Australian insurer QBE has committed a minimum A$100 million towards impact investing as part of a global-first initiative.
From today, QBE will invest a proportion of its 5.2 million policy premiums into socially progressive projects in Australia and around the world, such as affordable housing, renewable energy and healthcare.
The initiative, called Premiums4Good, marks a global first for the insurance industry. It supports investments that create positive social and environmental change, at no additional cost to the policyholder.
Historically, insurance businesses have focused on investing premiums with financial returns as a key consideration, without necessarily focussing on the social impact of the investments.
In Australia, QBE will initially invest a minimum of A$100 million towards assets with an additional social or environmental benefit in 2018. The amount is expected to increase in future years.
The opportunities for the industry are significant with Australian insurance companies’ collective pool of premiums totalling more than A$45 billion.
QBE Australia & New Zealand CEO Vivek Bhatia said the insurance industry can drive positive social and environmental change while generating acceptable financial returns for investors.
“Research shows Australians are increasingly mindful about what they invest in. We look at an investment, we want a return, but know investments can do more. And fortunately, with more social and environmental investments available, insurance businesses can do both.
“Premiums4Good invests for social, environmental and financial benefit.
“At the same time this initiative gives our customers and partners comfort they’re helping drive positive change.
“Through Premiums4Good, we will set aside a growing pool of premiums to achieve both financial and socially responsible returns,” he said.
According to the latest Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) Report, 92% of Australians expect their superannuation and other investments to be invested responsibly and ethically, while 7 out of 10 Australians would rather invest in a responsible super fund.
The insurance initiative is expected to appeal particularly to millennial Australians (aged under 35). Millennials are predicted to constitute up to 75% of the workforce by 2025 . According to the RIAA Report, millennials in Australia would consider switching their investments to another provider if their current investment engaged in activities inconsistent with their values.
The Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing Chairperson Rosemary Addis welcomed the announcement.
“QBE’s launch of Premiums4Good signifies a progressive step for the insurance industry. The initiative highlights the growing trend of institutions making investment choices based on their impact on society as well as financial performance,” she said.
Examples of investments QBE is including through the Premiums4Good initiative include:
- Social impact bonds (SIBs). Social impact bonds are innovative public-private-social sector partnerships that allow private investors to provide upfront capital for public projects that deliver social and environmental outcomes. Premiums4Good investments include The Benevolent Society Social Benefit Bond, supporting up to 400 families in Australia that are at risk of having their children removed and placed into out-of-home care, which is resulting in more children being able to remain safely with their families.
- Green bonds. Investment into projects with environmental benefits such as renewable energy, waste management and water conservation such as the World Bank’s IFC Green Bond committed to investing exclusively in renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate-smart projects in developing countries.
Premiums4Good™ is a smart new global initiative from QBE. It invests a portion of everyday insurance spending in areas creating positive environmental or social change. It's a simple way to benefit those who need it most, at no additional cost to the customer. When customers pay us their insurance premium, we invest that money until we need it to pay claims. Premiums4Good is an initiative that enables us to direct a portion of those premiums into investments with an additional social or environmental objective. These investments can include social impact bonds, green bonds and other social investments.
Premiums4Good is a global first initiative. It was launched across QBE’s European Operations in 2015 and piloted in Australia through its Elders insurance in 2016.
QBE is one of the world’s leading insurers and reinsurers, with operations in 36 countries and a presence in all key global insurance markets. As part of the QBE Insurance Group, QBE Australia provides a broad range of insurance products to personal, business, corporate and institutional customers across the nation. As leaders in the business of managing risk, satisfying our customers’ risk management needs is at the heart of everything we do. For more information visit www.qbe.com.au.
0420 571 720