Aviva Ireland has called on the Judicial Council to implement personal injury awards that are aligned with the UK and Europe, in order to help bring down the cost of insurance.

The council is due to meet again on Saturday to consider proposed new guidelines that would recalibrate the level of awards in personal injury cases.

"We are very aware that many businesses continued to struggle with the cost and availability of insurance," said Declan O'Rourke, Aviva Insurance Ireland CEO.

"Aviva is fully supportive of the Government's Action Plan for Insurance Reform to create a stable and sustainable insurance market and treat customers fairly."

"We call on the Judicial Council to implement awards that are aligned with the UK and Europe, especially for minor/moderate injuries which are 4.4 times higher in Ireland than England/Wales." 

Mr O'Rourke's comments came as Aviva Ireland reported a general insurance operating profit of €35m for last year, down from €54m a year earlier.

This was due to a fall in revenue and higher expenses.

Net written premiums fell to €440m from €479m in 2019.

Elsewhere, its UK based parent, Aviva,posted flat operating profit for 2020.

It also revealed it had sold its remaining businesses in Italy, as it tries to focus on its key markets of Britain, Canada and Ireland. 

Operating profit of £3.2 billion beat a company-supplied consensus forecast of £2.8 billion. 

Aviva said it sold its Italian life insurance business to France's CNP Assurances for €543m in cash and its general insurance business to Germany's Allianz for €330m in cash.

Following an earlier sale, Aviva said it had raised €1.2 billion in total from its Italian units. 

The life and general insurer recently sold its French business and joint venture stake in Turkey and sources say it is also close to exiting Poland. 

Aviva has also been selling business in Asia though it still has joint ventures in India and China. 

"Our performance in 2020 demonstrates the resilience of our core businesses and our growth potential," CEO Amanda Blanc said in a statement.

Aviva said it would pay a total dividend of 21 pence per share, in line with forecasts.