Norwich Union is warning that tough market conditions are set to continue after its new business figures fell slightly in 2002.
Total UK sales of £7.4bn last year were down by around 7 per cent from £8bn in 2001. The trend was reflected internationally, with parent Aviva posting worldwide new long-term sales of £14.6bn, down from £15bn in 2001.
NU says it has around 12 per cent of the market.
Total IFA sales accounted for £943m equivalent premium income, down by 10 per cent from £1.041bn in 2001.
The company's bancassurance tie with Royal Bank of Scotland yielded sales of £84m EPI in the first full year of business.
Stakeholder sales increased to £185m EPI from £120m in 2001 but the company has reiterated its new strategy of targeting bigger company schemes and reducing commission.
Sales of annuities continued to do well, rising by 32 per cent to £1bn from £785m in 2001. Mortgage-related protection product sales increased by 44 per cent to£72m from £50m.
NU says the lack of appetite for equity-backed products meant that bond sales fell to £2.8bn compared with £3.7bn in 2001. Investment sales also showed a fall to £556m from £816m.
Aviva group chief executive Richard Harvey says: “As the biggest life and pension provider to Europe, we have delivered a solid performance over the past 12 months despite challenging conditions.
“We expect these difficult market conditions to continue this year and some markets may contract further in the short term.”