The growth of QBE, nationally and internationally, is the story of an institution that for more than 130 years has played a significant part in Australian commercial history.
In October 1886, two young Scotsmen, James Burns and Robert Philp, established QBE’s foundation company, The North Queensland Insurance Company Limited (QI). By 1890, QI had established more than 36 agencies in locations including London, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
In 1904, the company opened its own offices on Fenchurch Street London. In 1924, QI opened offices in New York. In 1921, Burns founded the Bankers’ and Traders’ Insurance Company (B&T), with QI being the largest shareholder. The name Traders’ was derived from the Burns and Philp-founded South Sea Islands trading firm Burns Philp and Company, which also had a shareholding in the insurance firm. The Bankers’ was derived from the Royal Bank of Canada-owned Montreal Trust Company, which also had a stake in the venture.