UAE: Some insurers raise natural calamities premiums by up to 50% after record rains

Currently, majority of insurance companies in the country include this coverage in their policies

by

Waheed Abbas

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SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Mon 20 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 20 May 2024, 10:40 PM

Some insurers in the UAE have increased premiums for damages related to natural catastrophes, while others are still considering adjustments in rates and will do so in the near future.

Industry executives say that rates for natural catastrophe premiums have increased by up to 50 per cent following the record rains the country witnessed on April 16.


As reported by Khaleej Times earlier, many insurers increased comprehensive insurance premiums within a couple of days after the storm, which caused massive widespread loss of cars, homes and shops in the country.

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Currently, the majority – not all – UAE insurance companies include natural calamities coverage in their policies.

Moin ur Rehman, executive director of Unitrust Insurance Broker, said most car insurance policies in the UAE include coverage for natural perils such as floods and earthquakes, but there are exceptions as well.

He said some have raised premiums related to natural disasters, while others have not. Therefore, policyholders should contact their insurers for detailed information about any rate adjustments.

Moin ur Rehman
Moin ur Rehman

The unprecedented rains in UAE on April 16 caused major damage to cars, homes and businesses due to flooding in the aftermath of the storm. It also resulted in massive flooding of claims for insurers in the country.

“Following the unprecedented rains last month, some insurance firms have indeed reassessed their risk models, leading to adjustments in premiums. Some have increased premiums for new policies to account for the heightened risk, while others have maintained their rates but are considering adjustments in the near future,” said Avinash Babur, founder and CEO of Insurancemarket.ae.

Avinash Babur
Avinash Babur

“On average, we have observed an increase ranging from 10 to 20 per cent in premiums for policies that include this coverage. We are expecting this to increase further,” he said.

Neeraj Gupta, CEO of Policybazaar.ae, said almost all car insurers have increased their natural catastrophe rates from 20 to 50 per cent since the rains last month.

Rates changing ‘every second day’

Gupta said that from a car insurance perspective, the hikes haven’t settled down yet.

“We are seeing rates being changed almost every second day. But what we can confidently say across the board is that prices have increased by 30 per cent on average for comprehensive cover. From the home insurance perspective, insurers are still doing a wait-and-watch as the penetration remains low but what the rains have done has increase demand and knowledge about these products. Today, we get roughly 200 per cent of the queries we used to get prior to April 16, 2024,” said the Policybazaar chief executive.

Neeraj Gupta
Neeraj Gupta

Steady flow of claims continues

Neeraj Gupta of Policybazaar said insurers are still seeing a steady inflow of claims. “We are assuming this to stop soon and for all valid claims to be paid out by the middle of June,” he said, adding that most of claims are coming for auto insurance.

Echoing Gupta’s comments, Avinash Babur said majority of claims following the record rains have come from the auto segment. “While SME businesses have also submitted claims, particularly for property and business interruption, the volume of auto claims has been notably higher.”

Babur added that insurers are taking additional time to thoroughly assess these claims due to specific policy clauses that stipulate vehicles should not be driven during extreme weather conditions. They need to verify compliance with these terms before reviewing and approving damages.

“Typically, flood damage repair approvals may take 7-10 days, subject to a full survey of the vehicle. However, the unprecedented volume of claims — about five times more than usual — has significantly impacted the processing time. Insurers are now dealing with an overwhelming number of claims, which has led to delays in both assessment and approval stages,” he said.

Additionally, the high occupancy rates of garages and repair workshops have exacerbated the situation. These workshops are struggling to cope with the sheer number of vehicles requiring repairs, further extending the timeline for completing necessary repairs.

“The overall settlement period has increased to 21-25 days, and in some cases, it may take even longer. Insurers and repair shops are working diligently to manage the backlog and expedite the process as much as possible, but the combined effect of increased claims and workshop capacity constraints have inevitably led to delays.

Moin ur Rehman added that delays may occur due to waiting for approval from other insurance companies, particularly in multi-vehicle incidents. “Currently, insurers and garages face capacity constraints due to the high volume of repair cases. However, this bottleneck is expected to gradually ease over the next few weeks.”

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