Fortis reported UK motor premiums back up to similar levels to last summer after a drop at the beginning of the year.

Premiums hit £186.9m in the first half of 2003 having grown strongly from £88.8m in the first quarter, showing a 9% dip in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of last year.

They were at £191m in the first half of last year, 2% higher than this year's first half figure.

Motor insurance is a key product for Fortis in the UK.

Fortis Insurance Ltd underwriting director Paul Chaplain said monthly price changes reflected trends in third party injury claims, leading to the dip and recovery.

"We're putting in price increases wherever we feel we can carry it," he said, adding: "I won't pretend it's a market in which we can get as much as we'd like.

"At least the prices don't appear to be in freefall."

Fortis' commercial premiums were up 61% in the first half to £19m from £11.7m at the same point last year and household increased 11.2% to £45.2m from £40.6m in the same period last year.

Overall, gross written premiums were up by 3% in the first half compared to the same period last year to £264m from £256m.

Fortis Insurance Ltd did not report profit figures.