Zurich Financial Services Group has established a new business unit for its direct business in Europe, which will become effective on July 1, 2007. The new unit, called Direct Business, will be part of Zurich's Europe General Insurance division and will bring all existing personal and small commercial direct insurance operations in Europe under one management structure.

Theo Bouts has been appointed CEO of the new unit. As COO for Zurich’s Europe General Insurance (EGI) division since June 2005, Mr Bouts has driven the progression of Zurich’s local direct insurance businesses in Europe towards a pan-European insurance platform. In his new role, he will concentrate on further strengthening this important distribution channel.

While we remain firmly committed to agent and broker channels, an increasing number of customers wish to buy insurance through the internet or a call center. The establishment of the new direct business unit will ensure that we can capitalize on the exponential growth opportunities this fast growing distribution channel offers across Europe, and ensure that our customer can buy our products and services through whichever distribution channel they prefer, commented Annette Court, EGI CEO.

Changes related to the new structure are subject to applicable regulatory approvals.