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Ambitions for growth

The relationship with our clients is based on trust, says Michael Gatt, Atlas Insurance PCC Limited CEO.

Michael GattMichael Gatt

Are Maltese becoming more aware of their insurance needs?

We believe they are, although it’s a slow process. As a company we feel it’s part of our role to help people understand the financial stability gained from insuring one’s investments. Market growth in 2014 was greater than in previous years. However insurance take up when compared to other EU countries still leaves us at the lower end of the scale.

For instance, our homes are often one of our biggest investments. However we still find many clients who only insure their property because they need to satisfy the bank’s requirements for a loan. Once the house is fully paid, they stop renewing and bear the risk of partial or total loss themselves, totally ignoring the financial loss that could wipe away their life savings.

What growth have you experienced in recent years?

Despite operating in a challenging environment in the local market, Atlas experienced a steady growth over the last years and an overall premium growth of nine per cent in its local business in 2014, which is the highest growth we have experienced in the past five years.

During the past two years, the company expanded its branch network with the opening of our eighth and ninth branches in Bormla and Mosta, to further spread our reach and bring us closer to our clients. Growth was also experienced both from brokers introduced business as well as our tied insurance intermediaries and via the internet.

Atlas Insurance was the first to convert to an independent protected cell company in the EU. What benefits does this give you and your clients?

As a PCC, we allow third party investors to set up their own mini insurance vehicles in Atlas, wherein their assets are ring fenced to be used solely for the purposes of their cells.

Atlas was the first PCC to host an insured owned cell covering its own UK motor fleet. We host a cell owned by a large hotel chain which sells insurance as an optional bolt-on to hotel bookings. Yet another sells pet insurance. More recently we licensed a reinsurance cell that converted from a standalone company for better efficiency. Atlas has always undertaken a prudent risk management approach and this is maintained in the evaluation and management of every cell.

Our cell hosting facility is also used by leading global insurance management companies for their clients. This is achieved through an outsourcing agreement with the manager in respect of the specific cells they introduce.

For Atlas, this conversion was considered to be the most prudent way of attaining gradual expansion overseas. This move has positioned Atlas as a forward-looking insurer with ambitions for growth and always ready to identify and exploit new business opportunities in order to further support financial stability for its local customer base.

What determines a business’s insurance needs?

Each business has different requirements and a customised approach is essential. We always recommend building a relationship of trust with one’s insurer who will address the individual risk requirements or appetite of each business situation.

What makes Atlas Insurance a good employer and how do you invest in your human resources?

Our growth and success is dependent on our management’s ability to develop quality in themselves and others. Our people, through employee engagement and performance management initiatives, remain key to achieving our business objectives in today’s challenging environment. We also give incentives for staff to continue their education.

We have a healthy gender ratio of 49 per cent males to 51 per cent females, with 41 per cent having been with us for over 10 years. Also, 25 per cent of our staff avail themselves of flexible work arrangements. We also participate in several student placement schemes and have strong ties with feeder educational institutions. Regular training supports our ‘People you can trust’ philosophy.

Through the setting up of the Atlas Wellness Programme, we also aim to support a healthier lifestyle for staff, offering on site yoga, circuit training and a walking club.

What are your prospects for 2015?

We will continue to strengthen our brand and reputation, through the experience being gained locally through product development and overseas in our cell operations. We aim to build on the growth achieved, keeping high standards to exceed clients’ expectations. Our commitment is that Atlas Insurance PCC remains a key player in Malta’s financial services sector as a reputable and preferred employer, service provider and business partner.

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