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OQIC

OMAN - Finance

Hasan Al Lawati

CEO, Oman Qatar Insurance Company (OQIC)

Bio

Hasan Al Lawati joined OQIC as CEO in 2020. He sits on multiple boards and subcommittees. He chairs the executive committee of Omani Unified Bureau for The Orange Card SAOC and is a board member of Oman Insurance Association and a member of OCCI committee of Financial and Insurance Sector. He has several academic and professional certifications, including executive education-Stanford Lead in corporate innovation and strategic decision and a risk management certificate from Stanford University. He is also an associate of Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII), UK and holds a bachelor’s degree in banking, finance, and risk management from Monash University.

"OQIC is part of Qatar Insurance Group, which operates across Europe, Bermuda, Asia, and the Middle East."
Given the relatively low penetration of insurance in Oman, OQIC believes there is still much more to be done, from raising awareness to increasing the use of technology and developing the right educational pathways.
What are OQIC’s main activities, and what have been some of the major highlights in the past year?

OQIC is part of Qatar Insurance Group, which operates across Europe, Bermuda, Asia, and the Middle East. In Oman, we have been serving our clients since 2004 with branches across the country. We are licensed as a composite insurer, which means we offer general, life, and medical insurance to our clients. One of our key highlights is on digital transformation, particularly following the COVID-19 crisis. This helped us be closer to our customers and serve them better as we were able to operate more efficiently. Our efforts were so successful that we recently closed two branches and reassigned the staff to our call center—which complements our online channels—in order to increase our focus on digital channels and customer service.

Can you tell us more about your market strategy and how you reach your clients?

We rely on brokers as one of our primary distribution channels, which is typical for insurance companies in Oman. Whereas retail clients would normally reach out to the insurer directly whenever they need insurance, corporate clients generally go to brokers first since they can offer bespoke solutions when the insurance requirements are more complicated. Therefore, to ensure we serve all our clients, we offer our solutions through the following channels: brokers and aggregators, agencies and branches; and online channels supported by a call center.

What are some of the challenges facing the industry?

Insurance is still nascent in Oman, with penetration rates relatively low compared to other financial services. Therefore, I believe there is fairly great potential for growth. I have always been keen to promote our industry. As a board member of the Oman Insurance Association and a member of the Finance and Insurance Committee at the Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry, I actively use these platforms to raise greater awareness about insurance and its role in the national economy. In terms of specific challenges, insurance can be seen as lagging behind in use of technology, delivery of customer experience (as opposed to customer service), and lack of automation. Particular to Oman, one major challenge is the increasing frequency of natural disasters. This has become an issue of national concern, and it has put the insurance industry in the spotlight. The issue is that clients are constantly seeking the lowest rates; however, there comes a limit where the rates are not able to sustain the claims being paid out. Another challenge we face is that in Oman there is currently no educational institution that offers a degree in insurance. There are some professional courses, but nothing specific on which we can build a strong foundation on.

How does OQIC support career growth for local talent?

First of all, I am a big supporter of empowering Omani nationals and giving them the opportunity to enter the insurance industry. I am proud that our Omanization level stands at 85% with top management being 100% Omani. In terms of career growth, we support our staff in a number of ways. For example, currently 10% of our staff are being sponsored for further studies, with flexible or reduced working hours to accommodate their schedules. Beyond that, we actively present our staff with both internal and external training opportunities encompassing both soft skills and technical skills, as well as a lot of on-the-job coaching and mentoring.

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