Fifteen winners from five countries in the Middle East were honoured at the 4th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards (MIIA) Gala Dinner in Dubai in November, with the UAE-based Oman Insurance Company attaining the unique distinction of grabbing three awards in the categories of General Insurance Company of the Year, Health Insurance Company of the Year and Educational & Training Initiative of the Year.
The coveted Insurance Personality of the Year award went to Mr Alaa El-Zoheiry, Managing Director of Arab Misr Insurance Group | gig.
“Over the years, the Awards have come to be actively coveted, and we see that, despite the hard times, there are many people and companies doing amazing things in the market with or without technology,” said Mr Sivam Subramaniam, Editor-in-Chief of Middle East Insurance Review, organiser of the Awards in conjunction with the DIFC, GAIF, FAIR and the MENA Insurance CEO Club (MICC).
“We recognise and salute excellence, and serve the noble cause of exhorting the companies and people to strive for higher standards and greater professionalism. The winners must stand tall to raise the bar and make an impact on the industry, as they now carry the future of the Awards,” he added.
The MIIA, in its fourth year, is heralded as the premier awards of the MENA region with a clearly defined criteria and a transparent judging process. A panel of 16 distinguished judges assessed some 250 nominations both from big and small, and from domestic and international players this year.
The results were independently audited by EY. M
Life Insurance Company of the Year
Orient Insurance PJSC
“Being recognised and awarded during times of prevailing industry-based challenges is the ultimate measure of the collective contribution and hard work of the leadership team and employees. We are proud as a team to achieve this award, and it is indeed a tribute to the excellence exemplified by all.
We will recognise this award as another milestone in our progressive journey towards excellence, and will celebrate this victory by seeking more opportunities to continuously evolve and optimally serve our customers through innovative, affordable and customised risk solutions.
With the building blocks of business excellence already in place, we seek to evolve from incremental improvements to trend-setting ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and profound strategic interventions. With the obvious volatility in the industry, as well as the economy as a whole, we will pro-actively anticipate and identify potential customer needs in the coming times and arm ourselves with distinctive products to meet the same.”
Mr Omer Hassan Elamin, Group President, Orient Insurance
TPA of the Year
“Emerging as a winner of the TPA of the Year award for the second year demonstrates NEXtCARE’s consistent improvement, efficiency and growth regionally and internationally. The recognition and validation of the honourable members of the judging panel make us even more enthusiastic to aim for further successes and growth to the benefit of the industry. This award is a great recognition from the market, our clients, partners and members. Our strive to meet industry stakeholders’ expectations is on track which keeps our passion upbeat to create sustainable user-centric innovative solutions.
This is another opportunity for us to celebrate milestones and make our staff feel proud of their contributions to the long-term success of the company and towards their efforts of achieving those milestones. Celebrating success and showing appreciation for the continuous effort and commitment will strengthen the bonding within the teams and keep their energy and momentum up. This also supports our company values of being responsible, connected, excellent and caring, thus being transparent, sharing our knowledge regionally as well as internationally, improving our services and taking pride in what we do.
We have been growing at a steady pace over the years, providing the right solutions at the right time as a result of our qualified and dedicated teams, our technologies and robust systems, and strong collaboration with industry stakeholders (government, payers, brokers, providers and members). Our aim is to continue to effect positive change and transformation by providing even better services through innovative solutions to our customers. This means quality, convenience, speed, ease of use and credible products which hopefully will keep our clients safe, healthy and happy. Promoting wellness and prevention internally and externally is also at the heart of our culture, bringing about well-being to individuals and cost efficiencies to clients.”
Mr Christian Gregorowicz, CEO, NEXtCARE & Allianz Partners MEA
General Insurance Company of the Year/Health Insurance Company of the Year
Oman Insurance Company
Educational & Training Initiative of the Year
Oman Insurance Academy
“A triple recognition as leaders in the delivery of General Insurance and Healthcare Insurance, as well as for our Education & Training Initiative is testimony to our accomplishments in this market in the last few years. Reflecting our mark as a market leader, we continue to set new business standards and deliver superior insurance services despite the challenges faced in an environment of tough competition, disruptive technology and ongoing regulatory improvements, all combined with extremely demanding customer service obligations. Specifically, 2016 and 2017 have been exciting years for us as we deliver innovative protection and prevention solutions as well as significant digital advancements such as the launch of our eCommerce platform and the OICare Mobile App.
We have set the bar high with these wins, but there is always room for innovation and service enhancements, and we welcome it. We have various initiatives in the pipeline aligned to our Forward 2018 strategy and we are confident of further successes.
Our triple win is indeed a very profound achievement for our team. There will be an extra special celebration to commemorate this win with our staff and business partners! But we are already in ‘2018 mode’, and this win is a big boost to our motivation, confidence and relentless focus on ‘constant improvement’.
During the Awards night, I thanked our fellow insurance companies for ‘keeping us on our toes’ and forcing us to become better every day through healthy competition. As we continue taking strides towards constant business improvements and service refinements, I trust that the appreciation of all the hard work as evidenced in these awards will make ripples and positively encourage others to do the same. For an emerging market with low insurance penetration and high growth potential, I would like to envision a shift to higher insurance penetration and profitability in the region – on the back of growing talent pools, scientific insurance modelling, improved service standards and investments in technology.”
Mr Christos Adamantiadis, CEO, Oman Insurance
Takaful Company of the Year
Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company
“This award is an affirmation of our company’s continued leadership in the takaful domain and the respect we enjoy from the MENA region’s insurance community. It reflects our exceptional ability to ensure the highest levels of service excellence and professionalism. This recognition provides a strong motivation for us to continue fulfilling our promise of innovation, transparency and excellence. It validates the effectiveness of our focused business model which we expect will enable us to notch our eighth consecutive year of profitability.
What makes this award even more significant is the Middle East Insurance Industry Awards’ reputation for being independent, transparent and reliable in selecting its winners. We are thankful to the judges for deeming us worthy of being named the ‘Takaful Company of the Year’ in the region and acknowledging our unrivalled position in a highly competitive market.
We will start by extending our heartfelt gratitude to all our stakeholders, especially our customers who have faithfully stood by us through the years. We would also like to acknowledge the valuable role that our dedicated and hard-working personnel played in this accomplishment and in our company’s continued success.
The international recognition to our takaful profitable business model enables us to set new market benchmarks in terms of innovation and excellence. This, in turn, will drive more competitiveness and raise takaful industry standards further.”
Mr Osama Abdeen, CEO, Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company
Innovation of the Year
Now Health International
“Innovative digital tools are at the heart of our brand proposition to deliver easy-to-use, accessible international health insurance, which is why winning this award is so important to us. This recognition of our innovative digital tools demonstrates our commitment to play a leading role in the wider industry movement to deliver a completely seamless digital insurance claims process.
Since our launch, we have won 13 awards, four of which have been for innovation, and this winning streak is testimony to our ongoing efforts to embrace technology and use it in every way possible to make our customer experience exceptional. We are continually seeking to innovate to better serve the needs of our members and intermediaries, while helping raise standards across the insurance sector.
I would like to thank the judges for honouring us with this prestigious award and to congratulate the team on a well-deserved win. While we will be celebrating this achievement with our staff, we know our work is never done as we continue to leverage new technologies and maintain our position as the leading innovator in our industry.”
Mr Zahir Sharif, Managing Director, Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA),
Now Health International
Service Provider of the Year
“We are delighted to be one of the few winners that won this awards for the fourth consecutive time. It means a lot to us that the industry is appreciative of the work we do – from life to the health industry; from casualty and motor to the employee benefit industry – we seem to be making a difference. Our training programmes and contribution to the wider industry and technical know-how is gaining recognition which we are proud of, yet we remain humble.
We have planned a getaway day for the team to celebrate, review and plan for the future. We have motivated consultants who are forward-looking and aspiring to achieve further heights.
We hope to instil a better understanding of the value of actuarial science in enhancing the business, while providing better quality services and achieving profitable business. We also hope to see an educated market where actuarial science is not deemed as a burden, but as a business enabler. We take in interns each year and will continue to do so over the years.
Mr Safder Jaffer, Managing Director, Middle East & Africa, Milliman
Corporate Risk Manager of the Year
Adnan Abu Alhaija’a, Arab Orient Insurance Company | gig
“This is a very auspicious moment for me as I have been selected to be the winner again. I am truly grateful for this great honour and recognition given by the judging panel. The award means a lot for me. It is another proof that I am on the proper track. Also, it is an affirmation that the achievements and accomplishments done through the last 12 months are appreciated by a set of professionals in the insurance industry in the Middle East as well as the international experts who participated in the selection process. On personal level, it gives me more exposure and open more challenges for future.
The celebration started from the moment my name was announced as the winner on the stage. It was really an amazing moment which I shared with my wife who attended the ceremony. As usual, she is my biggest supporter in my career path and professional qualifications. My family, friends and colleagues also shared these moments with me, too.
I hope I can play a role in improving the risk-management culture across the Middle East region and in my country Jordan specifically. Our region still needs to do much work in improving the level of risk-management awareness and adherence to corporate governance guidelines and regulations. I also hope to raise the awareness of insurance companies on the role of enterprise risk management (ERM) in strategic planning and decision making. Finally, I would like to send a few messages to my colleagues in the profession. First, there is much work to be done from our side to prove to our companies’ stakeholders that the ERM function can add value to the company which will effect positive change, increase efficiency and improve internal control which will be reflected on the final results of the company. Second, we need to add value to the science of ERM by doing research and conducting studies, thereby enhancing the implementation and the value adding of ERM.”
Mr Adnan Abu Alhaija’a, Deputy Director, Risk Management Dept,
Arab Orient Insurance Company | gig
Law Firm of the Year
“We welcome this accolade as a recognition of the services we provide, especially given that MIIA is one of the premier awards for the region with a transparent judging process served by a panel of industry experts. With this award, the industry recognises not only our understanding and long-standing commitment to the MENA insurance market, but also the quality of legal service we give our clients.
We certainly wish to celebrate by sharing this honour and thanking our whole team of lawyers and staff in the Middle East for their hard work, as well as our clients for their incredible continued support.
This is a rapidly evolving market, and we must continue to adapt our efforts to ensure the quality of our legal services. Leveraging on our contentious and non-contentious insurance expertise, we regularly advise clients on their legal needs in order to facilitate their adaptation to the constantly changing marketplace. I think it is important we help the industry in effectively adapting to the new regulatory environment as well as continuing to reflect international best practice as much as possible.”
Mr Peter Hodgins, Partner, Clyde & Co
Broker of the Year
Nexus Insurance Brokers
“We are thrilled to be honoured as the Broker of the Year at the Middle East Insurance Industry Awards ceremony 2017 ‘for our professionalism and transparency in dealing with clients, embracing technology to offer value-added service, industry leadership and excellent customer service’.
This prestigious accolade is particularly pleasing as it is judged by market leaders, presented by an influential publication and is independently audited. It also brings our awards tally to 21 industry awards!
We take great pride in this recognition which would not be possible without the dedication, loyalty and sheer hard work of every member of our team. Therefore, this year prior to our AGM we held a lunch to celebrate our success. We are also thrilled to place this award alongside our other accolades in a prominent position in the reception area of our main office as a daily reminder of the results of hard work and determination and our desire to remain the leading broker in the region.
At Nexus, we want to continue with the development of our financial advisers and we encourage all our advisers to avail of our Training & Development programme and become certified to the highest level with internationally recognised qualifications. I believe we are already seeing great change in our market landscape, and we would like to see all our peers embrace and anticipate new and further regulation.”
Mr Tarun Khanna, CEO, Nexus Insurance Brokers
Reinsurance Broker of the Year
“This award has a special meaning to me. Firstly, the way it was organised was above level and it gives it a strong credibility. Secondly, it is a great pride for me and my team to be rewarded by a jury known for his experience and professionalism. Thirdly, I am proud to credit this award to the Chedid Re team which, for almost 20 years, has kept on impressing me and built with our clients and partners an amazing relation of trust, transparency and ethics. Finally, this award is the result of a journey of success and it is a benchmark for us, we will keep on doing better for sure.
I have already started by thanking all my team and colleagues. This victory celebration will continue throughout the year by having in our mind the 2018 award.
As mentioned in the award video, the award has helped us to brainstorm and evaluate our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This evaluation has given us the chance to see on short, medium and long term our way forward. This is why starting from the day we were shortlisted, our teams have understood that winning an award is great, but deserving it is the most important thing and carrying forward the meaning of this victory is another challenge. We have to act accordingly. We have to keep on raising the bar.”
Mr Farid Chedid, Chairman & CEO, Chedid Re
Retakaful Company of the Year
Hannover ReTakaful BSC
“This award is an apt recognition of our contribution to our cedants, brokers and the industry. Winning the ‘Retakaful Company of the Year’ award proves that we are making a discernible difference to the industry. Awards speak volumes about a company’s products or services and substantiate their credibility. The recognition of our unique concepts instills confidence in clients about the quality and professionalism of our company.
Hannover ReTakaful has gained recognition for its outstanding achievements only due to the hard work and dedication of the management and staff. We will have a Townhall Meeting and function with staff to celebrate this landmark achievement. This award is dedicated to their selfless commitment and dedication.
Despite the developments in the field of takaful, there is still room for improvement and also necessary changes need to be made in order to make takaful more beneficial to the Islamic world and not only for the present but also for the decades to come. We aim to have takaful to be an international business and brand, so that it is also embraced by all countries and communities at large as a transparent and ethical offering with par excellence best practices. We also want to support regulators as they enact new regulations. Going forward, we would like to see leaders of the takaful industry providing thought leadership, strategic direction and be opinion makers on a worldwide basis.”
Mr Mahomed Akoob, Managing Director, Hannover ReTakaful
Reinsurance Company of the Year
Zurich Insurance Company Ltd
“Winning the award is a great honour. It is also a testament that we have successfully reestablished ourselves as a leading reinsurance carrier in the region, and redefined our value proposition. This includes continued investments in expert underwriting; relationship management and distribution; risk engineering; cross-border capabilities; as well as complex claims capabilities.
In a way, we celebrate the victory every day. It gives us a sense of pride when we deal with our clients, partners and colleagues. We are an active emerging market voice not only in the region, but also in our global organisation. Hence, the occasion calls for celebration with many of our internal stakeholders and sponsors as well.
In terms of change, events like privatisation of state assets, a greater dependency on renewable energy, cyber threats and geopolitical turbulence – all call for more sophisticated and tailor-made emerging risk coverages. It is our role to assist our clients in mitigating and preparing for this new reality, either by developing new products or providing more risk insights and services. The opportunity is a better balanced portfolio leading to more sustainable client experiences. Examples of the challenges we face would be the quantification of risks when there is little experience available, or in understanding the conditions in a country new to an underwriter. Technology plays a vital role in this regard, and the investments and developments we make are crucial.”
Mr Peter Englund, Senior Executive Officer, Head of Commercial Insurance Middle East,
Zurich Insurance Company Ltd
Personality of the Year
Alaa El-Zoheiry, Arab Misr Insurance Group | gig
“The award has a great meaning to me since it comes two months after I was elected as the Chairman of the Insurance Federation of Egypt (IFE). It also has a very important meaning to me as it is awarded by a very reputable organisation (Middle East Insurance Review). All the figures of the insurance market in the region and globally understand very well that this particular award is highly regarded. The process of choosing the winners are very detailed and sophisticated, the judges are well-represented and the final result is derived from a transparent judging process. All these contribute to the fact that any winner of the 15 awards realises that this award is a well-deserved one.
I have had a special celebration with my own family. The company that I am working for is preparing the news to be released in the monthly newsletter from Kuwait which is being distributed to all the subsidiaries as well as the shareholders. Most of the local Egyptian newspapers and magazines have already reported the news, highlighting the reasons of winning cited by the judges.
Since I have been chosen as the Personality of the Year and being the head of the IFE, I hope that I will be able to achieve some goals which include but not limited to: introducing best practices to the Egyptian Insurance market; applying new sales techniques; enhancing insurance awareness; increasing the insurance penetration; paving the road to new products; providing technical training sessions; and assisting the community to create more jobs in the insurance field.”
Mr Alaa El-Zoheiry, Managing Director, Arab Misr Insurance Group | gig