The moment of truth is arriving for our top two insurers - and by the time this edition of Insurance Times hits the news stands, investors will be mulling over the financial performance of CGNU and Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA).

And the chances are they will not be particularly impressed.

After the largest ever loss and the current hard market conditions, confidence in the industry is critical for success.

And confidence is in short supply.

The numbers from CGNU and R&SA will have the power to nurture or destroy the fragile confidence out there.

I would not be surprised if R&SA falls short even of the break-even group operating results widely expected.

Whatever the final numbers, they will not look good against the £476m profit made in 2000.

The silver lining for R&SA is that GE Financial is sniffing around the life business again.

Why should pension fund managers and other investors put money into insurance, anyway?

The only appetite out there right now is for stocks seen as risk-free.

Just look at the brokers. Windsor was flying at its 52-week high and Jardine Lloyd Thompson was not far behind.

The obvious contrast is the Lloyd's operators.

It was a picture almost too dismal to describe earlier this week.

Cox was bumping along at 67.5p, just 3.5p above its 52-week low.

SVB was 7.5p above its year-low figure, at 29.5p.

And Wellington was 10.5p above its 52-week low, at 52.5p.

So what about CGNU?

Hopefully profits will be up - probably around the £2bn mark at operating profit level.

And no doubt management will find something to crow about in its new-business profits. They are likely to be the star performer on the balance sheet.

But little of the good news will be coming from CGNU's non-life business, which runs the continued risk of looking like a passenger on the back of the UK pensions division.

Expect to hear commentators clamouring for management to put more money into the life business - particularly the current hot topic, bulk purchase annuities.

And worry if such cries drown out any voices pointing out how thinly capital is spread in the non-life sector.

The week's winners:
Windsor up 5%
The week's losers
SVB down 31.4%
Wellington Underwriting down 28.4%
Cox down 15.8%
Kiln down 13.4%