Alpha Insurance said yesterday it is counting on continued strong growth in group life insurance to drive up profits this year. «We are aiming for pretax profits of 7.75 million euros this year,» said Doukas Palaiologos, managing director. «We expect the engine of growth to come from group life insurance premiums which increased by 50 percent last year. New premiums in January this year were up by 5 percent,» he said. Alpha Insurance posted pretax profits of 1.1 million euros last year against net premium income of 122.3 million euros, an increase of 8.3 percent. The insurer said results had been affected by the stock market downturn and one-off charges related to an IT upgrade and its relocation to new offices. It also boosted provisions by 14 percent to 225 million euros. Alpha is targeting a 5 percent market share this year, up from 4.5 percent last year, growing to 7 percent over the next two to three years. Similar ambitious goals have also been set for the life and general insurance sectors, which recorded premium increases of 3.4 percent to 56.1 million euros and 12.9 percent to 66.2 million euros, respectively. The life insurance division is projected to grow by 17 percent and general insurance by 20 percent this year. Palaiologos said the insurer plans to focus more on bancassurance products this year, such as credit cards, consumer and mortgage loans, to offset the general market slump. This includes strengthening links with parent company Alpha Bank and exploiting its customer base and network. Sales via Alpha Bank’s outlets accounted for 50 percent of total revenues. It also intends to launch new retail products and rein in operating expenses.