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BIIH plan to launch the first Islamic insurer in Britain

British Islamic Insurance Holdings (BIIH), a company with $38mn of capital provided by UAE investors, plans to be the first stand-alone insurer to offer UK Muslims cover which is shariah compliant.

BIIH intends to launch its business in the UK with key personal lines products in general insurance (motor, building, contents), followed by general insurance products targeted at Small and Medium Enterprises (general liability, commercial motor, commercial property, pecuniary loss), and key life insurance and long-term saving products.

London-based British Islamic has applied to the UK Financial Services Authority for a licence to start writing policies for Islamic insurance, or Takaful, in the first quarter of 2008.  At present, although the UK's 2million Muslims can buy Takaful insurance for their home, no one offers such cover for life or health.

Mr. Aljomaih, the Chairman of BIIH highlighted the large size of business opportunity for takaful products in the UK. He said: "The UK insurance industry is the largest in Europe and its premium to GDP ratio of 12.6% is the highest in the world. The insurance premium paid annually by the UK Muslim population is broadly equal to the insurance premium of the entire Gulf region". (Please see for further details).

After conducting research amongst the UK's 2 million Muslims, BIIH found a strong preference for Shariah compliant insurance solutions amongst UK Muslims; 50% said that they are 'extremely likely' or 'very likely' to buy Motor Takaful as long as all aspects of the policy, including cost and level of cover, are comparable with their existing conventional insurance policy. A further 26% said that they would be 'fairly likely' to buy Motor Takaful. The corresponding figures for Household Takaful were 46% and 28% respectively.

The long-term vision of the Company is to become "the Islamic insurance partner of choice in Western Europe and high growth potential GCC countries and provider of an ethical insurance alternative on a selective basis".  To work towards achieving this vision, BIIH intends to focus first on the British Muslim population in the UK, shortly followed by an ethical proposition for British population at large.

Several leading UK insurers have investigated Takaful health and life policies, and found it much more complex than they thought. The main drawback is that the law forbids investments in a wide range of industries - including armaments; and most health and life insurers cannot control where their parent companies invest funds.  A new 'stand-alone' insurer does not have to untangle existing investment arrangements.   The market will not be left to new small insurers for too long, as international players such as AIG, AXA and Prudential are investing in Takaful insurers overseas.

Nusrat Janajua, Marketing Director (, remarked, "Wihout a doubt the new iniitiave, due to be launched in early 2008, will be rceieved widely by the UK Muslim populas.  There are now a growing number of shariah compliant finincial products in the UK; encouraging a much accepted debate, that 'Islamic' ethical finnace, can only be a good thing. for the UK financial customer as a whole".

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