The way forward in Oman is to have a multi-channel approach

Anwar Hilal Hamdoon al Jabri, chairman of National Life & General Insurance Company, talks about the factors that have helped it achieve the milestone of crossing RO100mn in gross premiums

National Life  is the largest composite insurance company in Oman. Can you highlight the growth of the company?

National Life is one of the largest and fastest growing insurers in the in Oman, with operations in the UAE and soon expanding operations to other GCC countries. We have created new benchmark in motor, medical and other personal lines business in the sultanate. I must say that National Life’s growth as a company so far has been rewarding and fulfilling.

What is the company’s mission and vision?

National Life & General Insurance company has clearly defined vision and mission & it serves as a North Star that keeps everyone clear on the direction. Our mission is to provide innovative insurance solutions with personalised service exceeding customer expectations. We are committed to bringing quality products to market while providing the best services to our customers.

Our vision is to continue the tradition of trust as the most preferred insurer in the sultanate and to blaze the trail of excellent business practices of international standards to serve our local customers and the Gulf region at large to achieve valued customer satisfaction and society benefit.

National Life has turned a RO100mn company now and is also the largest insurance firm in Oman in terms of premium income. What drives the company’s growth? 

Yes, we’re pleased to achieve this milestone along with solid growth and profitability through the year 2016. Despite a challenging economic environment, National Life has reported a record gross direct premium, proving the trust that the customers have in the company. Our strategy, in line with our mission and vision of providing value to customers is yielding the desired results.

  • Customer-centric approach
  • Market-friendly products
  • Multiple distribution channels
  • Wide distribution network
  • Best-in-class service quality

Continuous Innovation in products & processes are our growth drivers, allowing us to add to the company’s financial foundation for the continued protection of our policyholders.

The faith reposed in us by our customers has enabled us to achieve these significant milestones and is reflected in the quantum of crossing RO100mn in gross premium – making us the largest composite insurer in Oman. We look forward to building up on these in the months and years ahead.

National Life as a brand is growing stronger in Oman and has attained market leadership? What’s unique about the brand? 

Brand value is created upon the way the end customer perceives about the company. National Life has always put customers as the first and foremost priority. That is how, over a period of time, we were able to have a strong foundation of satisfied customers. This helps not only in building our brand value but also in building trust and reputation in the places where we operate. This in turn offers multiple intangible business benefits that propels growth.

I am glad that today, National Life is seen as a trusted insurer that is growing day by day.

Customer service is a key factor in the insurance segment. What are the training initiatives for the staff to ensure prompt services to customers?

Insurance though is a part of the financial industry, its products are highly knowledge based. Insurance requires certain amount of knowledge of not only of the financial sector but also about the details of the product and systems.

We impart induction training to our employees that deal with product features, coverage types, premium rates and also knowledge about the underwriting conditions and other systems processes to offer the right kind of cover to customers

National Life imparts on the job training that ensures that our employees learn the in and out and is thorough to ensure hassle free insurance buying experience to our customers.

Other training programmes like soft skill training, customer handling etc. are on-going round- the-year to provide world class customer care.

Our operations and support staff undergo high end training modules in their respective departments.

We nominate selectedemployees for training at third party centers to acquire higher level of professional knowledge in our attempt to keep growing

We also have a system of interdepartmental deputation wherein an employee is given a chance to work in another department of his/her interest and acquire more knowledge in the insurance domain.

Our staff is also well trained on all parameters of the systems and sales processes so that ourcustomers get hassle free, easy and prompt insurance buying experience. Our trained staff also ensure world class after sales service too.

What are the opportunities and challenges facing the insurance sector in Oman? 

Oman offers a positive outlook with significant growth potential.

Opportunities:

Low insurance penetrations-provides huge potential to add more customers and with our strong physical presence in more than 185 locations, we are on the right track. Personal Lines insurance offers the opportunity to expand our product portfolio and increase premium income.

Oman’s demographics also offers favourable growth prospects. Oman population constitutes of a significant number of the young and the employed and can considerably impact required growth along with a good mix of expats and nationals

Challenges:

  • Price war: Price is one of the top deciding factors in the sultanate and we are continuously working towards providing affordable insurance at competitive rates
  • High customer expectations: With the rise in education, communications and knowledge base, customers are becoming more and more aware and hence more demanding. This keeps us on our toes to provide insurance solutions that meet customer expectations.
  • Distribution: Considering the vast spread of land of the Sultanate, reaching out to customers at all levels/places becomes a challenge. Thankfully, we have developed more than 185 sales/service touch points across a good geographical spread of our country. We also have multiple distribution channels to meet this challenge.

What according to you is the way ahead in Oman ?

With a diverse customer base, a good mix of expats/nationals, the way forward in Oman is to have a multi-channel approach as the new-gen customer interacts with more than just one channel.

We need to seamlessly integrate the operations of new and alternative channels with traditional channels to present an integrated view to the customer.

Should have world class customer service system and state of the art infrastructure well set.

Thirdly, the fact that customers typically buy insurance as an investment or a savings product makes a strong case for combo offerings. Even online insurance is a potential channel.

Lastly, I would like to mention about is claims experience and  insurance companies in Oman should have an integrated claims-processing system offering simplified and faster claims resolution mechanism resulting in lower costs and enhanced customer fulfillment.

What are the company’s CSR initiatives?

We strongly believe that good corporate citizenship is important for the success of any organisation. National Life’s CSR objective is to pro-actively support meaningful socio-economic development of country. This is based on the belief that growth and development are effective only when we are able to create an inclusive environment and they result in wider access to opportunities and benefit a broader section of society. We have tied-up with Dar Al Atta’a for several CSR related activities. We have partnered with Dar Al Atta’a for distribution of ‘Iftaar Saem’ in Quriyat and Barka.

The company also has CSR focused in the areas of providing aid to the differently abled, women empowerment, helping the needy with resources, student care, sponsoring for hearing aid equipment, education, health, skill development and sustainable livelihood etc.

The company supports programs and initiatives keeping 'protection' as the core proposition and cornerstone of all its CSR initiatives since it is core to the business. 

The way forward in Oman is to have a multi-channel approach
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