European Operations business review

European Operations delivered another strong underwriting performance during a year of further deterioration in trading conditions, an industry‑wide increase in large risk and catastrophe claims activity and unprecedented currency fluctuation.

Richard Pryce
Chief Executive Officer   •   European Operations

Gross written
premium (US$M)


7% from 2015 2
Net earned
premium 1 (US$M)


10% from 2015 3
Gross written chart, net earned premium

  1. Adjusted for transactions to reinsure UK long‑tail liabilities.
  2. Down 3% on a constant currency basis.
  3. Down 6% on a constant currency basis.

2016 in review

The strong results we have seen in European Operations are largely due to our continued underwriting excellence. To help maintain this focus we launched the Underwriting Academy, which aims to provide our underwriters across the globe with practical skills and technical expertise that will ultimately better serve our customers and help us achieve our vision – to be the insurer that builds the strongest partnerships with customers. We also announced an important strategic project to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of underwriting operations which will modernise the way in which we manage and administer the underwriting process. Both initiatives are aimed at improving our business as we stay committed to investing in the future of European Operations.

Following the European Union referendum in June 2016 and the increasingly likely outcome that we will be unable to effectively access the European single market from the UK, we are well advanced in our business restructure planning.

Many of our colleagues have diligently prepared for the new Insurance Act in the UK. This is a major challenge for the industry and has been a great opportunity for the business to display its expertise and professionalism. Attention has now turned to the introduction in May 2018 of the European General Data Protection Regulation. Despite Brexit, this regulation will still be implemented into UK law and as such, have a significant impact on our customers. Our efforts to provide valued-added insight and content through the publication of a series of ‘thought leadership’ reports has been very well received by our customers.

We have brought into the business some significant expertise in the field of Data Science. Data Science represents a huge opportunity for us to enhance our performance and customer service by utilising data analytics to make better decisions and stand out from the competition. We have already seen significant benefits in the claims arena following the adoption of analytical techniques.

Outlook for 2017

European Operations is prepared for another challenging year but, as always, will remain focused on further improving an already very strong business. In this regard, several ongoing operational projects are expected to deliver additional benefits in 2017 and beyond.

Our approach to new business will be careful and considered but we expect to see even more value from our extended distribution during 2017 with most growth coming from our continental European offices.

Inevitably, managing the outcome of the European Union referendum is very important and remains a priority for the executive team.

QBE’s expertise in Marine is reflected in an extensive product portfolio across such areas as cargo, ports and terminals, hull and war as well as marine liability. This ensures that our tailored, comprehensive cover, alongside our excellent claims capabilities, helps a wide variety of customers manage their risks – from transportation to business interruption to pollution. Our London-based subsidiary, British Marine, also delivers protection to many thousands of small to medium merchant ships, yachts and fishing vessels across the world. In addition, our commitment to partnering closely with all our marine customers and truly understanding their business environment ensures the risk solutions we provide are customised to their needs.

“Data science represents a huge opportunity for us to enhance our performance and customer service by utilising data analytics to make better decisions and stand out from the competition.”


GWP received to date (US$M)


Committed to invest (US$M)


EO were the first to launch Premiums4Good in 2015. Since then, several high profile customers have taken up Premiums4Good noting the unique nature of the offering.

In the community: Mental health webchat service

The QBE Foundation awarded a grant to Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), an organisation preventing male suicide in the UK through their helpline, website and magazine, as well as raising awareness of the issue nationally. The charity was recommended by QBE underwriter and CALM volunteer, Andrew Coleman.

Through QBE’s funding, CALM’s helpline was supplemented by a webchat service, increasingly becoming a preferred option for young men.

Jane Powell, CEO of CALM, said “Men aged 20-24 are nearly four times more likely to take their lives than women the same age. This grant will literally help us save lives.”