Aviva, the UK's lending insurance group, has benefited from a lift in the UK pensions market, which helped deliver a 27% increase in half-year profits.

The owner of Norwich Union saw long-term sales in the UK grow by 43% to GBP6.9 million, aided by an 86% leap in individual pensions business following regulatory alterations and warnings of pension shortfalls.

Operating profits for the group were up 27% to GBP1.7 billion and Aviva increased shareholder’s dividend payments by 10%.

The group’s US business recorded strong growth with life and pensions sales up by 24% to GBP289 million. International life and pensions sales were up 10% to GBP7.33 billion thanks strong performances in Europe.

Aviva has once again delivered top and bottom line growth around the world. We’ve grown premiums, profit and dividend and are reaping the benefits of being in the right markets at the right time, said Richard Harvey, Aviva group chief executive.

Looking to the future, Europe and the US will be the two biggest long-term savings markets over the next decade. We’re in prime position to capture a significant share of European growth, having secured an early and leading franchise that cannot easily be replicated.