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Zurich to beef up operations in Dubai

Graham Morrell, ZIL (SUPPLIED)

By Shveta Pathak

Zurich International Life (ZIL) is increasing its resources in its underwriting business in Dubai to cater to the increasing number of inquiries for life insurance products, an official said.

Graham Morrell, Regional Head of Distribution, Middle East and Africa, told Emirates Business: "We are seeing a growth in life business in the region due to which we are increasing our resources in underwriting business in Dubai."

A changed economic environment is posing challenges for businesses but the insurance segment is witnessing growth and people are showing an increased interest in getting protection, Morrell said.

He said low insurance penetration indicated the huge potential that insurance players could tap into.

In the present economic scenario, insurance is a major focus.

"People are focusing more on protection. They have started to think of basic products that are needed, which explains the increase in interest towards life insurance," he said.

Unlike many businesses that have been facing tough times, renewals for insurance policies have not seen any downward trend.

"January recorded maximum renewals. This time too, new business figures are quite healthy," Morrell said.

Average premiums for policies have not come down in the last couple of months and Zurich does not see any reduction, at least in the fist half of this year.

"We haven't seen a change in average annual premiums and these are unlike to come down for another few months, for this quarter and a quarter following that."

There have been selective discounts, but that is more or less a norm and is not the result of the global economic turbulence. Morrell said an interesting emerging trend was a massive rise in corporate enquiries about group life insurance and disability covers.

"This has been happening because companies coming into a downturn will start to look at their costs."

The end of last year saw a growing concern about performance of business in 2009. However, the year has seen increased activity in terms of applications. Awareness levels too have increased, Morrell added.

People in the UAE, especially the expatriates, are continuing to save for their future, he said.

He said the business has not seen any downturn.