History and heritage: Zurich milestones
Founded in Switzerland
Zurich starts as a marine reinsurer and quickly expands into accident and other casualty insurance throughout Europe.
Crossing the Atlantic
Zurich is licensed to start business in the U.S. Zurich writes its first policy in 1913 from an office at 175 W. Jackson Blvd. in Chicago.
In the driver’s seat
Zurich writes its first automobile policy in North America, the same year that U.S. auto production jumps more than 50 percent.
World War I
Communication between Zurich’s Swiss and North American offices virtually stops. U.S. operations rise to the occasion as Europe is embroiled in conflict.
The FDR connection
Franklin Delano Roosevelt joins Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland, a surety bond provider that would later become part of Zurich. He resigns in 1928 on being elected governor of New York.
Universal Underwriters Group
Chicago-area car dealers, frustrated with insurance companies lumping their fire risks into the same category with blacksmith barns and roadside garages, form their own alternative, Universal Underwriters Group. The group joins Zurich in 1982.
Zurich opens a branch office in Canada, which continues to operate today.
Zurich insures construction of the home of the Chicago Bears.
Insuring on the world stage
Zurich is contracted to provide liability coverage for the Chicago World’s Fair, a high point during the Great Depression.
Panama Constructors Inc. is shopping for bonds to build new locks on the Panama Canal. Maryland Casualty steps in to help provide them.
First section of the Chicago subway opens after almost five years of work, made possible in part through a performance bond issued by Maryland Casualty.
Rebuilding after World War II
Zurich’s strong position in North America helps fund reconstruction projects in war-ravaged countries in Europe. Learn more.
Madison Square Garden in New York City
Zurich provides insurance and a safety program for the demolition of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station and the construction of the new station and Madison Square Garden. See more here.
Deep Tunnel Project
Zurich insures aspects of Chicago’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan. Commonly known as the Deep Tunnel Project, it aims to help reduce flooding in the city and the flushing of raw sewage into Lake Michigan during severe storms.
Acquisition and migration
- Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland joins the Zurich family.
- Following the path of many of its customers, Zurich moves its headquarters from Chicago to Schaumburg.
Welcome Maryland Casualty
Maryland Casualty Company, which wrote bonds to help expand the Panama Canal in 1941, is purchased by Zurich.
A major move
After purchasing the Plaza Towers site and building a second tower, Zurich moves near the intersection of Woodfield Drive and Meacham Road in Schaumburg.
Zurich purchases Kemper Investors Life Insurance Company and Federal Kemper Life Assurance Company.
Sept. 11 tragedy
Zurich loses four employees in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City. The next year, Zurich memorializes John Keohane, Peggy Alario, Kathleen Moran and Lud Picarro by creating the K.A.M.P. Award.
Hurricane Katrina’s ripple effects
- The disaster inspires new solutions and services, including a mobile claims program and customer-care buses.
- Zurich becomes title sponsor of a PGA TOUR event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The following spring, the Zurich Classic becomes the first major sporting event to be held in the city after Katrina. Zurich continues to support New Orleans in disaster recovery and resiliency planning today.
Panama Canal, the sequel
Another expansion of the canal begins, with Zurich writing one of its largest-ever bonds to assist: $450 million.
100 years of insuring America
Zurich celebrates a century of helping U.S. customers understand and protect themselves from risk.
A groundbreaking year
- Crop insurer Rural Community Insurance Services (RCIS) joins Zurich, strengthening Zurich’s top 5 position in the U.S. commercial insurance market.
- Zurich North America moves to a LEED Platinum® certified headquarters in Schaumburg. See why it has become a Chicagoland icon.
- Zurich brings together its former Commercial Markets and Global Corporate units to form the North America Commercial Insurance unit.
New teamwork at Zurich Classic
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans adopts a format that’s unique for the PGA TOUR FedExCup, consisting of two-man teams.
Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, just two of 10 hurricanes in a 10-week period, cause an estimated $290 billion in losses to the U.S. economy. Zurich mobilizes to help customers recover and emerges from the storms with a solid balance sheet.