UK insurer Aviva posts 13% rise in nine-month premiums

LONDON (Reuters) -British insurer Aviva on Thursday posted a 13% rise in its general insurance gross written premiums for the first nine months of the year, saying it would continue to return surplus capital to shareholders.

Insurers have dealt with issues such as rising inflation and the higher cost of claims by increasing premiums.

The life and general insurer, whose main markets are Britain, Canada and Ireland, reported premiums of 8 billion pounds ($9.91 billion), up from 7.2 billion a year earlier.

“We have continued to expand our capital-light businesses, which now make up over half of our portfolio,” CEO Amanda Blanc said in a statement.

“We see significant opportunities to generate further higher return, capital-light growth in the future as we prioritise these segments.”

Blanc said Aviva expects to beat its medium-term financial targets and, in line with previous guidance, increase operating profit by 5-7% this year, despite higher weather-related claims.

It also reiterated its guidance for a total dividend of about 33.4 pence for 2023, and “further regular and sustainable returns of surplus capital”.

Aviva’s solvency ratio, a key measure of capital strength, came in at 200% in the third quarter, well above the regulatory minimum, and compared with 202% for the first half of 2023.

“We remain on track to deliver our 750 million pound cost reduction target this year, a year earlier than planned,” Blanc said.

Aviva is among a small handful of insurers exploring bids for the UK consumer operations of rival RSA, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters last month.

($1 = 0.8070 pounds)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru, and Carolyn Cohn and Huw Jones in London; editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jason Neely)