How much has the industry learnt about managing the cycle?

In March, all the major insurers declared their 2005 results and, what corking figures they were. The results from the top five players produced a profit of about £2.5bn from a total premium income of around £13bn. Allocating a notional capital of 40% of net written premium, this equates to a return on capital of 50% compared to interest rates of 4% and inflation of 2%.

The best performer was Aviva (Norwich Union). Its UK general insurance results were outstanding. On net premiums of about

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