Insurance group QBE to provide jobs boost for Leeds after establishing centre for artificial intelligence and robotics

The insurance group QBE plans to provide a jobs boost for Yorkshire after establishing a centre for artificial intelligence and robotics innovation.

The insurance group QBE plans to provide a jobs boost for Leeds. Picture: PA
The insurance group QBE plans to provide a jobs boost for Leeds. Picture: PA

Bosses at QBE said the centre in Leeds is a European leader for innovation using technology which has been developed in-house by its Yorkshire-based staff.

A spokesman said: “We’ve increased our staff numbers in Leeds from 114 in 2014 to 301 today with plans to recruit a further 40 people.”

QBE’s CEO Jason Harris told The Yorkshire Post during a visit to Leeds: “We pay over £2bn in claims a year in our European operation. We want to ensure these claims are paid out fairly and as quickly as we can.

Jason Harris

“Leeds is a robotics and AI hub where we bring together human expertise and robotics. It means the team can spend time creating value for our customers rather than just processional administration. It's about ensuring customers get the best claims service they possibly can.

“We’ve got 40 robots carrying out 30,000 automated tasks a week. Over the last 18 months, for example, we have been able to pay and close the average motor claim just under 50 days quicker.

“The volume of customer complaints has halved over the last 18 months and our people have said they are happier in the new working environment. Everybody wins.”

“We started the hub here back in 2014. We have access to talent which means we are able to continue growing. Leeds is a really good place to keep this journey going.

“The opportunity to continue to modernise the claims experience will be there for the foreseeable future. As we continue to deliver more and more value, we will see more automation.”

Mr Harris added: “Leeds is a stronghold. Some of the best people I have had the privilege to lead have been from this area.”

He said the team in Leeds was relishing the prospect of taking responsibility for driving the business forward.

Mr Harris added: "There has been a great talent pool around here for some time now. My job is to build the most effective insurance vehicle possible. The location of an individual, particularly post Covid will matter less.

"It's important that we don't go back to the old habits. I can hold a townhall to 1,200 people now on Teams, two years ago, that would have meant flying to six or seven countries.

"For a whole host of reasons it’s good we have this technology and we shouldn’t let go of that.

"This sector creates so much value in terms of the claims we pay, the businesses we stand back up on their feet, the employees we get back to work.

"There are so many upsides. Insurance has a role to enable speedy change, allowing our customers to get on and do what they do best and run their commercial enterprises."

Mr Harris said QBE has piloted a schools programme in London, with pupils from relatively challenged backgrounds.

He added: "It created an opportunity for them to come and understand what we do . They were wonderfully capable individuals who have a lot to offer and it created a good pipeline of talent for us."