Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd, generally known as Swiss Re, is a reinsurance company based in Zurich, Switzerland. It is the world's second-largest reinsurer. It acquired GE Insurance Solutions in 2006. Founded in 1863, Swiss Re operates through offices in more than 25 countries. Swiss Re was ranked 118th in Forbes 2000 Global leading companies 2016. It was also ranked 313th in Fortune Global 500 in 2015.
The Swiss Reinsurance Company of Zurich was founded on 19 December 1863 by the Helvetia General Insurance Company (now known as Helvetia Versicherungen) in St. Gallen, the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (Credit Suisse) in Zurich and the Basler Handelsbank (predecessor of UBS AG) in Basel.
On 10/11 May 1861, more than 500 houses went up in flames in the town of Glarus. Two thirds of the town sank into rubble and ashes; around 3000 inhabitants were made homeless. Like the fire of Hamburg in 1842, which led to the foundation of the first professional reinsurers in Germany, the great fire of Glarus in 1861 showed that insurance coverage was totally inadequate in Switzerland in the event of such a catastrophe.
The company's articles of association were approved by the government of the Canton of Zurich on 19 December 1863. The foundation capital, which was 15% paid up, amounted to 6 million Swiss francs. The official foundation document bore the signature of the poet Gottfried Keller, who at the time was first secretary of the Canton of Zurich.
Group structure and operating model
The Group consists of the following three business units:
- Reinsurance: Reinsurance is Swiss Re's largest business in income terms, providing about 80% of gross premiums in two segments: Property & Casualty and Life & Health.
- Corporate Solutions: Markets insurance to mid-sized and multinational corporations around the world, with over 40 offices worldwide. Offerings range from standard risk transfer covers and multi-line programmes to highly customised arrangements.
- Life Capital: Accepts closed books of in-force life and health insurance business, entire lines of business, or the entire capital stock of life insurance companies, enabling clients to divest non-core blocks of business, thus reducing administrative costs and freeing up capital.
Swiss Re's leadership consists of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee and the Group Management Board. Members of the Executive Committee include Christian Mumenthaler, Chief Executive Officer; Guido Fürer, Chief Investment Officer; John R. Dacey, Chief Financial Officer; Patrick Raaflaub, Chief Risk Officer; Edi Schmid, Chief Underwriting Officer; Moses Ojeisekhoba, Chief Executive Officer Reinsurance; Andreas Berger, CEO Corporate Solutions; Jayne Plunkett, CEO Reinsurance Asia; J. Eric Smith, CEO Swiss Re Americas; and Thomas Wellauer, Chief Operating Officer.
The group has offices in over 25 countries. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Swiss Re has offices located in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Israel, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. In Asia, the group has offices in the following countries: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea. There are also offices in the Americas: Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Its London office is located in the award-winning 30 St Mary Axe tower, which opened on 25 May 2004. 30 St Mary Axe is London's first environmentally sustainable tall building. Among the building's most distinctive features are its windows, which open to allow natural ventilation to supplement the mechanical systems for a good part of the year.
The landmark London skyscraper, designed by architect Norman Foster and popularly known as 'the gherkin’, was confirmed sold on 5 February 2007 for over £600 million (US$1.18 billion) to a group formed of IVG Immobilien AG of Germany and Evans Randall of Mayfair.
The American headquarters of Swiss Re is located in Armonk, New York, on a 127-acre (52 hectares) site overlooking Westchester County’s Kensico Reservoir. The facility, which houses more than 1,000 employees, was completed in 1999 and expanded in 2004.
Swiss Re also has offices in Alpharetta, Boston, Calabasas, Cape Town, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Wayne, Houston, Kansas City, Manchester, Marlton, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami, Schaumburg, Illinois, and Windsor. Swiss Re has two Canadian offices, in Toronto, and Vancouver, Swiss Reinsurance Company Canada, was named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc. in October 2008, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.
Swiss Re supports its employees by refunding them up to 5000 Swiss Francs if they invest into technologies reducing CO2 emissions. Payments depend on the technology, its efficiency and the price of the investment. Examples of such technologies include hybrid cars, heat pumps, energy-saving refrigerators, or better insulated windows.