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QBE launches ESG framework to help SME customers address growing concerns

QBE has developed a tool to provide a risk management framework for customers to better assess environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk.

Developed by QBE’s Risk Solutions practice, the tool provides a template sustainability policy and ESG framework to help smaller and medium sized enterprises identify, monitor and manage a range of ESG issues that may impact on their business.

QBE has recognised that while many larger businesses will have been putting framework into place due to increasing disclosure requirements, smaller and medium sized businesses may not have put these into place and are often more limited in terms of budgets and resources for sustainability projects.

Events such as large-scale pollution, recalls on dangerous products, employee safety, unethical behaviour, poor management, and financial collapses, can all impact on customer loyalty, profitability, the ability to operate. These types of incidents often draw prolonged media attention, promote shareholder activism, and public policy debate that can make things worse and cause extreme reputational damage

According to recent research from QBE, small-to-medium sized businesses were less likely (26% and 34%) to say ESG was currently a top priority for their business than larger businesses (54%), but over a third of small businesses (34%) and nearly half of medium-sized businesses (46%) said they were currently worried about potential liability from failing to deliver on environmental initiatives or report climate related exposures.

Deborah O’Riordan, Practice Leader, Risk Solutions, QBE Europe, said:  There is increasing regulation and numerous policy interventions on sustainability issues, as well as growing numbers of international standards, best practice frameworks and voluntary initiatives in specific regions and sectors. In this context, it is more important than ever that organisations develop a structured approach to considering and managing sustainability.
While the sustainability movement is advancing in big business due to disclosure requirements, it could be slow to trickle down to the smaller and medium enterprises that make up a large part of QBE’s customer base.”
Deborah continued: “Companies should not wait for an adverse incident before they address their sustainability goals – a reactive approach could prove costly and give rise to criminal charges, enforcement actions, management liability claims, injury and death, reputational damage, loss of revenue, and ultimately, business failure.”

QBE has launched the tool as a first step and plans to further develop the offering into a toolkit to include further guidance and to convert it to an online assessment so that data can be consolidated and shared via QRisk, QBE’s web-based risk assessment portal.


For further information contact:

Sandra Villanueva, Corporate Communications, QBE, 020 7105 5284,

Alexis Burris, Corporate Communications, QBE, 020 3465 3921,


About QBE

QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.

QBE European Operations is part of QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers and Standard & Poor’s A+ rated. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE’s gross written premium for the year ended 31 December 2020 was US$14.7 billion.

As a business insurance specialist, QBE European Operations offers a range of insurance products from the standard suite of property, casualty and motor to the specialist financial lines, marine and energy. All are tailored to the individual needs of our small, medium and large customer base.

We understand the crucial role that effective risk management plays in all organisations and work hard to understand our customers’ businesses so that we offer insurance solutions that meet their needs – from complex programmes to simpler e-trading solutions – and support them in minimising their risk exposures. Our expert risk management and rehabilitation practitioners focus on helping customers improve their risk management so that they may benefit from a reduction in claims frequency and costs.