UIC: Finding success in Yemen
By responding to market needs and introducing new products, United Insurance Co (uic) continued to preserve its leading position in the industry while growing its role
MiddleEast Insurance Review Magazine (MIR)
By responding to market needs and introducing new products, United Insurance Co (uic) continued to preserve its leading position in the industry while growing its role in the country’s socio-economic development, says General Manager and Board Member Tarek A Hayel Saeed.
With YER7 billion (US$33 million) in premium income generated in 2009 – 17% higher than the previous year - uic increased its market share to 45%, up from 42% in 2008. And if the company meets its minimum growth target of 20% this year, this will further reinforce its market leadership.
All lines of its business grew in 2009, with engineering expanding the fastest at 75%, accounting for 34% of the engineering market. uic also writes over 50% of the market’s fire, marine and life businesses.
Last year, the company raised its capital to YER1 billion from YER400 million, while assets exceeded YER6 billion by the end of the year. “We started in 1981 with a capital of YER5 million and I am proud of the growth achieved today with the support of our team and loyal clients,” said Mr Saeed.
On the pulse of the market
Over the last two years, uic has actively introduced new services, including travel insurance supported by Mapfre Asistencia, signing agreements with international TPAs, motor covers with additional facilities and expanding coverage for natural catastrophes. “With uic’s continuous efforts in offering new products and responding to various market segments, the company’s leadership position in the last three decades is well-deserved,” noted Mr Saeed.
The first conventional player to open a takaful window in Yemen in 2008, uic distributed 2% of surpluses to policyholders in 2009 following the progress it made in this line. “It is an achievement to distribute surpluses in the first year, but the backing of our clients and partners, together with our expertise, have always helped us exceed our targets.”
Slower growth in 2010
Mr Saeed expects insurance companies to register average growth rates between 10% and 15% this year, lower than those witnessed prior to the financial crisis. “The number of operators now stand at 15, compared to only four before 1990. Despite the economic development in Yemen, the growth of the insurance sector has been much slower compared to other similar sectors including banking. However, the market improved slightly last year when GWP grew by 9% y-o-y to around YER15.7 billion. The Yemeni insurance sector is promising and will become more prosperous in the region.”
He added that there are now intense discussions between parliament and the government on passing the compulsory health insurance law for public sector employees. “I believe it will be adopted soon. If applied, it will give an impetus to activating the other compulsory insurance laws and consequently raise market premiums.”
There are various inactivated compulsory insurance laws in Yemen, including laws for motor TPL and insurance for foreign companies operating in the country. “There are some shortcomings in implementation despite the considerable efforts undertaken by insurance companies to apply them. Hopefully we will update the laws governing the insurance market in coordination with relevant parties,” said Mr Saeed.
While companies are working hard to raise insurance awareness, such efforts are insufficient in educating the public of how to protect themselves from losses, he added. “Besides the lack of awareness of the benefits of insurance, low per capita income is also a barrier to insurance take-up.”
Progressing on all fronts
uic plans to continue offering high-quality products and services to meet its clients’ needs and strengthen its market position. It will also continue to upgrade the professional levels of staff. “These are our human capital, and we continue to seek ways to improve their standards by providing technical training programmes to all managerial and executive staff. We have a dedicated management resources unit handling professional in-house and external training activities. Creating qualified staff helps enhance communications with clients and ensures efficient services,” observed Mr Saeed.
uic is also preparing to spread insurance awareness through organising seminars and conferences, and distributing publications in 2011. “It is part of our responsibility to contribute in educating the market.”