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Allcare turns strategic corner

Allcare group head Ramon Mizzi says the health<br />business offers myriad opportunities for product<br />development. Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiAllcare group head Ramon Mizzi says the health
business offers myriad opportunities for product
development. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Allcare Group turned a strategic corner at the beginning of the year when one of its subsidiaries, Allcare Insurance Ltd, began to operate as a fully-fledged insurer under its new licence to transact all classes of non-life business.

The company, a member of the Msida-based group which also encompasses Allcare Insurance Agency Ltd, was granted the first licence to underwrite general business in the local market by the regulator since 2004.

Essentially, the development gives Allcare Insurance the freedom to develop new products and offer a wider range of services to its existing and new clientele, and develop relationships with intermediaries to act on its behalf.

Over its 26 years in business, Allcare Insurance Agency evolved into one of Malta’s largest and was the only multi-principal agency in the market, serving Middlesea Insurance plc and Citadel Insurance plc.

The main growth area in the local market is professional risk

Group head Ramon Mizzi said the time was ripe to take the bold step: “The decision was taken 18 months ago,” he told The Sunday Times. “Allcare Insurance Agency Ltd was spawned from Mediterranean Insurance Brokers Ltd in the late 1980s. The landscape has since changed considerably – there were once 27 to 30 agencies of mainly UK principals. Now it is the local companies which dominate the scene. Last year, the directors believed the size of the company justified the step.”

Allcare Insurance’s shareholders are the same as Allcare Insurance Agency – La Laguna Ltd, Global Management Services Ltd, and Tumas Group.

Mr Mizzi, who was appointed group head in May 2011 and is among the most experienced senior insurance executives on the local circuit, explained that although there is a significant difference between operating as an agency and as an insurer, Allcare’s structure already lent itself to its planned guise. Some development of the portfolio and the staff complement was required, however.

As an agent, Allcare was transacting all classes of non-life businesses and possessed the capabilities to issue policies, underwrite and handle claims to operate its business independently. To satisfy the stringent requirements of the new licence, the compliance and finance functions were bolstered.

“We were serving our customers just as though we were an insurer,” Mr Mizzi said. “Now our service levels will continue to be enhanced.

“Allcare’s differentiator has been its customer relationship management processes – we constantly evaluate and review the ways in which we treat our customers. The response is very encouraging. As we operate under our own steam, those relationships will be strengthened. Our existing client base is our major priority.”

Mr Mizzi admits he has an affinity to health business, particularly as it offers myriad opportunities for product development. Allcare has broken the mould where new insurers are concerned as it offered health cover from its first day of operation, thanks to the knowledge and capabilities the agency possessed.

The main growth area in the local market is undoubtedly professional risk. Take-up of professional indemnity policies and directors and officers cover is growing. With rules constantly under scrutiny, members of the medical, financial and legal professions are seeking to protect themselves against claims related to service levels which clients may deem to have fallen short of expectation.

With claims-consciousness increasing, professionals and board and executive team members in the business community understand the importance of managing their risk.

Asked about longer-term plans, Mr Mizzi said Allcare did not seek to venture into the life business. Its immediate priority was to consolidate its business.

However, with Malta evolving into an attractive insurance jurisdiction, Mr Mizzi did not rule out tapping the opportunities in the international insurance business in the future.

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