UAE Insurance Industry

H.E. Ebrahim Obaid Al Zaabi, Director General, Insurance Authority: This year, we are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Authority. Our goal was how to improve the insurance sector in the UAE. The UAE, in terms of premium growth, we ranked in the top of 10 of the world. And on the low-risk side, we are talking about the sixth in the world. In terms of premium wise, we closed last year of 40bn AED ($11bn) and we ranked the highest in the whole region. We have about 41% of the whole region. That was an increase of 8.3% from last year.

H.E. Abdulaziz Abdulla Al-Ghurair, Chairman, Oman Insurance Company: The more economic growth, the more the insurance can play a role. And the more sophisticated our customer gets, the more potential for insurance growth is there. Also, the more regulation comes in place, the more chance of insurance plays in. We have seen the health insurance, the regulation have come in and what an impact they have made on the health insurance business. So, there is a lot of growth.

Ahmad Idris, CEO, Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company (ADNIC): The UAE insurance market is the largest insurance market in the whole region of Middle East and North Africa, followed by Saudi Arabia. What is also different about this market is that it houses the regions reinsurance hub. It is the house for the largest insurance companies in a single market that I know. This aggravates the already competitive and fragmented market. On the other hand, it pushes the insurance companies to raise their standards by making their policies and procedures more efficient and becoming more customer centric.

Michael Bitzer, CEO, National Health Insurance Company (Daman): 10 years ago, the regulation were relatively weak. But meanwhile, we have a strong regulator, the Insurance Authority has driven many reforms in the past, came up with new regulations, new laws. I think we are at par with developed markets. We have on top for the health insurance sector, the Health Authority in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Health Authority for Dubai as regulators, they also contribute to the regulation of the market. I think for us, I can say we are quite satisfied with the environment.

Jason Light, CEO, Emirates Insurance: First of all, it's the biggest market and it's really probably the most sophisticated market. When you look at the scale of the business here, the number of companies, the number of brokers, with many of the major international brokers are headquartered here, and you add in the DIFC, with its reinsurance market, I think clearly, the UAE is the insurance hub for the region.

Mohammad Al Hawari, Managing Director and Executive Board Member, Takaful Emarat: The UAE economy has been stable, both politically and financially. And this has created an environment, a very conducive environment to foster growth in the insurance sector.

Future Outlook for the UAE Insurance Industry

H.E. Ebrahim Obaid Al Zaabi, Director General, Insurance Authority: As a regulator, we look for growth in the premium side. With the growth of premium that means a lot of innovation has to come up. We think of being as the number one, not only in the UAE, in the world also. This is our aim. Our leaders want that. We are looking for that and we want to do it. So, growth in the premium is very important and contributing to the GDP is very important.

Ahmad Idris, CEO, ADNIC: I consider the outlook for the insurance industry as a whole is positive. I see it moving in the right direction as a result of regulations on one hand. On the other hand, initiatives by the government, like introducing compulsory insurance schemes or Expo 2020, create significant opportunities for the insurance industry.

Jason Light, CEO, Emirates Insurance: I think the big question really; all the big questions are really all structural. This country has quite a large insurance industry compared to other countries in the region, has an awful lot of insurance companies. If you go to other similar sized markets around the world, you won't see 50 plus insurers. So, the real question I think is, what is the future for that structure? Is it sustainable in an increasingly competitive marketplace and now a regulated one?

Mohammad Al Hawari, Managing Director and Executive Board Member, Takaful Emarat: We have 62 insurance companies in the UAE focusing on a relatively small population compared to the region around us. The only way you can differentiate yourself really is through innovation. This is what our leaders have been talking about all the time and they have always told us and have invested a lot in innovation and it truly is the only solution or the only way you can differentiate yourself. And yes, innovation can be a loose term but to talk about innovation specifically, to me it's three things. It's never been done before. I am going to invest in it and I am going to be the first at it. If you don't have those three pistons aligned you won't be able to innovate and somebody else will. And that's the thing about innovation, you don't own innovation. Innovation is for anyone who is curious, who has the will and can find their resources to do it.