Dr. Adela Osman was recently promoted to RGA's Head of Global Medical after previously serving as Chief Medical Officer for RGA South Africa. In this Inside RGA Q&A, Adela explains why she chose a career in the life and health insurance industry, what RGA Magic means, and how she plans to build on the successful legacy of RGA’s medical team.
As a medical doctor, why did you choose to work in insurance?
I had a thriving medical practice and enjoyed that work, but life led me to consider the insurance space, where I was offered a position as a marketing medical director for a direct insurer. I absolutely loved the job. There is not much formal insurance medical training available in South Africa, so I learned a lot by attending insurance conferences. It was at one of these, an RGA client event, where I was recruited by RGA, and I have found my professional home with this remarkable company.
What do you think sets RGA apart from other reinsurance companies?
The RGA ethos is very client-focused, and we've become synonymous with high service levels, constant innovation, and superior client engagement, which is consistent with RGA worldwide. In South Africa, we call it "RGA Magic." We have an extremely dynamic group of people who work fantastically together, consistently delivering value to clients and colleagues alike. We are regularly commended for the great vibe and energy we have when we're together, so we coined RGA Magic.
What excites you the most about leading in a global role?
My role in South Africa went beyond serving as chief medical officer. I also headed up the research and development team and was part of the Executive Committee. This allowed me opportunities to be part of the development and execution of the business strategy.
Having the ability to apply the same set of skills to effect change across the global business is fantastic. But I am most excited to be working more closely with my incredibly experienced and talented team. Our vision is to maintain and grow our global leadership in insurance medicine and remain a key reason for clients to choose RGA as their primary reinsurer.
As has become a trademark of the RGA medical team under my predecessor, Dr. Dan Zimmerman, who is now RGA's Chief Science Advisor, I also look forward to seeing the global medical team build on its support of RGA initiatives in all areas of the business.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see facing life and health insurers?
Across the life and health insurance industry globally, the financial impact of a slowing economy, COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, wars, and other factors has put a lot of strain on consumers. And we know that insurance generally is a bit of a grudge purchase to begin with – people buy insurance because they feel they have to, not because they want to. While this might not be a new challenge for insurers, it is becoming more acute.
From the medical side, the ongoing pandemic and its many ripple effects – long Covid, mental health issues, delayed treatments, and so on – certainly remain a primary concern. I think we also need to take a close look at navigating regulations. As innovations such as genetic medicine bring new concerns around data protection and introduce issues such as the right to underwrite, insurers will need to pay close attention and transform in order to best serve consumers.
What are your goals in your new role?
As stated earlier, we want to build on RGA's established reputation as a leader in insurance medicine. When people talk about insurance medicine, we want them to think about RGA and its medical team as the gold standard. My ultimate goal is for RGA to become synonymous with thought leadership and medical excellence while serving as a strong backbone and support engine for a thriving business that consistently delivers added value for our clients and the people they serve.