Iraqis lack awareness on life insurance despite violence

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Despite the killing of hundreds of Iraqis every month, lack of awareness about life insurance is one of the main reasons why people in the country are not ensuring their lives.

“Iraqis lack awareness on life insurance despite rising violence in the country,” Sadiq Abdul Rahman, general manager of the state-owned Iraq Insurance Company, told Al Arabiya English.

Regular people in Iraq “don’t think about death. They’d rather put their money in a bank or pay their mortgages,” said Abdul Rahman, whose company reports directly to the Ministry of Finance.

In May alone, more than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq, the highest monthly death toll in years, the United Nations said.

More than 3,600 people have been killed this year until August, according to figures compiled by Agence France-Presse.

In response, Rahman told Al Arabiya English that the Iraq Insurance Company has proposed to ensure the lives of 700,000 policemen and soldiers.

“We have filed our request to the ministry and we are waiting for their response.”

Iraqi civilians, however, are not keen to pay monthly insurance premiums, said Yassir Sabri Raouf, president of the private Al-Hamraa Insurance Company.

“There’s an increase in [life insurance] inquiries, but they don’t translate into orders,” Raouf said, adding that “insurance is still seen as an unnecessary product.”

Sameer Qattan, vice president of Al-Hamraa, said some people are discouraged because they view premiums as expensive.

Rahman disagreed, saying market competition forces companies to offer “suitable” prices.

He also said that the “purchasing power of government employees is becoming stronger, ” adding that this should lead to increased interest in insurance policies in the future. However, the general manager stated that to encourage widespread interest in insurance policies, there needs to be a coordinated efforts to raise awareness.

Insurance companies are responsible for failing to do this, he said, “because they’re not using media or ads to promote their services.”

Despite Rahman’s statement that there is a widespread lack of awareness regarding life insurance, his company has seen an increase in profits, from $3.5 million in 2011 to $7 million in 2012.

Rahman added that the insurance industry in Iraq is still in its youth, noting that his 400-employee company is considered large in comparison to other private firms.

“One of the biggest private firms in insurance has about 15-20 employees maximum,” he said, giving this as a possible reason why the importance of life insurance is not widely advertised.

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