Overland Park, Kan. -- Zurich, a property-casualty insurance companies, announced today at the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium that it will award 20 aspiring aftermarket industry professionals with $1,000 scholarships.

The GAAS/Zurich scholarships are funded partially by a grant from Zurich’s High-Octane Scholarship Program, which is designed to address the educational needs of students interested in automotive aftermarket fields. Zurich worked with the GAAS scholarship committee to identify 20 strong candidates with a desire to work in the following aftermarket industries, automotive service and repair, automotive parts, tire, automotive and heavy-duty parts re-manufacturing. Students' academic history and financial need were also taken into consideration.

"These 20 scholarship recipients not only demonstrate a desire to work in specific industry segments, but they also meet the criteria Zurich identified based on input received from customers," said Bob Tschippert, senior vice president for Zurich’s Direct Markets group. "Zurich values the close relationships we have with customers, and we are committed to helping their industries grow and succeed."

Since October 2007, Zurich has contributed a total of $20,000 to the GAAS scholarship fund. Part of the contribution was funded by money Zurich had earmarked for the purchase and distribution of holiday cards to its aftermarket customers. Tschippert said utilizing these funds for scholarships provides greater value to its customers.

"This donation is Zurich’s way of saying we understand the importance of training future generations of aftermarket industry professionals," said Tschippert. "Working with GAAS creates the synergy we need to keep this industry moving forward."

Since the program began in 1996, more than 1,300 scholarships have been awarded. Information about eligibility requirements and an online application are available at http://www.automotivescholarships.com.

Zurich Financial Services Group is an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and other markets. Founded in 1872, the Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland.