Pet and household cover lift RSA

RSA, the country's biggest insurer, said 2012 got off to a "solid start" driven by good demand for household and pet insurance in the UK and strong sales in emerging markets, particularly Latin America.

It said first-quarter, net written premiums rose by 5 per cent from the previous year to £2.2bn with all regions delivering good growth.

RSA, which owns the More Than brand, said it was in the final stages of negotiation to provide home and pet insurance to John Lewis and Waitrose customers in the UK.

The chief executive Simon Lee said: "For the full year, we remain confident of delivering good premium growth and a combined operating ratio for the group of better than 95 per cent."

The life insurer Legal & General also said 2012 started well with overall sales flat for the first three months at £434m, despite a marked slowdown in savings sales as UK consumers tightened their belts.