By Padraig O’Hannelly.
Insurance is a complicated business, and as economies develop they demand more of it.
This brings challenges, such as how to assess claims when the skills are not readily available locally, how to satisfy reinsurers that risks have been correctly priced and losses properly assessed, and how to develop lower-premium business without driving up costs.
One Iraqi insurer believes fintech assists in providing the solution to several complex issues.
Al Maseer Insurance was founded by Chairman Arak al-Bayati and CEO Sarah Safa Kasim in 2011, with the aim of bringing innovation, knowledge and global skillsets to the insurance sector in Iraq.
As Chief Underwriting Officer Douglas Way told the recent IBBC Technology Conference in Baghdad:
“Iraq is a challenging market for insurance, to put it bluntly; there are some extremely large risks in Iraq, which require very large reinsurance, which is where fintech solutions come to the fore.
“When a proposition is difficult, rather than just saying ‘no’, we find a way to make it happen, and increasingly that involves the use of imaginative and cutting edge technology.”
For example, the company is currently working with Virtual i, which enables it to use experts located remotely to carry out detailed surveys on the ground in Iraq.
“Just taking a photo and ticking a box is not sufficient to satisfy reinsurers,” Way explains, adding that using this system also helps to up-skill local Iraqis. “We are very much committed to providing the highest level of service, and very committed to using Iraqi people to do that.”
Similarly at the low-premium end of the market, the use of mobile devices and automated systems is helping to strip out the costs of processing applications and claims, enabling new business to be written.
When I visited their offices in Baghdad's Al Mansour district, CEO Sarah Safa Kasim and her team were busily expanding to serve a growing base of international and domestic clients.
Kasim also took me on a virtual tour of their impressive new HQ, designed by Mutaa Al Hashimi, which will be ready in 2022:
“We’re investing in the right people, the right technology and the right facilities – we're very confident that Iraq can look forward to a bright future.”