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Life insurance in the UAE has a penetration rate of just 0.7 per cent — as against 9.6 per cent in the UK — but the UAE Insurance Authority's Decision 49/2019, which came into effect on October 16, is likely to bring about a significant uptick in consumer interest in insurance products, specifically by allaying their fears about what is being sold to them, or what the hidden charges are.

"We welcome the UAE Insurance Authority's new regulation, which is focused on increasing value and transparency for customers," says Dimitris Mazarakis, General Manager of MetLife Gulf, one of the UAE's leading providers of life, savings, medical, and accident and health products. "It will transform the market for good and empower insurers in the region to operate in a more transparent and customer-focused manner."

The new regulation will transform the market for good and empower insurers in the region to operate in a more transparent and customer-focused manner.

- Dimitris Mazarakis, General Manager of MetLife Gulf

The new regulation, also known as BOD-49, specifies that all fees or charges must be explicitly shown to the customer. It also introduces a minimum 30-day free-look period. So, if customers purchase a policy and change their minds within 30 days, they are guaranteed to get their money back.

Similarly, post-sale verification requirements have been updated. Insurers must now obtain a mandatory verification of policy features from customers. This ensures that customers are clear on important aspects of the product and are empowered to reconfirm whether the product suits their needs. Interestingly, the decision specifies that while selling any investment product, an illustration must be shown to potential customers to clearly understand the projected growth on their investment.

Meanwhile, commissions for insurance advisors and distribution channels have been capped to ensure higher value for customers. While there is concern that the lower commission income might lead to the exodus of some advisors, it is anticipated that the expected penetration increase will boost the life insurance market and make up for the drop in commission percentages.

BOD-49 compliant products

Close to 60 years of local expertise, combined with extensive market research and collaborative sessions with its customers and strategic partners, has enabled MetLife Gulf to offer products that address the diverse and evolving insurance needs of consumers in this region.

Not surprisingly, MetLife has focused its efforts on embracing and adapting to the changes that BOD-49 brings. MetLife’s new life insurance products have been carefully designed to increase the ultimate value for customers and carry more transparency in how they are illustrated and sold. The new offerings provide a wide array of comprehensive, world-class life, savings, and protection solutions to the UAE’s citizens and residents.

In fact, MetLife has been one of the first insurance companies in the UAE to launch BOD-49 compliant value propositions by leveraging its captive agency distribution channel. The products include Live Life, which is a pure protection term life product; Investor Advantage, a single premium savings product; and Future Protect, a hybrid protection, and savings product.

MetLife’s retail life products offer built-in and optional protection to support the wellbeing and recovery of policyholders in case of a major injury, illness, or accident. And to support customers’ changing needs at any life stage, the solutions bring flexibility in terms of payment options, coverage terms, and location. With the exception of sanctioned countries, MetLife life products are portable — customers can leverage the company's global footprint and enhanced digital self-servicing platform to administer and claim on their policies, even if they leave the UAE and go to another part of the world. This is especially beneficial, considering the mass migration and relocation that Covid-19 has caused.

MetLife also took the opportunity to revamp its Group Life products so that employers can offer their staff value-added benefits, such as employee assistance programmes - that provide telephonic and in-person support on a range of mental health topics – and financial wellness support for beneficiaries.

“At MetLife, we genuinely believe that delivering on our promise to customers is not only our moral imperative but our responsibility,” says Mazarakis. “For this reason, we have ensured that we have been at the forefront of the market, leading the change towards a more customer-focused future. We look forward to continuing our market leadership and delivering to our customers’ value-added solutions that provide them with the peace of mind they deserve.”

For more details on MetLife Gulf's products, visit Metlife.ae/