Zurich is one of the world's largest insurance groups, offering personal and commercial general and life cover. It trades in Europe and the US primarily as Zurich, and also as Farmers in the US. (Unlike Zurich's other operations, Farmers is a form of mutual insurance exchange in which individual policyholders effectively insure one another. Zurich is the exclusive manager of the business). More recently, the group has been pushing into emerging markets with the ultimate goal of becoming one of the world's top five general insurers. It acquired US motor insurers Bristol West and 21st Century in the 2000s, and also opened preliminary merger talks with US insurer St Pauls to create a global giant. Those talks ended without agreement, as did a later attempt to acquire the UK's RSA. Instead, Zurich has continued to expand through selective acquisitions, mainly in emerging markets of Asia and Latin America. A big rise in exceptional catastrophe claims put expansion plans on hold temporarily at the end of 2015, but the acquisition drive restarted once more in 2017 with add-ons including travel insurer Cover-More, Australian life insurer OnePath, QBE in Latin America and Adira in Indonesia. Toggle is an online-only insurance for renters in the US, launched by Farmers in 2018. Mario Greco is group CEO. Net income was $4.1bn in 2019 on total revenues of $47.2bn. (That excludes premium income from Farmers; Zurich reports only a management fee from Farmers in statutory accounts). Unlike some of its rivals, who specialize in one or two segments, Zurich offers cover in virtually all market segments. Premium income is split more or less evenly between life and property & casualty, but the latter is more profitable. The US is the group's single biggest market by far. According to NAIC figures, Farmers was the #9 property & casualty insurer in the US in 2019 with premiums of $20.6bn, half of which came from private passenger auto and over a quarter from homeowners cover. Zurich in its own right ranked 12th with $12.9bn, mostly from commercial insurance. The business was formed in 1998 following the merger of Swiss-based Zurich Group - originally formed in 1872 - with the financial services businesses owned by British American Tobacco, which included Farmers in the US. However, following that merger the group struggled to manage its sprawling portfolio. Numerous smaller acquired brands - including Eagle Star and Allied Dunbar in the UK or Deutscher Herold in Germany - were absorbed into the main business; a host of other non-core operations - asset manager Threadneedle or Zurich Re reinsurance among others - have been sold.
Capsule checked 26th June 2020
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Historical profile information for Zurich
Adbrands Daily Update 14th Dec 2020: Zurich agreed to acquire rival MetLife's car and home insurance division, significantly boosting the portfolio managed by its US division Farmers. Purchase price is $3.9bn, but MetLife will continue to offer these policies, now managed by Farmers, through its own employee benefits programs. These currently reach more than 37m employees at 3,800 companies, significantly boosting Farmers' footprint beyond its traditional home turf on the Western seaboard. The deal will also elevate Farmers from 9th place to the #7 in US property-casualty with annual premiums increased to around $24.5bn.
Adbrands Social Media 28th Feb 2019: "The More That You See...". RPA partnered with the Dr Seuss estate for this charming animation for Farmers Insurance. It follows in the same theme as the long-running Hall of Claims campaign, in which JK Simmons (of 'Whiplash' and 'Counterpart' fame) plays the custodian of a museum of strange-but-true accidents, all based on real claims handled by Farmers. Indeed, the campaign's slogan "We know a thing or too because we've seen a thing or two" has always sounded very Seussian, so how appropriate to team up with Theodor Seuss Geissel's immortal creations to celebrate what would have been his 115th birthday on Sunday. That's Simmons on voiceover of course; shame he had to rush through it to get in under the 60-second mark.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Sep 2015: Insurance giant Zurich pulled the plug on talks to acquire UK rival RSA for £5.6bn. It found no fault in the smaller company's accounts, it said, but can no longer afford the deal because of huge claims relating to the recent explosions in the Chinese port of Tianjin. Payouts have already exceeded $275m. As a result, Zurich warned it will post a loss of around $200m for its 3Q.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Aug 2015: After several weeks of negotiation, British insurer RSA (the former Royal & Sun Alliance) has accepted in principle a takeover by larger rival Zurich worth £5.6bn, a premium of around 25% above the target company's share price before talks were disclosed. The deal is still conditional upon due diligence as well as shareholder approval. RSA is best-known globally for its life and pensions cover, though it also sells home, car and pet insurance in the UK under the More Than brand.
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