The insurtech sector in the MENA region has enjoyed substantial growth over the past two years, in part driven by the global pandemic.

Panellists speaking at the insurtech roundtable during the Dubai World Insurance Congress, acknowledged that country lockdowns had prompted an acceleration in digital trends more broadly, with venture capital money backing insurtech companies among others.

While insurance has traditionally lagged behind the banking sector, the advent of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI) has been a game changer, thought Aftab Hasan, chairman of the Risk Exchange at the DIFC, creating efficiencies in the back office, allowing the easy distribution of smart policies and improving customer satisfaction.

Currently there is around $10 billion of investment into insurtech globally, up from just $2 billion five years ago. Current forecasts are that this will exceed $100 billion by 2030, representing a huge growth potential.

Mohamed Radhi, vice chairman and group COO of Braxtone Group, said regulation had played a role, noting that in Bahrain there had been a concerted drive to ensure that customers could take out and renew their policies online, without the need for face to face meetings.

“Without the pandemic, that would not have happened as easily,” he observed. “All parties realised this was needed for the benefit of all.”

Much of the investment coming into the insurtech space is being concentrated within just five percent of firms in the insurtech space, according to Antoine Bdadouni, head of MEA at Aspen Re.

This means insurers will have to invest further in their ecosystems in order to attract the right funding, he said.

Yousuf Amin, EVP Operations, Consumer Lines Claims & Engineering Services at Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company (ADNIC), said the willingness to go digital existed. With venture capitalists investing in insurtechs and coming up with smart solutions for the industry, insurers will be able to take advantage of this if they have the right mindset.

“Companies regionally and locally have to refocus their direction, invest in digital and take advantage of the growing ecosystem,” he said.