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UAE consumers having concerns on their insurance policies could soon have a chance to take it up with a higher authority. The UAE Central Bank is thinking of launching an ombudsman unit - called 'Sanadak' - for this very purpose. Image Credit: Agency

Dubai: Consumers in the UAE could soon have an opportunity to take up complaints on their insurance policies or related matters with a higher authority. The UAE Central Bank is planning an "ombudsman" unit that will take on such complaints and offer possible redressal, according to the UAE Central Bank.

The unit — to be called ‘Sanadak’ will ensure the "ethical conduct of firms" and the protection of rights of insured consumers. “The unit is expected to provide a unique mechanism for consumer complaint resolution through easy access and quick turnaround,” the UAE regulator said.

Since October 2020, the UAE Central Bank has oversight of the insurance sector after Emirates Insurance Authority was merged into it. Since then, there have been major changes in the way insurers handle their responsibilities and operations.

The likely launch of an ombudsman unit is seen by industry insiders as a natural extension of recent reforms, and, most important, giving consumers the chance to voice their concerns/issues directly and through the right channels.

Going by the results leading UAE insurance companies provided at the end of the first nine months, they have recorded improved premium generation. But they will still need to handle the claims side of it with extra care and attention, especially on key lines such as motor and medical. It could lead to higher premiums being charged on new policies and renewals.

According to the UAE Central Bank, the performance of the insurance sector has ‘remained resilient’ through the challenges posed by the pandemic. But priorities to raise effective supervision and regulation of insurers will be taken up, ‘in line with insurance core principles and the implementation of comprehensive corporate governance requirements for insurance companies’, the regulator added at a forum where CEO of insurance companies was hosted.

What's an Ombudsman?
A person tasked with investigating individuals' complaints against a company or organization.

On banking related services, consumers in the UAE can register a complaint with the Consumer Protection Department at the Central Bank, 'when the matter has been dealt with by the bank but remains unresolved. The Central Bank will then determine if there has been a breach of the law, and deal with any breach that has been identified'.

Bringing in UAE Nationals

Another priority will be to provide jobs for more UAE Nationals within the sector. The medium term target is to increase Emiratisation to 30 per cent by 2026, as well as ‘create additional 1,500 jobs for UAE nationals’. The regulator has defined learning pathways to ‘upskill the competencies of Emiratis’ through the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies.

“We appreciate the CEOs’ full support of our transformational initiatives to promote Emiratisation and digitalisation, as the CBUAE is committed to safeguarding and developing the UAE’s insurance sector,” said Khaled Mohamed Balama, the Central Bank Governor.