The QBE story began in October 1886, when young Scotsmen James Burns and Robert Philp – already partners in a shipping business – established The North Queensland Insurance Company Limited (QI).
The new enterprise grew rapidly and by 1890 QI had over 35 agencies at home and in far-flung locations such as London, Hong Kong and Singapore. Over the following two decades they increased their overseas operations, setting up in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, China, Sri Lanka, Burma, and more.
In 1904, the company opened its own offices on Fenchurch Street London. In 1924, QI opened offices in New York.
In 1921, Burns founded the Bankers’ and Traders’ Insurance Company (B&T), with QI being the largest shareholder. The name Traders’ was derived from the Burns and Philp-founded South Sea Islands trading firm Burns Philp and Company, which also had a shareholding in the insurance firm. The Bankers’ was derived from the Royal Bank of Canada-owned Montreal Trust Company, which also had a stake in the venture.
In 1959, QI and B&T each purchased 40% of The Equitable Probate and General Insurance Company, with Burns Philp taking the other 20%. In 1973, QI and B&T merged and took the name QBE Insurance.
The Q was taken from Queensland Insurance, B from Bankers' and Traders' and E from The Equitable Probate and General Insurance Company that had been already acquired by both companies.
In 1991, QBE and the trading company Burns Philp ended their 105-year-old partnership when they unwound their cross-shareholdings in each other.
The QBE years
QBE has grown and evolved to become an international insurer and reinsurer with a local presence in 27 countries. We are headquartered in Sydney.
Leveraging our deep expertise and insights, today QBE offers commercial, personal and specialty products and risk management solutions to help people and businesses manage risks, build strength and embrace change to their advantage.
We are driven by our purpose of enabling a more resilient future – helping those around us build strength and embrace change to their advantage.