HBOS General Insurance pre-tax profits leapt 22% in the first half of 2006, compared to the previous period, despite overall premium income falling 2%.

Profit reached £163m and premium income slipped to £919m, with growth in house-hold sales offset by a fall in payment protection sales.

Overall sales of household insurance increased by 11% on the corresponding 2005 period. Sales via the internet were up 28% and third-party channels grew 69%.

Michael Warren, finance director, said: "2006 has seen an excellent start to the year for HBOS's general insurance business.

"Our multi-channel approach and strategy to broaden the customer base continues with 87% of new policies not linked to mortgage sales."