QBE Financial Institution Risk Services (QBE FIRST, formerly Sterling National) sets high standards for service in the mortgage insurance industry. The company provides tracking and other outsourcing services for lender-placed mortgage hazard insurance. It contracts with lenders, builders, and other financial institutions to monitor and ensure that commercial and residential mortgage borrowers are carrying appropriate policies, and to enforce and manage the purchase of insurance when necessary. Other offerings include tax processing, claims services, outsourced customer service, and a voluntary homeowners insurance product. QBE FIRST is a subsidiary of Australian firm QBE Insurance.
QBE acquired the company (then named ZC Sterling) for about $575 million from private equity firm Stone Point Capital in 2009. Following the acquisition, the firm became an independent subsidiary of QBE (as part of the QBE the Americas division); the subsidiary's name was changed from ZC Sterling to Sterling National early the following year. Then, in 2011, Sterling National changed its name to QBE Financial Institution Risk Services (QBE FIRST) to align its operations with its parent organization.
Before and after its purchase by QBE, the company has itself been active in mergers and acquisitions. To expand its insurance outsourcing and risk mitigation operations in the Northwest, it acquired Seattle Specialty Insurance Services in 2010 for an undisclosed price. Seattle Specialty, which serves midsized financial institutions, became an independent subsidiary of QBE FIRST.
In 2008 the firm bought Westwood Insurance Agency from Dallas-based home builder Centex for $55 million. The Westwood purchase gave its client base a boost in both California and throughout the US because, through Westwood, QBE FIRST continues to provide insurance services to customers of Centex and other builders throughout the country.
In addition to Seattle Specialty and Westwood, the insurance firm operates through subsidiaries QBE FIRST Insurance Agency (formerly Sterling National Insurance Agency), QBE FIRST Property Tax Solutions (formerly Sterling Property Tax Solutions), and QBE FIRST Enterprises (formerly Sterling National Enterprises), as well as Mortgage & Auto Solutions and Newport Management. QBE FIRST has offices throughout the southern, midwestern, and western US. – less