- Life Insurance Company of the Year
- General Insurance Company of the Year
- Health Insurance Company of the Year
- Family Takaful Company of the Year
- General Takaful Company of the Year
- Educational & Training Initiative of the Year
- Innovation of the Year
- Service Provider of the Year
- Corporate Risk Manager of the Year
- TPA of the Year
- Law Firm of the Year
- Broker of the Year
- Reinsurance Broker of the Year
- Retakaful Company of the Year
- Reinsurance Company of the Year
- Personality of the Year
Life Insurance Company of the Year
MetLife Middle East & Africa
As a third-time recipient of the Life Insurance Company of the Year award, MetLife continues to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the industry and stay ahead of competition by providing exemplary customer service including enhancing its digital foundation.
With nearly 65 years of presence in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, MetLife takes a strong interest in the policy and regulatory environment for life insurance in MEA, actively engaging with the regulatory, government and trade association communities. MetLife has taken leadership positions in industry groups in Egypt, UAE, Turkey and other markets to drive industry engagement with governmental bodies.
MetLife has shown in-depth knowledge and understanding of the market by reaching different customer segments through a tailored multichannelled distribution platform of bancassurance, direct marketing, faceto- face, brokers and employee benefits. Service representatives continue servicing customers via a consolidated customer service unit, providing access to a uniform “one-stop-shop” experience. Other initiatives include ongoing in-depth market research into customer demographics and purchase behaviours via commissioned studies on market trends for ongoing product innovation, distribution and services.
As a customer-centric organisation, MetLife relies on its digital foundation to empower audiences with access to information they need at their own convenience. Amongst its innovative efforts, MetLife launched an enhanced online engagement digital platform “MyMetLife” in the UAE, Mobile App in Egypt and the UAE, and online sales platform via social media in Turkey after the successful launch of Facebook in 2014. MetLife has also formed Fraud and Abuse units to ensure better controls and procedures in place.
Among its corporate social responsibility activities, MetLife has partnered with Injaz Al-Arab to deliver financial literacy and work readiness skills to the youth in MEA; Special Olympics to engage with young people with intellectual disabilities in Turkey and the UAE; and Habitat for Humanity to build and renovate buildings in disadvantaged areas in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. MetLife also provides ongoing yearly support to the visually impaired children in Turkey and supports wellbeing and health related programmes in MEA.
In the last three years, MetLife MEA has achieved a sales CAGR of 17% and Operating Earnings CAGR of 20%. Today, MetLife employs over 1,300 employees in 11 countries in the MEA region. It also has over 1,800 face-toface agents, more than 60 partnering banks, access to over 14,000 preferred medical providers, nearly 9,000 corporate clients and over four million insured members.
The company’s efforts have received recognition, with Mr Julio Garcia- Villalon, Regional Head, MetLife MEA winning Forbes “Global Meets Local” Award in November 2015.
General Insurance Company of the Year
Orient Insurance PJSC
With consistent underwriting results over the years bearing testimony to its in-depth knowledge and understanding of the market, Orient emerges as a deserving winner of the General Insurance Company of the Year award.
Commencing operations on 1 January 1982, Orient has grown to become the second largest insurance company in the UAE in terms of GWP in 2015. Orient’s GWP registered impressive growth of nearly 30% from AED1.8 billion (US$490 million) in 2014 to AED2.3 billion in 2015.
Starting operations with a capital of AED5 million, equity at the end of 2015 stood at AED2.68 billion with a paid up capital of AED500 million. The equity has been built out of profit retention and ploughed back, without any further contribution from the shareholders despite having a consistent dividend policy of 20% every year. The company has registered over 30 years of continued profitability.
Orient deals with well-rated reinsurers. Its reinsurance treaty bouquet has been led by Swiss Re for more than 25 years. Judicious underwriting, sound risk selection, support of strong reinsurers, prudent claims and expense management with cautious investment policy and exemplary customer service have been the hallmark of its success over the years.
Orient offers both conventional and bespoke products for corporates and individuals. Apart from the traditional insurance covers, it plays a major role as an insurer in the growth of the regional economy through its innovative products like Motor Plus, Gold Plus, Hotel Plus, Life Insurance Plus, Credit Shield/Life and Strata Insurance. In addition, new products like Warranty & Indemnity Insurance, Cyber Liability and GAP were added to the product bouquet.
Its strategies are aligned to market dynamics as seen in its product offerings catering to different market requirements, and specialised services such as single window policy issuance / claims management services and electronic submission of claims documents. Consistent underwriting results over the years bear testimony to its in-depth knowledge and understanding of the market. The composition of the operating results reflects strongly the healthy balance it has between its technical and non-technical income.
In terms of responding to the needs of both customers and intermediaries, Orient’s emphasis on development of special products and quick turnaround in the matters of underwriting and claims result in a very high percentage of renewal retention and year-on-year growth. The company’s well established systems provide a strong platform that allows agility and ease of managing the ever increasing needs of customers and intermediaries.
The main principles in Orient’s approach to CSR are employee engagement, focused beneficiary as well as collaborating with credible third parties such as NGOs and corporates with aligned interests. The main areas of activities undertaken include health initiatives, disaster relief and rehabilitation programmes, insurance awareness and promotion of healthy living style.
Orient has secured credit ratings of “A Excellent” from A.M. Best and “A” from Standard & Poor’s, which is the highest combined rating in the region. It is accredited with ISO 9001 Quality Management Certification.
Health Insurance Company of the Year
AXA Insurance (Gulf) BSC
As a responsible health insurer who has demonstrated leadership in product offerings and is committed to raise health awareness, AXA Gulf takes home the Health Insurance Company of the Year award for the second year running.
AXA Gulf’s health portfolio has grown over the last five years, from a total premium of US$221.1 million to $541.1 million premiums by the end of 2015. Today, healthcare represents 56% of AXA Gulf’s portfolio.
A double digit CAGR of 19.6% over five years in this growing healthcare environment is a reflection of AXA Gulf’s bespoke corporate solutions offering quality and sustainable healthcare programmes. Furthermore, high renewal retention rates of over 80% of GWP is an indication of AXA Gulf’s service-oriented approach of being available, attentive and reliable to its customers.
AXA Gulf offers a wide range of products to suit the needs of its retail, SME and corporate customers. At the retail level, AXA Gulf has continued to develop its Health Perfect Series, a range of seven healthcare schemes that offers a range of individual and family products with enhanced benefits. The Health Perfect Series consists of three international plans, two regional plans, and two local plans.
For the corporate segment, in collaboration with its stakeholders, the insurer continues to offer the “Thiqa TOP UP series” range of products and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) Essential Benefits plan. AXA Gulf is one of the participating insurers approved by the DHA to offer health insurance coverage under Basic Benefit Plan. Currently, AXA Gulf services more than 510,000 members across five countries. At the SME level, it closed the year 2015 with 2,560 SME medical customers, with customer retention rate remaining stable at 65%.
In addition, AXA Gulf has continued to develop its infrastructure in order to improve distribution tools and methods for its direct salesforce as well as for selected intermediaries, targeting a consistent customer experience across distribution channels and countries, and ensuring a high retention rate.
In terms of service offerings, AXA Gulf has differentiated itself in the region by offering personalised services despite the digitalisation and automation of its operational procedures. A continuous focus on measuring the quality of services on a daily basis is adopted to ensure any trends or feedback from customers is identified quickly and acted upon. Through a dedicated complaints management system, AXA Gulf is able to identify the root causes of any customer dissatisfaction and put in place plans for service improvement.
The insurer has also launched a number of digital services such as claims submission, policy administrator online and eligibility, and approval systems for its customers.
In parallel with the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), AXA Gulf’s role as a health insurer is changing: prevention is becoming more important, with increased use of technology. To this end, as a responsible health insurer, AXA Gulf embarked upon a number of medical initiatives in 2015/16 including rolling out programmes relating to health education and support, well-being and prevention, patient support and diabetes and breast cancer awareness campaigns.
Family Takaful Company of the Year
Qatar Islamic Insurance Company
Qatar Islamic Insurance Company’s (QIIC’s) understanding of the market, innovative product offerings and strict commitment to Shariah compliance have helped it clinch the Family Takaful of the Year award.
In 2015, QIIC’s GWP amounted to QAR293 million (US$80.5 million), up 25% y-o-y and higher that 2014’s 11.3%. QIIC also maintained strong underwriting discipline that resulted in an underwriting balance of QAR91 million, up 30% from 2014.
Strict control measures introduced three years ago strengthened QIIC’s claims management which helped reduce its overall claim ratio to 45% in 2015, compared to 47% in 2014 and 59% in 2013.
Sound financial management over the years has resulted in excellent underwriting results and investment profits both in Policyholders’ Fund and Shareholders’ Fund, which coupled with QIIC’s equitable business approach, has resulted in declaration of 20% surplus consistently for the last seven years for distribution to policyholders, besides a hefty dividend payout to its shareholders.
The total declared surplus from the start of operations in 1995 till 2015 now stands at QAR267 million which even exceeds the paid-up capital. This helps in boosting the image of takaful in society as a system based on mutuality and fairness that not only rewards the shareholders in a good year, but also rewards the policyholders who invest in risk controls and has also set the leading professional standard for other takaful providers around the world.
QIIC is a major stakeholder in Pak-Qatar Family and General Takaful in Pakistan and has always encouraged and supported their efforts to use Microtakaful as a tool to provide financial security to the neediest ones. As part of its ongoing efforts to spread awareness of takaful protection, its CEO has also written a series of articles published in a widely circulated daily newspaper spreading awareness about risk management and how takaful can help corporates and individuals in managing risk in a Shariahcompliant manner. Additionally, it continues to undertake an awareness campaign through social media.
Shariah compliance has always been QIIC’s top priority and its Shariah board, headed by Shariah scholar Dr Ali Moehi El-din Al-Gura Daghi, has supervisory status and independently reports to the BOD. In addition, an in-house Shariah advisor vets all documents, including claims.
QIIC has always actively adopted international best practices and is an ISO 9001:2008 compliant organisation since 2012. Following increased focus on Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) globally, QIIC has established a dedicated Risk Management Department and has started implementing a robust ERM programme towards the end of 2015. QIIC has also established a Technical Committee that discusses and decides on complex technical matters.
General Takaful Company of the Year
Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company PSC
For its deep commitment to operational excellence, sound financial performance and product diversity and innovation, Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company is the winner of the General Takaful Company of the Year award.
Established in November 2003, Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company (ADNTC) operates in the UAE with servicing branches in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai. The company has completed 12 full years of operations and achieved a CAGR of 32% in revenue and 61% in profitability from 2004-2015.
ADNTC’s focused approach and effective execution of its strategy in all areas of operations has resulted in it being recognised as one of the most progressive insurance companies in the UAE. In the UAE Insurance Market Report dated 8 December 2015, S&P ranked the company as the second best performing insurance company out of all listed insurers in the UAE based on a three-year performance assessment.
ADNTC saw its gross takaful contributions reach AED296.8 million (US$80.8 million) at the end of 2015, compared to AED295.3 million the previous year. Meanwhile, net profit reached AED41.5 million compared to AED35.7 million for the same period last year, representing an impressive increase of 16%.
The company has been successful in building a balanced and healthy portfolio with sustainable growth measures, with a low net loss ratio of 28.1% and underwriting combined ratio of 70.9% in 2015. It also showed strong overall earnings with shareholders’ fund reporting a five-year average return on equity of 18.2%.
A unique feature of ADNTC is a voluntary review mechanism to keep its operations under review by professionals of international repute. Such independent reviews allow its management to proactively adopt best international practices to ensure it is ready to meet any regulatory requirements and challenges.
For example, ADNTC has long been among a handful of companies that adopts international practice in:
- Using 1/365 method for calculating net premium earned (NPE).
- Incorporating all expenses associated with each underwriting profit centre in calculating the combined ratio. Hence, ADNTC does not follow the practice of stating unallocated expense outside the underwriting combined loss ratio.
- ADNTC has a robust enterprise risk management (ERM) framework, and is among a handful of companies in the UAE that developed an in-house internal capital model to help in defining tolerance limits and determining capital adequacy for risk based decision making processes.
ADNTC believes in providing ethical products & services that caters to a broad cross section of individuals and corporates. Its business plan has set customer retention controls with renewal persistency measures in place, and it takes various measures to ensure retention ratios remain at satisfactory levels. ADNTC’s retention ratios across various lines of businesses, with the exception of motor business, are in the higher 90% range, while customer complaints are less than 10%.
ADNTC is assigned a financial strength rating of A– (excellent) and an issuer credit rating of “a–” by A.M. Best. It is the highest rating assigned to a takaful operator and reflects ADNTC’s solid risk-adjusted capitalisation, track record of excellent underwriting performance and enhanced enterprise risk management.
Educational & Training Initiative of the Year
Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance
Recognised as the industry’s learning partner and a leading provider of quality education, the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) has emerged as the winner of the Educational & Training Initiative of the Year award.
The Centre for Insurance at BIBF has supplied the regional insurance industry with skilled, qualified human capital since its inception in 1981. Its training solutions have served the insurance market in over 14 countries and the reach of its insurance qualifications is evident in many of the accomplishments achieved over the past two decades.
In order to maintain its position as a market leader, the Centre for Insurance focuses on implementing international educational standards at a regional level. BIBF offers the industry a remarkable balance between localised applied theory and global best practices, along with internationally recognised professional qualifications in partnership with the world’s leading awarding bodies and associations.
BIBF provides a diversified set of training programmes that caters to different segments of the regional insurance market. A vast array of insurance topics are covered including property, engineering, transportation and liability insurance, in addition to advanced technical courses in underwriting, claims and risk management.
The offerings are divided into the Diploma Programmes which offers classroom-based training solutions, and the Professional Insurance Certificate and Diploma (PIC/PID) programmes which are attainable via distance-learning. The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) of UK accredits a majority of the modules for both sets of programmes. BIBF also offers training and development solutions to corporate clients.
BIBF currently holds an impressive 260 CII credits for its in-house courses, unmatched in the MENA region. BIBF also has strategic partnerships with US-based Life Management Association (LOMA), the Institutes, and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and is also a member of the Institute of Global Insurance Education (IGIE).
As the industry’s learning partner, BIBF takes great pride in the strength and longevity of the relationship it has with the markets it serves. It conducts a semi-annual training managers meeting, which is a forum for corporate customers to voice their concerns and training needs, the latest of which was conducted in January 2016. BIBF has also conducted scientific research to study the correlation between the completion of professional qualifications in the industry and career progression.
Furthermore, the Centre for Insurance has unparalleled strategic relationships with executives operating in the insurance industry across the MENA region. For over two decades, this network has provided an abundant supply of constructive feedback and served as an endless repository of ideas to develop different training initiatives. As a result of the working relationship with the market, BIBF’s insurance training programmes are dynamic and remain sensitive to the changing demands of the industry. For example, in response to the market’s increasing focus on personal insurances, BIBF introduced a new module on the topic in 2016.
Innovation of the Year
AROPE Insurance wins the Innovation of the Year award for its dedication to innovation and the development of “Allo…Hayete”, a life microinsurance plan exclusively via mobile SMS.
As one of the keen innovators in its field, AROPE Insurance knows the value of well-earned trust, and thus, constantly brings its customers the value they really need. After launching its multifunctional Mobile Application, a practical Mobile Website, and the first VISA Signature Credit Card for the insurance sector in 2014, AROPE offered the Lebanese mart its latest innovation in September 2015 “Allo… Hayete”, the first life microinsurance plan in Lebanon and the Middle East. This service is exclusively provided in Lebanon in cooperation with InMobiles and the two leading mobile network operators in Lebanon – Alfa and Touch.
“Allo…Hayete”, is an affordable airtime-based life microinsurance plan available for both Touch and Alfa pre- and post-paid subscribers, providing a convenient way to access a reasonable life protection plan directly through the user’s mobile phone. The service was specifically designed to meet a loved one’s protection needs in case of the subscriber’s death.
“Allo… Hayete” is also a paper-free product, eco-friendly and costeffective. No underwriting interference is required or accounting procedure is involved. Furthermore, subscribing to this programme is as easy as it can be and doesn’t require filling of any application form or document at AROPE Insurance. The service is simply kicked-off by sending a free SMS to subscribe.
With the aim to provide affordable and accessible cover, the cost of the service amounts to US$3/month, $0.7/week or $0.1/day for all ages. “Allo… Hayete” is an extremely flexible programme, as it allows its members to amend their payment frequency, change their beneficiary(ies) or even cancel their subscription anytime by just sending a free SMS.
Following the launch of “Allo…Hayete” service, AROPE combined it with an incentive programme to better promote it and to encourage people to subscribe. The programme consists of collecting points as the service is renewed automatically. An insured can also invite family members and friends to join “Allo…Hayete” and to benefit from the reward programme.
A dedicated monitoring tool has been developed to gain insight on the numbers subscribed, user behaviour, error detection, and other key findings. The monitoring tool is essential for the company to respond to any difficulties a user might be facing, and to give the best support possible for the query received. A special script has been written for AROPE 24/7 call centre for support around the clock.
In addition, a reminder campaign by SMS has also been launched to help people be actively engaged in the programme and invite them to stay covered for as long as possible. There are now more than 12,000 subscribers since its launch.
Service Provider of the Year
For its demonstration of leadership in the drive for greater professionalism and higher standards in serving the MENA insurance industry, Milliman LLC wins the Service Provider of the Year award.
Milliman Middle East’s unique structure of offering multiple consultancy services (life, health, casualty, pensions and risk management) all out of one practice is its greatest strength in order to best serve the needs of the industry, which often requires multi-disciplinary advice. It is also renowned for its ability to implement global actuarial standards in a manner suitable to local and regional requirements. One example is how it has played a proactive role in advising regulators to take a step-by-step approach for meeting requirements in the right spirit, rather than treat it as a tick-the-compliance-box exercise.
It also continues to be responsive to the needs of the market. Following the introduction of new regulations in the UAE, it organised workshops to discuss their impact and implications on the insurance industry. These saw the attendance of all insurance companies in the country. With 60 companies in the UAE market, Milliman Middle East is actively encouraging potential consolidation and engaging investors and companies to forge a common understanding. It sees itself as a catalyst for the betterment of the industry.
The service provider partners regulators to support the strengthening of the industry. In Saudi Arabia, it has worked with the regulator from adequate provisioning to now strengthening pricing basis for firms there, while in Oman, it has assisted the authorities to facilitate the enhancement of the maturity level of companies. It has also worked with non-insurance government organisations on effective insurance provision for their stakeholders.
In educating the industry at large to raise the bar of service provision quality in the region, Milliman Middle East has applied high actuarial standards and innovative solutions to meet client needs. These include using deterministic and stochastic approaches to reserving and pricing; using predictive analytical tools and offering in-house developed tools to the industry, including software, models and risk management platforms. It was a joint sponsor of the first ever Gulf Actuarial Society event to educate the regional actuarial community; and regularly provides thought leadership via speaking at industry events and article contributions to the press.
Milliman Middle East has established itself as a leading service provider in the region, with the highest number of actuaries specialised in each discipline, and continues to recruit across all lines of business.
Corporate Risk Manager of the Year
Mr Adnan Abu Alhaija'a, Arab Orient Insurance | gig
Through his establishment of risk management frameworks in subsidiaries of the Trust Group, Mr Adnan Abu Alhaija’a has earned himself the Corporate Risk Manager of the Year award.
Mr Adnan Abu Alhaija’a, now of Arab Orient Insurance, had worked for Trust International Insurance Group in Amman, Jordan, from March 2011 to August 2016 as a Regional Risk Manager. During those years, he created and implemented enterprise risk management (ERM) frameworks in five main subsidiaries located in Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Yemen and Lebanon.
Across the Trust Group, he established and implemented an ERM programme using the ISO 31000 standard. He identified and developed group risk profiles for over 500 risks in his time at Trust. This was done through engaging over 110 employees across different departments.
Mr Abu Alhaija’a also worked at developing a business continuity and crisis management plan as part of the risk management frameworks, according to ISO 22301, which helped to boost the organisation’s resilience. This process involved stress testing IT infrastructure and taking into consideration political instability in the region. For the Yemen office, implementation of the plans resulted in actual savings and positive impact on cash flow and expense management.
He was instrumental in establishing a risk culture across the Trust subsidiaries, and conducted risk awareness sessions for over 160 employees across the group. Partnering third-party entities, he organised specific training sessions on civil defence, first aid, firefighting and evacuation. He also helped to develop different committees for business continuity, crisis management and health & safety. These initiatives helped to build awareness of risk management in general.
As a committed risk manager, Mr Abu Alhaija’a has gained multiple certifications to improve his experience in the field. These include the International Certificate in Risk Management (CIRM) from the Institute of Risk Management in London, a Certificate in Risk Management in Financial Services (SIRM) and ongoing studies towards a International Diploma in Risk Management. He co-founded the IRM Regional Group of Jordan & Palestine, which aims to encourage discussion of the risk profession and elevate its position regionally. He also conducted research on “ERM in Arab Insurance Companies – Practices & Challenges”, which covered over 100 companies from 18 Arab countries.
For his dedication in improving his expertise and in advancing risk management at the workplace and beyond to a wider region, Mr Abu Alhaija’a is a worthy winner of the Corporate Risk Manager of the Year award.
TPA of the Year
With a strong focus on its core competencies that include innovative technologies and customer-centric services, NEXtCARE is a worthy winner of the Third-Party Administrator (TPA) of the Year.
Established in 1999, the name NEXtCARE has become a byword for TPA in the Middle East.
Being a member of the renowned Allianz Worldwide Partners, the international leader in insurance and assistance services, NEXtCARE benefits from applying international standards of business management through embracing the stringent mandates of compliance and code of ethics.
NEXtCARE acts as the industry meeting point whereby it actively engages in forums and discussions by connecting key influencers – regulators, payers, providers, employers and insured members – to ensure engagement and sustainability.
The company provides full regulatory support ensuring compliance with over 160 regulatory mandates for all its payers and manages electronic claims environment through a compliant proprietary system “TATSH” with multiple portal technologies for providers, payers, and patients.
NEXtCARE has been selected as the technological and administrative partner to manage Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA’s) SAADA programme, a health insurance scheme to include mandatory preventive health cover for all in the emirate. Other key achievements in 2015 include posting doubledigit growth of over 15% y-o-y on all aspects of business on a CAGR basis, and expanding into new geographical areas such as Tunisia and Morocco, as well as continued rolling out its provider portal, PULSE, with more than 80% of network claims being submitted.
NEXtCARE offers expertise in product design as well as turnkey solutions to its local partners. Insurance procurement reinforces efficiency and cost optimisation through ongoing governance of the contractual relationship and negotiation with healthcare providers by utilising real-time dashboards, scorecards, and close monitoring.
With a solid infrastructure in place and technological innovation and development, NEXtCARE provides tailor-made, managed care solutions to help its customers manage medical expenditures, ease administrative burdens, and promote member satisfaction for their healthcare plans.
In an effort to combat fraud, waste and abuse, NEXtCARE constantly reviews provider adherence to contractual obligations. Ongoing processes that help eliminate potential abuse and fraud incidents include trend analysis, mystery shopping campaigns, data mining, site visits and medical records inspection.
NEXtCARE believes that wellness and prevention programmes are the means to reducing claims, and hence costs. It takes effort to help its members maintain good health through programmes designed to encourage preventive care, to reduce the incidence and impact of lifestyle diseases.
Initiatives aim to raise awareness include partnerships with Governments (SAADA Programme by DHA) and wellness campaigns through its social media channels.
NEXtCARE also believes in employees wellness and undertakes regular in-house activities promoting fitness and wellness. As a result, its Employee Engagement Index increased to 80% in 2015 from 68% in 2014.
Law Firm of the Year
Clyde & Co
For its outstanding scale and expertise with over three decades of experience in the Middle East, Clyde & Co has clinched the Law Firm of the Year award.
Clyde & Co established its first office in the UAE in 1989, following many years of regional client involvement. Today, it counts over 160 legal staff in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and Riyadh. It is the largest insurance practice in the region and commands in-depth understanding of legal, commercial and regulatory issues in the sector.
With its commitment to education and professional development, Clyde & Co is active in hosting seminars and training programmes for its insurance clients and speaks regularly at regional events. As an active participant in industry committees, it provided legal advice in facilitating the recentlyformed Confidential Life Insurance Middle East Forum (CLIME+F), an initiative set up by the leading UAE life insurers.
Together with ratings agency Moody’s and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority, it contributed to the latest Guide to Insurance, Reinsurance and Captives in the DIFC, which provides a comprehensive overview of the DIFC landscape and how insurance market participants can set up and operate in the Centre. It has also provided consultancy to regional regulators on regulatory reform and benchmarking.
Last year, Clyde & Co launched Gulf Recoveries, which specialises in providing subrogated insurance claim recoveries on a no-win, no-fee basis to the Middle Eastern market. The company was formed in response to industry demand in the region for a value-driven service to insurers in an often overlooked area. This responsiveness is a demonstration of Clyde & Co’s service flexibility. The client-friendly interactive software developed for Gulf Recoveries is also being extended to cover other volume based claims practices within the firm.
At a time when competition is increasing and insurers have more power to demand flexibility and “value for money”, innovative pricing is a key component of its offering to clients – Clyde & Co offers an advisory retainer for those who prefer more certainty, in addition to the usual fixed fee, volume discount and hourly rate structures.
Clyde & Co also undertakes pro bono work in acting as a legal counsel for the DIFC Insurance Association, a special needs school in the UAE and through its other marine sector involvement in providing legal advice to Mission to Seafarers in the UAE.
Broker of the Year
Gras Savoye Egypte WTW
For its customer responsiveness and deep understanding of the market, Gras Savoye Egypte WTW is honoured with the Broker of the Year award.
Gras Savoye Egypte is a Willis Towers Watson company. In 2009, Gras Savoye Conseil obtained the license to operate as an insurance broker in Egypt under the name of Gras Savoye Egypte. Since then, the insurance broker has expanded into offices in Jordan, Libya and Kuwait. In Egypt, it has four offices in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.
Gras Savoye Egypte WTW prides itself on taking customer responsiveness as a priority and creating practical and innovative solutions to meet the needs of its clientele. It was the first broker in Egypt to use digital marketing techniques and social media to raise insurance awareness among individuals, and to generate leads for retail insurance products. It was also a pioneer amongst Egyptian brokers in launching a mobile application to better engage with customers.
Education and developing the professions of the broker/insurer community are also a priority for Gras Savoye Egypte WTW. To better serve bank customers, it conducted a training session for 120 bank employees to guide them on the right requirements covering the associated risks within every industry. It also created a checklist for selecting insurers for banks. It organised a renewable energy seminar under the patronage of the Executive Chairman of Egypt’s renewable energy authority.
The broker takes upskilling of its own staff seriously with its yearly training budget of EGP200,000 (US$22,528), sending them for courses in English language and personal skills, and also sponsoring them for chartered insurance institute courses so that they can be certified. To secure talent, Gras Savoye Egypte WTW has a programme for hiring graduates from international universities in Egypt.
Gras Savoye Egypte WTW’s strong financials stand testament to its steady performance and customer-centric measures. During the qualifying period, it had revenue of EGP40.1 million and net profit of about EGP6.2 million, counting about 520 corporate clients. It has succeeded in maintaining a growth rate of 25% in terms of clients and gross premiums over the last five years, and is truly a strong contributor to the Middle East market.
Reinsurance Broker of the Year
UIB (DIFC) Ltd
For its commitment and dedication in upholding the highest standards of market practice and providing high-quality services to the industry, UIB (DIFC) is a deserving winner of the Reinsurance Broker of the Year award.
From roots set in Lebanon in the 1950s by the late Jad G Kabban, its founder and the first insurance broker in the Middle East, UIB has gained in-depth knowledge and understanding of the regional and international markets over an operational period in excess of 60 years, 29 of which as a Lloyd’s broker now trading with clients in more than 90 countries.
UIB (DIFC) Ltd was the first fully-fledged and fully transactional reinsurance broker to operate out of the DIFC nearly a decade ago. It maintains one of the highest solvency ratios and significantly exceeds DFSA solvency requirements by a multiple of 2.5. Furthermore, UIB has zero debt and a rock solid balance sheet.
In addition, UIB fervently adheres to the London market’s standards of practice of segregating “client monies” from its own corporate funds throughout its global operations even when local regulations do not require the same. By year-end 2015, its DIFC operation’s revenue had grown by 680% from a start-up in 2007.
UIB’s executives and brokers not only understand the dynamics of the markets but are often actively engaged in constructively influencing and shaping the future direction of the markets in which it operates.
As a long-term partner to its client, UIB has also focused its expertise on trading with clients in emerging markets and has responded to all their needs, within the confines of strict adherence to and in compliance with all DIFC/UAE/UK/EU/UN directives.
UIB believes in “innovation through expertise”. This was amply demonstrated through the market research and product development of Non- Damage Political Violence Business Interruption cover designed specifically for the tourism industry and then adapted to other applications, and selffunded “Medical Well Being” Insurance Stop Loss programme which goes beyond conventional medical insurance.
UIB designed a hybrid Life & Key Man insurance product to cater to special SME risks which could affect business continuity in the GCC. It also developed its own CAT models for a number of North African markets which enabled it to better serve its ceding company clients.
Additionally, UIB actively encourages, promotes and supports the professional development of its staff. As an example, all placing brokers within UIB (DIFC) Ltd are at least ACII or similarly qualified, with several team members being FCII qualified or holding graduate or post-graduate university degrees.
Retakaful Company of the Year
For its stellar reputation and excellent service in supporting the needs of takaful operators in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Africa Retakaful is the deserving winner of the Retakaful Company of the Year award.
Africa Retakaful was created in January 2011 to provide genuine retakaful products to satisfy the needs of a growing pool of takaful providers. Since that time, Africa Retakaful has acquired respect for its reputation in the industry as providing a sound Shariahcompliant proposition.
Despite Africa Retakaful being only five years old, it has had a headstart through the accumulated experience of its parent entity Africa Re, leveraging the resources and connections available to ensure better outreach and a high level of service to clients.
Africa Retakaful is now the leading retakaful operator in the whole of Africa, with the company leading most of the takaful operators in the continent. It also plays an important role outside the continent as a Shariahcompliant international player, and participates in most of the outward programmes of takaful operators, especially in Africa and the Middle East, as well as in many other countries in Asia.
One of its main targets since establishment is to accelerate the development of takaful awareness. In that regard, the company has conducted many takaful seminars and workshops for its partners, in addition to participating actively in international seminars and conferences.
Africa Retakaful also participates actively as a member of several international takaful bodies such as GTG, ICMIF, and IFTIT.
Africa Retakaful has shown steady growth over the years, due to its strong foundation having acquired the existing takaful portfolio of its parent company. That process also includes full separation of the takaful portfolio, accounts, and funds, with a complete structure with respect to Board of Directors, and Shariah supervisory boards and a dedicated retakaful team.
Africa Retakaful adopts the Wakala model for the management of the operation and technical portfolio of the participants. And the Wakala fees are considered to be the actual cost of the management, and not to be loaded with any amount out of the actual and necessary cost of operation.
As for the management of the investment of the participant’s funds, Africa Retakaful adopts the Mudarabah model where it gets a percentage of the net achieved income.
Reinsurance Company of the Year
RGA Reinsurance Company Middle East
RGA Middle East is honoured with the Reinsurance Company of the Year award for its “next door” local approach and deep understanding of the region’s needs.
On the back of regulatory reforms, an ongoing shift towards a more diversified economy, changes in social welfare programmes and compulsory health insurance, RGA Middle East has seen a CAGR of 39% since 2011, with treaties in the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Egypt.
RGA Middle East sees a high treaty renewal ratio of 85% y-o-y. Its success is driven by strong underwriting discipline and a focus on the bottom line.
It engages in regional research and analytics, collaborating with the DIFC IA and Towers Watson to develop the first true mortality study and a life market survey for GCC countries respectively. It has achieved a number of firsts when introducing some 20 customised life and health products. These include the first locally developed and white-labelled international health plan that provides a worldwide cover and indemnifies on actuals. It also offers microinsurance for microfinance providers in Egypt and a first-ofits- kind individual life insurance product for the region, which involves complex financial support for cedants and distribution partners providing relief to ceding companies that have to bear the pressure of high front-end annual commissions.
RGA Middle East also does its part to promote education and development of the insurance community regionally. It regularly speaks at industry events not just in the Middle East but also beyond. Being active in customer and partner engagement, it conducts an annual gathering of insurance CEOs and has organised workshops for underwriters, cedants and partners. It initiated and launched the first insurance medicine forum in the region for doctors working in the insurance industry.
The reinsurer has also demonstrated innovativeness in launching RGA Central, an e-underwriting and risk management tool that provides cedants access to useful resources, while RGA Claims Online is a web-based learning module that serves claims adjudicators.
As a socially responsible company, RGA Middle East is an active promoter of Dubai as a destination for health tourism, given its firm belief in Dubai’s strong healthcare system. It organised its first Annual Life and Health Seminar, attended by delegates across the GCC and will continue supporting health tourism in the future.
From an offshore startup which began operations on a clean slate in 2010, RGA Middle East has come a long way to be a reinsurer next door, with a mere 14 full-time employees contributing more than their numbers’ worth in the regional insurance industry.
Personality of the Year
Mr Omer Elamin,Orient Insurance PJSC
For his sound track record in management, continuous leadership in the industry and mentorship of numerous insurance leaders in the Arab World, Mr Omer Elamin is the deserving winner of the Personality of the Year award.
Mr Omer Elamin is the Group President of Orient Insurance, a leading insurer in the UAE with a paid up capital of AED500 million, and a total staff strength of over 1,200 across seven countries.
Mr Elamin joined the company in 1982 and went on to become its Managing Director in 1992. His 24-year tenure as the head of the Orient Insurance group qualifies Mr Elamin as the longest serving CEO in the region’s insurance industry.
Under his stellar leadership, Orient grew from strength to strength across the entire gamut of insurance operations. The company became the second largest insurer in UAE in 2015 with a premium of AED2.3 billion, registering an impressive growth of 30% over the previous year.
Orient has been one the most profitable insurers in the region over the years. Starting out with a capital of AED5 million, today it has reached an equity of AED2.68 billion and AED500 million in paid up capital. Mr Elamin achieved these impressive figures only through profit retention and ploughing it back, without the shareholders ever having to contribute anything beyond the AED5 million they initially provided.
Besides, the shareholders are provided a consistent dividend of 20% every year, and the company has made profits every single year during his tenure. And Orient’s premium growth in the last 10 years has consistently outperformed the market
Under Mr Elamin’s leadership, the company has secured ratings of “A (Excellent)” from A.M. Best and “A” from S&P, the highest combined ratings for any listed company in the UAE.
Orient’s success over the years bears testimony to Mr Elamin’s insurance market acumen and knowledge. He has also promoted the image and enhanced the reputation of the insurance industry to the wider community, including lobbying the government. As a technical advisor to many committees, Mr Elamin has demonstrated his in-depth knowledge in the evolution of the insurance market in the UAE. He has chaired many technical sessions, and has been instrumental in bringing about many key reforms in the insurance sector.
Following the huge Address Hotel fire claim in Dubai on New Year’s Eve, Mr Elamin convened a market meeting of all the insurers in the UAE together with the major reinsurers. The recent spate of fires had raised concerns on the pricing of policies for buildings using cladding. Through this well-attended meeting, the industry was able to come to an agreement on the rating that will be used for such risks. The successful outcome is bound to have a far reaching benefit for the industry as a whole in bringing the levels of rating closer to technical levels.
Mr Elamin also actively nurtures the next generation of leaders in the industry. Succession planning has been a key corner stone at Orient, where each senior management position has at least one successor that has been identified, groomed and mentored.
Aside from his role at Orient Insurance, Mr Elamin is the Advisory Board Member for Al Futtaim Willis, UAE and Al Futtaim Finance, UAE. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the UAE Nuclear Pool.