AWNIC CEO: “The Innovation of the Year award proves that we are at the forefront of technology adaptation”

Bassam Adib Chilmeran, Chief Executive Officer, AWNIC Image Credit: Supplied

Congratulations on winning the Innovation of the Year award from InsureTek! What does this win mean for AWNIC?

The entire AWNIC team is very excited to be recognised for being unique in what we do and how we do things. This award proves that we are on the forefront of technology adaptation and customer services in an industry that is viewed as being distant from modernization. We are here to transform the insurance sector by being innovative and we are successful in doing it.

Insurance has been a hotly debated topic during the pandemic. What are the challenges AWNIC faced across its service portfolio last year in this regard?

When we talk about our experience during the pandemic the first thing that comes to mind is the human element of the experience. It was and still is difficult to comprehend the suffering and loss of loved ones. On a personal perspective and even for AWNIC’s team, we had to be strong to make it through such difficult times.

When it came to ensuring the continuity of business operations during the lockdown, which lasted for months during the year 2020, we were not negatively affected at all. On the contrary, AWNIC grew exponentially as all team members were fully functional from their homes; the Customer Care Center or CCC employees were attending to calls uninterruptedly, calls were made possible even whilst abroad by the entire team.

Additionally, our technology adoption of the concept of blockchain made it possible to attend to enquiries, issue policies, make payments electronically, attend to claims and more. We are fully equipped to work remotely from any location, and our preparation prior to the outbreak of the pandemic led us to the level of success we have achieved today.

How do you see the insurance landscape changing in a post-Covid world?

Insurance in its simplest form is a mechanism to bring back to its original form anything that could be exposed to loss whether physical or financial. Covid-19 has brought with it both, human suffering and financial implications, this has resulted in serious consideration on how insurance can function during exceptionally challenging times. On one hand, we have seen the industry rewriting policy terms and conditions based on the implication of the pandemic. On the other hand, we have seen huge opportunity to provide wider coverage to insure the effects of Covid-19. Today, clients are keener to include, for example loss of profit due to pandemic to their business operation insurance, along with travel insurance to cover the cost of Covid-19 treatment, and so on. Of course, this has created an opportunity for industry leaders to create a solution to a problem while addressing customer needs.

How evolved are AWNIC’s services to meet the needs of a digital future? You offer the option to buy salvage online, for instance, how do you interpret the digital evolution of insurance services in the UAE?

The team at AWNIC has been engaged and invested in digitising a majority of the company’s functionalities and processes. From digitally managing human resources affairs to automating the customer care centre and, digitalising the integration between finance functions and the functions of other departments, we have succeeded in achieving and following best practices in all departments.

Of course, the UAE government’s eagerness to drive digital transformation and adopt e-government services was a prime example for AWNIC’s management to follow. The country’s efforts inspired us to bring best practices and manners in offering our services and serving our clients. With this, I am certain that the insurance industry in the UAE will follow as there will be no room for those staying behind.

What is AWNIC’s expansion strategy, both in terms of geographical footprint as well as the services you wish to expand upon?

AWNIC got involved in a region where it found itself to be of added value, as such it had established Vision Insurance Co in Oman and today it is among the leading companies in the Omani insurance market. Also, in Iraq, we established UR International Insurance Co, a leading player that has been recognised by international experts in the market. We are certain that with time, these entities will play a significant role in the markets they serve in, similar to the role that AWNIC is playing in the UAE.

What would be your concluding statement?

Al Wathba Insurance has always been recognised for being a unique market player, bringing new norms and concepts to market while focusing on customer service. This is driven by our promise of servicing our clients with utmost expertise and professionalism, and we will continue doing so in a manner that is unparalleled by the competition. n