The Business Year

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Sunil Kohli

CEO, Dhofar Insurance Company

S. Venkatachalam

CEO, National Life and General Insurance Company (NLGIC)

To increase penetration in Oman, insurance companies are coming up with new products by looking at the gaps in the market such as variations of medical insurance.

What have been the main developments over the past year?

SUNIL KOHLI In 2020, we launched a few products that were not in the market before. We defined a new motor insurance policy based on the distance driven, allowing holders to earn benefits and discounts at their next renewal. We also launched new products on the life insurance side. We were one of the first companies to include COVID-19 coverage along with our life and medical insurance in 2020. Then, we featured more digital innovation where customers can renew their motor insurance at digital kiosks in shopping malls. We are also testing new motor insurance applications at that kiosk. We have installed around 12 kiosks in various branches with regard to their cars’ registration cards and insurance. In 2021, we also launched a drive-through insurance facility where customers can sit in their cars and come to our drive-through window.

S. VENKATACHALAM For the insurance industry, the pandemic had a silver lining because of lockdowns people were not driving for a while, which led to fewer accidents. The industry learned what to do in a situation such as this. In 2020, many companies were forced to go digital; however, we have been working on the digital side for the past few years, so we were prepared. Customers can get a policy online with us without even talking to us. There were many challenges, such as people suddenly having to work from home. That was particularly challenging for us, as we operate in different countries, though because we planned earlier in case of an emergency, we were ready on the digital side. In 2015-2016, we started working on our digital transformation, so during the pandemic we were well poised and managed well.

How has risk appetite evolved as result of the pandemic?

SK The risk appetite of each company will depend upon their risk retention strategy and risk appetite policy. Every company should have their own risk appetite document where they will have their own risk thresholds. Based on that risk threshold, the companies will acquire various risks on their books. From a general perspective, many companies were extremely circumspect about health insurance earlier, and during the pandemic it was difficult to get reinsurance support for health insurance; however, things have gone well, and even the industry itself has responded well. That is where people have stepped up; however, since it is a small market, the size of individual companies is not as large, so companies have to look carefully at how much risk they can retain and how much risk they have to reinsure.

Is there a need to adjust the regulatory framework in line with the growth of the medical insurance sector?

SV Medical insurance is growing worldwide by double digits. Everyone in the region is moving toward mandatory insurance, which is also happening here. There have been discussions, the products have been finalized, the portals have been put in place, and last-minute details are being sorted out. It will take at least two years, given the examples of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. One can expect hiccups because the new system is completely digital, and doctors need to learn how to use the new software and tools. It is important to establish these models because it would otherwise be difficult to take care of the public. OCCI has formed a committee on the hospital side to better understand the pricing and practical difficulties.

What are your goals and objectives for the next 12 months?

SK Our objective is to continue our digital transformation journey according to our three-year roadmap. We are currently implementing many of the things we started in 2020. We will also focus on the optimization of our processes and improving our turnaround times. We will also work on launching new products that would serve our customers’ needs better. We will also take care of our employees because if they are not happy, then customer service is not achieved.

SV There are challenges in the market, and we are figuring out how we can overcome them. In Oman, we specialize in retail, but we are always looking at different markets and products and creating something new. We are a significant player in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; we are number three in Abu Dhabi and among the top six for medical insurance in Dubai. We are also present in Kuwait, where the market has unique characteristics, and we need to break into the market.



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