Lessons of the founder keep AFIA insurance brokers at the top for 25 years

UAE’s largest retail insurance brokerage, which owns InsuranceMarket.ae, was started by Nandu Babur and is now run by his son Avinash

Nandu Babur and Avinash Babur
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"Don't run the same race everyone else is running". This maxim and other principles such as always being customer-centric have underpinned a quarter century of success for AFIA Insurance Brokerage Services, the company behind one of the earliest online pioneers InsuranceMarket.ae.

Founded in 1995 by insurance industry veteran Nandu Babur and led by his son Avinash since 2010, AFIA is marking its 25th year in business this month. By 2007, it was the largest bancassurance-specialist and it has now become the largest retail insurance brokerage in the UAE, employing 400 staff. The company works across all insurance lines including life, motor, health, home and travel.

“It’s indeed a proud moment for us and our stratospheric success over the years would not be possible without the strong foundation built by my father,” AFIA chief executive Avinash Babur said.

The example set by his father, Nandu, has helped to keep AFIA a dynamic and innovative organisation throughout its “market-leading growth”.

The “key lessons that I learned from him and continue to abide by as I lead this dynamic organisation” are factors behind its longevity.

The lessons passed on from father to son include ensuring it is always doing something different compared to its competitors, never spending money before it is earned, keeping a close watch on expenses and “knowing your numbers”, as well as a focus on the critical areas of the business. Perhaps most crucially, AFIA pledges to be resolutely by the side of its customers if they have a claim, Avinash Babur said.

“When it comes to your client's claims - speak up! Even for the smallest claim, if the insurer is wrong, you must fight it out at all costs. That's our key role and we must be there for our clients when they need us most - at the time of a claim,” he said.

Avinash, who launched InsuranceMarket.ae a decade ago as one of the earliest digital-first insurance service platforms in the UAE, said that achieving the client's objectives are as important as achieving the insurance company's objectives.

“This is the only way to make a long-term partnership work - everyone must win.”

He has also followed his father's important advice to be extra attentive to the medical insurance business.

“It's the most personal type of insurance for clients and it can seriously hurt your relationships if you don't deliver,” he said.

InsuranceMarket.ae, famous for its ‘Alfred’ avatar, is one of the highest-rated insurance brokers in the UAE with more than 11,000 Google reviews and a 4.9 star rating. Started as a bootstrapped venture inside AFIA, InsuranceMarket.ae works to make the insurance process more accessible to consumers.

“We are committed to the mission of saving our customers’ time and money when buying insurance,” Avinash said.

AFIA also continues to invest in its proprietary technology, omnichannel marketing and its excellent and passionate team.

“Focus on what's important for your business - and that's not necessarily being the largest. Success and scale is a by-product of doing good work,” Avinash said. “Play the long game - if you lift heavy weights in the gym for a few days you're not going to get big muscles.”