Established 1863

Please select period of time


Extensive fire damage has been hard on the company in its first few years of business. To cover the losses, the General Meeting of 14 May 1869 resolves to reduce the share capital from 6 to 4.5 million Swiss francs. Thanks to gratifying business results, Swiss Re is able to consolidate its position in the years that follow.


The hiring of the ninth member of staff prompts the decision to move to larger premises. Swiss Re finds new office accommodation in the house named 'Zum Engelhof' at Stadelhoferplatz 12 in Zurich. Employees' salaries of 60 to 100 Swiss francs per month are no rarity. There are not yet any Swiss banknotes or gold coins in circulation; salaries are paid in silver, nickel and copper.

Life reinsurance business is taken up when the first treaty is signed with the Basle Life on 1 June 1865.


The company's first domicile is a two-room apartment on the first floor of Schoffelgasse 1 in Zurich.
Business relations with insurance companies in Germany, Italy, France, Austria, England, Belgium and Russia are developed.

Treaty business is not long in arriving. The first Marine reinsurance treaty is concluded with the Helvetia General in St. Gall on 1 January 1864. The first Fire reinsurance treaty is dated 1 May 1864; the treaty partner is the Helvetia Fire, St. Gall.

Georg Schmidt is appointed as first Manager of Swiss Re, followed by Josef Besso, Manager of Swiss Re from 1864 - 1879.


Like the fire of Hamburg in 1842, which had led to the foundation of the first professional reinsurers in Germany, the great fire of Glarus in 1861 also showed that insurance coverage was inadequate in Switzerland in the event of such unusually large catastrophe. To provide more effective means of coping with the risks posed by such devastation, the Helvetia General Insurance Company in St. Gall, the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (Credit Suisse) in Zurich and the Basler Handelsbank in Basle founded the Swiss Reinsurance Company in Zurich.

The company`s articles of association are approved by the government of the Canton of Zurich on 19 December 1863. The foundation capital, which is 15% paid up, amounts to 6 million Swiss francs. The official foundation document bears the signature of the poet Gottfried Keller, who at the time was first secretary of the Canton of Zurich.