HBOS, the group that sells insurance under brands such as esure, Halifax, Sainsbury's Bank and Intelligent Finance, announced insurance profits up by 15% in 2002.

Profits before tax increased to £400m last year from £348m the year before.

General insurance claims increased to £79m from £68m the year before.

Gross written premiums increased to £1.3bn from £1bn the year before.

Repayment insurance sales increased as a result of the banking group increasing its credit card and personal loan volumes.

Chief operating officer Ian Black said household insurance sales benefited from high mortgage sales. The importance of the link would decline this year, he said, as the group expected to sell more household and travel policies separate from mortgage sales.

Black forecast further growth for houshold and repayment protection products and said rates for motor had not yet peaked.

The group's total pre-tax profits increased by 22% to £3.062bn, disappointing analysts who had hoped for a figure up to £3.4bn.

The bank raised its dividend by 5%.