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Would You Thank Your Insurer in a Full-Page Ad? This Company Did.

QBE has won public praise for exceeding clients’ expectations, but their secret ingredient for customer satisfaction may not be what you think.
By: | August 31, 2018 • 6 min read

QBE has won public praise for exceeding clients’ expectations, but their secret ingredient for customer satisfaction may not be what you think.

Do you love your insurer enough to take out a full-page ad, singing their praises in the local paper?

As improbable as it sounds, that’s exactly what one furniture company did after a fire destroyed their facility and all their inventory. Their claim for a total loss was settled in fewer than two weeks, and “we have never been treated better in our lives,” the ad said.

“Thank you, QBE, and a very special thanks to the greatest adjuster of them all, Laurie Stover,” the ad concluded, calling out the individual claims adjuster on their case.

It’s a recognition that any carrier would love to receive, but few could claim. So how did QBE make such a positive impression on their customer?

“Lots of companies say they are customer-centric, but no one else creates a customer-centric model the same way we do,” said Russ Johnston, Chief Executive Officer, QBE North America.

“We actually start by putting our employees first.”

Listening to Feedback Creates Happier Employees

By making employees the top priority, QBE creates a workforce which feels motivated to provide a high level of customer service and create solutions for clients that continue to make the global insurer best in class.

“People know you care when you listen to them and value what they have to say,” Johnston said. “We try to demonstrate that attentiveness and transparency every day.”
— Russ Johnston, Chief Executive Officer, QBE North America

Russ Johnston, Chief Executive Officer, QBE North America

“You need people who believe in your company and will show up every day, enthusiastic and energized to work,” Johnston said. “If you don’t have that, customers will feel it. They can sense an absence of people who actually care about their problems.”

Johnston and the rest of QBE’s executives foster an engaged workforce by actively listening to employees’ feedback and taking action on it. Executives regularly meet with junior employees to ask how the company could improve the work environment or make it easier to serve clients.

And the meetings aren’t just for show.

“We’ve made about a half-dozen material changes based on those forums,” said Dan Franzetti, Chief Operating Officer, QBE North America. Most of those changes are small adjustments that add up to a big impact on an employee’s work life … and the company’s bottom line. One employee, for example, proposed a different way to process expense accounts.

“We’ve all lived that pain of submitting expenses,” Franzetti said. “But we changed our process after an employee offered a better solution. It not only saved headaches for our workers, but it also saved the company money in the long run.”

Outside of face-to-face meetings, employees can ask questions of senior leaders through an internal social network called Yammer. Execs and local managers alike either respond to queries directly or will send out a team-wide message to address common issues.

That openness of communication is also manifested in the way offices are arranged. No one — not even senior executives — sits in a closed-off office space. Company leaders — including Johnston and Franzetti — sit in cubicles alongside their team members.

“People know you care when you listen to them and value what they have to say,” Johnston said. “We try to demonstrate that attentiveness and transparency every day.”

Employees Value Companies Who Invest in Their Communities

QBE also demonstrates dedication to its workforce by supporting the causes that matter to them.

“I’m proud of the idea that my team came up with and that they felt empowered and cared enough about our customers to find a way to make things easier for them.”
— Dan Franzetti, Chief Operating Officer, QBE North America

Dan Franzetti, Chief Operating Officer, QBE North America

“A significant portion of our roughly 2,500 U.S. employees has built or contributed to local initiatives or programs in their communities,” Franzetti said. “To be able to provide the time, flexibility and economic support to enable them to do that is really important.”

QBE’s business resource groups also provide funding and other types of support to programs benefitting women, LGBTQ, veteran and multicultural employees and community members. Several of its senior leaders took part in the annual Pride March in New York City or participated in Memorial Day commemorations. The company also donates $1 million annually through the QBE Foundation in the U.S. and allocates a portion of premium toward social impact investments through its Premiums4Good campaign.

But, Johnston said, “it doesn’t take massive investments or teams of consultants to show employees you care about what matters to them. You just have to be genuine. Because people can feel when you’re being genuine versus when you’re just trying to check some box or project a good image.”

Truly Engaged Employees Care About Their Client’s Needs

When employees know that their employers truly care, they feel proud of their workplace and are motivated to show that through excellent customer service. QBE employees have, on several occasions, proven their dedication to solving clients’ problems beyond their expectations.

They proposed, for example, eliminating the burdensome documentation required for property owners to file claims for a total loss.

“We had one California-based employee who lost her home to wildfire. Her insurer at the time required itemization of all her belongings — amounting to thousands of lines of information — before advancing any payment,” Franzetti said. Any records she may have had detailing her assets were in the home and lost in the fire, as was her computer. She had to purchase a laptop just to be able to catalog her possessions.

Bear in mind, this procedure is the norm for most insurers.

Recognizing the pain this causes for clients, QBE claims staffers suggested the adjusting and payment process for property losses could be dramatically improved.

“So we changed our process,” Franzetti said. “In a situation like that, we paid 75 percent of the policy limits on contents without any documentation, because it’s the right thing to do.”

“I’m proud of the idea that my team came up with and that they felt empowered and cared enough about our customers to find a way to make things easier for them when they’ve just suffered a traumatic event.”

That same altruism is what drove Laurie Stover to settle her client’s claim in less than two weeks, despite the significant loss of their inventory, and earn that full page shout-out.

Johnston said, “If you focus on creating a great environment for your employees, you don’t need senior leaders directing them to do the right thing.”

To learn more about QBE, visit https://www.qbe.com/us.



This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with QBE North America. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

QBE North America is a division of QBE Insurance Group Limited, one of the world's 20 largest insurance and reinsurance companies. We offer the unique integration of financial strength, a broad product set and sophisticated capabilities to deliver value for our partners and policyholders.

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]