COR increased 0.5 percentage points to 98.6%

Aviva’s UK general insurance (GI) division wrote £845m of net premiums in the first quarter of 2014, down 8.4% on the £923m it wrote in last year’s first quarter.

The company said in its first quarter interim management statement: “UK GI net written premiums were down 8% as we continue to take a disciplined underwriting approach in the face of softening rates, in particular in personal motor.

“There is an optimal balance between volume and efficiency and achieving this is critical.”

But speaking to journalists this morning, Aviva chief executive Mark Wilson suggested that the same level of premium volume reduction would not continue through the year. He said: “We have probably pushed it a bit far.”

UK and Ireland GI chief executive Maurice Tulloch added that the company was “not planning any major reductions” in premium volume.

Aviva’s UK GI combined operating ratio (COR) increased by 0.5 percentage points to 98.6% (Q1 2013: 98.1%) as a result of the floods and storms that hit the UK during the quarter.

Wilson said that the company’s UK weather loss estimate for the first quarter remained unchanged at £60m after a “very benign March”.

Wilson also said the company’s UK GI COR had not been hit as hard by weather losses as some of Aviva’s peers.

He said: “We have done pretty well versus the market on our GI COR.”