Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

LAS VEGAS – There’s a new name at the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention here, but it comes from a familiar company.

Zurich Financial Services, a global firm, has been around since its founding as a Swiss insurance company in 1872.

For 25 years, it has owned Universal Underwriters Group, a familiar name among auto dealers, a group of which originally started the company 84 years ago to insure their dealerships.

Zurich recently scratched the Universal name, replacing it with its own business moniker.

To herald the name change, NADA shuttle buses are carrying large display ads telling conventioneers seeking Universal Underwriters on the exhibition floor to “look for us at the Zurich booth.”

“The migration from Universal Underwriters to Zurich takes advantage of our size and scale and is part of a global effort to brand everything Zurich,” says Terry McCafferty, senior vice president of Direct Underwriters, a business unit of Zurich North America.

The single-name strategy came about after James Schiro became CEO of Zurich in 2002, the first American to hold that post.

With the name change comes a consistency of standards, accounting and claims processing, McCafferty says.

Zurich has 52,000 employees, 1,900 of them at the formerly named Universal division that offers insurance services to dealers and finance and insurance products to car buyers.

A Zurich spokesman says dealer feedback on the name change has been positive.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com