Amãna Takaful Chief Executive Officer Fazal Ghaffoor
How ATL Insurance is committed to protecting all Sri Lankans
In this interview, Amãna
Takaful (ATL) PLC CEO Fazal Ghaffoor explains how the company’s vision to be ‘Open to All’ comes to life across all aspects of its operation
Q: ATL has grown in stature over the years, with a distinct identity. How has ATL sustained its position in the market?
A: Understanding and meeting the insurance needs of Sri Lankans across the island has been instrumental in ATL’s journey of growth. We have expanded our footprint across the country over the years by opening new branches in strategic locations and adapting in line with changing dynamics of the market. Our commitment to our customers has given us a strong reputation and top of mind recall. Additionally, our ability to provide them with a sense of protection in all aspects of their lives has also strengthened their bond with our brand.
In the last two years alone, ATL has created a unique offering by rebalancing its portfolio to ensure its growth momentum is sustained without being dependent on any particular business segment. Our emphasis on the non-motor segment has helped us to develop and diversify innovative products, building capacity and scale, whilst offering our customers an efficient and flexible service that best suits their lifestyle. Our customers are at the heart of our entire operation and we continuously strive to offer them optimal value and above all things, peace of mind through our insurance plans.
ATL is perceived to be an insurer who customises insurance solutions to the precise and particular needs of customers across various categories. A look at our main products demonstrates the focused benefits that we have designed for specific customer segments.
Q: Tell us about the unique benefits and aspects of your product?
A: One key USP that we offer as an insurer, is a surplus refund, which is paid out to all non-claimant policyholders at the end of the year, once all key expenses and operational responsibilities have been covered. This is a unique benefit offered by us so that customers too can harness additional benefits and returns.
Q: What is distinct about your product portfolio?
A: Customer-centricity is at the heart of our operations and deeply entrenched in our strategic plans. As a result, ATL consistently tries its best to pioneer products that are innovative, one-of-a-kind and which take into account customers’ specific needs. We believe that Sri Lankans deserve protection for all things in life, no matter how big, or small they may be.
For example, ATL’s ‘All-in-one’ product offers tailor-made policies for businesses, depending on their nature, and includes business loans, income continuity assurance and relocation cover in case of natural disasters and many more benefits that business owners could rely on for added security. This product also offers a hassle-free solution, by providing a digital interface to process transactions. These benefits give business owners of enterprises of all sizes, the confidence and stability that they need to run a seamless operation, as they have the reassurance that if anything goes wrong, ATL will be there to help them through it.
Demonstrating its customer centricity even further, ATL’s ‘Total Drive’ Motor Insurance product responds to real needs by omitting hype and extra frills and offering the most important benefits that drivers look for, such as the ‘Call & Go’ facility. An accident of any kind is stressful enough as it is, and this facility ensures that drivers don’t have to linger tirelessly at the accident site, they can simply report the incident, submit the necessary proof and carry on with their journey. A 75% advance payment is given for approved estimates with airbags and windscreens being covered at no extra charge. As for the policy, coverage is extended not only to the vehicle but also to the driver, in the unfortunate event that he or she is hurt.
Another way in which we live our commitment to being ‘Open to All’ is by serving all segments, even those which the industry has not traditionally served in the past. Through this passion for inclusivity, ATL designed a unique product that serves senior citizens over-55, usually a segment which finds it hard to access comprehensive medical insurance. ATL’s ‘Krutha Guna’, is a unique hospitalisation policy that provides the elderly with financial security and much-needed support in times of need.
As they enter a more vulnerable stage of life, our valued elderly customers obtain greater peace of mind through this policy and don’t have to live in constant worry or fear over how they will be able to handle a medical emergency. ATL understands that pre-existing ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes etc. are a challenge in opting for an insurance cover. For the first time in Sri Lanka through ‘Krutha Guna’, ATL has come forward to waive-off pre-existing ailments from the second year onwards.
ATL’s ‘Suwasiri’ Health Insurance policy was designed to benefit all Sri Lankans regardless of their income levels. Through this health insurance cover, customers pay a mere Rs. 2,222 annually to gain a medical cover worth Rs. 100,000.
ATL’s ‘Tuk Tuk Full’ for three-wheelers and ‘Smart Rider Cover’ for motorcycles are compelling insurance schemes that address key concerns of its target group – to ensure their livelihoods are sustained. These two products cover its riders across a spectrum of worst-case scenarios to ensure that they do not have to suffer monetary loss due to any reason. The customised process flow ensures customers feel confident, having the knowledge that their motor bikes, three-wheelers and their own lives are covered against eventualities. ATL’s ‘Tuk Tuk Full’ also ensures income continuity in case of vehicle accident repair, these are harsh realities that this particular segment deals with on a regular basis. Very often, a three-wheel driver will be the sole breadwinner for the family and it is critical that in the event of an accident, his family continues to receive a flow of income.
Q: What are some of the dynamic initiatives undertaken by ATL in recent months?
A: We expanded our footprint throughout the island, we are also conducting leadership programs and enhancing our CSR activities. Over the years, we have also won a variety of accolades that recognise innovative product developments, most recently being awarded the prestigious Gold Award in the ‘Takaful Entity of the Year’ category together with its novel insurance scheme ‘Kiri Govi Sathakara’ (a scheme especially for the dairy farmers), which won Gold in the ‘Product of the Year’ category at the Islamic Finance Forum of South Asia (SLIBFI) awards – a testament to our team and their passion and commitment to provide solutions that make a difference in people’s lives.
Q: Tell us more about the company’s future plans?
A: From an operational front, the Company will focus on strengthening distribution, channel development and new product offerings together with customer-engagement programmes to help increase our connection with customers. Our decisions will always be guided by our aim to deliver the highest levels of customer convenience and maintain a dynamic product portfolio that truly fulfils customer aspirations.
Our products are designed keeping the real needs of people in mind, and we hope to build on this event further. A key area that we hope to enhance is the digitalisation of our operation, to facilitate improved speed, efficiency and convenience for all of our customers.
Q: ATL took a bold step to expand its presence overseas. Can you tell us more about ATL’s operations in the Maldives?
A: Amãna Takaful Maldives, the only listed Insurance entity in the Maldives Stock Exchange, continues its steady pace with stellar performance in Gross Written Premium and profits. Its strong performance has been established by the launch of new product lines, efficient cost and claims management and investment returns. We perceive greater potential in this market going ahead. It is also an honour for us to be able to expand the Takaful concept beyond Sri Lanka’s borders.
Q: How does ATL distinguish its service?
A: As part of its commitment to remain ‘Open to all’, ATL reaches out to customers through a multi-ethnic team across its network. We are dedicated to employing people, who like our customers have different backgrounds ethnicities and beliefs. We strive to create a nurturing and respectful workplace, where they can thrive, and this in turns enables them to reach out and serve others with happiness and dedication.
ATL’s island wide branch network and easily accessible customer touch points offer customers added convenience. ATL constantly answers the call to provide security and protection through its products. Realising the need to offer more convenience to policy-holders, ATL has made arrangements for ‘Total Drive’ premiums to be paid online via its website, this will be rolled out for other products as well. Apart from its branches island-wide, customers can also contact ATL’s 24-hour hotline, 011 750 1000 where representatives are available to address queries any time of the day.
Q: How is ATL responding to the digitalisation wave?
A: Digitalisation is a strategic part of our plan, and hope to play a key role in responding to customer engagement and the transactional environment using digital channels. Shifting the paradigm to real time, on-the-go availability and allowing flexibility to tailor-make products quickly, are all key areas that we are currently working at. In order to infuse greater convenience into our operation, we are also offering various online policies, and online renewals of motor policies to save customers both time and effort. We will continue to invest in the digitalisation of our products and services and encourage customers to experience the convenience that it brings them.
Q: How do your products incorporate sustainability into them?
A: ATL continuously reaches out to all customer groups with innovative insurance products that are convenient and affordable. Our sustainability endeavours have supported communities in need, and giving them the tools and know how that they need to run sustainably. For example, provide guidance to fishermen across the island and focusing on delivering reliable micro-insurance plans that help Sri Lanka’s fishing community with ATL’s ‘Samudra Shakthi’.
ATL supports its customers by paying out claims during times of natural disasters. With ‘Navodhaya’ an annually renewable Death and Living benefit cover, which can be bought by groups of individuals to promote security and protection especially for lesser income earners who are often left out when it comes to insurance.
Q: How does your people philosophy power the company’s growth?
A: At ATL, we value our people and recognise that they are the engine that drives the Company towards true growth and success. We consistently aim to provide our employees with training, tools and skills development that they need to be successful both within the organisation and in society at large.
ATL’s work environment at Head Office and the branch network is reflective of an open, inclusive and stimulating one that gives employees the peace of mind that they need to perform at their best. A mutually inclusive culture, one of tolerance – be it age, gender, ethnicity, nationality and religion and or thinking styles – when it comes to our people, we welcome diversity and a shared spirit of respect and understanding. Our people philosophy is built on close engagement. Our open door policy ensures senior staff is constantly sharing knowledge and encouraging employees to keep pursuing excellence in all that we do.
We are extremely pleased that ATL enjoys over 50% employee retention of those who have been with us for more than five years. In return, we reward their loyalty by extending special employee benefits, training opportunities, overseas exposure and so much more. We have a strong recognition and reward system to provide the right impetus to employees. We also promote gender equality by conducting special activities to salute the contribution that women make to the company’s success.
Today the Group has nearly 300 full-time employees based in the Head Office and throughout our island-wide branch network. Fostering a workplace where employees strive to delight our stakeholders, has resulted in ATL being a highly sought-after employer. We are also deeply humbled and honoured to have received industry recognition for our commitment to create a positive and nurturing working environment. For three consecutive years (2016-2018), ATL was adjudged as one of Sri Lanka’s ‘Best Employer Brands’ at the South Asian Partnership Summit and Business Awards.
Q: How do you see the future prospects for the Company?
A: Our ongoing investment in developing products, systems and human resources are all aimed towards fulfilling customer expectations. Our strategic investments in digitalisation will enhance our portfolio of products and services to enable us to strengthen our bonds with customers further whilst driving growth. In a competitive marketplace, customers are becoming increasingly demanding and selective – and ATL is clearly responding to this by devising products with its signature human touch.
We consistently demonstrate to our customers and stakeholders that our commitment to being ‘Open to All’ is much more than a slogan, it is the cornerstone upon which our entire operation is built. It is a credo that we live by, and one that you can see being brought to life in the products we offer, in the way we serve our customers, in the way we include segments that are traditionally overlooked, in the way we nurture our employees, in the way we run our business, in our CSR efforts, in our achievements and milestones and in the way we strive to achieve growth and expansion.