Beema Insurance's journey just beginning as it drives ambitious growth plans forward

More than 20,000 motorists have become Beema customers as it prepares to take its industry-challenging pay-per-kilometre model into Saudi Arabia, across the GCC region and into other growth markets overseas

Nicola Garelli, chief executive of Beema Insurance. Image: supplied
Nicola Garelli, chief executive of Beema Insurance. Image: supplied

The early 2000s witnessed the internet disrupt the global insurance space by altering the way people sought and bought protection - now UAE start-up Beema Insurance is at the forefront of the next wave of change regionally.

The company brought its innovative proposition to motorists in 2019, disrupting a long-established industry with the country’s first pay-per-kilometre motor insurance model.

And it proved popular.

In its first year, Beema captured a one per cent share of the UAE's motor insurance market - the fastest market share growth relative to the competition, it says - and is now unveiling ambitious plans to scale the popular offering internationally.

Beema arguably introduced a product for our time, rewarding drivers who clock up less distance with up to 25 per cent cash-back - less distance spelling less risk of accidents, according to the provider.

We are a homegrown UAE start-up that is growing a lot, has an outstanding and multicultural team and is trying to create a very distinctive success story

Nicola Garelli, CEO, Beema Insurance

This is versus traditional motor policies that charge car owners more rigid annual premiums regardless of how much/little they drive.

More than 20,000 motorists have become Beema customers - and the start-up is preparing to take the industry-challenging model into Saudi Arabia, across the GCC region and into other growth markets overseas.

It will also enrich its product portfolio with innovative insurance offerings for travel - coming soon - home insurance, expected to launch in the third quarter of 2021, and a health insurance proposition that rewards people for maintaining healthier lifestyles.

Beema navigated one of the toughest years for the global economy by bringing a common sense model that can save prudent motorists money, while maintaining its objectives of quality coverage and positive customer service.

Users, as well as the surrounding regional insurance industry, have taken note, confirms Beema chief executive Nicola Garelli.

He says he wants to “create a community feeling” among Beema customers, with elements such as trust, ease of use, dependable, harmonious service, celebrated customer experience and responsible usage at the core.

Insurance is something most of us have to buy to safeguard us and our valuables, yet hope we do not need to call upon. So the process of buying policies should arguably be simple and hassle-free as possible.

Beema's Nicola Garelli. Image: supplied
Beema's Nicola Garelli. Image: supplied

Beema’s solution-driven, technology-led model delivers this while favouring transparency over jargon, led by a ready-to-talk team keen to shake up the industry.

“We approach insurance having the customer needs always in front,” says Mr Garelli, highlighting Beema’s significant current and scheduled investment in product development.

“We start from the frictions and the need and design something meaningful, and then bring it to market with a distinctive proposition.”

He says Beema proved its agility and ability to adapt as the company’s carefully curated team set the pace in 2020. To Beema’s huge advantage during pandemic restrictions was its 100 per cent remote working policy.

“We were one of the first companies in the UAE … we went remote at the end of February because I saw what was happening in Europe and didn’t want our team to take risks.

“We prioritised and are prioritising wellbeing in a way that is quite rare.”

While offering an industry-leading product to motorists, Beema continues to be an exciting entrant to the UAE’s vibrant start-up ecosystem - one which could have a positive effect on the broader insurance industry, says Mr Garelli.

“We are a homegrown UAE start-up that is growing a lot, has an outstanding and multicultural team and is trying to create a very distinctive success story.

“We are really trying to promote innovation and advance the insurance industry in the broader GCC, by bringing new methodologies and a new approach to users, a new approach to technical risk … to push the industry to be better for people.”

Beema says it is ahead of the trend, reshaping familiar insurance industry templates and defining the road ahead for the fledgling yet hugely promising InsurTech industry in the UAE and wider GCC.

To do that, the company acknowledges the need for continued investment in technology at the heart of its offering alongside the human talent that has the start-up driving a reputation for refreshing customer service standards.

Not surprising, perhaps, this evolving sector is spiking the interest of investors as InsurTech companies, here and elsewhere, take a bite out of an overall insurance industry market worth at least $7 trillion.

Just as the internet steered a $100 billion-plus share of the insurance market online in a just over a decade, Beema is the regional leader in the industry’s latest evolution; a tectonic shift in which data and technology enable actionable insight to shape underwriting and pricing.

We have a very ambitious growth plan in the coming years and are very realistic about our next step

Nicola Garelli, CEO, Beema Insurance

The company plans to scale within the GCC and extend beyond, focusing on untapped potential in other growth markets, such as Asia-Pacific and North and Central African nations.

These are territories with low insurance penetration that Mr Garelli says are under served compared with more advanced markets, presenting the prospect of above average underwriting profitability and 50 per cent of the future growth in the motor insurance market.

“We develop our product entirely in-house,” says the chief executive.

“It gives certainty that we build value for ourselves, but also the area and countries where we operate.”

Like UAE success stories such as Careem, Beema is a scalable business that has grasped the region’s start-up energy and exhibits huge appetite for international growth.

Currently setting up to operate in Saudi Arabia towards the end of the year, the firm has come a long way in a short time.

But Beema’s says its journey is just beginning.

“We have a very ambitious growth plan in the coming years and are very realistic about our next steps,” adds Mr Garelli.

“What we are trying to do is bring something different … doing insurance in the way it will always be done more in the next decade. It will be a good journey.”

Updated: May 25, 2021 11:36 AM

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