By Neil Halligan
Just 6% of UAE residents currently have cover, compared to 76% in the UK
Insurance companies in Dubai have witnessed an increase in new customers contacting them following the fire at The Torch Tower, which has left 101 apartments still inaccessible to residents.
Zahir Sharif, UAE manager of Zurich Insurance, said he has witnessed an increase in recent days of people enquiring about the cost of home insurance packages, similar to what happened after a previous fire at Jumeirah Lake Tower's Tamweel Tower in 2012.
“We saw the same thing with Tamweel Towers - straight off the back of that we saw an increase in the amount of people purchasing home insurance, and then it dropped off again. It kind of spiked up for the first ten to 12 days, and then after that we see a bit of a dip,” Sharif told Arabian Business.
“We are seeing people calling up, even from that building (The Torch) and asking what do I need to get protection. There's definitely a spike, definitely an interest and we will see an increase in sales for the first two weeks and then it tends to dip down again,” he added.
Sharif said they are currently dealing with 16 households in The Torch, and they are looking to help people get a “quick pay-out on that so they can rebuild their lives”.
Statistically, just six percent of UAE residents have home insurance, compared with 76 percent in the UK. Sharif said there are a number of reasons why people have not taken out insurance.
“Firstly, there's a lack of awareness of the benefit of this cover. A lot of people are tenants in this part of the world, and as a tenant there is a kind of feeling that 'I don't need it', or 'my landlord or the building management will help me',” he said.
Sharif said the relatively low crime rate in the UAE is another factor, but said the amount of household damage caused by leaks and fires should encourage more to take out insurance.
“In this part of the world, water leakages, fire and floods are far more common. Most of our property claims that we see coming to Zurich are relating to burst pipes, boilers, floods,” he said.
Sharif said Zurich has three core products - home contents, worldwide possessions and building insurance – the cost of which can be quite inexpensive.
“People associate home insurance as being quite expensive, but for a dirham a day you can cover your property. For AED400 [$108] or so a year, you can get cover. It depends what you're covering, if you have jewellery or beautiful furniture, you need to talk through what your risk is. Home insurance is relatively cheap, when you compare it to other parts of the world,” he said.
Sharif said Zurich had noticed an increase in claims during 2014, which he puts down to people being more aware of what the insurance covered.
“We have definitely seen an increase in property claims, and that's a good thing. I think the reason we've seen an increase in property claims is because more awareness has been made by several insurance companies, including ourselves, to educate people and make them aware of how to claim on home insurance. It's all within the pricing, so I don't see any knee-jerk of people changing pricing,” he said.For all the latest real estate news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.