December 14, 2018

Three things to watch out for in the Middle East in 2019

Mandatory health insurance, new life rules and regulatory enforcement will top the bill.

The coming year looks set to be a busy one in the Middle East insurance market but we predict three key developments will stand out.

First, the roll out of mandatory health insurance in the GCC region will continue. New legislation requiring employers to provide health insurance for their staff has already been announced in Bahrain and Oman for implementation in 2019. But with mandatory health insurance a key driver of growth in markets such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, others are set to follow.

Second, the UAE will implement the long-awaited Life Insurance Regulations. Originally announced in late 2016, the Insurance Authority has yet to publish the final draft of the regulations for implementation. The regulations, which are likely to have a far-reaching impact on the industry, are expected to cap the total fees and commissions payable by policyholders, curtail the use of indemnity commission, implement mandatory disclosures and pro forma product illustrations. It is expected that the regulations will result in a short to medium reduction in the overall number of life insurance intermediaries and is likely to drive consolidation. 

And third, regulators will continue to get tough. 2018 saw increasing proactivity by insurance sector regulators, both in terms of the issuance of new regulation and greater enforcement. Authorities in the KSA and UAE notably suspended insurers and intermediaries from conducting business pending the investigation and remediation of various regulatory breaches. There is little to suggest that these bodies, and other regional regulators, will not continue this trend into 2019 as the regulators seek to drive compliance and enhance consumer protection. 

You can read the rest of our insurance predictions here.