Swiss Re: Everything you need to know
Headquarters: Zurich, Switzerland
Net written premium: US$18,160 (H1 2019)
Swiss Reinsurance Company (Swiss Re) is the world’s second largest reinsurer and is based out of Zurich, Switzerland. It was founded on December 19, 1863, by Helvetia General Insurance Company, Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (Credit Suisse) and Basler Handelsbank, and currently operates in over 25 countries globally.
An 1861 fire in the Swiss town of Glaurus saw over 500 houses destroyed and around 3,000 inhabitants made homeless, and the event highlighted the severe lack of insurance coverage in the country. Like the earlier fire of Hamburg in 1842 and subsequent foundation of Germany’s first reinsurer, the event led to Swiss Re’s articles of association being approved by the government of the Canton of Zurich in December 1863.
Currently, Swiss Re consists of three business units: reinsurance, corporate solutions and life capital.
Swiss Re’s Australia and New Zealand operations are based out of Sydney and offer property & casualty, life & health and corporate solutions products.
Swiss Re in the news
1863 - Helvetia General Insurance Company, Schweizerische Kreditanstalt and Basler Handelsbank come together to form Switzerland’s first reinsurance company.
2016 – Swiss Re reports a net income of US$1.9 billion, down from US$2.3 billion in the same period in 2015. The drop was reported as being down to natural catastrophe claims, political uncertainty and volatile financial markets.
2017 – Swiss Re Records a further US$1 billion fall in net income compared to 2016, reveals CEO’s salary as approximately NZ$9.28 million.
2017 – Swiss Re estimates the claims lodged as a result of New Zealand weather events to be approximately $1.3 billion, and reports a group net loss of US$468 million for the first nine months of 2017 following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the Mexico earthquakes.
2018 – Swiss Re announces a net income of US$1.1 billion for the first nine months of 2018, compared to a loss of US$486 million during the same period of the previous year.
2018 – Swiss Re appoints Russell Higginbotham as CEO Reinsurance EMEA, regional president EMEA and member of the group executive committee.
2019 – Swiss Re announces a net income increase from US$331 million to US$421 million for 2018, despite a flurry of natural catastrophe claims in the second half of the year.
Swiss Re – Key people (as of 2019)
Christian Mumenthaler – CEO
Mumenthaler was appointed CEO of Swiss Re on July 01, 2016, having started his career with the reinsurer in 1999. He served as group chief risk officer from 2005-2007, and was Head of Life & Health from 2007-2010. He holds a PhD from the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biophysics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and, prior to his career with Swiss Re, he created the 1994 computer game Colonial Conquest II and made album covers for industrial music acts.
Trent Thmson – Head Client Management P&C, Australia and New Zealand
Thomson re-joined the Australia and New Zealand business after five years with Swiss Re in the US, and became head of property & casualty in January 2019. He has over 20 years’ experience in reinsurance, 14 of them having been spent with Swiss Re.
Leigh Watson – Head of Life & Health, Australia and New Zealand
Watson has over 30 years’ experience in the life insurance market across Australia, Asia and the UK, and was appointed head of life & health at Swiss Re in April 2018. He was previously an executive general manager at National Australia Bank, and also led MLC’s life insurance and funds management business in Asia.
Swiss Re currently refunds its employees up to 5,000 Swiss Francs if they invest in technology which reduces carbon dioxide emissions. The amount repaid depends on the efficiency of the technology and the price of the investment, with common examples including hybrid cars, heat pumps, energy-saving refrigerators and well-insulated windows.