Claims resulting from the Selby train crash have put a £1.5m dent in the first quarter profits of Fortis Insurance.

Net operating profits at the Belgian banking and insurance group were £471m, down 4% on last year's record first quarter.

Fortis blamed the global economic slowdown and lower returns from venture capital markets for the decline.

The Belgian bancassurer revealed it had retained £1.5m of the third-party liability stemming from the Selby crash, as the insurer of a driver whose vehicle collided with a high speed passenger train.

Fortis UK is to absorb £1m of the liability, with Fortis International assuming the remaining £500,000 cost.

The crash claimed ten lives and is believed to be the most expensive motor accident in UK insurance history, costing up to £50m.

Fortis has not accepted liability for the crash and is waiting for the police to complete their investigation of the accident.

Its reinsurers, who include Munich Re, have unlimited third-party liability.

Fortis UK said results for its motor account, which contributes 80% of its £107m gross premium income, were largely unaffected by Selby. Gross written premium for Fortis UK grew by £14m.