emergence of the Group in the Habsburg Monarchy from 1824 onwards
The roots of the Group date back to 1824. On 24 December 1824, the "Wechselseitige k.k. private Brandschaden Versicherungs-Anstalt" was founded, the first of three predecessor companies from which today's Group emerged. Economically, this period of the Habsburgs’ reign was marked by the beginning of industrialisation. The insurance industry was still in its nascence but was already experiencing its first founding boom. Due to the wooden construction techniques that prevailed at that time, the initial focus of these insurance companies was on fire insurance.
The founder of the first predecessor company was Georg Ritter von Högelmüller, an Imperial Army officer. He wanted to transfer the idea of a fire insurance company, which he knew from the Kingdom of Saxony, to Austria. After long difficulties - he had already submitted the first proposals to the estates of individual crown lands in 1803 - he received a licence for the "Wechselseitige", as the company was soon called, in 1824. The founding of the "Wechselseitige" involved 364 public figures from nobility, industry and the church, including the Prince Archbishop of Vienna and the Administrator of the Archdiocese of Salzburg. This laid the foundation for the good relations that still exist today between the Vienna Insurance Group and the Catholic Church.
In 1839, the second predecessor company of the Group, the "Allgemeine wechselseitige Capitalien- und Rentenversicherungsanstalt" in Vienna, started its business activities. The first Austrian life insurance company was founded by mathematics professor Josef Salomon. The company was later renamed "Janus wechselseitige Lebensversicherungs-Anstalt". The company established itself in all regions of the Monarchy in the mid-1960s. Branches were also established in some German principalities, including one in Berlin.
In 1898, the third predecessor company was founded under the name "Städtische Kaiser Franz Joseph- Jubiläums- Lebens- und Renten-Versicherungs-Anstalt". The impetus for its establishment was the 50th year jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph. For this purpose, Vienna, as the imperial capital and royal residence, implemented a number of measures, including the establishment of a municipal pension institution. On 1 December 1898, the ceremonial opening of the "Städtische" took place in the Vienna City Hall. The company, which soon expanded its activities to Austria’s other provinces, had its headquarters in the building of the Bürgerspitalfonds (Citizens’ Hospital Fund) at Schottenring 30 in Vienna's first district. In 1914, the insurance company moved to a newly built house in the Tuchlauben in Vienna's first district. The aim of the company was to offer life and pension insurance policies to low-income citizens. The company was also involved in the city’s welfare programs.