Fortis Insurance registered an 11% rise in gross written premium (GWP) for the first half of 2004 against a background of 'flat rates', according to chief executive Barry Smith.

The insurer saw GWP rise to £294m in the half year with growth in all of its four major areas of motor, household, commercial and travel.

Smith said: "Our growth is down to us pricing for more types of cars and our service levels are well ahead of the market."

Motor registered GWP growth of 7% to £200m; household was up 11% to £50m; commercial up 33% to £25m; and travel up 67% to £16m against 2003 half-year figures.

But Smith warned that Fortis was planning for an extended period of flat rates.

He said: "The facts are that prices are not rising. We will be competitive on prices but we come from a position of superior results to most of our major competitors. We have one of the lowest production costs, which gives us a significant advantage."

Looking forward, Smith said he expected Fortis to enjoy continued growth in all four areas as it took advantage of its historically low combined ratio. Though the insurer would not release figures for 2004, FSA data showed it had a combined ratio of 97% in 2003.