Powering (Re)Insurance: DIFC’s Value Proposition as a Principal Hub

Around the globe, the relevance of the insurance industry as a mechanism for risk transfer is presently heightened due to the impact of external circumstances, such as weather, cyber-attacks, conflict and supply chain disruptions, among others.

Arif Amiri

Published: 17/05/2024

5 min read

Players within the insurance value chain are experiencing a surge in prominence driven by specialisation, revamped business models, technological innovation, and customer-centric products. New products dealing with new risks, augmented partnerships, new technologies such as AI, and new customer-centric offerings, have each empowered the insurance value chain to expand towards novel frontiers.

Indeed, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, in this regard, offers a plethora of opportunities for the insurance industry. With low insurance penetration by comparison to other global markets, the MEASA region is relatively nascent, bolstered by favourable demographics and increased technological adoption. Being a dynamic geographic region, the insurance sector has long recognised the need to build extensive knowledge capabilities, ensuring local markets adhere to the latest international standards, thereby optimising client servicing. Most importantly, these capabilities build trust; a hallmark of the insurance value proposition. 

As a premium (re)insurance hub, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has strengthened its capabilities, servicing people and businesses in the region for the last 20 years. With the highest gross written premiums (GWP) recorded in its 20-year history, close to USD 2.6bn, DIFC is continuously reviewing and fine-tuning its competencies to cater to an evolving risk landscape. DIFC’s (re)insurance industry has further been bolstered through its rate of cultural innovation, access to new markets through advantageous geographical connectivity, time zone advantages, and new distribution techniques.

Arif Amiri

The rise in the number of Managing General Agents (MGAs) in the Centre is a significant trend in this direction. MGAs are specialised intermediaries, vested with underwriting authority from (re)insurers. Due to their robustness, resilience and flexibility, MGAs can cater to specific needs and can penetrate markets in a more efficient, cost-effective way. This makes MGAs attractive to more underserved countries and reinsurers looking to build a localised portfolio without incurring significant investment costs.

As a result, reinsurers have increasingly participated in the creation of MGAs over the last five years, as they offer a vehicle to specialise in specific lines of business. This positions MGAs favourably in the insurance industry, as a win-win for all partners in the value chain. The growing number of MGAs also strengthens DIFC’s position as an insurance hub. According to our latest data, established international, regional and start-up MGAs in the Centre now account for 43 per cent of the sector, contributing considerably to DIFC’s premium growth. 

Similarly, insurance brokers play a pertinent role in the insurance value chain by understanding the needs of their clients and connecting them with suitable coverage options. As such, they provide fit-for-purpose, comprehensive insurance and risk management solutions, that are tailored to the needs of their clientele. 

Through this convergence of demand and servicing, DIFC is today home to a broad range of world-class insurance brokers, five of whom are among the top ranked entities by AM Best. The Centre has also bolstered its brokered premiums by 61 per cent year-on-year in 2023, crossing the USD 2bn threshold.

By co-hosting globally renowned events such as the Dubai World Insurance Congress, DIFC stimulates innovation and thought leadership within the industry, offering opportunities for continuous engagement, market access, transparent communication, and talent development.

Certainly, a world-class regulated insurance and reinsurance market is prized by customers for the trustworthiness and peace of mind they offer through their diverse product offering and client-centric services. Being part of DIFC’s ecosystem augments these hallmarks, building character and depth to the ever evolving (re)insurance sector.