Interview with... Otabek NAZAROV,
Chief Operating Officer, GROSS INSURANCE LLC
How would you comment on your company's evolution in 2018? What were the most important trends in your domicile market?
In terms of success, 2018 did not lag behind than previous years and it can be proved by the following key events: GROSS INSURANCE ranks first on the local market among private insurance companies in terms of GWP and market share.
The company has been assigned the highest rating (uzА++) for domestic companies by the rating agency Ahbor-Reyting, and it corresponds to the "highest level of reliability". The main positive factors affecting the rating action are wide regional coverage and a wide range of insurance services provided; positive trend of scale indicators, high business activity and intensive development in the main market segments; active introduction of modern technologies and financial tools; and a stable market position in terms of key indicators, etc.
We have our own active professional medical group, providing customers with health insurance services as part of the GROSS INSURANCE Customer Support Center. In 2018, the company was among the first market participants to introduce online insurance via a website, and also launched its mobile application.
Every year the company demonstrates dynamic growth in key figures y-o-y, while focusing on the development of its activities. Ambition helps GROSS INSURANCE create new opportunities for customers and offer appropriate solutions.
Speaking about the market trends, it should be noted that our national insurance market continues to show high growth (176.3% in 2018 y-o-y), while the market's development is more active in the country regions. Thus, Tashkent market share in 2017 was over 55% of total GWP and in 2018 it decreased to 52%. I think that these trends will continue amid good indicators of economic development in Uzbekistan.
How successful was the year in portfolio terms? Were there any big indemnities paid? New insurance products introduced?
The company's portfolio is balanced and diversified, as always. Speaking about changes, I can point out that the company became an insurer for the national aviation fleet in 2018. The company's share in voluntary insurance amounted to 82.05%, in compulsory - reached 17.95%. The portfolio loss ratio in 2018 was 9.8 %.
Our customers are the flagships of aviation, oil and gas, constructions industries, large companies with foreign capital, representative offices of foreign companies and commercial banks, who are confident in our timely fulfillment of all obligations. The company chooses high-ranking international companies with good reputations as reinsurers.
Throughout the history of GROSS INSURANCE, all losses due from reinsurers were timely received, which allowed the company to pay even larger losses to its customers in time. The vast experience of reinsurers allows the company to successfully settle insurance claims even for difficult insurance types and not only in Uzbekistan. With the help of partners, the company successfully settles insurance claims through travel insurance in various countries, for cargo insurance at event sites abroad, for aircraft insurance, and for insurance of agricultural risks.
The daily teamwork helps the company to introduce innovation, launch new insurance products and integrate IT in its insurance activities.
The Customer Support Center has been operating on 24-hour basis within GROSS INSURANCE for several years. This year the company established a group of emergency commissioners, who sent to accident sites, if necessary, for assisting clients at accidents by calling tow trucks, filling out and collecting necessary documentation for insurance claims until the time of full claim settlement.
The company is actively developing online services. Our team realizes that selling insurance online, first of all, means convenient access for clients. Mostly, we offer products that clients can choose and buy without any additional consultation with experts of the company. Today, the most popular online product is travel insurance.
GROSS INSURANCE is the leader in travel insurance with a market share of more than 56%. Over the years of selling travel insurance policies, GROSS INSURANCE has been successfully cooperating with the internationally known reinsurance and assistance company ALLIANZ WORLDWIDE PARTNERS and provides services that meet international standards.
In order to improve the current system, GROSS INSURANCE has developed the online integration in a database of insured persons travelling to Schengen countries.
How would you characterize the insurance development stage in your country if compared to other CIS markets? What prospects for international cooperation would you point out?
The Uzbek insurance market has great growth potential. This is supported by stable economic growth, increasing income level, a high savings rate, growing mobility of the population, and successful reforms of the insurance industry. The insurance market of Uzbekistan is highly concentrated. Today 34 insurance companies operate on the market of Uzbekistan, 26 of which are non-life and 8 are life insurers. This stands for not only high capitalization of insurance companies, but also increasing number of life insurers.
At the same time, it should be noted that insurance in the country has been growing from year to year over the last 3-5 years, but there is still a lot to be done to improve the penetration degree. If compared to CIS markets, it can be noted that the regulatory framework for the local market participants is quite soft.
GROSS INSURANCE is following international corporate management standards and an important element of our strategy is transparency, which in our opinion is one of the factors for successful business. It is important that potential partners and other interested parties have constant access to the company's current information.
We cannot ignore the fact that the correct economically-sound determination of the share ceded in reinsurance is extremely important for each insurance company. In order to balance and diversify its portfolio, the company gives priority to reinsurance protection and is actively working on accepting risks in reinsurance. During its activity GROSS INSURANCE managed to establish long-term relations for obligatory and facultative reinsurance with the largest international reinsurance companies.
Reliability of GROSS INSURANCE has built up an excellent reinsurance reputation and allows us to accept risks from other insurance companies, as well as work with international reinsurance brokers based on trust and friendly relations.
What are your company's plans and expectations for 2019? What about the market in general?
In July 2019, the President of Uzbekistan held a meeting dedicated to the development of insurance market, during which there was raised an issue of radical reform of the State Inspectorate for Insurance Supervision and creation of a non-controlling structure, which will introduce advanced modern standards, develop a truly competitive environment for all participants, as well as develop the insurance market in general. Responsible persons were instructed to prepare a strategy for medium and long-term development of the market, to double the volume of GWP per capita, and triple the share of insurance in GDP until 2022.
Thus, in August the President of the Republic adopted a resolution "On measures to reform and ensure accelerated development of the insurance market of the Republic of Uzbekistan", which defines the main directions of the reform and accelerated development of the market, as such:
- improvement of the insurance regulatory framework, including continuous implementation of standards and recommendations from international organizations and international best practices;
- institutional development of the insurance regulatory system aimed at ensuring the reliability and stability of the insurance market by introducing effective regulatory mechanisms and prudential supervision;
- increasing the level of capitalization, solvency and financial stability of professional market participants, improving quality of their assets, as well as developing the investment activities of insurers;
- development and expansion of the insurance market infrastructure by increasing insurance broker activities, improving the system of insurance agent work, introducing bank insurance mechanisms, as well as increasing the role of professional participants in the insurance market as a whole;
- strengthening protection of the rights of insurance service consumers and other subjects of insurance activity;
- increasing insurance literacy of the population and their confidence in insurance;
- ensuring market openness and transparency;
- expanding the volume, range and improving the quality of insurance services by introducing new innovative products and developing traditionally demanded insurance products;
- widespread use of modern IT in organization and regulation of insurance activities, active introduction and development of electronic insurance services;
- improving the system of training and advanced training of insurance specialists, applying modern training techniques, stimulating research activities in the insurance industry;
- creating and maintaining a positive image, as well as increasing investment attractiveness of the national insurance market, including its integration into international and foreign insurance markets.
It is no secret that implementation of reforms in various industries has an impact on insurance; such reforms in the country include tax, automotive industry, aviation, oil and gas industry reforms, and placement of a nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan cannot be ignored here, construction of which is scheduled for 2020.
Undoubtedly, we expect soon introduction of compulsory health insurance on the Uzbek market to be soon, in this regard, it is necessary to be carefully prepared for the new system and create a minimum social package of health services. At present, voluntary health insurance has already become an important part of social packages, as well as corporate culture of successful companies.
In 2019, GROSS INSURANCE may declare, if not a change in strategy, then evolutionary expansion of the company's presence in the individual insurance segment.
In May, the company completed rebranding and introduced its new business style and logo, which are based on the principles of doing business, that distinguishes us from other insurers - we lead with dynamism, the pursuit of excellence and openness to innovations. The main semantic meaning of the new logo is reliable protection, which again confirms that consumer trust should be the foundation of any insurance company. Our goal is to become a truly national company!