Winners shine at 5th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards

Fifteen industry heavyweights took centre stage at the 5th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards (MIIA) gala dinner held in Dubai last night, beating more than 300 entries from across the MENA region to emerge victorious.

RAK Insurance clinched the inaugural Digital Initiative of the Year award for its commitment to enhancing its digital services to provide the best customer experience. Health at Hand fought off stiff competition to bring home the Innovation of the Year award – a hotly contested category – for its leading telehealth app which gives consumers access to the care they need without stepping into a clinic.

For the third year in a row, NEXtCARE, a member of Allianz Worldwide Partners, won the TPA of the Year award in recognition of its ability to provide innovative and cost-effective healthcare solutions to its clients in the MENA region.

The big winner of the night was Orient Insurance – sweeping up both the Life Insurance Company of the Year award for the third time and its first Health Insurance Company of the Year award – another popular category.

Gulf Insurance Group (GIG) board member and group CEO Khaled Saoud Al Hasan claimed the coveted Personality of the Year title. An industry veteran, Mr Al Hasan is well-regarded among his peers and recognised for his dynamic leadership of the company for over four decades.

“This year, in line with the world going all tech and disrupted, we have introduced a new category to recognise the insurer making the most effort to embrace digital initiatives. The most hotly contested category is in innovation, bearing testimony to the fact that the Middle East is just as open to change as any other market in the world,” said Mr Sivam Subramaniam, editor-in-chief of Middle East Insurance Review and organiser of the awards.

“The judges spent much time and effort discussing the quality of the finalists. Some choices were easy, others were tough and there were some touch-and-go cases, too,” he said. “I urge the winners to go all out to celebrate their victory and add depth to the market. Stand tall so that you lend prestige to the awards and boost the industry to loftier ideals.”

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Salute the Winners of the 5th MIIA 2018

Life Insurance Company of the Year
Orient Insurance PJSC

Since its establishment in 1982, Orient has registered over 30 years of continued profitability – achieved from fusing together market dynamics, customer focus and shareholders’ value creation. It became the largest insurer in the UAE in 2017, registering an impressive growth rate of about 50%, from AED2.6bn in 2016 to AED4bn in 2017, with a net profit of AED360m.

Orient achieved AED200m of GWP in individual life and group life each, showing a growth of more than 30% over the previous year. This growth is attributed to the insurer’s multiple distribution channels, bancassurance tie-ups with major banks, direct sales force of 250 professionals, support of major brokers and its own call centre.

The insurer also has a wide range of innovative and multi-dimensional products to cover all age groups and their diverse needs. Its online real-time core application handles policy issuance, reinsurance, claims and accounts. Furthermore, the insurer is focused on developing special products, and offering quick turnaround in underwriting and claims – factors which have contributed to a high renewal retention and year-on-year growth.

Its latest product called ‘Orient EmbryoCare’ under the future family insurance covers any complications to the child before he or she is born. A market first, this product was designed to provide parents with the financial support they may need to care for a child with a serious medical condition. The result of the pilot survey has been encouraging and the company even received an ‘innovative product’ award from the UAE Insurance Authority in 2017.

The customer has always been the key focus of the company’s operations – understanding what the customer needs and knowing how best to provide them has brought Orient to where it is today.

This is the second time that Orient has won the Life Insurance Company of the Year award.

General Insurance Company of the Year
Emirates Insurance Company

From being a small retail player with an almost exclusive Abu Dhabi focus, Emirates Insurance Company (EIC) has trebled in size and grown to become an international insurer since it was incorporated in 1982. EIC is primarily involved in corporate lines in the UAE and reinsurance business in Afro-Asia. The company’s growth has been accompanied by consistent and stable earnings, placing it in the top quartile of profitability among its peers.

EIC has built a loyal customer base by offering fire & general accident, engineering, marine, medical, life and motor insurance to its clients. The company produced its best underwriting operations performance in 2017 and continues to grow its business despite the economic uncertainty, ongoing regulatory demands and ever-present market competition. Its gross premium income increased by 5.5% in 2017, with growth across most lines of business.

EIC rolled out a web-based B2B quote engine for its key broking partners – initially for motor and subsequently for other personal lines products. The platform, called ezyNsure, allows brokers to quote and issue policies directly from EIC’s system, achieving a significant improvement in service to the insured. Over a total of 1,450 transactions were processed through this platform by the end of last year. Its claims department also introduced a fully integrated work flow system which drives processes with full transparency and accountability.

The insurer also took on a training and mentoring programme for its local staff, as part of the country’s Emiratisation drive. Senior management, including the CEO, were involved in mentoring junior staff. In 2017, EIC received an award from the UAE Insurance Authority for its contribution to Emiratisation in the insurance industry.

Health Insurance Company of the Year
Orient Insurance PJSC

Orient Insurance has won the Health Insurance Company of the Year award in recognition of its innovative medical insurance practices to forge new concepts in the market. With a full range of products designed to fit various budgets, Orient has a solution for each segment of the market – differentiating benefit limits and geographical coverage with numerous combinations to suit a variety of client needs.

Insuring more than 1m lives in the UAE, with the highest portfolio of over AED2bn, Orient has changed the way the market operates. Its online facilities for all distribution lines (brokers, business developers, and direct) have enabled the company to gain more than 25% market share and allowed people to purchase a variety of products such as basic plans, individual plans and SME plans catering to their various needs.

In 2017, Orient grew its top line by 51% and the bottom line by 15%, making it the largest insurer in UAE. Health insurance has boosted the positive results of the market, and this is where Orient has been a market leader – crossing the milestone figure of AED4bn in premiums.

As one of the preferred participating insurers from the Dubai Health Authority, it has worked closely with the regulator by helping to develop and design the framework in which mandatory health is structured.

Orient has been the industry leader in terms of digitalisation and through its innovative ways, has successfully implemented a wide range of electronic and online solutions.

As a customer-centric organisation, Orient believes that prevention is always better than cure, but this can only be done through educating customers on the importance of early identification of health problems. By doing this, the insured member can take control of their own health and make the right decisions.

TPA of the Year

For the third time in a row, NEXtCARE has been selected as winner of TPA of the Year for its ability to provide excellent, cost-effective and innovative healthcare solutions to its clients in the MENA region. NEXtCARE, a member of Allianz Worldwide Partners, has posted a 17% growth in business in 2017. With presence in 10 countries and 12 offices, it offers a network of more than 13,000 providers, works with over 120 payers and serves more than 4m lives across the region. Furthermore, the company manages over 8.5m medical claims in volume with $1bn claims in value and $1.2bn in premiums.

With healthcare costs being consistently on the rise, NEXtCARE relies on various activities to keep cost contained, through procurement & audit, case management, adjudication and field doctors.

It has maintained a clear focus on its customer-centric approach, understanding client needs and providing tailor-made solutions to meet their requirements and beyond. Several initiatives were successfully initiated ranging from marketing, data collection, process re-engineering and surveys.

In the area of digital & innovation, NEXtCARE has demonstrated clear evidence of harnessing technology and software solutions to create efficiencies in service levels. With the belief that digitalisation is key for building a sustainable model, it has made substantial digital investment and innovation while preparing the ground by creating robust social media platforms. It has also digitalised all its solutions including payers portal, providers portal, member portal, online portal and mobile app.

NEXtCARE believes that happy employees mean happy clients. It strives to increase employee satisfaction and invests in retaining and developing talent through a series of initiatives while relying on various means such as engagement surveys, learning & development, excellence programmes and well-being sessions to measure the same.

Takaful Company of the Year
Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company PSC

For the second consecutive year, Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company (ADNTC) has been named Takaful Company of the Year. Established in November 2003, ADNTC provides both general takaful (64%) and family takaful (36%) products to a combined base of 150,000 customers. It managed to acquire over 11,500 new customers by the second quarter of 2018, compared to over 10,000 new customers in 2017.

Despite operating in an extremely competitive UAE insurance market, ADNTC is progressively moving towards further growth and profitability, achieving a CAGR of 29% in revenue and 54% in profitability from 2004 to 2017. The takaful operator’s focused approach and effective execution of strategy has been a vital factor in its sustainable growth; it has been recognised for its credibility and performance excellence.

Another key factor of ADNTC’s success lies in its diversified portfolio mix – its strategies take into considerations the diversification and customer-tailored products rather than the traditional motor (less than 10% of its portfolio) and medical lines. ADNTC has also adopted a multi-distribution channel that allows it to be better positioned for future growth.

It also embarked on a digital transformation journey by enhancing its capabilities to reach customers in a more efficient way. An innovative committee, consisting of young and motivated professionals, was formed to explore technologies including blockchain, AI, robotics and IoT to support new markets and create opportunities for next generation of products.

ADNTC continues to invest in the digital future and its recent and ongoing innovations include: medical virtual consultation, nano health, mobile application, online payment solution and car road assistance location tracking.

Educational & Training Initiative of the Year
Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance

This is the third time that Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance (BIBF) has won the Educational & Training Initiative of the Year award – first in 2014 and then in 2016.

One of its recent accomplishments is its partnership with the Life Office Management Association (LOMA, USA), which has nearly 1,200 member companies in 80 countries. Through this partnership, BIBF will offer the ALMI (Associate, Life Management Institute) qualification in the MENA region entirely in the Arabic language – a milestone considering that the ALMI qualification is a globally recognised educational standard.

Early this year, the Institute conducted training sessions on Islamic finance for World Bank at the IFC regional office in Istanbul, Turkey. The course was conducted and led by the BIBF’s Islamic finance trainers and covered topics such as shariah-compliant products and contracts, risk management sukuk structuring and accounting for Islamic financial transactions. This training is in line with the Institute’s strategy to further its reach globally.

BIBF plays an important role in the training and development of human capital in Bahrain. It partners numerous world-class institutions to offer training in areas of accounting and finance, academic studies, executive development, banking, leadership and management, insurance, Islamic finance and IT. Since its inception in 1981, the Institute has grown from training 400 applicants a year primarily within the banking industry to 16,000 participants from all sectors of the economy. Over 200,000 professionals have earned their qualifications from the institute in the last three decades.

Innovation of the Year
Health at Hand

Health at Hand, a leading telehealth app available to patients on iOS and Android, has emerged as this year’s winner in the Innovation of the Year category.

The telehealth service provider is recognised for its ability to respond to challenges faced by the regional insurance market as well as to customers’ needs and wants. Currently, every year insurers try to implement new and stricter controls on utilisation, finding innovative ways to tweak benefit structures while renegotiating provider network price lists, yet each year they have to reprice their policies in response to the astronomical medical inflation rate. In this regard, Health at Hand offers the only solution that increases benefits while decreasing costs.

Health at Hand has collaborated with a number of insurers to perform a detailed analysis on their claims data to empirically demonstrate where Health at Hand can make an impact. Its data analysis shows that at least 80% of the most commonly encountered diagnoses in an outpatient setting can be made using Health at Hand. It gives members access to the care they need without stepping into a clinic. Members enjoy increased convenience while the insurer avoids unnecessary claims costs.

Health at Hand works with doctors who are passionate about digital health. In addition to standard licensing and accreditation requirements, it selects doctors that exhibit a strong commitment to practising evidence-based medicine grounded in patient-centred care. It has also taken steps to ensure its model is effective for all its stakeholders.

As the product is a consumer-facing app, Health at Hand is easily adopted by users without any need for education or user investment.

Digital Initiative of the Year
RAK Insurance

The inaugural Digital Initiative of the Year has been awarded to RAK Insurance for its commitment to being an innovative insurer providing the best customer experience through using any digital means available. It believes that embracing technology within the organisation accelerates business activities, lowers cost and brings about positive change in the company’s processes, competency and people.

Over the years, RAK Insurance’s business strategy has focused on innovation and technology, and this continues today. In early 2013, RAK Insurance started its rebranding exercise and launched its first digital platform. It continued to improve on these early digital platforms and in 2018 released a new dynamic and interactive website, further improving the company’s digital footprint in the UAE.

In 2017, RAK Insurance further enhanced its digital services to its customers by launching the RAK Insurance mobile app. The app not only provides an improved customer experience by allowing clients to locate their nearest providers’ medical network but also through interfacing with other apps, it allows customers to book transportation or find the easiest way to navigate to their nearest or preferred network provider within their vicinity.

A broker portal was launched in 2017, offering functionalities such as issuance of medical quotations and conversion of quote to policy simultaneously, giving the ability to either send the policy through email or printed off, based on customer requirement. It gives the broker the ability to manage their customers’ portfolio and facilitate the issuance of insurance certificates.

RAK Insurance introduced the use of the Diligent software to eliminate unnecessary paper usage. All boards and committee members are provided with an iPad and all meeting documents are uploaded and viewed using the software.

Service Provider of the Year
Milliman LLC

Milliman has proved that it is an undefeated contender in this category as it continues to clinch the Service Provider of the Year award for the fifth time.

Milliman has not merely responded to market needs but has continued to innovate and shape the market for the future. The firm has paved the way in the introduction of new, innovative digital solutions within the region by advising motor insurance providers on the adoption of telematics to assess drivers’ behaviour, thereby changing the way they potentially price their services. The team discussed with different government departments on how motor insurers can play a key role in reducing accidents and increasing road safety via the use of telematics.

Milliman also takes the lead in educating the market and preparing the industry for the adoption of IFRS 17, through conferences within the region and assisting regulators on the key role they need to play for the smooth and timely implementation of accounting standards.

In September 2017, the firm created a digital consulting team to actively engage with the market on the introduction of new, innovative products including telematics, digital transformation, machine learning, AI and big data analytics.

The firm partnered with an insurance association to develop the first-ever mortality study in the Middle East region with research funding from Milliman’s life steering committee. It also worked with another insurance association and health regulators to develop health cost benchmarks in the UAE. The firm also established a first-of-its-kind clinical department within Milliman Middle East that works hand-in-hand with the actuaries in providing holistic health services.

Corporate Risk Manager of the Year
Ms Elsa Goutveniger, Majid Al Futtaim

Ms Elsa Goutveniger, risk and compliance director at Majid Al Futtaim, has been awarded Corporate Risk Manager of the Year for her role in strengthening risk management practices, developing a business continuity capability and shaping the organisation’s risk culture.

Ms Goutveniger has successfully elevated the risk agenda to senior management and board levels with regular reports highlighting key risk areas and the status of mitigating controls. She has developed a risk management framework enabling bottom-up reporting and escalation. In one particular instance, an operational issue which failed to generate traction for resolution was quickly resolved thanks to this escalation process. This in turn helps build ‘trust in the process’ as stakeholders have been encouraged to report any risks or issues they may not have deemed relevant enough in the past, thus generating more transparency and buy-in from various stakeholders.

On the insurance front, working in partnership with brokers and insurers, Ms Goutveniger has led the review of business interruption values to minimise the risk of over and/or under-insurance across the whole asset portfolio. She sponsored the deployment of cash machine deposits across retail sites to reduce exposure to cash losses while improving operational processes and promoting efficiency.

Ms Goutveniger demonstrated creativity as she reviewed the risk management framework this year and strengthened the risk assessment process. She did so by enhancing the brainstorming process she facilitated, making it more engaging and interactive via the use of new mobile application technologies enabling participants to widen their perspective on risks thus inviting them to reflect on areas outside of their comfort zones. Moreover, she introduced this year functional risk assessments to complement the existing business-unit / industry practice.

Broker of the Year
Howden TMEA

Howden TMEA has emerged as this year’s Broker of the Year as the company continues with its aggressive expansion into the region. Part of Hyperion Insurance Group, Howden TMEA offers specialist insurance solutions with local expertise and it is one of the fastest growing territories within the group.

Following the appointment of the new regional leadership in August 2017, the company’s strategy has been focused on identifying and realising the most attractive organic and inorganic growth opportunities across the region, while establishing the new regional management infrastructure in Dubai.

Recently, Howden acquired a majority stake in insurance broker ACP in Turkey, making it one of Turkey’s largest insurance brokers. In August 2017, Howden completed the majority acquisition of New Generation Insurance Services Company in Oman and the new entity is set to target opportunities in health insurance.

Its expansion into Africa through Howden One means the company now has presence in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Nigeria.

On the innovation front, Howden TMEA launched HowdenLab, a digital reinsurance platform which brings efficiency and optimal risks placement solutions for cedant companies. This product helps manage claims, especially for long-tail business and long court procedures in Turkey that would result in claim amounts higher than local reserves of the insurers due to lack of proactive claims handling procedure. Howden ACP developed an app called SMARTIE for group health insurance plans. Integrated with an extensive database and CRM programme, the app takes into consideration insurance type, location of the policy owner, participation fees and other factors to offer the optimum outcomes for the policy owner, the company and the underwriter.

Law Firm of the Year

HFW has been awarded Law Firm of the Year as a result of its many achievements in the last 12 months. HFW’s Middle East insurance team is one of the largest in the region serving insurance and reinsurance clients.

HFW advises on all aspects of insurance and reinsurance operations, as well as on matters pertaining to sanctions and contemporary issues such as VAT and the EU’s GDPR.

In the last 12 months, HFW has been appointed to represent insurance and reinsurance interests in high profile claims in the region, ranging from fires in hotels, tall towers, apartments and malls, to onshore and offshore energy losses, aviation losses, marine casualties and financial losses.

The firm has a strong understanding of, and established working relationships with, government departments and regulatory bodies such as the UAE Insurance Authority, Dubai Health Authority, DFSA, SAMA and others.

It has grown its team significantly over the last few years, including relocating experienced lawyers (including partners) from its international offices and recruiting talented local lawyers. HFW established a permanent insurance practice in its Riyadh office in January 2018. It opened its Abu Dhabi office recently to strengthen its foothold in the region and driven by the needs of its clients.

HFW has been responsible for introducing to the DIFC platform a number of brokers, insurers and MGAs, and currently has several mandates from international brokers as well as locally admitted reinsurers.

The firm is committed to the DIFC Academy of Law pro bono programme, where many of its fee earners are devoting their time to advising clients in the programme. The firm has also implemented a diversity and inclusion programme to engage like-minded clients to promote these values in the community.

Reinsurance Broker of the Year
Chedid Re

This is the third time that Chedid Re has won the Reinsurance Broker of the Year award, proving its determination to remain a leader in the reinsurance business.

The company believes that behind its success stands a passionate team with diverse specialisations, educational backgrounds and nationalities – all proud to serve and excel. The group analyses, understands and manages different situations and diverse risks, as well as provides bespoke solutions across multiple lines of business such as financial, engineering and casualty.

Chedid Re has established a risk social committee whose main role is to evaluate and control each and every capacity provider, making sure that risks are well managed and controlled. It has an entity called Chedid Corporate Solutions that handles risk management and corporate governance, and together with Chedid Capital Research, the teams continuously analyse the market conditions and risks to serve its clients.

Chedid Re’s focus in the MENA region is its competitive edge – allowing it to allocate adequate resources with a long-term commitment. Its ability to adapt to different markets, its understanding of market conditions and its access to the expertise of its group entities have helped the company add value to its clients across the world.

Another important factor that has made Chedid Re a leader in market research is the vast experience of its top directors who have been working with the company for decades, and who understand the company’s client history.

Chedid Re is doing its part in promoting the image of the profession and industry by participating in university career fairs, introducing insurance courses at several universities in the region and teaching insurance courses to attract students to the industry.

Reinsurance Company of the Year
Zurich Insurance Company Ltd

Zurich has won the Reinsurance Company of the Year for the second consecutive year. Its Middle East operations in Dubai’s DIFC focuses on facultative reinsurance solutions – a business model that has enabled the company to offer a comprehensive suite of corporate and commercial products, and structured solutions for its customers, brokers and cedants across the MENA region.

The company sets itself apart from its competitors by being the only commercial underwriter in the Middle East with the direct decision-making ability to write business in areas such as cyber crime, environmental, and food safety and product recall.

Zurich’s reinsurance proposition also stands apart for its claims service and large and complex claims management. In the event of a loss, customers can quickly recover with the support of Zurich’s market-leading claims process and team of local decision-makers. Its renewal retention rate stands at about 90%, which is testament to its ability to consistently deliver fairly priced products that are flexibly structured.

As part of its customer segmentation model, Zurich runs relationship customer (RC) and top market customer (TMC) programmes for selected large corporate customers. The company works closely with these customers to identify their buying behaviour, risk profile, global footprint, current and potential revenue. The company has been able to achieve 100% retention ratio for its TMC programme since 2016.

Another reason that has put Zurich in the lead is its expertise in risk engineering. The Middle East team offers customers valuable risk insights and draws on the experience of Zurich’s global network of over 1,000 risk engineers, ensuring clients have access to experts specialised in even the most niche industries and complex risks.

Personality of the Year
Mr Khaled Saoud Al Hasan Gulf Insurance Group (GIG)

This year’s recipient of the coveted Personality of the Year award is industry veteran Mr Khaled Saoud Al Hasan, the board member and group CEO of Gulf Insurance Group (GIG).

Mr Al Hasan, who has been with Gulf Insurance since 1978, has extensive experience in the insurance and investment fields. He has led GIG to become the largest insurance company in Kuwait in terms of written and retained premiums, with operations in life, non-life and takaful.

The company’s strategic regional expansion programme under his able guidance has also turned GIG into a leading regional player in MENA. The Group is also one of the leading private insurers (by GWP) with a strong competitive market position in Jordan, Bahrain and Egypt.

Under Mr Al Hasan’s dynamic leadership, GIG has continued to consolidate its brand image, unifying its operations in 11 countries under the GIG brand. In Kuwait, GIG’s Afya contract with the Ministry of Health to provide health insurance to retirees has been extended into 2018. The initial year-long deal, which kicked off in September 2016, offers services to some 117,000 retirees and is worth KWD82m ($271m) per year in premiums.

Regionally, GIG has finalised the merging of AIG and Gulf Sigorta in Turkey, bringing its share to 99.22% of the company. As for GIG Bahrain, the company has successfully made the shariah-compliant Takaful International Company a subsidiary. With the consolidation of the takaful business in Bahrain and the two companies in Turkey, alongside the Afya contract, GIG’s GWP grew by 42.9% to KWD304.8m in 2017.

The company was awarded the Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum Business Excellence Award by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. In Kuwait, the Central Markets Authority declared GIG among the top 10 companies abiding the corporate governance framework.

See all the Finalists