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insurance dispute in dubai

insurance complaints in dubai

Insurance is a legal agreement between an insurer and an insured that commits the insurer to pay the insured or beneficiary for a loss involving a specific subject. Functions of insurance include providing protection and certainty, bearing risk jointly and so on.

The insurance contract must, by UAE law, include clauses that safeguard the rights of both the insurer and the insured. When either party violates the contract’s procedures, these clauses are frequently the focus of legal disputes such as insurance dispute in Dubai. The insured may file a lawsuit against an insurer if it refuses to fulfill its legal obligation to pay an insurance claim.

What are the rules governing insurance disputes in Dubai?

Statutory and Procedural Regime in the UAE

Depending on the dispute forum chosen by the parties or, in some cases, the dispute forum that applies by default, there are various statutory and procedural regimes that govern insurance disputes within the UAE (ie, in the absence of an election, or if certain threshold criteria are met or not met, as the case may be).

IN the UAE, the parties to an insurance contract (i.e., the insurer and the insured) are allowed to choose between I “onshore”/local court litigation , or (ii) arbitration before one of the arbitration centers within the UAE (specifically, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation & Arbitration Center, the International Court of Arbitration, or the International Court The parties may also decide to use mediation.

It is important to note that, as of September 20, 2021, the Dubai International Financial Centre Arbitration Institute and the Emirates Maritime Arbitration Center were abolished as a result of Dubai Decree No. 34 of 2021 Concerning the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), and as a result, such disputes will now be governed by DIAC (unless the parties thereto agree to another dispute resolution forum).

Onshore Courts

The Committee for the Settlement and Resolution of Insurance Disputes (the “Committee”), which is housed within the UAE Central Bank’s Insurance Division, must be contacted first if the parties intend to pursue any insurance dispute through “onshore” courts, are nominated to do so, or if those courts are applicable by default (Article 110 (3) of Federal Law No. 6/2007 on the Regulation of Insurance Operation).

The procedure before the Committee starts with a quasi-reconciliation-style approach, where the parties are expected to make an effort to settle their disagreement without resorting to formal litigation proceedings. Any settlement agreed between the parties to a dispute prior to the Committee is documented in a deed of reconciliation and signed by the chairman and board of directors of the UAE Central Bank’s insurance division. However, the Committee will give an award or decision on the matter if it is unable to settle it before it. According to Article 16 of Insurance Authority Board Decision No 33/2019, as amended, the award or decision may be challenged in the emirate-specific first instance court “within 30 days from the day next to their notification of the Award, failing which the Award shall be considered final and enforceable.”


The UAE allows parties to insurance contracts to choose arbitration as the appropriate forum for resolving disputes rather than going to the local courts.

In actuality, choosing arbitration may be more agreeable for “foreign” people or companies because it gives the parties the opportunity to:

  •  choose the language of the proceedings (keeping in mind that only Arabic is used in onshore courts);
  • appoint foreign laws as the dispute forum and venue, keeping in mind that local policies (direct risk) must adhere to UAE substantive law and that local courts are reluctant to do so;
  • appoint independent experts (as opposed to having local courts pick experts without the parties’ participation or election);
  • choose internationally vetted procedural arbitration guidelines (ie, the International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Rules).

Furthermore, pursuant to Article 5(3) of Insurance Authority Board Decision No 33/2019, as modified, disputes arising out of and in accordance with an insurance contract with a valid arbitration clause are not needed to first be heard by the Committee.

The parties to an insurance contract must abide by certain regulatory requirements in the UAE in order for the arbitration clause to be recognized as effective. One such requirement is found in Article 1028(d) of Federal Law No. 5/1985 on the Civil Transactions Law of the United Arab Emirates State (the “Civil Code”), as amended, which states that the arbitration clause must be “mentioned in a special agreement, separate from the general conditions printed in the insurance policy.” It should be emphasized that despite that phrase, there is no such necessity stated in Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 on Arbitration. An arbitration agreement may instead be created “in the form of a separate agreement or included in a particular contract,” according to Article 5(1).

Given these apparent discrepancies, it is up to the UAE courts to decide whether or not a separate arbitration agreement is necessary to ratify the choice of arbitration as the forum for resolving insurance issues. In order to avoid any ambiguities, it is customary for the parties to the insurance policy/contract to sign a separate arbitration agreement if they intend to nominate arbitration as the venue for any disputes.

Financial Free Zone Courts

The two emirate-specific financial free zone courts in the UAE—the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Court for Abu Dhabi and the DIFC Court for Dubai—are distinct from the onshore courts in the country. The insurance disputes between the insurer(s) and insured(s) within the UAE are not governed by these free zone courts; however, it is common for the reinsurance treaties (i.e., the agreement governing the relationship between the insurer(s) and their reinsurer(s)) to nominate these courts to handle the insurance/reinsurer disputes. In reinsurance agreements reinsuring UAE risks, insurers and reinsurers may additionally select foreign governing law and foreign jurisdiction clauses.

At Khairallah Law Firm, there are insurance lawyers in Dubai to assist you with all issues related to insurance disputes.

Litigation Process and Rules on Limitation

Court Structures

The Federal Judiciary and emirate-specific courts are the two streams of “onshore” courts in the United Arab Emirates. The Federal Supreme Court, the highest court in the Federal Judiciary, has exclusive jurisdiction over a number of reserved topics, including disputes involving the federal government or ministers or senior officials (Article 99 of the UAE Constitution of 1971).

Except in certain circumstances (such as where there is a valid arbitration agreement), issues involving insurance in the UAE are heard by the emirate-specific courts, which consist of a Court of First Instance and two appellate courts, in accordance with the processes used by the Committee (the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation).

All UAE onshore courts follow civil law, and the appointed judges are free to make decisions without deferring to or making reference to any earlier court rulings or verdicts.

If that venue is designated within the reinsurance treaty, issues between insurers and reinsurers may be heard before the ADGM Court (in Abu Dhabi) or the DIFC Court (in Dubai), which are independent common law courts.

Limitation Periods

The applicable restriction periods are not specified in a single law in the UAE. There are numerous regulations that outline the limitations for each distinct professional area (such as insurance, construction, commercial, etc.). According to Article 1036(1) of the Civil Code, claims arising from insurance contracts cannot be considered more than three years after the occurrence of the incident that gave rise to the claim or after the interested party learned of it. According to general legislation, the limitation period for marine insurance is two years (Federal Law No. 26 of 1981, also known as the Commercial Maritime Code), Article 399(1).

In the UAE, there is some level of legal precedent on what counts as the “commencement of a claim” for an insurance dispute (ie, claim notification to the insurer, or otherwise). Nevertheless, the formal filing of court or arbitration procedures should be used as the mechanism to retain the right of limitation in order to prevent any uncertainty or limitation period defenses from being asserted (ie, file the claim within the three-year period).

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

A typical jurisdiction that does not heavily rely on or emphasize alternative dispute resolution processes is the UAE.

Nevertheless, it is more and more common that the parties to an insurance dispute are willing to agree to take part in mediation proceedings (perhaps in an effort to cut down on time and costs). Similar to many Western nations, the UAE’s mediation procedures are not legally binding, and neither the parties nor the mediator are required to attend or agree to mediation. However, there are unquestionably advantages to starting mediation proceedings if they might help to focus the parties’ disagreement on a smaller range of problems and/or motivate them to come to a resolution. To accommodate any such purpose of the parties, there are several mediators and mediation centers available in the UAE. Over the past few years, the authors have observed an increase in the mediation of insurer and reinsurer disputes.

How do you dispute an insurance claim rejection?

Even if your insurance claim is refused, you can still believe that it was rejected unfairly since it was legitimate. You must carefully review the language of your policy documentation to see whether your claim eligibility is legitimate. You should think about getting legal counsel from a specialist in insurance matters at this time to make sure that your policy does relate to the problem you are trying to claim so that you may refute the denial because the wording of policy documents can be complicated and unclear.

Once you are certain that your claim is legitimate, you can tell your insurer why you think their decision is improper and that it should be overturned. You can find out from your lawyer whether you need expert witness testimony to back up your claim.

Consider mediation or some alternative dispute resolution method if you and your insurance provider are unable to amicably resolve your issue. You might have to think about suing your insurer if the situation still doesn’t meet your standards. Khairallah advocates insurance team of knowledgeable attorneys will work to settle your case in the least time-consuming and expensive manner feasible.

FAQ about insurance complaints in Dubai

1-How long does an insurer have to resolve a complaint?

Your insurance company must have been given a chance to settle the conflict with you directly before the AFCA can take your case into account. Your insurance typically has 45 days to reply to your complaint.

2-Can insurance deny a claim?

Instances when fault or culpability are disputed frequently result in insurance claims being rejected. Only if there is conclusive proof that the policyholder is to blame for your injuries will companies agree to reimburse you. The insurance will reject your claim if there is any sign that their policyholder is not accountable.

3-What can I do if my insurance company denies my claim?

You have the right to appeal the decision and request that it be reviewed by a third party if your insurer denies your claim or terminates your coverage. You can request that your insurance provider reevaluate its choice. Insurance companies must explain their decisions to deny your claim or to terminate your coverage.

Khairallah Law Firm offers numerous services in insurance dispute cases in Dubai. Our lawyer assists you in the insurance claim dispute process.