Zurich is founded with the name Versicherungs-Verein (Insurance Association) as a subsidiary of Swiss Transport Insurance. The goal is to take over part of the reinsurance business run by its parent company, founded in 1869, and to establish its own transport insurance portfolio. The Zurich municipal clerk Gottfried Keller signs the articles of association for the Versicherungs-Verein in Zurich.
The Versicherungs-Verein enters the field of accident insurance and renames itself as Transport & Unfall-Versicherungs-Actien-Gesellschaft Zürich (Zurich Transport and Accident Insurance Corporation). By the end of the year, Zurich already has accident agencies in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden and Norway).
Zurich’s annual report considers the incredibly low premiums that abound in the insurance industry in general. Such low premiums can only lead to unfair claims adjustment and damage to the insurance industry’s reputation. This triggered a new corporate policy, which was described as follows in a history of the company published in 1922: "No business without adequate premiums and in return, far-reaching concessions in terms of claims handling."
Major losses in the transport insurance business can only be offset by deploying capital reserves, which leads to Zurich’s immediate exit from this segment. Heinrich Müller becomes CEO and gets Zurich back on track, for example, by cutting dividend payments. Nevertheless, income from premiums rises for the first time to over CHF 1m.
In cooperation with the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), Zurich introduces accident insurance for mountain guides. The corresponding contractual agreement laid the foundations for a fruitful relationship between the two partners that endures to this day.
Zurich expands into Scandinavia, Germany, France, Tunisia, Algeria, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Zurich undergoes a change of name 14 years after exiting the transport insurance business and is now called Zürich Allgemeine Unfall- und Haftpflicht-Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft (Zurich General Accident and Liability Insurance Company Limited).
Construction is completed on the new head office at Mythenquai 2 in Zurich. On 27 April 1901, the Zurich Weekly Chronicle writes: "None of the large corporations in this area can boast of a more beautiful office building in a more beautiful location..."
Zurich dedicates itself to the referendum campaign against the creation of a government monopoly for workers’ compensation insurance (SUVA). It turns into a battle for votes unlike anything Switzerland had previously seen. Hundreds of meetings are held across the entire country where the referendum's supporters debated its opponents. Likewise, many editorials, statements and counter-statements are authored and published. In February 1912, the battle is lost. But the First World War delays SUVA’s founding until 1917.
The Supervisory Board agrees to enter the US market.
Wartime experiences lead to the introduction of new products: accident insurance for soldiers serving behind the front and insurance against accidents caused by mines and bombs.
As the insurance sector begins the process of deglobalization after the First World War, Zurich keeps expanding as the first foreign insurance company to offer accident and liability insurance directly in the United Kingdom.
Zurich opens up a new line of business, founding the subsidiary Vita Lebensversicherung AG (Vita Life Insurance).
Vita is the first life insurer on the European Continent to introduce regular medical check-ups for its customers at the company’s expense.
Vita introduces public insurance (Volksversicherung) in Switzerland: small-scale life policies that can be taken out without undergoing a medical examination, which were designed to help people with low incomes.
The health service expands with the addition of Vita-Ratgeber lifestyle guide – a quarterly customer magazine designed to promote good health with tips concerning a healthy lifestyle.
Zurich introduces accident insurance for women to cater to their specific needs.
Turegum Insurance Company is founded in Switzerland, through which Zurich offers, for example, bike insurance and insurance with magazine subscriptions (Heftli insurance).
Vita continues expanding its health services by reimbursing the costs of operations. During the policy term, customers have a one-time right to be reimbursed for the costs of a life-saving operation.
Zurich General Accident and Liability Insurance Company Limited is renamed as Zurich Insurance Company.
Zurich acquires a majority interest in Alpina Insurance Company Ltd.
Vita sponsors the launch of the eponymous Vita Parcours.
Zurich begins building up its International Division (now called Global Corporate), focusing on the insurance needs of international companies. The division mainly deals with umbrella contracts that offer protection across national borders. Zurich is the second company in the world – and the first in Europe – to seize on this innovation.
Zurich takes over Altstadt Insurance Company in Switzerland.
Zurich acquires Genevoise insurance group.
Vita Lebensversicherung AG is renamed as Zurich Life.
Zurich launches Zuritel – the first telephone sales system in the Swiss insurance market.
Altstadt merges with Zurich Switzerland. Every aspect of the Zurich Switzerland business is restructured in line with customer segments.
Zurich introduces Help Points in Switzerland.
Zurich takes on a majority holding of the Orion Legal Expenses Insurance Company.
Zurich celebrates its 125th anniversary by merging with the insurance and finance divisions of UK B.A.T. Group, thus becoming Zurich Financial Services Group. Traditional English insurer Eagle Star joins up with Zurich along with US Farmers Insurance Group. This makes Zurich one of the five largest insurance groups in the world.
The single share class is introduced and traded on the stock exchanges in Zurich and London.
Falling share prices motivate Zurich to realize a clear strategic redirection to focus on its insurance-based core business. Zurich Switzerland reverts from customer-segment-based organization (at least in the back office) to the traditional life and non-life segments. This again makes Zurich Switzerland one of the most profitable Swiss companies.
Alpina Insurance Company Ltd. merges with Zurich.
Genevoise assurance business is consolidated with that of Zurich Life Insurance Company and Zurich Insurance Company.
Zuritel, Zurich’s Swiss direct insurer, is now called Zurich Connect.
Zurich achieves two outstanding expansion milestones in selected emerging markets. First, it acquires Malaysian insurance company Assurance Alliance Berhad. Second, it forms a long-term alliance with Banco Santander, through which Zurich has access to 36 million potential customers in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in the life and non-life segments.
Zurich celebrates the 100th anniversary of its arrival on the US insurance market. Zurich and its companies took lead roles in some of the most famous American construction projects: the Hoover Dam (1932, Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland), the Chicago Expo (1933) and Madison Square Garden in New York (1968).
Zurich Financial Services is renamed as Zurich Insurance Group.
Zurich wants to offer customers a uniform and uncomplicated customer experience. For this reason, Zurich has now decided to incorporate the online offer of Zurich Connect under the Zurich brand from spring 2016. All insurance policies from Zurich Connect will be retained and continue to run under the primary brand Zurich.
Zurich Switzerland merges its previously separately managed businesses General Insurance and Life. This new business model supports a consistent approach to our customer’s needs. Providing consulting and service from a single source enables Zurich to enhance its customer experience.