Despite volatility among specific companies, insurance stocks outperformed the banking sector and the broader market between 18 and 25 March.

The FTSE All-Share index insurance sector ended the week virtually flat, losing only two points over the five-day period to close at 1,509p on Monday.

On the other hand, the FTSE All Share index banks sector, lost 370 points, or 3.7%, while the FTSE-100 lost 1.8% and the broader FTSE All Share fell 1.5%.

Although the sector's performance was encouraging, and a complete reversal of the picture since the beginning of the year, it is too early to say that a recovery in the larger insurers is under way.

Cheuvreux insurance analyst Barrie Cornes said investors should not read too much into one week's movement: "The insurers have been falling. You

just need to look at any of the charts and you'll see they've fallen off the edge of a cliff.

"I think most shares are likely to move sideways, at least until the interim results."

SVB had a rollercoaster week. Its share price slipped another 3p, or 10%, to 26p on Monday evening. It recovered almost immediately when the rumours that the company was up for sale were dismissed.

One analyst said it was trading at a substantial discount to its net asset value, which did make it a candidate for a takeover. "But, if they were up for sale, I feel certain they would be trading at a higher level than they are now," he said.

News of Paul Spencer's demise as the chief executive of R&SA's UK operations made a minor dent on the company's share price. And without him it looks likely R&SA will be fine.

An analyst said: "I feel he has taken the rap for the life operation not being sold and for the failure of the business to turn around."

He added that some shareholders had wanted a change in management and that they might feel this was a step in the right direction.

Goshawk was trading 2% lower at 71p on Tuesday after the release of full-year results that were in line with most analysts' expectations.

One area of concern for investors may have been the company's failure to pay a final dividend.

An analyst said Goshawk had given the impression last year that it would be paying the dividend and had not indicated otherwise when it issued a profit warning three weeks ago.

"That has upset a few people," he said. However, he pointed out that at 71p, Goshawk was trading at a good discount to its book value of 87p.