The UK's largest listed insurer, Royal & SunAlliance, exceeded market expectations as it posted a promising 5% increase for its 2005 full year profits.

The increase reflected a GBP605 million profit after tax, a figure that showed the extent of the group’s recovery from underwriting losses seen in the US last year.

Though the company described the UK market as competitive, it posted an underwriting profit from motor and household insurance of GBP39 million, reflective of a 70% increase on the previous year’s profits.

Commenting on the results, the insurer’s chief executive Andy Haste said: It has been a very good year for the group. The core group has performed strongly and we have made further progress in derisking the US. We are delivering against our strategic objectives and I am confident that with our focus on operational excellence, execution and the strength of our operations we will continue to deliver sustainable profitable performance.

Looking to 2006 with optimism, he added: As we see it today, we would expect the core group to deliver a combined operating ratio of around 95% in 2006.