£80m call centre deal for new motor insurance firm


FIFTY call centre agents have been trained for a new motor insurance company, Salaam Halal, which adheres to Islamic principals.

Based in Cheadle and employed by Capita, they also offer callers Arabic, Urdu, Benjla, Gujurati, Punjabi and Hindi as language alternatives.

As well as motor policies, the company plans to offer home insurance early next year, followed by small business insurance, life assurance, investments, savings and “green” or ethical financial products.

Peter Wicke, operations relationship manager for Salaam Halal, said: “As the first independent Shariah compliant insurance provider in Britain, we aim to meet the insurance needs of the country's estimated two million Muslims.

“The long-term vision of the company is to become the Islamic insurance partner of choice and a provider of an ethical insurance alternative on a selective basis, thereby also appealing beyond the Muslim community to individuals who are becoming increasingly concerned, about more ethical products.”

And Bradley Brandon Cross, chief executive, said: “It is a disgrace that the financial services industry is lagging behind when it comes to recognising the different needs of the different cultures living in modern Britain today.

“Conventional UK insurance options are in conflict with the core beliefs of the Muslim faith and, as a result, give Muslims living in the UK no choice but to compromise their beliefs in order to follow the law of the land.  The face of Britain is changing and it is the responsibility of British institutions to cater for such changes and welcome diversity.”

And Abdulaziz Hamad Aljomaih, chairman, described it as a significant step for the growth of Islamic finance in the UK.

Halal insurance adheres to a concept called Takaful which means that instead of the insurance company bearing the risk, it is shared between policyholders.

They pay into a fund which invest only in products which are Shariah-complaint, which excludes interest bearing investments and anything linked to activities such as alcohol or pork.

After claims are paid, any surplus is distributed to policyholders as a discount on the following year's premium in addition to any no claims bonus.

Salaam says the its activities and products are overseen by a group of Shariah scholars.

Salaam is a trading name and underwritten by Principle Insurance under contracts based on the Takaful principle.

In an £80m deal over eight years, Capita will handle front and back office functions, from selling and administering policies to managing claims, outsourced customer relations and IT.

Calls are at present handled 8am-8pm on weekdays and 8am-5pm on Saturdays and Capita expects the number of staff to grow with Salaam's business.