How has your portfolio evolved since the creation of Asia Insurance?
Asia Insurance began operations in mid-2012, and it’s now the leading insurer in Kurdistan and second in Iraq. Our portfolio has grown tremendously, from $1.2 million to $15 million in 2014. The critical factor for success is purely customer satisfaction and positioning ourselves as buyers of insurance. Therefore, we have tailor-made insurance solutions that fit the best interests of our business partners. In addition, teaming up with the world’s best insurance players, such as Swiss Re, Munich Re, and Zurich Insurance Group, strongly elevated our reputation as the partner of choice.

In which sectors of the economy are your services most required?
As risk carriers, our role is to protect the balance sheets of corporations as well as the personal wealth of individuals from sudden and unforeseen events. Thus, insurance is a necessity for everyone, but its scope and coverage varies from one sector to another. For instance, oil companies require very high liability insurance coverage, whereas a retailer’s main concern is the protection of its goods and properties.

Our portfolio has grown tremendously, from $1.2 million to $15 million in 2014. Teaming up with the world’s best insurance players, such as Swiss Re, Munich Re, and Zurich Insurance Group, strongly elevated our reputation as the partner of choice.

IIG: What can be done to improve the attractiveness of the insurance sector in Kurdistan?
Massive efforts are needed to achieve the desired insurance sector and will require the collaboration of various stakeholders, starting with the KRG. Three decades ago, all countries in the MENA region had the same issues that Kurdistan is currently facing. They started with various risk management measures, which began with third party motor liability, and then extended to include other areas of risk mitigation such as workers’ compensation coverage, earthquake insurance, contractors’ insurance, liability for the hospitality industry, and others. So the key is to benchmark other countries by learning from their experiences and then adopt what’s suitable for the current economic situation in Kurdistan. Thus, the KRG will need to have a clear vision and dialogue with the insurance sector in order to tackle issues in an efficient manner. Then, we as insurers will be able to innovate and launch awareness campaigns to improve the attractiveness of our products and educate the public on risk management.

What needs to be done to enhance the regulatory environment, and what challenges will the insurance sector face in 2015?
The market strongly needs an efficient insurance commission that will be able to control and audit the insurance sector, as well as act as a protector for the insurance industry by eliminating the leakage of premiums out of the Kurdistan Region. The operational challenges insurance companies are currently facing are due to the political situation that affected the whole economy. Clients are cutting down costs due to the loss of revenue, and insurance premiums are regarded as the easiest costs to eliminate. As a domino effect, the reinsurers are either withdrawing or re-evaluating prices commensurate with the high levels of anticipated risk.