QBE Insurance

Last updated

QBE Insurance Group Limited
Type Public
Industry Insurance
FoundedJanuary 1886;135 years ago (1886-01)
Headquarters388 George Street
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Key people
Mike Wilkins (Chairman) [1]
Andrew Horton (Group CEO)
Products General insurance and reinsurance services
RevenueIncrease2.svg $11.650 billion (2018) [2]
Increase2.svg $567 million (2018) [3]
Total assets Decrease2.svg $39.582 billion (2018) [4]
Total equity Decrease2.svg $8.400 billion (2018) [5]
Number of employees
12,452 (2018) [6]
Website www.qbe.com

QBE Insurance Group Limited is a general insurance and reinsurance company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and headquartered in Sydney. The company employs more than 11,700 people in over 27 countries.


Across its operations, QBE offers commercial, personal and specialty products and risk management solutions. The company states its purpose is to give people the confidence to achieve their ambitions.


Originally called the North Queensland Insurance Co, QBE was founded in 1886 in Townsville, in northern Queensland by two Scottish migrants, James Burns], founders of shipping company Burns Philp and Company. [7]

QBE was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1973 from the merger of three companies whose names represent the letters of the combined company, Queensland Insurance, Bankers' and Traders' Insurance Company, and Equitable Life and General Insurance Co., and its founding chairman was J.D.O. Burns. [8] [9]

Since then, QBE has continued to acquire many companies. For example, in February 2007, it acquired Mexican insurer Seguros Cumbre SA de CV, whose net tangible assets were estimated at $26 million, and American insurer General Casualty Insurance. [10] In 2011, QBE purchased Balboa Insurance of California from the Bank of America. [11] [12] [13] [14]

QBE Insurance is also known for its sponsorship of sports teams, including the Sydney Swans of the Australian Football League, the Sydney Roosters of the National Rugby League, the NSW Swifts of netball's trans-Tasman ANZ Championship, the Perth Glory of the A-League and provincial New Zealand Rugby team, North Harbour. QBE is the official insurance partner of England Rugby and the Argentine Rugby Union.

Richard Pryce is currently the Interim Group CEO, [15] with QBE announcing Andrew Horton will assume the role of Group CEO, commencing September 2021. [16]

Previous Group CEOs of QBE include Pat Regan (2014–2018) and John Neal (2012–2017). Frank O’Halloran, who worked for QBE for more than 35 years, was Group CEO from 1998 to 2012. Prior to this O’Halloran was Director of Operations from 1994 to 1997, Director of Finance from 1987 to 1994 and Chief Financial Officer from 1982 to 1987.

In April 2020, QBE Insurance group appointed Jason Harris as CEO, International, succeeding Richard Pryce who is currently Interim Group CEO and is set to retire at the end of 2021. [17]

Force-placed insurance controversy

Maintaining a property insurance policy is one of the most common conditions imposed upon anyone who borrows money to purchase a house. [18] If a borrower allows such a policy to lapse, US lenders will purchase force-placed insurance for the property owner (also called lender-placed insurance, or collateral protection insurance) [19] The use of force-placed insurance by lenders is an ongoing practice that, in the wake of the financial crisis, has become increasingly common, [20] [21] [22] being cited by many experts as the cause of foreclosures themselves. [23] The coverage prevents gaps in insurance, which is required by the terms of most mortgages. The financial industry justifies higher premium costs of force-placed insurance policies because of the heightened insurance risk of borrowers who aren’t paying for their own insurance. [24] Opponents of the product consistently provide statistics in opposition to these statements, [25] [26] citing kickback payouts and loss ratios that are much lower than the rest of the insurance industry. [27]

Force-placed insurance policies fell under regulatory scrutiny when the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) launched an investigation into the lender-placed insurance industry that has so far led to settlements with QBE and Assurant [24] [28] [29] Although testimony in these hearings discussed "reverse competition" and kickbacks from Assurant to its banking clients, [30] [31] In response to the settlement, DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky stated, "Prices should not be pushing up and up, pushing borrowers over the foreclosure cliff." [32]

In January 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued new mortgage servicing rules that ensures borrowers are warned in advance of force-placed insurance's cost and prevent banks from force-placing policies on many escrowed loans. “All consumers will receive protections before a servicer may impose a charge for a force-placed insurance,” an agency spokeswoman wrote. [33] In October 2012, QBE and California agreed to a rate reduction for lender-placed insurance, with an average savings to policyholders of $577 annually. [34]

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the federal home loan banks, has looked into the relationships between force-placed insurers and their clients, [35] determining the relationships to be fraudulent and banning any future service kickbacks. [36] In addition, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is looking into the practice. [37]

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