Chief executive officer Jason light says the company’s immediate ambition is to expand its coverage to the rest of the UAE.

“We have set ourselves the objective of becoming a more truly national business and we want to be operating throughout the UAE,” he says.

He adds that although the company is currently suffering from its investments in regional equity markets, “overall we have made a large paper profit on our investments.”

The current financial crisis could help reduce competition from international insurers, according to Light.

“Insurance rates have been decreasing because of competition in the market, but there could be some slowdown in that if international companies withdraw from the market a bit, enabling us to increase premiums,” he says.

He says the rising number of construction fires in the UAE had hit costs in the insurance industry during the last 12 months, putting pressure on profit margins at a time when premiums were also being driven down.