A new tax levied on corporate medical insurance premiums has had a negligible effect on business levels, according to health insurer BCWA.

When Chancellor Gordon Brown introduced the 12% national insurance levy on company health insurance premiums last April, BCWA said it was concerned the added burden would damage its growth prospects.

However in its annual report and accounts for 2000, released this week, BCWA managing director Martin Wren said: “I am pleased to report that, so far at least, this increase in taxation has had no discernible impact on the demand for our products.”

He added that BCWA was continuing to receive a record volume of enquiries and sales for its corporate products, which it said remained competitively priced.

One of the corporate clients netted by BCWA is Scottish Equitable Employee Benefits, for which it will provide private medical insurance and dental cover benefits within its corporate protection benefits range.

The not-for-profit health insurer said its year 2000 results were the best in its 65-year history.

The Bristol-based company's surplus before tax increased by £5.5m to £7m, reflecting a substantially higher operating surplus and much improved investment returns achieved by avoiding significant exposure to internet stocks.

The health insurer was also buoyed by the absence of any surge in claims inflation as its claims ratio fell from 86.3% to 81.6%. This has allowed BCWA to freeze most of its rates since October 2000.