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Interview: Richard Bishop: Complex and compliant

Cobalt Underwriting founder Richard Bishop has talked about why he launched London's first Islamic insurance managing general agent – and why London needs to stay relevant. It was back in 2007, when Richard Bishop was working in general broking, that a chance conversation with a Muslim cleric sewed the seed of a business idea that would grow to become the London market’s first Islamic insurance managing general agent.

Cobalt Underwriting CEO champions London's Islamic insurance appeal

London's Shariah-compliant start-up Cobalt Underwriting has now written its first risk, via its agreement with capacity provider XL Group, to cover the deal to acquire a high-profile property portfolio. It has underwritten a property acquired by PARC Property Holding, advised by Amiri Capital, to acquire Park Crescent West. Cobalt CEO Richard Bishop believes the agreement serves to demonstrate that insurance should have a place at the forefront of the government's plans to promote Islamic finance in London. Furthermore, he reminded Islamic business leaders that insurance capacity that meets their needs is available in London.

Takaful: The Islamic state

Takaful insurance has struggled to find traction in the UK. Despite this, this year has seen several Shariah?compliant products launch in the UK. Faithsure and in May, XL Group began providing Shariah-compliant products for large corporates on a global basis. However, the lack of takaful players could be due to the industry’s youth and stiff competition in personal lines of insurance business according to analysts. Sheikh Bilal Khan, sharia scholar at law firm Linklaters, believes there is potential for Takaful products if they are branded and marketed correctly. But the lack of state regulation on sharia-compliant products creates a real lack of trust in the market, he adds. Yet perhaps the demand among Muslim?run SMEs is where the true potential lies. Faithsure's Asif Khan certainly seems to think so. He's confident that Muslim businesses would not only be aware of Takaful insurance but also actively opt for it.

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