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7th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards 2020

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Salute the Winners of the 7th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards 2020

Life Insurance Company of the Year
Oman Insurance Company

Recognised as one of the leading players in the Middle East, Oman Insurance Company (OIC) prioritises long-term client relationships and complete customer satisfaction.

It offers a wide range of insurance solutions from life, health, motor and personal lines to industrial and commercial products for the energy, marine and construction sectors. Its experienced and certified advisers and managers who act as financial consultants to clients undergo a rigorous induction programme to ensure that standards are kept high.

The insurer’s in-house training academy supports the team with training on products, customer service, soft skills and selling techniques with recognised certifications from the Chartered Insurance Institute and Life Office Management Association.

In 2019, the insurer launched a group savings and retirement insurance plan specific to the unique needs of UAE companies. GO Saver aims at supporting employers to manage their end-ofservice gratuity liability with 100% capital protection option. This is a result of a collaboration between OIC and Generali. The plan is a fully-integrated solution for employers and their employees with investment choices, contribution flexibility and online access to investment portfolio. It offers portability that allows members to carry their plans when they move to another country and opt to receive their proceeds in their new country of residence.

OIC is the first insurer to partner with Mashreq Bank to offer term life and critical illness plans through its mobile apps Snapp and Neo. The products are also sold through its corporate website. With minimum documentation, no medical tests and high sum assured, the platforms ensure customer convenience.

Despite the challenging environment, OIC achieved a net profit of AED190.5m and return of equity of 11% in 2019. Its net earned premium increased to AED1.64bn compared to AED1.57bn in 2018, reflecting an increase of 4.3%. Proactive measures helped in enhancing its underwriting profit, which increased by 14.7% to AED432m from AED376.8m in 2018.

Its new products including the online life plans and the tie-up with Mashreq Bank, among others, demonstrate that it is a step forward in changing the approach towards buying life insurance.

General Insurance Company of the Year
Tawuniya

The Company for Cooperative Insurance (Tawuniya) – the pioneering company in the Saudi insurance sector – has been named General Insurance Company of the Year in recognition of its efforts in empowering the local community and business sector to move towards the future through digitisation, innovation, customer-centricity and improvements in human capital.

It has the highest paid-up capital in the market and has grown from strength to strength since its establishment in 1986. With a market share of 23%, its GWP reached SAR8.4bn in 2019, showing a growth of 10% compared to the preceding year. In the first half of 2020, the insurer generated a pre-zakat profit of SAR295m.

In the last year alone, it has won international and regional recognition, including being among the top 10 strongest brands in its local market, best online general insurer, and most innovative company, among others.

As a response to the pandemic, the insurer worked with the Ministry of Health to provide 21 COVID-19 testing centres across the kingdom. The move is in line with Tawuniya’s commitment to providing SAR25m to the Health Endowment Fund and supporting the ministry’s strategy to expand testing in order to combat the spread of the pandemic. The insurer also provided comprehensive insurance protection for each of the centres, for up to one year, with a compensation limit of SAR2.3m.

Value-added services offered to its policyholders include: refill of medication for chronic diseases through its website with collection point at any approved pharmacy; telephone consultation with certified doctors; and a healthcare station which visits partners at their workplaces to offer health and awareness tips for a better lifestyle.

Takaful Company of the Year
Islamic Arab Insurance Company (PSC) – SALAMA

SALAMA has won the Takaful Company of the Year award for its strong business practices, customer-focused product offerings and technology-driven solutions that have paved the way for sustainable growth and better customer experience.

SALAMA’s gross written contributions (GWC) amounted to AED1.1bn ($299.5m) in 2019, up 6.25% y-o-y, outperforming the UAE total industry premium growth of 1%. SALAMA ranks sixth in terms of GWC, and holds 5% of market share in the overall listed operator’s category and more than 25% of market share in listed takaful operator’s category.

With the largest family takaful portfolio in the UAE, SALAMA has seen a growth of more than 100% in net profit for shareholders from AED2m in 2018 to AED55m in 2019. This profitability was a result of the efforts by the board and management team in implementing a three-pronged strategy focused on: improvement of core business profitability; enhancement of investment income; and implementation of superior governance standards.

SALAMA continues to follow the best practices for compliance with shariah rules. All new products, marketing material, projects and other initiatives are approved first by a shariah committee and with regular audits undertaken. SALAMA practises the distribution of tabarru’ surplus since inception for profitable lines of business. In 2019, more than AED5m was distributed to individual and group life customers as surplus.

To respond to the needs of customers and market trends, its new board members focused on customer-oriented product offerings and technology-driven solutions in 2019. New life plans were added and existing products were updated to align with the evolving regulatory framework in the UAE. An easy life online service was further enhanced, offering real-time tracking and transactions. B2B portals have also been developed for partners; furthermore partners are supported with products, processes and technology that help them at all stages of sales and service.

Health Insurance Company of the Year
Bupa Arabia

Bupa Arabia is recognised as the Health Insurance Company of the Year for its holistic approach to health and well-being. What sets it apart from its competition is its ability to adapt and localise global best practices to suit the diverse needs of its members in Saudi Arabia.

The insurer ensures that its members get the best possible care from start to finish by offering everything they need – from quality call centre services and fast approvals to sophisticated, customisable programmes catering to the needs of each customer.

Its Tebtom programme, which offers services such as chronic management and coaching, maternity and child support and international second opinion, has more than 2m members to date. Rahatkom, another successful programme designed to make hospital experiences positive and stress-free, has resulted in a 50% reduction in waiting time for members.

The insurer also has a healthcare programme called Munsha’at tailored to support SMEs in the region to help them increase their contribution to the kingdom’s GDP.

As the first specialised health insurer in the kingdom, Bupa Arabia is proactively reaching into the heart of the community; it has been instrumental in building and transforming the industry. In 2019, the insurer reported a profit of SAR593m, a 25% increase compared to 2018, yielding a payout of SAR180m to all its shareholders.

As a response to COVID-19, Bupa Arabia developed a range of solutions in record time. Some key steps taken by the insurer to ensure its members receive the best healthcare during this health crisis include the setting up of a state-of-the-art command centre to answer queries related to COVID-19, and a dedicated full-fledged programme to counter the pandemic. Moreover, focusing on the mental well-being of its members and the community, Bupa Arabia has partnered with Labayh, an app offering online sessions with experts in mental health.

Digital Initiative of the Year
Oman Insurance Company

This is the first time that Oman Insurance Company (OIC) has clinched the Digital Initiative of the Year, proving that its longterm digital strategy, which focuses on customers, is being recognised in the market.

The insurer has transformed its legacy IT estate to a highly-secure future-ready Cloud estate, helping it to achieve 99.9% service availability in the last 12 months, providing uninterrupted services to its end customers.

It is the first insurer to launch a 100% straight-through processing (STP) portal in May 2019 for all its 120 broker partners in the UAE. This results in the delivery of pre-written commercial products with zero manual intervention and a reduction in the end-to-end process from five days to just seven minutes, allowing its distribution managers and underwriters to concentrate on value-added and complex product pricing.

OIC is also among one of the few insurers in the region to implement a 100% cardless solution for its medical policyholders, resulting in digital access to all its online channels and a significant savings in operational expenditure.

In January 2020, the insurer launched an innovative 100% STP solution to issue motor policies in real-time. The key features of this service include: instant policy issuance for all third-party liability products as well as selected comprehensive plans; instant policy renewal for existing clients; accessibility from any device; a highly secure payment gateway to collect premiums or pay refunds; and tracking of leads along with respective conversion rates, enabling smart marketing.

OIC has mitigated the effects of COVID-19 with zero disruption to its service levels by leveraging all the investments in its digital and remote technologies. Over the past 12 months, the insurer has managed to deliver significant programmes which has led to a customer satisfaction rate of 87% as of May 2020.

Reinsurance Company of the Year
International General Insurance

International General Insurance (IGI) is a first time winner of the Reinsurance Company of the Year award.

Since its inception in 2002, IGI’s story has been one of disciplined and methodical growth. As a result, it has become a global company and one of the most profitable (re)insurance companies in the Middle East. IGI is rated ‘A’ (Excellent)/Stable by AM Best and ‘A-’/Stable by S&P. In 2019, IGI recorded a combined ratio of 94.1% and a profit level of $23.6m.

The year 2019 was a pivotal one for IGI as the company refined and strengthened its operating model to make it more efficient, nimble and resilient in an increasingly uncertain world. It was also the year when IGI began trading its common shares on the Nasdaq Capital Market. The company has now grown successfully to become an international business with Middle Eastern roots.

Over the last 18 years, IGI has established itself as one of the leading MENA underwriters in the world and a specialist in the non-US insurance and reinsurance commercial property casualty markets. IGI is expanding its Asian operations and has added several new lines of business in London over the last couple of years. As of April, it has entered the excess and surplus lines market in the US following its listing on Nasdaq.

IGI has invested heavily in corporate social responsibility and has supported initiatives with respect to gender equality in the workplace, cancer research and education scholarships. It has led the way in the market with its diversity and inclusion initiatives, which embrace the culture of supporting and empowering women in the workforce. IGI has also sponsored the Chartered Insurance Institute museum in London, a project which aims to highlight the importance of the sector and attract young talent.

Broker of the Year
Marsh Middle East & Africa

Marsh Middle East & Africa (MEA) has been awarded Broker of the Year for the second year in a row as it continues to thrive and develop new ways to support its clients and employees to navigate the changing risk landscape.

The company achieved several milestones in 2019 including the successful integration of JLT, which saw 300 new employees from Bahrain, South Africa and the UAE brought on board. This move sees its clients benefit from the deep risk expertise and specialty capabilities, strong geographic reach and greater capacity in digital, data and analytics.

Marsh MEA held a number strategic training courses to enhance and hone the skills of its employees, including leadership training for its potential leaders; a sales workshop for all client-facing staff; a workshop about the needs of mid-market organisations; a course devoted to advancing the client experience for risk management clients; and a belief-based engagement training designed to increase and enrich its client engagement strategy.

In June 2019, Marsh MEA expanded its footprint farther into Africa through the acquisition of a stake in Morocco’s leading broker – Beassur. This moves cements the broker’s commitment to North Africa and enables it to support clients in West and Francophone Africa.

Marsh MEA entered 2020 with a stellar financial performance; results from the key renewal season at end of December and start of January saw all its countries beating budget. This was further complemented with a record-breaking 1Q2020 results.

With this strong position, the company has been able to financially safeguard itself against the ravages of COVID-19. Its COVID-19 client response initiatives include: establishing the pandemic cycle (prepare, respond, recover, rebound); developing tool kits and training its staff to use the pandemic cycle to address client concerns; creating a client engagement campaign; and developing products and services that would better support clients during their moments that matter.

Marsh MEA continues to look at ways to support the communities in which it operates, identify ways to maintain its growth agenda and ensure its key initiatives are kept on track.

Reinsurance Broker of the Year
Chedid Re

Chedid Re has been awarded Reinsurance Broker of the Year for the fifth time in recognition of its in-depth knowledge and understanding of the market and responsiveness to clients’ needs, as well as outstanding innovation in services rendered. Chedid Re has operations running in more than 45 countries and is the reinsurance broker of choice for over 400 global, regional and local partners. Its revenues grew at a CAGR exceeding 20% in the last five years.

With uncertainty now the only constant for its business, Chedid Re has ramped up its market research and data, risk management, consulting and training capabilities for partners. The risk social committee, a pillar of its risk management strategy, is in constant upskilling mode to assess the clients’ capacity providers.

The company has also invested heavily into its people’s academic and professional development in 2019. One notable initiative is the launch of Chedid Academy, the Corporate Risk Management Institute, in partnership with the Institute of Risk Management London. Ultimately, it aims to raise the bar for compliance and risk management acumen in the region.

To ensure professionalism and transparency when dealing with clients, in 2019, the company launched the innovative compliance dashboard, centralising the compliance-related applications onto one platform. This platform includes an ‘anti-corruption portal’ and also features a whistleblowing mechanism.

Chedid Re’s digital transformation is well underway with state-ofthe-art infrastructure, modern ERP applications and digital solutions, and advanced collaboration and sharing platforms, all of which enable high productivity and streamline data access to serve its partners efficiently. This transformation has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw Chedid Re investing significantly in its tech infrastructure for secure remote working setups.

TPA of the Year
NEXtCARE

NEXtCARE has clinched the TPA of Year award for the fifth consecutive year, proving its consistency in providing efficient and effective third-party administration services and in harnessing technology to provide innovative healthcare solutions.

Over 20 years in the market, NEXtCARE’s managed health services provide peace of mind to its clients. Catered for care, the company helps beneficiaries receive medical attention, apply for and retrieve claims, while providing them with a seamless healthcare journey. It also supports insurance providers and caregivers with rigorous and streamlined IT services, easy access to data and devices, and economies of scale to lower their costs.

NEXtCARE is recognised for its efforts in using technology to provide efficient and cost-effective services which respond to the needs of the market, improving patient safety in relation to drug safety checks, and detecting and combatting fraud, waste and abuse.

In addressing challenges posed by COVID-19, NEXtCARE has demonstrated its ability to maintain the same service level despite the increase in the number of lives served. In addition, it has adapted the conventional way of the wellness sessions to webinars to support clients and members during the pandemic, with the aim of creating awareness and highlighting prevention measures.

NEXtCARE has also demonstrated its commitment to engage with regulators to both develop and comply with market regulations. During its collaboration with the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) call centre agents, NEXtCARE was awarded the highest customer satisfaction score (CSAT) of 4.63. This score is the highest among all of the volunteering companies supporting the initiative, which is to ensure the well-being and safety of people during these unprecedented times.

Law Firm of the Year
Clyde & Co

This is Clyde & Co’s fourth win for Law Firm of the Year. The global firm has a rich legacy in handling insurance work in the region, with its deep understanding of business practices in the Middle East.

Its insurance team is now, by some margin, the largest specialist team in the region, being the only team that can put forward specialists across every class of insurance business. In the UAE, Clyde & Co has eight partners specialising in different aspects of insurance law, supported by 20 insurance lawyers who all handle insurance work as part of their day-to-day roles.

It has established innovative structures to serve new InsurTech entities and is at the forefront of helping shape the industry’s approach to COVID-19-related business interruption claims.

Its ‘no-win no-fee’ recovery solution, through Gulf Recoveries established in 2012, has today a claims portfolio of about $200m. The firm also provides local and international trade credit insurers and export credit agencies with tailored services for trade credit insurance recoveries. It provides proactive, timely and cost-effective debt recovery solutions and offers its clients unrivalled levels of technical knowledge, resource and experience expected from a leading international law firm.

Clyde & Co operates a 24-hour cyber response hotline, connecting clients to a lawyer no matter where or when an incident occurs. Its incident response services span each stage of the breach response timeline – from pre-breach preventative action through to post-breach incident management and the handling of third-party claims.

Through its Clyde & Community programme, the firm across the region has provided over 1,500 hours in pro-bono legal support for charitable and non-profit organisations in the Middle East with an equivalent value of $1m over the last 12 months.

Educational & Training Initiative of the Year
Chartered Insurance Institute

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has clinched the Education & Training Initiative of the Year award for its responsiveness in providing education and training to meet the region’s market needs, as well as facilitating disruptive innovation.

The CII opened its doors in the DIFC in October 2018 and during this short span of time it has successfully cemented its presence in the region. Having a presence in the UAE has enabled the CII to establish relationships with numerous government entities, regulators, corporates, individuals and training companies across the Middle East. For example, it is working with the Saudi regulator to build a solid foundation in the insurance and financial planning sectors to ensure professionalism and a sustainable, strong future.

The institute acknowledged the importance of providing study material and examinations in the Arabic language; Arabic-fluent trainers were recruited and some study materials have been translated.

The CII had introduced remote invigilation prior to COVID-19, hence it was able to adapt seamlessly following the outbreak of the pandemic, ensuring that students were able to take their examinations from anywhere in the region. The provision of all course materials are facilitated digitally. Students are able to access learning materials online and through e-books. The entire learning journey has been made straightforward via its digital platform – from quick and simple registration through to payment and delivery of the course materials.

The institute has appointed Goodwill Ambassadors – highly-skilled and experienced members of the community who already hold CII professional qualifications at a higher level – as mentors for those in the industry.

The CII in the Middle East is dedicated to ensuring that the region’s insurance and financial planning sectors can fully maximise the benefits of close alignment with the institute, while ensuring that the cultural nuances and regional dynamics of the sector and its people are fully understood and catered to.

Strategic Partner of the Industry
Badri Management Consultancy

This is the first time that Badri Management Consultancy has scooped the Strategic Partner of the Industry award. Founded in 2014, Badri is one of the fastest growing actuarial and risk management consulting firms in the MENA region. With its headquarters in Dubai, UAE, and an office in Karachi, Pakistan, Badri serves as the appointed actuary for more than 10 UAE insurance companies and 20 in the GCC.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Badri has stepped up to meet the market needs and offered free additional services to clients to help them adjust to the changing marketplace by: performing solvency analyses; calculating the impact on capital scenarios; repricing of products; and providing support in situations where some of its clients’ staff were stranded overseas.

Badri focuses on ensuring that quality reports and services are provided to its clients, using its sophisticated automated tools for pricing, reserving, eForms and other core consulting services.

One prime focus at Badri is to innovate different services that handle the challenges of the insurance sector or lead to the development of the sector. For instance, it has developed management performance dashboards that give updated analytics and KPIs to C-suite executives and help them monitor their business efficiently. In addition, it regularly publishes analyses of the insurance markets of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, which are now highly awaited by many industry participants. It is also the first to publish a medical newsletter for the industry – ‘The Vitals’ – currently in its sixth edition.

With an aim to elevate its services, Badri formed strategic partnerships with a market leading European BI platform provider and a European actuarial software solutions provider to help clients implement processes and solutions practically.

Corporate Risk Manager of the Year
Mr Mohamed Khalifeh, Group Head, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Chedid Capital

A solid and versatile background in consulting equipped Mr Khalifeh with a unique and sound approach to risk management. He spent 14 years in the consultancy side of the insurance and reinsurance business before joining Chedid Capital.

Mr Khalifeh established Chedid Capital’s governance, risk and compliance department, playing a central role in the Group’s capacity building and investments across the department’s three core functions – governance and compliance, risks management and internal audit – as well as in the development of its enterprise risk management framework and strategy, where he pushed for the formal integration of risk management processes across all relevant functions and departments.

With the region under Chedid Capital’s operational network witnessing economic slowdown, spotty recovery and socio-political instability, Mr Khalifeh’s leadership in recent years proved critical in challenging market volatility while ensuring the Group’s compliance with the evolving regulatory landscape – particularly in light of growing risks on anti-money laundering and financial crime containment efforts.

In 2019, the socioeconomic and political instability put currencies in the Group’s key regional markets under pressure. In response, he spearheaded the implementation of a net investment hedge with a banking institution to mitigate the potential impact of currency fluctuations on the company’s equity.

Under Mr Khalifeh’s leadership, the risk management team revisited the Group’s business continuity plan, under which an incident response plan came to life. The plan involved data mapping, legal applications, security testing and the nomination of a cross-functional emergency team in response to growing cyber security risks.

Mr Khalifeh plays a pivotal role in the Group’s drive towards business digitalisation. He is a member of the Group’s IT transformation committee, tasked with leading Chedid Capital’s corporate change management programme.

He was instrumental in rolling out the company’s work-from-home policy at the onset of the pandemic – ahead of other market players and long before governmental directives were imposed.

Woman Leader of the Year
Sayyida Dr Rawan Al Said, Vice Chairperson & CEO, Takaful Oman Insurance

Dr Al Said is recognised as one of the most influential Arab businesswomen in the region, having contributed significantly towards the financial services and insurance sectors for many years. With her management and operational experience, she has amassed a track record of turning around loss-making ventures into profit-making companies.

Her career milestones include executing mega investment deals in both the private and public markets internationally, becoming the first and only female in Oman to head a listed company as a CEO, and establishing the first purely Islamic insurance company in Oman when the sultanate was first opening up its Islamic finance sector.

At this point in her career, she believes that achieving success is a continuous and limitless journey and those who have attained it will know how to reward others. Over the years, she has come to realise that empowering women is a weapon in the hands of our society to combat underdevelopment as women provide resilience and sustainability to their homes and communities. She believes it is her duty to support other women in leading the lives they have chosen – whether to go out to work or to stay home for the family.

Dr Al Said sits on the board of a number of reputed companies and financial institutions in the public and private sectors in Oman and the GCC region. She has consistently been ranked among the top 100 most powerful and influential Arab businesswomen by Forbes.

Young Leader of the Year
Dr Abdulla Sultan, CEO, Bahrain Kuwait Insurance Company (GIG Bahrain)

Dr Sultan has clinched the inaugural Young Leader of the Year award in recognition of his hunger and passion in pursuing excellence and commitment both on a personal and a professional level.

For Dr Sultan, 2020 is a milestone year – he took over the helm of GIG Bahrain in April, having started his insurance career at Arig in 2009. Alongside his CEO role, Dr Sultan’s support to the growth of the insurance sector extends to the board of United Insurance Company, Bahrain, and the Bahrain Insurance Association.

In addition to leading the operations of GIG Bahrain in both Bahrain and Kuwait, he contributes to various GIG Group committees including reinsurance and digital transformation. Having identified the challenges of the foreseeable future, he has conducted and presented a three-year strategic plan, tailor-made to emphasise the pertinent roles of digital transformation, growth, talent development and sustainable profitability. He has also revised the structure and the nexus between the company and the reinsurance entities.

Dr Sultan headed the synergy project with Takaful International, successfully centralising its functions in 2019, following its acquisition.

With a career spanning just over 13 years, Dr Sultan has groomed and mentored many of his peers, laying out the groundwork for those who choose to follow in his footsteps. He has amassed accomplishments beyond the norm, and has done so with great integrity, adhering to the highest standards and ethical principles.

Personality of the Year
Mr Kamel AbuNahl, CEO, Trust Holdings Ltd

Trust Holdings CEO Kamel AbuNahl is the recipient of the Personality of the Year award for his vision and outstanding leadership in sustaining the company’s business in the MENA region.

Mr AbuNahl, who has been the CEO of Trust Holdings since 2010 and has over 20 years of experience in managing medium and large (re)insurance companies, is a staunch believer in the importance of strengthening the foundations development, continuous learning and change management. Trust Holdings is a major shareholder of eight companies in the MENA region.

To assure sustainability and long-term viability, Mr AbuNahl plays a pro-active and crucial role in all aspects of business development and management, from operation and finance to ICT and HR.

In the wake of major challenges such as the geopolitical environment in the Middle East and COVID-19, he re-organises and re-engineers the bottom line as a holding company and successfully manoeuvred the company to keep the business afloat by making major shifts in business strategies and policies.

In 2019, he established a new insurance and reinsurance brokers company to support the group companies and offer different services with a view to enhance risk management, recommending risk improvement, consultation, claims handling as well as training. The entity also manages the group life and non-life treaties of the Trust Insurance Companies and assists them with their facultative needs, via a wide-range of well-rated international and regional reinsurers.

Mr AbuNahl has a keen eye on success driven by talent and believes that investment in talent is a must for sustainable growth. He also strongly believes that today’s organisations should leverage technology and digitisation to substantially improve their stature and performance and in the process, to position themselves as top-rated companies globally and compete for access to markets.

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