Middle market 'in need of solutions' – QBE Canada explains what's behind its strategic move

It has multi-year growth plans in place for its program

Middle market 'in need of solutions' – QBE Canada explains what's behind its strategic move

Insurance News

By Gia Snape

The core of Canada’s economy is its small- to medium-sized enterprises, and to better serve these businesses, QBE Canada has turned its focus to its middle market clients.

The international insurer is refreshing its commercial combined package business offering in Canada to meet the needs of middle market customers, with a boosted appetite and dedicated team.

The product will cover risks across property, business interruption, crime and casualty, with some enhanced coverages available by extension under a single combined policy, according to QBE’s Press release.

Middle market ‘in need of solutions’

Inflation and continued supply chain disruptions are two of the top risks middle market businesses face today, according to Jenny Yung (pictured), combined commercial package underwriting manager at QBE Canada. She acknowledged that tightened capacity among insurance carriers has also made it challenging for brokers and their mid-market clients to get adequate protection from these risks.

“We saw an opportunity to have a little bit more of that capacity in the market to service these segments,” she said.

Amid the pressure of inflated costs in the market, Yung stressed the importance of correct valuation for mid-market clients and the role of brokers in getting the right level of coverage.  

“I think valuation should be top of mind right now, because when [clients] are expecting a replacement for your property or its contents, if we’re not able to pinpoint the correct valuation, they will have a loss that affects their business,” she said.

“As experienced underwriters who know the industry and how it works, we can utilize valuation tools to help these clients, and in combination with the broker, ensure they have the right level of insurance in place.”

Targeting the middle-market segment

Since QBE Canada launched in 2009, its focus has primarily been on writing large corporate risks, drawing on its strong standing and appetite established within Lloyd’s.

Yung, who leads the commercial underwriting team, spoke to Insurance Business about why the timing was right for this strategic move.

“QBE has been very successful in the large account space,” said Yung. “So, we know that we can be successful using the same approach with our mid-sized clients. We know that this segment will more likely require a package solution, and that’s what we want to offer to them.”

The program will focus on manufacturing, real estate, professional services, technology, financial institutions, and construction. QBE is targeting businesses in the $30,000 to $300,000 insurance premium range with an initial regional focus on British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

Expanding presence in Canada

Aside from the growing needs of the middle market segment, Yung said that brand recognition played a key role in the launch of the revamped program.

“We’ve anchored ourselves here in Canada, and I think there’s now more brand awareness in the broker community,” she said. “That’s exactly why it was the right time to for us to take this approach to the middle market space.”

Growing the middle market business will be QBE Canada’s focus for the next couple of years, with Yung alluding to a “multi-year growth plan” for the commercial package portfolio. This growth will include potential expansion to other geographical markets.

“Our medium-sized enterprises are in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, so these provinces will be our geographical focus for now. But as our team grows, we’re going to be spreading our wings a little wider,” Yung said. “We are actively recruiting talent to grow the team.”

QBE’s multinational capabilities, as well as its highly experienced underwriting team, are its key differentiators in the market, according to Yung, who herself has more than 20 years of property & casualty underwriting experience with a strong focus on the middle market.

“There are 180 countries in which we’re able to put placements, and 28 where we have offices that we can tap for expertise,” she said. “But what also makes us great is our people, because we have very empowered underwriters, and we have the autonomy to make our own decisions.”  

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