Aviva, the UK's largest insurance group, reported a worldwide sales increase of 12% in the first nine months of 2005 from last year.

Continental European sales grew by 23% and UK sales increased 11% in the third quarter from the second. Group chief executive Richard Harvey said: This is another strong performance from our international portfolio of life businesses.

In the UK we have seen our third consecutive quarter of sales growth and momentum is building for the rest of the year and into 2006. Bancassurance continues to go from strength to strength and is a key part of our multi-distribution approach.

Aviva is the world’s sixth-largest insurance group and the biggest in the UK. It provides life and pensions products in Europe and its main activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance. It has premium income and investment sales of GBP33 billion and GBP291 billion of assets under management.