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New QBE chief considers personal lines expansion

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QBE Group CEO Andrew Horton says he is thinking about building the insurer’s position in the Australian personal lines market.

QBE is a giant in the local intermediated sector but is still dwarfed by IAG and Suncorp in personal lines, and the likes of Allianz and Hollard have boosted their market share in the last 12 months with major acquisitions.

“I’d like to look at our position in the personal lines space,” Mr Horton told insuranceNEWS.com.au today.

“Why do we have the amount of personal lines that we have? If we have a reasonable position in it, what is stopping us from building it?

“I think I am a builder, so I do like the idea of 'this is what we have got in the portfolio, how do we build all elements of the portfolio'.

“I’m sure the competition is really good, but there are a number of people throughout Australia who trust us with their insurance, why can’t we get that number to be greater?”

Mr Horton took up the Group CEO position in September, replacing interim chief Richard Pryce who had taken the helm following the sudden departure of Pat Regan last year. He arrived in Australia this month.

Cambridge-educated Mr Horton, previously CEO at UK listed insurer Beazley, says he would like QBE’s divisions to work more closely.

“I’d like the three divisions to help each other a bit more,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“I’m interested in the three CEOs focusing on the success of their own division but I think there are many things which are similar, and there are products that they could share.

“I’d like to leverage the broad skillset that we have because within QBE we know something about everything, within insurance. I would like to bring the organisation together.”

And he says the US operations need more stability.

“[From the outside] I saw [QBE] as a more erratic competitor in the US – doing different things, going into one line and then pulling back a bit and then going into another line.

“We have to find a strategy and we need to stick with it. Insurance is all about long-term relationships and consistency and we haven’t really had a consistent strategy in the US for a number of years, so I would like to give it that consistency.

“It is a market you can grow in if you are consistent and you offer a good service.”

Mr Horton says people and culture will be a priority under his leadership.

“The people agenda is really important to me. Are we the company that everybody wants to join, stay at, make their careers at?

“I want to ensure the culture is as good as it can be and I think I’m starting from a reasonably high base.

“Everybody is pretty passionate about the company and the success of the company, so I want to build on that.”