Mousa Al Rubaian
Chairman of the Saudi Reinsurance Company (Saudi Re)
Moussa Al Rubaian, chairman of the Saudi Reinsurance Company, more commonly known simply as Saudi Re is one of the most experienced insurers in Saudi since the very establishment of the National Cooperative Company for Insurance (NCCI) that held the market monopoly for many years.
The insurance market in KSA has developed very slowly over the past 50 years. The first instances of insurance taken out happened around 1949 or 1950. “Back then –he says - we mostly had importers insuring cargo, and Aramco taking out insurance for the oil exports. This was at the time of king Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud. There were no laws regulating the issue and no Saudi companies providing insurance.” Instead, companies registered in tax havens all over the world, working on offshore licenses in Bahrain, provided the service. Later, the Council of Senior Ulema allowed cooperative insurance - as opposed to commercial insurance – passing the first law regulating the sector in 1958.”
According to Robayan, this situation created the opportunity to start insurer NCCI from Dubai. Its current Saudi branch is called Tawuniyya ('cooperative' in Arabic). “Originally, the company was 50% owned by the Saudi Ministry of Finance, 25% by GOSI and 25% by PPA'” says Robayan, who started working as their CEO in 1986, “with no experience at all, but the company was very successful and ultimately became the largest insurance company in the Arab world.” It still is today. In January 2009, NCCI (the mother company in Dubai) posted a 341% rise in profit, with SR 4 billion in gross premiums.
The liberalisation of the market
In January 2005, the company sold 70% to the public via an IPO. Robayan, seeing the commercial market opening, subsequently left the company to start his own consulting agency and Saudi Re. Saudi licenses began to be issued in 2007. The first one went to NCCI, the next to Malad. “I provided consultancy services to both,” he explains, “and to many other companies who started up later on. The regulations themselves, especially the compulsory motor and health insurances for the general public, but also medical malpractice and contractors' risk insurances, created much growth. At the moment, five large insurance companies control over 60% of the market, 25 other companies very little each. Some form of consolidation will consequently appear soon.”
The insurance market in KSA is in fact doubling every 3 years - it is about SR 11 billion in gross premiums now. Along with its growth, the need for a reinsurer serving the market became more pressing too. This is where Saudi Re comes into play, providing reinsurance to companies who need it due to the size or frequency of the risks they are exposed to. “We are the only locally based dedicated reinsurance company and leader in the market. We offer expertise no other company can muster and as you may know, in the reinsurance business worldwide, expertise is relatively scarce,” Robayan elaborates on his company's USP. “We transact virtually all contracts, whether facultative (covering everything), risks on an individual basis, proportional or non-proportional. We have 30 employees and serve 30 to 40 clients in the Arab world, mainly in the GCC. Seeing as we are the only reinsurer in KSA, our competition is international not local.”
The recent founding and fast growth of the company means that they are now in a consolidation phase. “In 2008 our aim was to get a foot on the ground, now we are building on our portfolio, getting people to know and trust us. We are consolidating now. In the immediate future we want to grow the business but also the expertise in KSA. We are training young Saudi graduates to become experts.
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