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QBE Insurance was founded in 1886 as the North Queensland Insurance Co. Limited in Australia. In 1921 the Banker’s and Trader’s Insurance Co. was formed, and in 1959 the company acquired Equitable Probate and General Insurance Co. These three company names were combined to finalize the name QBE. Today, the company is Australia’s largest general insurer.
In 1991 QBE opened the doors of their North American branch. In the U.S., they offer both business and personal property & casualty insurance, specialty coverage including accident and health, crop insurance, and coverage for financial institutions. In 2015 QBE scaled back their North American operations by selling their underwriter-agency business to Alliant and their mortgage and lenders products to National General.
Most products, particularly property & casualty, are sold through independent agents and brokers. QBE does not offer online quoting but does have some online services such as bill payment.
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QBE’s FlexAuto program is designed to reward good drivers and help keep rates down. According to the website, eligible drivers are determined by driving records and other characteristics. The website does not go into much detail regarding the program, or eligible driver characteristics.
From what is provided, the FlexAuto program includes the following:
Optional add-ons include:
- Towing and labor
- Audio/visual equipment
- Transportation expenses
QBE has an Accident Forgiveness program in which drivers who have had 4 years of continuous coverage and 3 years without a chargeable accident will qualify to have the accident surcharge waived.
They also offer a list of common discounts such as:
- Good student discount
- Proactive customer discount
- Passive restraint discount
- Longevity discount
- Accident/violation-free discount
- Multi-policy discount
QBE offers the following levels of homeowner’s insurance as well as renters and condo through their FlexHome program.
- FlexHome Value is the most basic policy intended for those with basic needs or who are seeking to obtain coverage on a budget.
- FlexHome Plus is a more comprehensive policy offering more coverage and higher limits.
- FlexHome Ultra is the highest level of homeowner’s insurance, designed for those who have higher value homes and a lot of property to protect.
The FlexHome Condominium policy is also available in a basic and Ultra version as well.
QBE insures businesses large and small. Business coverage options include:
- Commercial Auto
- General Liability
- Commercial Inland Marine
- Worker’s Compensation
- Property and Business Income
- Commercial Package
- Commercial Umbrella
- Farm Insurance
QBE has a range of specialty products that include some more unusual coverage options. These include:
- Accident & Health
- Management Liability and Professional Lines
- Inland Marine
QBE’s lineup also includes crop insurance, financial institutions coverage, and reinsurance products.
Since online quoting is not available, it is difficult to compare QBE’s rates to other insurance companies. They advertise their rates as competitive, and it is clear from the website that they aim their auto insurance, in particular, at low-risk drivers who do not have tickets or accidents.
Since their policies are sold through agents, QBE products will include the cost of commissions. They are unlikely to be competitive with direct-buy insurers.
QBE policyholders can report claims directly to their insurance agent or to QBE via a toll-free number. There are several numbers available based on which of QBE’s companies is responsible for the policy.
Although QBE does have some online services, there is no option to report a claim online. This is unusual for such a large company.
Claims are handled similarly to most insurance companies – an adjuster will call the policyholder to go over the facts of the incident, inspect the damage and investigate, and then determine benefits and a settlement.
QBE does not appear to offer any sort of online tracking of claims, which is again something we would expect to see from a large company. Policyholders can contact their agent or adjuster to follow up on claims status.
QBE is not accredited by the BBB and has a D- rating. The BBB lists 12 complaints, four of which have been closed in the last 12 months – 11 complaints regard issues with product and service. This rating is not favorable for a company to have. The Better Business Bureau states the poor rating is a result of a government action requiring QBE to refund homeowners who were improperly charged for fore-placed insurance policies. The government action was issued in September 2016.
Overall, there are not many reviews of the company available, possibly due to their heavy leaning towards commercial insurance. The complaints themselves don’t raise major red flags, but the entire picture of QBE’s reliability remains somewhat fuzzy due to the lack reviews and their recent government action.
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QBE is a major insurance company in Australia and a big company overall, but they are relatively unknown, especially in terms of personal lines insurance, in the U.S. Their personal lines products include only auto and home, but do appear to include some good features and options for customers to get the right coverage for their needs. Low-risk customers may find their rates competitive, but it’s likely most drivers will get better rates elsewhere.
With an overall lack of information about the products themselves, particularly auto, and no rate information, it’s hard to say whether or not QBE is a competitive choice. Reviews of the company are minimal, albeit negative, which leaves enough questions to make it hard to recommend QBE.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.