Commercial property will be followed by further business lines

QBE Insurance is set to expand its presence in the SME sector with a move into new business areas.

The insurer, which previously focused on niche SME business, will target commercial property risks with a brokerage of between £5,000 and £100,000 throughout the UK.

It will expand into other lines of business later in the year.

Allan Thorne, head of corporate SME at QBE, told Insurance Times: "As a service provider to brokers we have noticed there has been a gap in our product offering and we aim to fill that gap."

He said QBE had selected a panel of "geographically picked" brokers specialising in SME business to distribute the products.

"SME is the largest single market in the UK at the moment. As the seventh largest insurer we should have a greater presence in that market," Thorne added.

QBE will begin writing retail cover through South Essex Insurance Brokers' Risk Placer system next month. Risk Placer is an online 'full cycle' system that allows brokers to quote and buy online, make mid-term adjustments, renew policies, build customer profiles, and assess claims online.

Chris Parker, QBE portfolio manager, schemes UK corporate, said: "Risk Placer is a great distribution platform which allows the point-of-sale document to be printed off when the sale is made. This tackles the FSA's contract certainty initiative."

Peter O'Neill, portfolio director of UK Corporate at QBE added: "We have to differentiate ourselves from the competition if we are going to be successful and through Risk Placer we think we can do that.

"It is effectively guaranteeing contract certainty to the broker and client through a web-enabled system."