Businesses are acutely aware of threats that undermine their operations and profitability. In times of rapid change, businesses must feel they have protection from novel threats as they arise.
Mohamed Ali Bouabane, CEO at AIG GCC & North Africa says that some of these new risks are a consequence of opportunities offered by digital transformation: "In a new digital world, we get huge time savings, convenience, and choice. This world also brings risks, especially around cybersecurity.”
American International Group (AIG) has become a leading global insurance organization with product suites that include commercial insurance for property and casualty, as well as retail insurance. AIG supports a range of direct customers, SME organizations as well as Multinational clients
Bouabane says that the role of AIG is to ensure that these emerging risks are identified and covered so that customers can focus on their business:
“Continuous product innovation is part of AIG's DNA. In this region, AIG was the first to introduce Cyber Insurance, the first to introduce Directors’ and Officers’ Liability and Environmental Liability. We were also the first to offer Defense Base Act insurance in the region.”
AIG can claim many firsts, and their innovative approach will ensure that there will be more - for risks as yet unknown.
Part of AIG’s appeal in the region is their careful balancing of both regional and global knowledge. As Bouabane explains:
“Being a multinational insurer, we take a very localized approach while leveraging our global expertise. We are physically present in Dubai where many of our customers are. We also have market-leading talent: our underwriters have collectively over 500 years of experience in risk management.”
The approach has paid off with AIG insuring some of the region’s most iconic buildings, including the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai Airport, Aldar Building and the Çanakkale Bridge in Turkey, the longest suspension bridge in the world.
For Bouabane, basing the company in Dubai is a strategic choice:
“Our location helps us serve the extensive footprint that we have across the Middle East and North Africa. We are currently focused on the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and are looking to expand our services further West i.e., Morocco and Francophone Africa. Dubai also enjoys high quality transportation links, economic stability and legislation favorable to transact business. Then there is access to talent and the innate diversity of this part of the world.”
With this focus on diversity and opportunity, Bouabane says that AIG is nurturing a new generation of insurance professionals regardless of race or gender:
“Employee resource groups (ERGs) are an opportunity for development and leadership. Our goal is to achieve gender balance amongst our management team. In AIG GCC & North Africa today, we have female colleagues leading the way in a number of departments, including finance, legal, risk, claims marketing and facilities. A lot has been done, but I think there's a lot more to do as well.”
Technology has prompted a shift in the outlook for the MENA region; the UAE was the first country to launch a 5G network in the Middle East, and today has the fastest 5G network worldwide behind Norway and South Korea. This has opened up opportunities for brokers, as Bouabane explains: "Our AIG One platform has a number of products for SME organizations. It allows brokers to quote and bind cover within minutes and be able to issue policies at the click of a button. Digitalization is obviously an important part of every organization today and while most organizations have a business continuity plan for fire and flooding, fewer have a continuity plan in the event of a cyber-attack. Not only does AIG offer Cyber Insurance, but we also help our customers with prevention of cyber threats with simulation infrastructure and vulnerability assessment.”
Climate change is another growing concern for businesses in the region: “A number of governments in this region have made investments in renewable energy especially since COP 28 will be held in the UAE in 2023. AIG has made a net zero emission commitment by 2050 across its underwriting and investment portfolio.”
Bouabane says that the biggest change of all has been in the perception of insurance – rather than being something that mitigates risk, it can become a driver for positive change: "We're very excited about the future for AIG in the region. We strongly believe that insurance is more than a way to handle what can go wrong; it is also a catalyst for all that can go right.”