Legal & General (L&G) is undertaking a major drive to grow its healthcare business.

The company's focus will be on the troubled individual health sector, comprising private medical insurance (PMI) and cashplans.

The individual PMI market has been gradually stagnating over the past couple of years. In 2001, the market grew by 1%, compared to 3.5% in the previous year, according to healthcare consultancy Laing & Buisson.

The move aims to raise awareness of L&G as a healthcare provider. Although the company has been in the market for six years, L&G admitted that it has never been seen as a core part of the business.

L&G sells its healthcare products both direct, over the telephone and through the internet, and through intermediaries. The company is seeking to grow its book of business across all these channels.

Head of healthcare development Steve Bryan said: "We see healthcare as a core part of the general insurance business going forward, given the opportunities we see in the market.

"Over the past year we have seen steady growth. It has taken time for our products to bed down."

Bryan said the company had set a target of 15% growth in premium income for 2003 compared to 2002.