AXA's loss of exclusivity from the RAC cost it a sharp fall in personal motor premiums, which were down 24% in the first half of 2003.

AXA was RAC's only underwriter last year but now operates a panel on behalf of the motoring organisation.

The UK element of the group's international insurance operation also suffered, with a portfolio reshuffle sending property premiums down by 59% and casualty down by 28% in the first half of 2003. But overall, UK property and casualty sales grew by 3.3% on a comparable basis to €1,933m (£1,366m) from €1,458m (£1,031m) last time around.

Commercial non-motor revenues increased 23% owing to rate increases and new property account wins.

The French group's total property and casualty revenues were up 3.7% to €9.3bn (£6.6bn) in the period.