Almost half UAE's general insurance customers prefer buying multiple products from one provider, reveals Ernst & Young study
Source: Ernst & Young , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Wed May 2, 2012 12:19 pm

UAE. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Insurance Consumer Survey 2012, conducted in association with Ipsos, 49% of UAE insurance customers prefer buying multiple products from one provider. This indicates the potential for growth of the sector through cross selling.

“UAE customers are willing to buy more but they expect insurers to make it easy for them. The process has to be convenient, providing an opportunity for multiple buying at the time of original purchase and via the channel of their choosing. Products need to be simple so that it is easy for customers to understand what they are buying, and customers increasingly expect to be rewarded for loyalty. Customers will expect a discount for holding more than one product, so insurers need to develop a pricing model that allows this,” said Justin Balcombe, MENA Insurance Sector Leader, Ernst & Young.

The importance of pricing
Received wisdom is that property and casualty products are often commoditized and price, therefore, is the only criterion on which they are purchased. 58% of respondents say they take price into consideration ahead of a well known or trustworthy brand and customer service.

For the customer, the importance of pricing largely depends on the type of insurance being purchased. For those buying directly from an insurer, price is selected as the most important factor, however for bank customers; financial stability is the most important factor. Across all channels for motor and home insurance, price is overwhelmingly the key driver.

For renewals, non-price factors, such as service and trust, are most important to loyal customers, with price being identified as a key factor by only 25% of respondents. “Price is an important component of value, but it is not the only one. Our research indicates that purchase drivers are specific to product and channel,” commented Justin.

Reasons for switching
Insurers may not be not keeping up with customer loyalty trends, as UAE customers are increasingly accustomed to rewards for loyalty. 18% of UAE consumers of life and savings products have already switched providers in the last 5 years – the highest among all countries in the global survey. The high level of switching in the UAE is likely to be driven by changes to employment status together with the transient nature of the population.

The survey showed that over a third of switchers moved due to the provider’s inability to adapt to their needs, which suggests a lack of flexibility on the part of insurers. Poor service was the next most cited reason for changing. 37% of the UAE respondents said that they are very or fairly likely to change provider in the next five years, as compared to only 15% in the Americas and 16% in Europe.

“Though providers may feel they have little ability to make a difference to customer retention, 51% of switchers would have considered staying if their provider had proposed an improved financial offer. Insurers in the UAE should focus on service quality, product flexibility and loyalty rewards,” added Justin.

Repeat purchases
Convenience and service are the main factors driving repeat purchases. Customers cite simplicity (72%) and the expectation of better service (47%) as major reasons for preferring a single provider. Comparing UAE results to other regions, it is clear that improved quality and frequency of contact, as well as satisfaction with the provider, drive repeat purchases. Incentives or rewards for loyalty can also influence this.

“Insurers need to ask how they can demonstrate that a repeat purchase is either easier or better value than going to another insurer. Processes for repeat sales need to leverage the insurers’ existing data, to shorten the sale time and tailor the product. Insurers who ask questions to which they already know the answers will lose their goodwill advantage,” added Justin.

Implications for insurers
The research shows that across nearly all countries, most switchers heard very little or nothing from their insurers. This is also the case in the UAE — 46% of those who changed non-life insurance providers feel that their former insurer did not make any effort to prevent them from switching. For life insurance providers, only 31% of customers said insurers had made fair or great efforts to retain them.

“Having an effective customer retention function is becoming essential for insurers. Repeat sales can be achieved but insurers need to improve and leverage their client data using CRM systems. Personal interaction in the sales process remains very important. Client contact methods need to improve to meet both servicing and retention objectives so personal interaction needs to be in place across all distribution channels,” concluded Justin.

About Global Insurance Consumer Survey 2012 — United Arab Emirates
Ernst & Young conducted a groundbreaking survey of insurance customers. Working with the research firm Ipsos, we set out to test the received wisdom by interviewing 503 consumers of life and non-life personal insurance products in the United Arab Emirates, as part of a global survey covering 23 countries in seven regions around the world.

About Ernst & Young Middle East
The MENA practice of Ernst & Young has been operating in the region since 1923.  For over 88 years, we have evolved to meet the legal and commercial developments of the region. Across the Middle East, we have over 4,200 people united across 20 offices and 15 Arab countries, sharing the same values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

For more information, please visit

About Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 152,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

For more information, please visit



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