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Corporate history of AXA Switzerland

Take a brief look at the rollercoaster ride of the (almost) 150-year corporate history of AXA Switzerland. From the very first policy to the current strategic direction, you can follow milestones here in text and multi-colored pictures.

1875 – 1975: Accident insurance

Founded at the time of emerging industrialization, the then Swiss Accident Insurance Company Limited constantly presses ahead into new fields and markets.

1875

Winterthur Insurance is established in Winterthur as the Swiss Accident Insurance Company. The company forms the basis of the current AXA Switzerland Ltd.

First policy taken out with Winterthur

First policy taken out with Winterthur

1882

The Swiss market proves to be controversial, and the strategy of concentrating on Switzerland and Germany does not work out for Winterthur.

At the same time, Winterthur recognizes the benefit of the geographical distribution of insurance risk. This is why Winterthur has been setting up agencies in other European countries ever since it was founded.

Map of Europe showing marked country locations

Map of Europe showing marked country locations

1902

In 1900, Winterthur adds theft and surety insurance to its product range. Two years later, the insurance company insures its first motor vehicle.

Documented car accident in black/white

Documented car accident for vehicle insurance

1923

The life insurance company Winterthur Life is established, expanding into occupational pensions in the first few years of its existence. It forms the basis of the current AXA Life Ltd.

Nameplate of Winterthur Life Insurance Company

First nameplate of Winterthur Life Insurance Company

1950

For the 75th anniversary in 1950, AXA makes a company film for itself and all its employees showing ordinary work scenes at its Winterthur head office and at various country locations.

1963

Winterthur Insurance acquires the Federal Insurance Company Ltd. (established in 1881) which specializes in the property and transport insurance sector - this is an important step on the way to becoming a general insurer.

Advertisement of the Federal Insurance Company Ltd.

Advertisement of the Federal Insurance Company Ltd.

1969

Dr. Hans Braunschweiler is responsible for the systematic expansion of Winterthur's foreign business and is appointed Managing Director in 1969. In 1983 he steps down from the operating business to become Chairman until 1989.

Portrait of Dr. Hans Braunschweiler

Dr. Hans Braunschweiler

1975 – 2007: Winterthur Insurance

As on a rollercoaster, Winterthur goes through financial ups and downs during this period as well as reorganizations and management changes before being sold to AXA by Credit Suisse in 2006.

1975

Winterthur celebrates its centenary. As a result of its expanded business activities, the company informally referred to as “Accident” was renamed Winterthur Swiss Insurance Company (or Winterthur Insurance for short). Building on the Swiss core market, it expands its international activities during the 1970s.

Illustration of a birthday cake with the inscription "It's Winterthur's birthday"

Illustration for the company's centenary

Portrait Peter Spälti

Peter Spälti

1997

Thomas Wellauer becomes CEO of Winterthur in 1997. After the merger with the Credit Suisse Group, Wellauer creates the Private and Occupational Pensions business segment which combines the insurance company's and bank's life insurance activities. Wellauer stands down in 2002 when the failure of this bancassurance concept coincides with turbulence on the financial markets. 

Portrait Thomas Wellauer

Thomas Wellauer

2003

After Leonhard Fischer took over as CEO of the Winterthur Group in 2003, his tough HR policy and the sale of subsidiaries led to staff numbers falling by around one third. Now operating globally as Winterthur Group, the company concentrated on its core business and on specific key markets, including Eastern Europe.

The excellent financial results under Fischer’s leadership quickly brought the situation back to pre-crisis levels and made the Winterthur Group a first-class name in the European insurance industry again. At the same time, these results increased the company’s intrinsic value and made it attractive as a sale. 

Portrait Leonhard Fischer

Leonhard Fischer

2006

AXA acquires Winterthur Insurance, a move that makes Winterthur Insurance part of one of the world’s major insurance companies. Through this acquisition, AXA in Switzerland now has a unique dominant position compared to other AXA country companies. 

In Switzerland, CEO Philippe Egger concentrates on the turnaround from 2003 onwards by combining life and non-life business into a joint sales organization. By doing so, the company follows a profitability strategy, with savings targets remaining a priority. Egger finds a viable and very successful balance between investment in growth and moderate cost controls. 

Portrait Philippe Egger

Philippe Egger

2007 – today: AXA Switzerland

The switch to the AXA Group provides fresh momentum to Swiss business: flat hierarchies, a customer-oriented strategy, an informal culture or rebranding are all milestones in the corporate history of AXA.

2007

Winterthur Insurance is renamed AXA Winterthur. 

The international business of the former Winterthur Insurance is integrated into AXA’s country companies. The former AXA Insurance in Switzerland becomes AXA Winterthur.

Both smiling, Philippe Egger and Henri de Castries press a red button to unveil the new lettering of AXA's main building.

Philippe Egger (left) and Henri de Castries (right) unveil the new lettering of AXA's main building.

2008

AXA launches the brand promise “redefining / financial protection” and changes its image. Its central element is the red bar (switch) in the AXA logo. This bar is prominent in advertising messages and also symbolizes the changeover to the AXA world.

Flyer for rebranding with the AXA Switch

Advertising campaign for rebranding the corporate design

2014

After a very successful term of office of almost eleven years as CEO, Philippe Egger stands down from his management role at the end of 2013. The former Head of Distribution Antimo Perretta takes over as CEO of AXA Winterthur as of January 2014.

Philippe Egger (left) and Antimo Perretta (right) at the AXA Winterthur Christmas party

Philippe Egger (left) and Antimo Perretta (right) at the AXA Winterthur Christmas party

2015

Under the leadership of Antimo Perretta, AXA Winterthur aims to win over customers with forward-looking solutions that create flexibility and make life easy for them. Strategy 2020 is unveiled in June 2015 as a way of implementing this new vision. It involves a new organization with flatter hierarchies, fewer managers with larger teams and more opportunities for employees to specialize.

It's the start of a new era, with AXA Winterthur organizing a major event for staff in Switzerland at the beginning of December. The company also reflects on 140 years of AXA Winterthur as well as 30 years of the AXA brand and an informal culture throughout the whole company.

2017

AXA Winterthur enters the health insurance market by offering supplementary health insurance products through a 30-strong team. It therefore sets a milestone for implementing its Strategy 2020 plan that seeks innovation beyond the established business model. 

Illustration of the launch of AXA Health

Illustration of the launch of AXA's "Your health partner"

2018

Fabrizio Petrillo takes over as the new CEO of AXA Winterthur in January. 

What had been in prospect since AXA’s acquisition of Winterthur becomes reality in March: AXA Winterthur removes Winterthur from its name and therefore aligns itself to the AXA Group’s worldwide ONE Brand strategy.

Portrait Fabrizio Petrillo

Fabrizio Petrillo

2019

AXA completes a major strategic change of direction in January: As the largest SME insurance company, it focuses wholly on semi-autonomous solutions and no longer offers full-value insurance in Pillar 2 (occupational pensions). The new OPA offers with strong and solid foundations and attractive premiums quickly establish themselves in the market.

Collage of newspaper articles in January 2019

Collage of newspaper articles after exiting from full-value insurance in January 2019

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