The New Year is upon us with a bang in many ways. Despite all the considered hectic resolutions, the political global uncertainties with the situation in Iran taking centre stage sets a sombre tone for the Middle East. Everything seems unpredictable and everyone is hoping for good sense to prevail.
Business-wise, we must proceed despite these fears and doubts. With the political and trade tensions, the insurance industry is also in a way directly affected. Some expect insurers to step up to the fore while insurers themselves have to recalibrate the risks across the spectrum beyond just the obvious, including marine, aviation and political risks.
Hence, we start a decade of the roaring 2020s with a muted tone, given the geopolitical shifts in the region, rising instability and violence even as insurers recover from the tough challenges of 2019 – be it in catastrophes, climate crisis or cyber fears. Some of the top concerns of the day in the industry revolve around IFRS 17 compliance, optimising tech disruptions, tracking down favourable reinsurance capacity which seems to have gone selective, and striking the pot of gold in healthcare. But there is so much in store for insurers, as there is much happening in the region – even in takaful where after such a long wait the first operator is to be licensed in Morocco. Oman, too, has issued its new takaful regulation. In the UAE, the regulator is already closely scrutinising loss-making companies. And across the region, supervisors have been urged to improve standards, too. Insurers are consciously seeking better collaboration with government bodies to boost insurance. In Jordan, with the new laws expected, training initiatives are in the pipeline.
With the New Year we look with greater expectations at the growing life market in the region where the two leaders, Morocco and the UAE, accounting for more than half the MENA life premium pie, see new regulatory initiatives to boost public confidence. We also look at the need for bancassurance to evolve to ride the next big wave as consumers’ financial needs become increasingly complex. There is a special focus on private pensions given the increasing pressures on public coffers.
With oil prices rising again we look at the future risks and claims in the market and how the sector needs to build resilience against cyber attacks.
This is 2020. Let hopes prevail. This is the GAIF biennual conference year and the Dubai Expo along with a whole host of events lined up for the industry.
It is early days. Be strong and positive and step up your defences against all odds to hit the target for the year. It really is all about effective branding and building the awareness of your special USP to meet the needs of the day. Just don’t be one of many, at least strive to be the best of the lot.
It is in these uncertain times that the real heroes will stand out. So we look to the winners of the Middle East Insurance Industry Awards of yore to show their mettle!
I take this opportunity to wish all our readers the very best for the New Year hoping that sanity will prevail.
Middle East Insurance Review