Aviva brand as well known as Norwich Union now says insurance boss.

Bosses at insurance giant Aviva said today that a decision to drop its former Norwich Union name had paid dividends with an increased customer awareness of the brand both home and abroad.

Announcing its results the car insurer and pensions group said profits were up 6pc to �2.5bn after it boosted its share of the UK market.

The group achieved record operating profits of �920m in its UK life insurance division, with gains in its core markets of workplace savings, annuities and equity release products and protection.

In its general insurance business, which is based in Norwich and where it is the UK market leader, Aviva's profits were up 7pc to �520m after the roll-out of direct pricing to motor insurance brokers and the launch of its quotemehappy website.

David McMillan, chief executive of Aviva UK general insurance, said that there was good growth and profitability in the business while customers' recognition of the Aviva brand had increased fourfold in the last two years, which was a key plank in the strategy to win more business.

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'We are very focused about becoming the most recognised brand from a customer perspective and we have also made massive strides in terms of customer satisfaction,' Mr McMillan said. 'Norwich Union was a very strong brand with a great amount of heritage. I think the Aviva brand has got as much recognition with the general public if not more than Norwich Union. The brand is a much more global brand which works very well.'

The group, which is the UK's largest insurer with 14m customers, also grew profits in Europe despite the economic climate in countries where it has a major presence, such as Spain and Italy.

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And with rival insurer Prudential stating that it is considering moving its UK headquarters abroad in the wake of EU proposals known as insolvency II, David Barral, chief executive of Aviva's UK Life business, tweeted that the group is committed to the UK 'hook, line and sinker' and has no plans to move its head office.

On the back of today's results, Aviva chief executive Andrew Moss increased the company's targets for this year in both general and life insurance.

'Although the economic environment is likely to remain tough for the foreseeable future, we have built a strong, sustainable and diverse business well positioned for further profitable growth.'

Shares have climbed 30pc from December lows as sentiment about the eurozone debt crisis has improved, a trend reflected in Aviva's balance sheet after its solvency cushion improved to �3.3bn at the end of February from �2.2bn at the end of 2011.

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