Customer and community

As a large international insurer and reinsurer, we offer a diverse portfolio of products and services to meet our customers’ current, and emerging, needs. We aim to deliver a consistent level of outstanding customer service across our divisions, and our customers are at the heart of our decision-making.

Customer and community

To provide quality solutions for our customers, we seek to understand the trends impacting them and the broader communities in which we operate. The Sustainable insurance section of this Report outlines how we incorporate this ambition into our products and services. We also seek to contribute to the community through thought leadership, advocacy, emergency relief and through our QBE Foundation.

Helping our customers reduce risk

We are in the business of managing risk. We listen and respond to our customers’ needs to help develop individually-tailored solutions. For example, in the United Kingdom, our Risk Culture Profiling Tool provides a comprehensive framework to help organisations evaluate their risk culture management processes by comparing best-practice indicators and behaviours.

Since its launch in 2016, this tool has helped multiple customers identify risks and make improvements within their business, including one of our specialist Property and Construction customers. Using our expertise in risk management, we have provided this customer with several recommendations and an action plan to deliver tangible improvements and risk reduction.

Promoting financial inclusion

We provide a range of tools and services to help our customers understand our financial products and services. As part of this, we make our policy wording simple to understand so that our customers know what they are, and are not, covered for. During 2018, we continued our efforts to make our product information and policy wording more inclusive, conducting extensive research with brokers and customers on selected commercial products to be launched in 2019.

We continue to provide our partners and customers with financial literacy education. For example, in Indonesia, we conduct seminars for students about the different types and benefits of insurance. Additionally, in line with requirements of the Indonesian regulator, we host seminars, workshops, agency training and annual broker training.

We also aim to promote financial inclusion through microinsurance solutions such as participating in a pilot microinsurance program in the Philippines. Refer to the Sustainable insurance section for further information.

Promoting financial inclusion
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QBE’s review was both useful and timely as it helped us to think about how external risks can affect the firm, rather than just focusing on risks posed by individual projects, which are already addressed thoroughly. This ties in neatly with our revised approach towards the ISO 9001 Standards and we used many of the learnings from QBE’s review to prepare a paper detailing our view of external risks and how we deal with them throughout the business, all of which will support our re‑audit against the Standards.”

– A global construction & property consultancy client

What we are doing to promote accessibility and financial inclusion

QBE Australian Housing Outlook
QBE Australian Housing Outlook

The QBE Australian Housing Outlook equips our customers, partners and consumers with the latest housing and economic information to help them make informed choices about their financial future. We have partnered with BIS Oxford Economics for many years to produce this annual report.

The 2018–2021 report took a closer look at what drove demand during the past 10 years and what changes we can expect over the next decade. This was particularly fitting given that 2018 also marked the 10th anniversary of QBE’s acquisition of our Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (LMI) business.

Our LMI business helps borrowers, who are credit worthy but do not have a large deposit, to obtain a home loan by protecting the lender against loss should the borrower default on their loan.

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Tackling housing affordability
Tackling housing affordability

In 2018, QBE sponsored a report produced by the Centre for Social Impact which explored the issues underlying homelessness in Australia. It concluded that to address the root causes of homelessness, we need to think beyond the immediate crisis response and find more strategic long-term solutions.

QBE is also pleased to support the Constellation Project – a partnership between the Centre for Social Impact, PwC Australia, Australian Red Cross and Mission Australia – with the objective of working towards ending homelessness in a generation.

“It is clear that we need to work together to address the growing issue of homelessness in our Australian communities. As an active participant in the Australian housing market, I’m really proud QBE has and will continue to work with other corporates, not‑for-profits and government departments to tackle the underlying issues that cause homelessness in Australia.” Phil White, CEO of QBE LMI.

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Digital solutions to improve our customer experience
Digital solutions to improve our customer experience

Across our Asia Pacific Operations, our teams have been digitising processes to improve customer accessibility. In Singapore, for example, the Financial Advisors channel has been working with partners to promote the use of digital solutions to quote, rather than going through manual quotes.

In Hong Kong, we launched our digital travel claims portal in October 2018, delivering a simpler and more efficient claims experience for customers. Customers can now submit a travel claim on any device, anytime, anywhere. By eliminating the use of paper forms, printing and postage, we have enabled faster validation and payment, with claims generally assessed as soon as they are received.

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Natural disaster relief

As an insurer, we are one of the first ports of call for our customers when they are affected by a disaster. We aim to respond quickly, to be caring and to deliver outstanding service to those customers impacted by catastrophes – in line with our focus on building resilience within our communities. We directly support disaster relief through financial donations and providing aid such as water, food, medicines, toiletries, equipment and volunteer support.

In 2018, our customers around the world experienced several natural disasters, including Hurricanes Michael and Florence, the Californian wildfires, Indonesian earthquakes and tsunamis and Typhoon Mangkhut. Catastrophes are the ultimate stress test for an insurance company’s standards of customer service and, at QBE, we are proud to be a company that looks for ways to go the extra mile for our customers when they need us.

Tackling housing affordability

Innovation and disaster response

During the year, our Group Innovation and Digital team worked with our Claims teams to deliver solutions to enhance our responses to natural disasters. The teams put themselves in the shoes of our customers affected by natural disasters such as Hurricanes Michael and Florence in the United States.

We used geospatial information to identify many of our customers that were potentially in the path of the storm. We then sent them proactive messages expressing our concern for their safety and providing them with their policy number and a link to lodge an online claim, so that if they were impacted, their policy details were at hand without the need for a phone call. We made it easier for our customers to file a claim and also reduced overall call volumes. After Typhoon Mangkhut, we built a simple rules engine to quickly review a backlog of travel delay claims. The engine helped us decide which could proceed directly to payment so that we could prioritise successfully closing these claims. By leveraging our innovative capabilities, we have been able to make a difference for customers in times of need.

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Engaging and investing in our communities

As an insurance company, we are uniquely placed to help people in times of need and our community initiatives reflect this. Our community engagement strategy is aligned to our group-wide Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) priorities as outlined in the Our approach to sustainability section. This includes a focus on financial resilience and protecting vulnerable communities (SDG 1), a focus on diversity and inclusion (SDGs 5 and 10), supporting decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and climate action (SDG 13).

Our community engagement strategy also includes an additional focus on supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities (SDG 3). As a business, many of our product lines relate to accident and health, and helping people rebuild their lives after a catastrophe. Our employees are also active supporters of their communities, nominating health‑related causes they are passionate about for QBE to support.

We support our community activities via three main channels:

  • the QBE Foundation;
  • disaster relief; and
  • sponsorships and events.

The QBE Foundation

The QBE Foundation ensures we manage our community-related activities effectively and consistently, in line with our purpose, strategy and investment criteria. Its vision is:

“To help people overcome disadvantage, strengthen their abilities and live more independently, successfully and productively.”

This vision is an extension of QBE’s purpose: to give people the confidence to achieve their ambitions.

The Foundation’s activities contribute to our focus on the SDGs. It also helps us drive employee engagement, and maximise returns from, and the impact of, community investment resources.

Our Group Foundation Committee (GFC) oversees the Foundation and sets its community investment strategy within the context of our group-wide sustainability approach. It also monitors activity across our divisions with a long-term focus. The GFC reports to the Group Board via the Board Risk & Capital Committee.

Each division has a local Foundation Committee, which works with passionate local employees to engage with charities in their area of operations. These employees work as local Foundation champions, investigating local community needs and enabling employee engagement.

The GFC includes representatives from each of our divisional committees. QBE Foundation funding is centrally allocated across each division by the Group on an annual basis.

The activities of the QBE Foundation fall into five categories: charity partnerships, local grants, volunteering, workplace giving and in-kind giving.

Charity partnerships

Each divisional QBE Foundation Committee assesses partnership applications against their own strategic objectives, and alongside global eligibility criteria. Each Committee assesses not-for-profit organisations based on their alignment with the QBE Foundation’s vision and requires these organisations to show they can provide engagement opportunities for local employees and create impact within communities.

Our partners receive discretionary funding for a minimum of 12 months, as well as our commitment to support them via events, fundraising, media advocacy and employee volunteering.

Large charity partners must provide funding impact reports, so that we can review the success and impact of the partnership.

In 2018, we supported 44 charity partnerships across our divisions.

Local grants

The QBE Foundation’s local grants program enables our employees to support causes or programs they are passionate about within their communities. Employees across our divisions may apply for a local grant of up to $10,000 for an organisation or charity of their choice, subject to eligibility criteria and budget allocation. Employees can also apply for matched funding of up to $5,000 a year for their personal fundraising initiatives.


We encourage everyone at QBE to give back to the community by taking a designated, paid-volunteer day every year. Employees can volunteer as individuals, or with colleagues, to support a cause they are passionate about, with QBE Foundation managing opportunities to support our charity partners.

Employee feedback tells us that volunteering gives our people personal development opportunities, increases collaboration and teamwork, leads to greater employee satisfaction and generates a sense of pride and connection to QBE and the community.

Workplace giving

Through our workplace giving program, employees can make regular donations to our charity partners from their pre-tax salary.

In-kind giving

Across our divisions, we provide a range of in-kind giving opportunities such as donating used office furniture, and offering office space to local charities.

Our community investment

The total value of our social and community investment programs in 2018 was over $5 million. This includes financial contributions through our charity partnerships and local grants, employee volunteering, workplace giving, in-kind giving and management overheads.

In 2018, our employees spent over 11,000 hours volunteering as part of their designated volunteer day across our divisions.

Financial contributions 1  4,185
Time: employee volunteering 2 464
In-kind giving 3 77
Management overheads or administrative cost 4  431
Total community contribution 5,157
  1. Total financial contributions for natural disaster relief, grants, charity partnerships, and employee matching including for employee fundraising efforts and/or payroll deductions from pre-tax salary.
  2. The equivalent financial cost of time volunteered by employees as logged in our HR system to various community initiatives across our divisions. This is estimated based on employee hourly/day rates, i.e. base salary divided by 52 weeks, then divided by either: a) employee weekly appointed hours, for hourly rates; or b) five days, for day rates.
  3. Financial proxy values used as estimates. In 2018, we implemented a process to estimate our in-kind giving across our divisions. As we have not traditionally captured this information, we will continue to investigate measures to further improve data capture.
  4. This includes costs associated with communications and marketing, overheads and administration of our divisional QBE Foundation Committees. In 2018, we implemented a process to estimate these costs associated with community activities. As we have not traditionally captured this information, we will continue to investigate measures to further improve data capture.

Community sponsorships

As well as our core QBE Foundation activities, our divisions sponsor opportunities for communities to come together through sport and the arts, while helping us build customer relationships and our brand profile. During the year, QBE sponsored a range of organisations including sporting clubs, arts organisations, environmental projects and education initiatives.

These sponsorships help us connect with local stakeholders and communities, and highlight values such as teamwork, commitment, tenacity, leadership and diversity.

Awards for our community initiatives

Our community investment and engagement activities were recognised in 2018 with the following awards:

Best Community Engagement Program
Best Community Engagement Program – Insurer
(Australian & New Zealand Operations)
Silver Quality Mark Award for payroll giving
Silver Quality Mark Award for payroll giving
(European Operations)
Silver Quality Mark Award for payroll giving

Supporting our communities

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Protecting vulnerable communities and enabling financial resilience are key strategic priorities for our community-related initiatives. This includes supporting financial literacy and inclusion, youth social services, adult welfare and natural disaster recovery efforts.
food insecurity

Tackling food insecurity

Since 2016, the QBE Foundation has proudly partnered with Foodbank – Australia’s largest food relief organisation, which provides over 60 million meals a year to over 2,400 charities and 1,000 schools around the country. With the Foundation’s support, Foodbank works with partner organisations to deliver fresh fruit and vegetables once a week to remote and desert communities in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in central Australia. These funds also support the school breakfast program, which supplies around 1,000 Indigenous Australian children every week with a hearty and nutritious breakfast each morning at school, as well as fruit to snack on throughout the day.

food bank

KidsCan Shoes for Kids program

In 2018, we entered into a two-year charity partnership with KidsCan New Zealand. Through this partnership, the QBE Foundation will support the Shoes for Kids program, which provides free quality footwear and socks to disadvantaged children, ensuring they can come to school whatever the weather. The partnership will distribute 5,000 shoes and 10,000 pairs of socks to children in need across New Zealand annually.

helping homeless

Helping homeless youth in New York

Covenant House New York (CHNY) is the United States’ largest privately-funded agency serving homeless, runaway and at-risk youth. Our partnership with CHNY in 2018 saw our employees volunteer in two half-day sessions to help young people with career mapping.

Covenant House New York
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A focus on health and wellbeing is a key strategic priority for our community‑related activities as it is also a key driver of employee engagement. Each year, the QBE Foundation partners with charities that strive to improve medical research, treatment and support for health concerns such as cancer, diabetes, rare genetic conditions, birth defects, mental health and physical disability. Our support includes formal charity partnerships, grants, events participation, volunteering, awareness‑raising events and fundraising.

Joining the fight against cancer and heart disease

Since 2011, QBE has partnered with the American Cancer Society to help advance the Society’s work in research, raising awareness of cancer prevention, sharing expert information and providing patient support. In 2018, QBE sponsored and participated in CycleNation, a spin-a-thon to raise money and awareness of heart health for the American Heart Association. QBE employees also took part in the Wall Street Run and Walk and we held an employee fundraiser, which raised $4,100 in donations that were matched by the Foundation.

American Cancer Society AHA
helping dementia

Helping people affected by dementia

QBE is playing an important role in supporting people affected by dementia. As chosen by our employees, we have partnered with 12 international dementia charities in Dubai, Europe, North America and the United Kingdom to help raise public awareness and understanding of dementia. Our employees are engaging in activities to raise money for critical dementia research and support for people affected by the condition. QBE was also one of the first corporate partners to join the Alzheimer’s Society’s Insurance United Against Dementia campaign.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Insurance United Against Dementia


2018 marked the first year the QBE Foundation joined R U OK? to support its efforts in fostering a mentally‑healthy workplace. With our funding, the organisation developed a new resource available to all Australians as an online, downloadable resource or hardcopy booklet. We also hosted R U OK? events at our offices nationally, all with one objective: to encourage everyone to stop and ask their colleagues, friends and families – are you ok?

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As part of our strategic commitment to encourage diversity and inclusion, QBE supports community initiatives that promote acceptance and opportunity for vulnerable and under-represented groups. We aim to reduce inequality within and among communities in which we operate. Our support includes mentoring, awareness-raising and developing educational materials.
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Opening doors for those who broke barriers

In the United Kingdom, the QBE Foundation has worked with Opening Doors London (ODL), a charity dedicated to supporting older LGBT+ people. With the Foundation’s support, ODL is creating LGBT+ appropriate materials, including audio materials, to assist people suffering from dementia. Many existing resources for people living with dementia encourage memory recall from life experiences that many older LGBT+ people were denied, including marriage or having children and grandchildren. The materials ODL creates with our support go some way towards addressing those limitations.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Insurance United Against Dementia

Supporting the doyennes of entrepreneurship

Our North American Operations partner with Doyenne Group – an organisation founded to provide early‑stage female entrepreneurs with certain benefits that only later-stage ventures can usually access, including access to professional development, visibility within the community and connections to valuable networks. Our funding contributes to delivering a coaching program which enables female entrepreneurs to gain skills to more confidently grow their businesses and improve profitability by strengthening their knowledge about business fundamentals.


Diversity: a New York state of mind

Building on the success of the Women in Insurance Scholarship program, the QBE Foundation is partnering with St. John’s University, New York, to create 10 new scholarships to support veterans, women, multicultural and LGBT+ students in need of financial aid.

St. John’s University
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Managing risk requires analysing exposure from a variety of perspectives. We recognise the value of promoting diversity in the insurance professionals who will shape the future of risk management. We are encouraged by the success of our partnership with St. John’s University and are thrilled to expand the scholarship program to further demonstrate our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry.”

Josie Barnett

QBE Foundation Manager,
North American Operations

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We aim to foster local economic growth by supporting community-led education and employment initiatives. This helps contribute to social development and poverty reduction. Many of these activities also link to the achievement of other SDG goals such as SDG 1: No poverty and SDG 4: Quality education.
Quality education

Access to quality education

A strategic aim of our Group Shared Services Centre QBE Foundation in the Philippines is to provide children with access to quality education to help them achieve their goals and contribute to better communities. Despite the improvements in the literacy rate of children in the Philippines, millions of children continue to have no access to quality education, with the high rate of school dropouts also contributing to low functional literacy.

To help improve access to quality education, we have partnered with the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC), a not‑for‑profit organisation promoting literacy to the disadvantaged. DTC volunteers walk the streets with pushcarts containing books and other learning materials with the aim of teaching street children and acting as a bridge back to formal education.

Supporting Singaporean students in need

Since 2011, QBE has partnered with the Republic Polytechnic Education Fund in Singapore to help under‑privileged students advance their education. Our funding provides financial assistance, scholarships, student development and welfare programs, continuing education and development for staff, infrastructure upgrades and new equipment. For the past seven years, we have sponsored 10 students each year from low‑income families who have terminally-ill parents, come from single‑parent families or have handicapped siblings and heavy medical expenses in their home environments.

Republic Polytechnic Education Fund
Republic Polytechnic Education Fund
Breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage

Breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage

In Australia, the QBE Foundation supports Charcoal Lane, a social enterprise providing employment, national accredited training in hospitality and personal resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to make a successful transition to sustainable mainstream employment. This program empowers young people to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage by helping them connect to their culture, gain valuable skills to increase their economic and social prospects and address entrenched barriers to employment and further education.

Charcoal Lane
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As an international insurance company, we have an important role to play in developing sustainable cities and communities, and building resilience through our charity partnerships and collaborations.

A challenge for resilient cities

We have entered into a two-year partnership with Ashoka, the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs, through the QBE Foundation in our North American Operations. In 2018, we launched an innovation challenge to develop solutions for resilient cities. Together, we are well positioned to seek out and support social entrepreneurs whose innovations are building thriving, resilient cities that can effectively manage and respond to physical, economic and social risks.

In 2019, we will continue to develop ideas and explore partnerships to create shared impact. We will focus on sectors that are most relevant to QBE’s business lines to ensure that we are on track with business strategy.


Nurturing a new crop of tech start-ups

In the United States, the QBE Foundation, together with QBE Ventures and Village Capital, joined forces to enable 12 early-stage food and agriculture startups to take part in the Food and Agriculture: US 2018 Program. Through this unique partnership, participants took part in three intensive workshops with strategic partners, investors and sector experts – including members of the QBE Crop and Ventures teams – to develop solutions for a more efficient, sustainable and accessible food system and to accelerate the market readiness of their products.

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We are well-positioned to help our communities tackle the effects of climate change. For example, natural disasters impact our global communities every year. Our activities in this area also link to the achievement of other SDG goals such as SDG 1: No poverty and SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities.

In 2018, we provided emergency assistance through donations, fundraising and matched funding. We also provided direct help through on-the-ground catastrophe teams, specialist expertise, relief efforts and spending face‑to-face time with affected policy holders.

Raising awareness about climate risk

In partnership with Earthwatch Institute, we sent one employee from our Australian & New Zealand Operations on a Wildlife of Australia’s Rainforests expedition to help investigate the effects of climate change on our rainforests. This provided first-hand experience of both the macro and micro impacts of climate change on our ecosystems. In 2019, we plan on partnering with Earthwatch again to provide similar opportunities to employees across our divisions.


All amounts in this report are US dollars unless otherwise stated.
For all page number references please refer to the QBE Insurance Group Annual Report 2018 (complete PDF) located in the Download centre.