The article below was supplied by 2018 FIA partner MUA. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the FIA.
Acknowledged as a leader in their market segment, the company has stood the test of time in a fiercely competitive space for three decades, emerging as a true risk management partner that understands its clients whilst adding exceptional value.
MUA started life in 1988 as ‘Motor Underwriting Agency’. As South Africa’s first agency to offer motor-only insurance and the second UMA (Underwriting Management Agency), it had extended its product offering to include homeowners, household contents and all-risk cover by 2006.
During 2009, Lireas Holdings (the strategic investment arm of Hannover Re in Africa) acquired 100% of MUA shares and converted it back to a UMA. By 2014, MUA changed its risk carrier to Auto and General – a partnership that is sustained to this day.
This heritage points in part to what the firm now knows. But it is their responses to modern challenges – their resilience – that gives the business clarity into what they have learned and how to apply it to the future. Dawie Loots, MUA’s Chief Executive Officer, believes their heritage speaks of innovation and service excellence built on trust-based relationships. “Our challenge though, is to draw upon our long heritage but not be bound by it,” he says.
Taking care of people takes care of more than just business.
In a market where insurance offerings are increasingly commoditised, a key differentiator is MUA’s focus on earning close relationships with its brokers and clients by developing the very best people.
“MUA people are resourced to be experts in their clients’ lifestyle choices too. From prestige SUVs and classic vehicles, luxury brands, private game and wine farms, high-end retirement estate living and collectibles, we learn about our client’s lifestyle to better serve them”, says San-Mare van Zyl, MUA’s Head of Insurance Operations.
Securing MUA’s talent and leadership pipeline is key for long term success.
New employees are encouraged to become innovation leaders through internal training and mentoring – fostering a culture of innovation and learning within the firm.
“Longevity is a key index to measure a company, and we must generate new innovations and leaders. This means developing our talent pipeline with a smooth entry ramp for talented external hires, and making sure talent stays in the company”, says CEO Loots.
A continued focus on full combined business.
According to brokers, MUA’s Executive Policy is recognised as one of the best in the category. Lindsay Robertson, Regional manager – Gauteng, spoke of how a recent short survey conducted with selected brokers unearthed some valuable insight. “Overwhelmingly brokers said we should continue our highly-regarded emphasis on developing and refining our existing products. Our service levels are perceived as above average, with a noticeably strong and positive sentiment around our claims service specifically”, says Robertson.
MUA’s focus remains on writing new business on a combined basis but are well-placed to be creative around new products to cover the emerging needs from clients, like Airbnb property rental and frequent travel for HNW individuals.
Not all things will stay the way they are.
Insurance will see major disruptions as behaviours of younger consumers drive digitisation, and MUA is spearheading innovations to meet those needs. Joel Garner, MUA’s Enterprise Architect, explains. “We are prioritising broker and client digital claims channels to enhance all aspects of the claims process – from claims registration, assessment, status updates through to finalisation and payment – effectively giving command over the process to our brokers and clients.”
These enhancements will take time to deliver, but as MUA finds their digital sweet-spot, it will enhance the ‘broker and customer journey’ and drive convenience, agility and personalisation. Enabling brokers and clients to interact with MUA on all aspects of the insurance journey – from policy take-on, amendments, reporting, accounting through to claims administration – will pay dividends.
By leveraging actuarial pricing, Grant Smith, MUA’s Actuarial Specialist believes MUA’s impeccable credentials in the high-net-worth market will help its brokers to enhance their market share. MUA’s culture, after all, believes imagination is the key to resiliency – exemplified through its 30th year of insuring the individual.
Broker support is a key driver for MUA.
Lynda Brown, MUA’s Regional manager – KwaZulu-Natal, avers that their network of independent brokers perceives MUA to be an accessible provider – always willing to discuss matters and to regularly have face-to-face discussions to build sound relationships.
Brown believes that MUA have an advantage over their competitors in this area. “MUA has a 30-year successful track record of building broker relationships – more than any other in our market”, she said.
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