A new way of buying car insurance is quickly taking hold in the UAE.
According to figures released by yallacompare, a Dubai-based financial comparison site, over 5,000 UAE residents per month now opt to buy their car insurance online after comparing policies.
Of these, the majority are sold through yallacompare, which introduced car insurance comparison to the UAE market in early 2016.
In an insurance landscape still clinging to the concepts of offline brokerages and wet signatures, the introduction of online insurance comparison was revolutionary. By the end of 2016, perhaps 1.5% of insurance sales were made online in the UAE. Today, online is quickly becoming the default choice.
“When we first started with insurance comparison, we had to do a lot of development and behind-the-scenes tech work to actually help bring the insurance companies online. Those who partnered with us have since seen massive gains, because they’re now addressing the entire market,” said Jon Richards, CEO of yallacompare.
“But, really, consumers have benefitted most. Now that you can browse real-time quotes online and select the policies that best fit your needs, you find that consumers are saving substantial amounts of money.”
One such consumer is Farhad Sabbagh, an Egyptian national who has lived in Dubai since 2009. Up until last year, his approach to buying car insurance had always been to stick with his existing insurer and to simply renew each year.
However, having heard about yallacompare on a local radio station in 2017, he decided to browse for quotes online when his policy was next up for renewal.
“When I found the online quotes, I didn’t actually believe they were real. There were so many options, and many were offering the same coverage as my existing policy – but for almost Dh1,000 less,” Sabbagh said.
“When I told my insurer about this, they said that they couldn’t match the prices I found online. So I bought online and that was that. I saved about Dh800 altogether and I got better coverage. I’m always going to compare now.”
Insurance comparison is nothing new in western markets. The first insurance comparison site in the UK, confused.com, launched in 2002. However, in the Middle East, technological shortfalls prevented the same sorts of sites from springing up.
Indeed, those limitations still affect the consumer experience today. Richards says that, although yallacompare offers a decidedly western-style user experience when it comes insurance comparison, the back-end processes that power his site are worlds apart from the inner workings of yallacompare’s British counterparts.
“The insurance sector just evolved completely differently in this region, meaning we had to get pretty creative with how to bring the whole process online,” Richards said. “On top of that, customers in the Middle East expect different things. For example, we found that, when we introduced phone support to the comparison process, our conversions went through the roof. People here want that reassurance that you can deal with a real person.”
However, with online insurance comparison becoming increasingly normalised, it appears that UAE consumers are ready to accept this new paradigm in the insurance industry.