1946 - 1956
Gen Re's history began in 1921 when two Norwegian companies, Norwegian Globe and Norwegian Assurance, merged and took the name General Casualty and Surety Reinsurance Corporation. Starting with $800,000 in capital and $900,000 in surplus, General Casualty and Surety set out to write casualty reinsurance. In 1923, American investors acquired the company and changed the name to General Reinsurance Corporation.
In 1929 General Reinsurance® affirmed that it would be only a direct reinsurer and also would write no less than 100% of a treaty. In 1945, General Reinsurance Corporation merged with Mellon Indemnity, bringing new capital to the company so that, in the face of foreign competition, it could become a stronger reinsurance force. In 1946, Edward Lowry became President. Mr. Lowry instilled in the company its key value – underwriting for profit. Lowry was more interested in underwriting quality than in volume.
In 1954, the company created the first professional casualty facultative reinsurance department. Property facultative followed, beginning in 1956. North America branch offices were opened during this time. In the fifties, General Reinsurance began writing reinsurance internationally, expanding in this area during the sixties and seventies.
In 1980, General Re Corporation, the parent company, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and soon after that, Gen Re acquired United States Aviation Underwriters. The company has grown with the addition of other related companies, including General Star, a specialty and surplus lines provider, Genesis, an alternative risk insurance provider, GR-NEAM, an SEC-registered investment advisor servicing the insurance industry, and Gen Re Intermediaries, a reinsurance intermediary and risk advisor.
In 1994, General Re® formed an alliance with Cologne Re (now General Reinsurance AG), the world's first independent professional reinsurance company. Cologne Re’s founding resulted from the growing need for insurance cover in commerce and industry, combined with the effects of the 1842 catastrophic fire in Hamburg. German insurers considered their practice of mutual risk-sharing as no longer adequate. Cologne Re's Foundation Charter was signed by Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia, in 1846, and the company was established as a stock corporation. In 1852, Cologne Re concluded the first professional reinsurance treaty and in 1898, it opened its first branch in Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1998, Berkshire Hathaway acquired General Re Corporation, and in 2003 General Re and Cologne Re began marketing under the brand name of Gen Re. In 2009 General Re completed its purchase of Cologne Re, whose name was changed to General Reinsurance AG in 2010.