Amanda Blanc, the incoming chief executive of Zurich, Europe, Middle East & Africa, will become the next chair.
The former AXA chief executive will officially take up the role in October.
She will succeed Andy Briggs, chief executive of Aviva UK, who will remain on the board as the senior independent director.
Phil Loney, chief executive of Royal London, will become deputy chair, succeeding Paul Geddes, from Direct Line Group, who will also remain on the board.
Ms Blanc said: “I’m delighted and honoured to become the next chair of the ABI and the first woman in this role.
“I want to thank Andy Briggs and the rest of the board for giving me this opportunity.
“I am proud to say I built my career in this industry.
“In that time I have seen it change dramatically.
“It is now a more inclusive sector than I can ever remember, but the journey is not over.
“As chair I want to continue to drive the excellent work the ABI has already done in this area.
“With so much focus on the role of women in society today, I hope my appointment sends a signal to young women considering a career in insurance that there are no closed shops in this sector.
“Insurance and long-term savings plays a vital role in the UK economy and provides peace of mind and practical help to millions of people every year.
“Rapid changes in the market, the use of technology and data and unprecedented geopolitical changes make it more important than ever that the industry can speak with a clear, single voice through the ABI.”
Mr Briggs said: “In my successor, Amanda Blanc, the ABI has appointed someone of the highest ability, experience and drive.
“I am very proud that the ABI has taken a leading role in promoting gender diversity over the last two years and in appointing the first ever woman to become chair this is an important moment for the industry.”