Allianz Cornhill chief executive Andrew Torrance has defended the company's latest figures for personal lines, saying a drop in business was not caused by underwriting indiscipline.

In its third quarter results, the insurer reported a 16% fall in premium income for its personal lines book on the same period last year, while the combined ratio deteriorated to 99% from 96%.

Torrance said he was not concerned about the performance. "The soft market conditions continue to impact negatively on our top line performance. But premiums are expected to harden in 2006."

He reiterated that the insurer's philosophy was to write business only where there was potential for profit.

Torrance added that the insurer's increase in agencies would produce a "reasonable level of motor business". He said over 200 new agencies had been hired in the last six months, and that this number would increase to 400.

He said the effects of the new agencies "should be seen in 2006".

Overall in the third quarter of 2005 Allianz Cornhill posted a pre-tax profit of £169.9m, up 24.6% on the same period last year.

Its combined ratio improved to 93.7%.