Greco, who resigned suddenly from Generali on Tuesday evening, will begin his new role on 1 May, 2016.
He effectively succeeds Martin Senn, who stepped down at the end of last year. Tom de Swaan, chairman of Zurich’s board, has been filling the role on an interim basis.
“We are delighted to welcome Mario Greco to Zurich after his successful tenure as CEO of Generali,” de Swaan said in a statement.
“Mario offers the rare combination of entrepreneurial spirit, deep industry knowledge and proven CEO experience that anchored our search for Zurich’s next leader. His intimate understanding of our company and our industry and his track record as a leader make him a unique candidate for the role,” he said.
Greco, who became Generali’s group chief executive in August 2012, has strong links with his new employer. Prior to joining the Italian insurer he was chief executive of general insurance at the Zurich Insurance Group.
He first joined Zurich in 2007 as deputy chief executive of global life for Zurich Financial Services, when he also became a member of the firm’s executive committee. In 2008, he was promoted to chief executive of the division.
In a short statement announcing Greco’s departure, Assicurazioni Generali chairman, Gabriele Galateri di Genola, said Greco had informed the company he was unwilling to serve another term as chief executive at the expiry of his current mandate. This is planned to coincide with the Annual General Meeting to approve the financial statements as of 31 December 2015.
“Mr Greco has also expressed that he is ready to continue in his role as CEO in the best interests of Generali until the end of the current mandate,” the statement said. “The chairman noted this news with regret and will soon call a Board of Directors meeting for information purposes.”
Greco’s departure from Generali comes after a tenure in which he oversaw a massive restructuring at the international life and general insurance division based in Guernsey, now known as Generali Worldwide Insurance Company.
As part of that restructuring, the group pulled out of 14 jurisdictions, including Switzerland, China and Brazil, and concentrated its operations on the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE (in partnership with Generali Group).
Greco’s arrival at Zurich comes at an interesting time for the Swiss insurer, which earlier this month warned investors the general insurance business would report a Q4 business operating loss of around $100m (£70.5m, €91.6m).
The losses were “due to natural catastrophe claims, including those related to recent storms and floods in the UK and Ireland, and a significant level of large losses”.