Worldwide premium income for UK insurers more than doubled in the 1990s to reach a record £174bn in 2000, according to International Financial Services London (IFSL), a private sector organisation promoting the UK's financial services industry throughout the world.

In a new report on insurance, IFSL said the UK insurance industry was the largest in Europe and the third-largest in the world after the US and Japan.

More than three-quarters of insurance premiums (£137bn) were from long-term business, reflecting the growing importance of life insurance and pensions policies.

UK general business increased by a third in the past decade to reach £37bn. Most of this was in motor, property and accident and health insurance.

IFSL said London Market gross premiums were conservatively estimated at £17.7bn in 2000.