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Zurich Insurance plc based in Ireland reports solid 2009 operating performance

15th March 2010

Dublin, March 15, 2010 – In line with the strong operating performance reported by Zurich Financial Services Group (Zurich) in February, Zurich Insurance plc (ZIP) announced a solid operating performance for 2009. ZIP is Zurich’s Dublin-based general insurance risk carrier for its EU business.

For the year ended December 31, 2009, ZIP reported the following IFRS results:

  • Business operating profit (BOP) of EUR 220 million, an increase of EUR 154 million versus the prior year period
  • General Insurance gross written premiums of EUR 4,565 million, an increase of EUR 2,480 million versus the prior year period
  • Combined ratio of 101.4%, an improvement of 6.0% versus the prior year period

The above figures include Zurich's general insurance business in Ireland, the UK, Belgium, France, Italy (Global Corporate only), the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Following the transfer in January 2009, the UK general insurance business is now also written on ZIP. This transfer largely accounts for the increase in premium volume. On a like for like (comparable) basis, gross written premiums were 1% lower than 2008. This reduction reflects the weaker economic conditions, partly offset by average rate increases of 5 percentage points.

The transfer of the UK business was an important step towards one balance sheet for Zurich's general insurance business in the EU. With the Portuguese and Spanish businesses as well as the majority of the remaining Italian business, which were transferred to ZIP at the beginning of this year, and the planned transfer of the German business later this year, ZIP is expected to generate revenues of about EUR 11 billion.

Markus Hongler, CEO of Zurich Insurance plc, said: "Despite a competitive market environment particularly in Western Europe, Zurich's ZIP business was able to maintain strong levels of business performance. We are confident that our streamlined European structure will help to support our business for any market conditions."

Zurich's ambition is to be the leading insurer in its chosen markets, bringing high quality services to its customers through technical excellence, operational discipline and powerful distribution models. Having a single EU-based risk carrier in Ireland with branches in the EU member states is both capital and operationally efficient.

Ireland was selected to be the domicile for Zurich's general insurance risk carrier as it already had an existing infrastructure as well as a branch network established for its European Global Corporate business. Zurich considered a number of options and Ireland best met its requirements because of its long-standing membership in the EU and its Euro currency, its highly developed insurance market, as well as its English-speaking post-graduate workforce. Zurich sees Ireland as the leading centre for its business activities across Europe. This is a good development for the Irish economy as a whole.

Zurich Financial Services Group (Zurich) is an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in Asia-pacific, Latin America and other markets. Founded in 1872, the Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It employs approximately 60,000 people serving customers in more than 170 countries.

Zurich Insurance public limited company (ZIP) is Zurich's European general insurance risk carrier based in Ireland. It is rated AA-/Negative by Standard & Poor's. It has regulated branches in Belgium, Finland, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as well as conducting business in Ireland. ZIP’s operating structure provides an efficient and effective platform through which to execute Europe General Insurance’s and Global Corporate’s strategies to deliver customized, comprehensive and competitive products, solutions and claims management services to Zurich’s personal and commercial customers in those countries in which it is established. ZIP is regulated by the Irish Financial Regulator and is registered in Ireland. Registered office: Zurich House, Ballsbridge Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland.

Disclaimer & Cautionary Statement

Certain statements in this document are forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements that are predications of or indicate future events, trends, plans or objectives. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding our targeted profit improvement, return on equity targets, expense reductions, pricing conditions, dividend policy and underwriting claims improvements, as well as statements regarding our understanding of general economic, financial and insurance market conditions and expected developments. Undue reliance should not be placed on such statements because, by their nature, they are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties and can be affected by other factors that could cause actual results and plans and objectives of Zurich Insurance plc to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward looking statements (or from past results). Factors such as (i) general economic conditions and competitive factors, particularly in our key markets; (ii) the risk of the global economic downturn and a downturn in the financial services industries in particular (iii) performance of financial markets; (iv) levels of interest rates and currency exchange rates; (v) frequency, severity and development of insured claims events; (vi) mortality and morbidity experience; (vii) policy renewal and lapse rates; and (viii) changes in laws and regulations and in the policies of regulators may have a direct bearing on the results of operations of Zurich Insurance plc and on whether the targets will be achieved. Zurich Insurance plc undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any of these forward-looking statements, whether to reflect new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise.

It should be noted that past performance is not a guide to future performance.
Persons requiring advice should consult an independent adviser.
This communication does not constitute an offer or an invitation for the sale or purchase of securities in any jurisdiction.