Our History

Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein is the main shareholder of Vienna Insurance Group (VIG), the leading insurance group in Austria and Central and Eastern Europe. Its main responsibilities include maintaining and securing the economic independence of the insurance group. In addition, Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein supports the insurance group in all cultural and social matters.

As the main shareholder of VIG, which comprises more than 50 Group companies in 30 European countries, Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein assumes responsibilities in areas far beyond purely commercial matters – responsibility towards the 25,000 or so employees who work for the Group as well as society as a whole.

It fulfils this responsibility by means of targeted sponsorship and support for social, arts and cultural activities, and this commitment extends well beyond Austria’s borders, with a strong focus on the Central and Eastern European countries in which the Vienna Insurance Group has a presence.

Our Story

The history of Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein, which now stretches back almost 200 years, has been shaped by difficult economic times and periods of social upheaval. The company has a fascinating past, and the story of its foundation is particularly interesting. Georg Ritter von Högelmüller, an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, had the idea of setting up an insurance company in 1803. However, his vision did not become a reality until 24 December 1824 – the date on which Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein was officially established, more than 20 years later. It took so long to gain approval for the formation of the company – which is today the main shareholder of the leading insurance group in Central and Eastern Europe – because of the democratic philosophy which pervaded the abbeys and monasteries that were involved in setting up Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein. In a nutshell, during the Metternich era, the foundation of the company was considered as an act of pure defiance.

Georg Ritter von Högelmüller © ÖNB-Bildarchiv/picturedesk.com

Georg Ritter von Högelmüller establishes the private mutual fire insurance company Wechselseitige k.k. priv. Brandschaden-versicherungsanstalt. The membership comprises 364 prominent figures, including princes, counts, barons and industrialists, as well as abbeys and monasteries in Klosterneuburg, Göttweig, Melk and other locations in Austria.


Allgemeine wechselseitige Capitalien- und Renten-Versicherungsanstalt, Austria’s first provider of life insurance, opens for business following an initiative by mathematics professor Josef Salomon. Its name is later changed to Janus wechselseitige Lebensversicherungs-Anstalt.


The Vienna City Council decides on 11 February to establish the "„Städtische Kaiser Franz Joseph-Jubiläums-Lebens- und Renten-Versicherungs-Anstalt ". This life insurance company, founded on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I., pursues the goal of being able to offer the Viennese population inexpensive and affordable insurance protection, especially for the socially weak sections of the population. Upon its foundation, the respective mayor of Vienna is established by law as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Wiener Städtische. In 2001, this connection between Wiener Städtische and the City of Vienna was terminated on the initiative of the Mayor of Vienna from 1984 to 1994, Helmut Zilk.


Following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Städtische Kaiser Franz Joseph-Jubiläums-Lebens- und Rentenversicherungs-Anstalt is renamed Gemeinde Wien – Städtische Versicherungsanstalt.


Gemeinde Wien – Städtische Versicherungsanstalt joins forces with Wechselseitige Brandschaden und Janus allgemeine Versicherungs-Anstalt auf Gegenseitigkeit in 1938. During World War Two, the Nazi Party dissolves all church provident savings associations. Despite the human and economic cost of these dark times, which also take their toll on Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein, the close relations between the company and the Catholic Church strengthen. Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein does not give in to demands by the Nazi Party to discontinue its provision of health insurance for members of the clergy.


When the war comes to an end, a small group of 40 to 50 employees begins the process of rebuilding the devastated company. The first meeting of members takes place in 1947 and the company is renamed Wiener Städtische Wechselseitige Versicherungsanstalt.


The Ringturm tower opens on 14 June 1955, about one month after the signing of Austria’s new state treaty. Vienna’s first high-rise office block, the building is a symbol of modernity as well as Austria’s recovery and economic revival.


The company becomes the majority shareholder in Donau Allgemeine Versicherungs-Aktien-gesellschaft. This lays the foundation for the formation of the Vienna Insurance Group and the multi-brand strategy it still systematically pursues today.


Wiener Städtische Wechselseitige Versicherungsanstalt becomes a holding company and is renamed Wiener Städtische Wechselseitige Versicherungsanstalt – Vermögensverwaltung. All insurance operations are spun off to Wiener Städtische Allgemeine Versicherung Aktiengesellschaft. This comes about two years after the company enters the insurance market in former Czechoslovakia by taking a stake in the newly formed Kooperativa. The company is floated on the Vienna Stock Exchange. No ordinary shares are issued, only preference shares, and 11 percent of the company’s stock is in free float.


The company pursues an aggressive stock market strategy: Günter Geyer, former CEO of Wiener Städtische Allgemeine Versicherung AG and now president of the Supervisory Board of Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein, initiates a large capital increase. The company taps the international capital markets to secure the funds necessary for continued growth. Preference shares are converted into ordinary shares in preparation for the capital increase. Following a stock split, the company’s shares are listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange’s ATX index in September 2005.


The Vienna Insurance Group umbrella brand was introduced at the beginning of 2006 to demonstrate the unity of the companies in the insurance group. As part of the successful multi-brand strategy, the companies appear on the local market with already established names and brands. Each company thus bears its own brand as "first names" and the Vienna Insurance Group umbrella brand as "family names". In 2008, Wiener Städtische Versicherung AG - Vienna Insurance Group acquired s Versicherung, the insurance division of Erste Group Bank AG. In the course of the takeover, a long-term distribution agreement - and thus a partnership with Erste Group Bank AG that still exists and is lived today - is concluded. In the following year, the company name is changed to Vienna Insurance Group Wiener Städtische Versicherung AG. .


As of 3 August 2010, the operational insurance business in Austria will be spun off from international operations. As Wiener Städtische Versicherung AG, Vienna Insurance Group Wiener Städtische Versicherung AG will continue the property and casualty, life and health insurance business in Austria. In addition to the usual international management tasks, the listed Vienna Insurance Group AG Wiener Versicherung Gruppe is dedicated to reinsurance and international corporate business. Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein will be renamed Wiener Städtische Wechselseitige Versicherungsverein - Vermögensverwaltung - Vienna Insurance Group in 2010 and currently holds approximately 70 percent of the shares of Vienna Insurance Group AG Wiener Versicherung Gruppe (VIG).


In 2017, Vienna Insurance Group sets the course for strong bank sales: In Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia, VIG is merging its local all-line insurers with its life insurance companies specialising in bank distribution. The mergers were implemented successively. Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein is the main shareholder of the Vienna Insurance Group (VIG), which is represented in 25 European countries by approximately 50 insurance companies and employs more than 25,000 people. In its function as the main shareholder, Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein supports VIG in all cultural and social matters.