Zurich Financial Services reported a 333% leap in profits for its general insurance operations in its year-end results. UK standalone figures were not available.

The results, for the 12 months ending 31 December 2003, shot up from $435m in 2002 to $1.8bn for 2003.

Gross written premiums for its general insurance operations grew 22% to $36.2bn, with the combined ratio improving 5.6% to 97.9%.

It put the improvements in its performance in the general insurance sector down to better claims handling, improved underwriting and more disciplined pricing against a background of generally firm rates in the company's key markets.

For the group, gross written premiums increased by 18%, reaching $48.9bn for 2003. Net income rose from a loss of $3.3bn for 2002, to a profit of $2.1bn.