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Interview: Christos Adamantiadis
Managing director of Chartis Memsa, Middle East and North Africa, foresees a promising market of opportunities
August 19, 2012 12:16 by kippreport
How would you describe the current state of the UAE insurance market?
Very dynamic: it’s a buzzing market, with numerous new initiatives (mainly on the Distribution front), increasing appetite for new, more sophisticated products both in the Consumer and the Commercial space, healthy competition, a mature client base.
If you were the UAE’s regulator, what reforms would you make?
Regulation on the insurance companies level is good and sufficient for the current life-stage of the UAE insurance market; I would therefore focus more on the Distribution space – this is where most developments are happening, both in terms of new channels of distribution (such as digital or direct sales) as well as in an attempt to shake up and professionalize the more conventional Brokerage industry. After all, Distribution is the actual interface of the industry with the public and largely drives perceptions about insurance.
What are corporate governance protocols do you currently have in place?
Chartis has globally adopted a very sophisticated Corporate Governance “grid”, operating at three distinct levels: the Management/Business unit/Operational level; the “Assurance” level (referring to institutionalized functions or bodies such as Risk Management, Compliance, the BoD composition and Committees, etc) which provides a raft of controls at all levels. Both of these governance layers are, in turn, underpinned by a robust Auditing function. On top of that, we work closely with all Country Regulators to ensure that Chartis doesn’t only bring its governance practices in line with their country-specific directions and expectations, but actually sets the example for the entire market.
Do you believe we will ever see a significantly higher penetration rate for markets such as Life and Home?
The UAE is considered a safe environment both in terms of crime and natural catastrophes; at the same time we are dealing with a mostly transient population. Both factors conspire to keep the Life and Home levels relatively low compared, say, to Europe. At the same time, the starting base is so low, and the affluence such, that there is no doubt that we are going to experience relatively fast growth in the uptake rates for these products in the coming five years.
What are the main trends in customer buying habits that you are experiencing?
There is an increasing trend towards non-intermediated sales, especially in the younger generations. This is consistent with trends we are seeing in other markets around the world. Also, the price/quality equilibrium is gradually shifting towards quality and service.
To what extent do you believe the UAE market is driven by price?
All markets are to some extent price driven. Nevertheless, we view the UAE as a “premium” market, i.e. one in which quality factors often outweigh price considerations and one in which insureds are willing to pay a premium to have a great customer experience and procure top-quality insurance products and services.
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