Retail customers will reap benefits but questions remain regarding commercial disputes.

New Insurance Disputes Committees established by the UAE Insurance Authority will reshape the way in which disputed insurance claims are handled in 2020.

Under new regulations issued in July 2019, it will now be mandatory for disputed insurance claims to be brought to newly established Insurance Dispute Committees for resolution. The new committees are going to comprise a mixture of regulatory and judicial appointees, who will be able to call on industry experienced professionals to assist with their determinations. This will be a welcome development for retail customers, whose only avenue for redress in the past was to commence court proceedings against an insurer, a lengthy and potentially costly process. The committees are expected to fill the role of an 'ombudsman' which has until now not been available.

Questions remain, however, as to the committees' expertise and capacity to handle more complicated commercial insurance disputes across a wide range of business. The committees are required to work to fairly stringent timelines, and it is not clear what sort of procedures will be adopted in hearing a dispute. An appeal against a committee's decision to the civil courts is permitted within 30 days of the committee's decision. Whether the committee will simply become a preliminary layer to be dealt with in the claims process for major commercial insurance claims remains to be seen.

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