Submitted by Hunter Hoffmann, AVP/Communications,
Swiss Re America Holding, Armonk, USA
Swiss Re was founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 1863 in response to the great fire of Glarus in 1861. The losses from this fire prompted the Helvetia General Insurance Company in St. Gall, Credit Suisse of Zurich and the Basle Commercial Bank to found Swiss Reinsurance Company. The company’s first domicile was in a two room apartment and the company wrote their first Marine and Fire reinsurance treaties with Helvetia in 1864. The company’s initial growth was slow outside of Switzerland until the devestating San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. Swiss Re experienced a gross loss of 8.5 million Swiss francs from this event, but was recognized for their ability to settle claims promptly and fairly. Business increased after this event and Swiss Re established its first branch office in New York in 1910.
Swiss Re now has over 10,000 employees and operates in more than 20 countries providing its expertise and services to clients throughout the world. Swiss Re’s traditional reinsurance products and related services for property and casualty, as well as for life and health business, are complemented by insurance-based corporate finance solutions and supplementary services for comprehensive risk management.
What is reinsurance?
Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies. Direct insurers purchase reinsurance to limit annual fluctuations in the their total earnings and losses, and to protect themselves in case of catastrophe. By assuming peak catastrophic risks, reinsurance allows primary insurers to minimize their losses in the instance of extreme and unanticipated events.
Swiss Re Canada is the country’s leading professional reinsurer for both the Property and Casualty and Life and Health insurance industries. Swiss Re’s Canadian operations started on Melinda Street in Toronto under the name Canadian Re in 1953 and the main classes of business were Fire and Motor Third Party Liability. Robert F. Clark became the first President of the Swiss Re Canada in 1968. The company now resides at 150 King Street West in the Sun Life building in Toronto and has 173 employees in Canada.
In 2005 Jean-Jacques Henchoz was named the 7th President and CEO of Swiss Re Canada. In line with Swiss Re’s attention to the impact of climate change on the world’s population, Mr. Henchoz is Chairman of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Strategic Committee on Climate Change and serves as a Director of the Toronto-based Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR).
Swiss Re Canada was named one of Greater Toronto’s Top 90 Employers by Mediacorp Canada for the third consecutive year in 2010.
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