Insurer hails “good momentum”.

RSA has maintained its UK premium levels at £2,032m in the third quarter of 2008 despite rate increases, according to an interim management statement released today.

The insurer has seen a 1% increase in personal lines premiums to £824m, which it called a good result given competitive trading conditions and the impact of the economic downturn on mortgage originations and new car sales.

In commercial lines, premiums of £1,208m were in line with last year, with targeted growth in marine and commercial motor offsetting the withdrawal of capacity in areas such as small and mid corporate property, where it could not have achieved its target returns.

The insurer said it remained committed to hardening rates, citing 5% rate increases in personal motor and household. In commercial, it saw rate increases of 4% on liability, 7% on property and 9% on motor. Retention across the UK was around 80%.

Across the group as a whole, new written premiums were at £4.9bn, up 11% (or 4% at constant exchange rates). Net asset value per share excluding IAS 19 was 85p, unchanged from 30 June. Total net asset value per share was 92p compared with 94p at 30 June. It expected to deliver a COR of better than 95% in 2008.

Group chief executive Andy Haste said: “We have maintained good momentum in the first nine months and our premium growth continues to demonstrate the benefits of our management actions and our strong and diversified portfolio. The Group’s financial position is strong, reflecting our high quality, low risk investment strategy and resilient capital position. Against a backdrop of challenging trading conditions and volatile investment markets, we continue to exercise tight operational and financial management and remain confident of delivering a strong result in 2008 and beyond.”