With a history of over six decades in the regional insurance industry, ACE Insurance Brokers, part of ACE Holding, has decided to launch an independent reinsurance arm at the DIFC. “Besides the opportunities we see in the market, ACE Re has the necessary foundation to build a successful reinsurance brokerage operation,” said Mrs El-Khoury.
ACE Insurance Brokers has presence in all the GCC countries except Qatar where it has an application in process, in addition to Lebanon and Greece. The new standalone reinsurance brokerage operation will benefit from the existing reinsurance portfolio the broker handles and set the stage for the company to achieve further growth.
Reinsurance has always been an important part of ACE’s offering, and the company already has an existing book of facultative business. However, at the same time, this has limited our ability because of a possible conflict of interest between the direct and reinsurance placements. Establishing ACE Re will enable the company to expand that portfolio and expand further into treaty business.
“We are using some of our resources to build on and grow our book of facultative business. However, ACE Re is not a captive operation; it is a separate entity that will deal with cedants in the region and around the globe,” said Mrs El-Khoury. ACE Re will benefit from the existing network of offices and is set to target new markets across the globe.
Future in niche markets
The abundance of capacity and large number of players pose a challenge, but there are opportunities for serious providers, especially in sophisticated and specialty lines, said Mrs El-Khoury.
On the treaty side, besides its readiness to cover the needs of traditional lines, the company plans to provide cedants with the support they need in areas such as energy, contingency and cyber which very few provide. “There is a need for such lines in the market. We do not aim to replicate the offering of traditional brokers, but we aim to bring added-value to our clients,” she said.
The company is open to all lines, but has been progressing well with financial lines in particular. “We have accumulated good experience in this line of business over the past years, in addition to our strength in the construction and energy fields.”
ACE Re looks to be among the leading regional reinsurance brokers in the future. “With our seasoned professionals, existing network and the high standards ACE group embraces, we believe we can make a difference and grow satisfactorily. Moreover, being part of the Brokerslink insurance broking network community, which consists of brokers from around the world, will help us cross-sell and cooperate on various fronts with a variety of providers. Our main market is MENA and we have recently started focusing on some North African markets.”
Direct business faring well
Mrs El-Khoury, who is also the CEO of ACE group’s direct brokerage operations outside Saudi Arabia, said business in the UAE, which was established about six years ago, has doubled in 2018 – supported largely by employee benefits and other general lines.
“Due to the slow development of projects in the region, we have been exploring new areas. Again financial lines has proved to be successful, where we have attracted a good number of banks as our clients. We are also looking to develop our employee benefits portfolio, which accounts for approximately 60% of premiums in the region, noting that we expect the compulsory laws for medical insurance in Bahrain and Oman to come into effect from 2019 and 2020, respectively.”
Mrs El-Khoury noted that there remains great potential in the region. “In Saudi Arabia and UAE, despite the large volume of premiums, insurance penetration in these markets remains low, meaning there are opportunities for growth. This applies to the rest of the GCC as well.”
More in the pipeline
In the future, ACE Re aims to expand into new geographies. “ACE Re’s representative office in the UK is on the radar to help us scale up the business, access the European market, and gain exposure,” said Mrs El-Khoury.
The company is also considering opening an office in Asia. “Maybe in the coming three years we would anticipate having presence in Asia. I would like to see ACE Re breaking new ground and reaching new heights. We have the capabilities and will exert the ultimate effort,” she said.
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