L&G sees life market recovery

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The Independent Online

Legal & General, one of the UK's largest insurers, yesterday joined the growing chorus of life companies claiming evidence of a slight recovery in the market, despite announcing a significant fall in its UK annual premium income during 1995.

It said annual, or regular, premium income for 1995 was pounds 123.4m, down from pounds 135m a year earlier. L&G's single premiums fell to pounds 542.9m compared with pounds 680m in 1994.

The decline in individual new life and pensions business came "against a background of significant falls in the level of new business across the industry". Over the first nine months of the year it had increased its market share, however.

David Prosser, group chief executive, said: "After a poor first quarter in the UK, Legal & General made an excellent recovery, with individual new annual premium business in the second half of 1995 exceeding that in 1994. I believe that we have gained market share in 1995 due to our competitive and enhanced product range."

Shares in L&G rose 19p yesterday to 700p, reflecting the view that its business figures were better than expected.

The company also said yesterday that the Department of Trade and Industry had backed its proposals for a special bonus to be added to L&G with-profits policyholders. The bonuses will be paid in March.

Lloyds Abbey Life, the bancassurance arm of Lloyds Bank, yesterday announced an 8 per cent fall in regular premiums for 1995 to pounds 121m.

But the company's single premium business rose 36 per cent to pounds 665m.

Meanwhile, Abbey Life Assurance boosted sales of single premiums from pounds 225m to pounds 395m, largely based on a rise in sales of life products, which rose by 160 per cent to pounds 257m.