Making a Mark

Anwar Hilal Hamdoon Al Jabri, Chairman of National Life & General Insurance Company talks about the company’s journey, milestones and future outlook
Making a Mark
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 insurance industry in Oman, with operations in UAE and soon expanding to other GCC countries. We created new benchmark in motor, medical and other personal lines business in the Sultanate.
Some facts:
Total gross direct premium of RO101.20mn for financial year 2016 (Largest composite insurance company in Oman).
We have received Good (B++) financial strength rating from A.M Best & Co. & ISO 9001:2008 certification.
Huge base of over 700,000 satisfied customers.
More than 185 sales/service touch points/physical locations across Oman, which is highest ever for any insurance company in Oman.
Growth rate have been over 23.5 per cent in the last five years.
Our total asset is nearly RO130mn as on Dec 31, 2106.
Approximately 18 per cent return on equity in the last five years.
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 and 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 customers’ 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.”
NL has turned a 100mn 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 vision and mission 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 and & 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 goss premium – making us the largest composite insurer in Oman. We look forward to building up on these in the months and years ahead.
NL as a brand is growing stronger in the Oman market 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 could 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.
NLGIC Training
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-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 selected employees for training at third party centres 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 are also well-trained on all parameters of the systems and sales processes so that our customers 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.
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 a significant number of the youth and the employed, and can considerably impact required growth along with a good mix of expats and nationals.
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 the traditional ones 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 claims experience. 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 the 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.
Some CSR Activities:
In Oman, we have tied-up with Dar Al Atta 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 differently abled, women empowerment, helping the needy with resources, sudent care, sponsoring for hearing aid equipment, education, health, skill development and sustainable livelihood etc.
The company supports programmes and initiatives keeping “protection” as the core proposition and cornerstone of all its CSR initiatives since “protection” is the core to the company’s business.