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QBE commits to ‘socially progressive’ investment

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QBE has pledged to invest at least $100 million in “socially progressive projects” such as affordable housing, renewable energy and healthcare.

The insurer says its Premiums4Good program takes a slice of premiums to support investments that create positive social and environmental change, at no additional cost to the policyholder.

It is not charity – investments must still generate “acceptable financial returns” ­– but QBE believes the initiative can drive significant change.

It is encouraging other insurers to follow its lead, and the $100 million is expected to increase in future years.

Australia and New Zealand CEO Vivek Bhatia says research shows Australians are increasingly mindful about their investments.

“We look at an investment, we want a return, but know investments can do more,” he said.

“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 ethical returns.”

Examples of Premiums4Good investments include social impact bonds and green bonds.

The Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing has welcomed QBE’s commitment.

“Premiums4Good signifies a progressive step for the insurance industry,” Chairman Rosemary Addis said. “The initiative highlights the growing trend of institutions making investment choices based on their impact on society, as well as financial performance.”