QBE should turn its back on US, argue analysts

QBE's run of bad luck in the US has prompted analysts at CLSA to argue the insurer should retreat from the world's biggest economy if it wants to return to its "glory days".

QBE's run of bad luck in the US has prompted analysts at CLSA to argue the insurer should retreat from the world's biggest economy if it wants to return to its "glory days".

About one-third of QBE's profits come from the US but earnings have been hit by heavy claims from severe storms, a drought and a legal stoush over its mortgage insurance business.

In a new report, CLSA analyst Jan van der Schalk argues QBE should "pull up stumps" in the US because its businesses there are a drag on overall performance.

QBE is a key provider of insurance on troubled mortgages known as "lender-placed insurance", which has been targeted by US authorities in recent months. Last week, QBE settled with the state of New York for almost $US10 million after the state alleged insurers in the sector were profiting from paying kickbacks.

Mr van der Schalk said QBE lacked the capital and scale to make a difference in the US and should focus on other countries.

Last year, QBE's US operations made a $US170 million loss. Its settlement last week was not an admission of guilt and it has not said if it will settle with other states.