INSURER AIA Singapore, with the largest agency force in town, attributes its latest strong financial results to its staff strength.

Chief executive Tan Hak Leh said last week: "The agency channel is the main driver of growth, with substantial increase in both productivity and the number of new quality recruits in 2013."

It has more than 4,000 agents, and the number of active new agents surged 44 per cent, while active agent numbers grew 15 per cent last year from 2012.

Mr Tan also said about 150 agents from HSBC Insurance Singapore joined AIA, after the bank discontinued its agency distribution channel for its insurance products late last year.

The growing agency size has helped boost the value of new business and annualised new premiums.

The added sales meant that operating profit after tax rose 15 per cent to US$396 million (S$502 million), for the 12 months to Nov 30, compared with a year earlier.

Its value of new business was up 22 per cent to US$269 million.

Annualised new premiums, a measure of new business activity, rose 18 per cent to US$400 million.

New business margin, or the value of new business as a percentage of annualised new premiums, grew to 67.3 per cent.

The insurer said this was driven by strong sales of new health protection products, weighted towards the first half of the year.

Savings products made up a greater proportion in the second half.

Mr Tan added: "We are the market leader in the protection business, protection against death, critical illness, medical expenses."

In the Integrated Shield Plan space, The Straits Times reported in December last year that the Ministry of Health directed AIA to review cases "where policyholders have seen their coverage compromised", when their medical insurance plans were changed. AIA had said fewer than 20 people were affected.

Mr Tan said certain groups of customers received the enhancement for most benefits except post-hospitalisation outpatient treatment.

"Since then, we have further enhanced that benefit for all the customers, not just those who make a claim but also for future claims, and for those who made a claim prior to our review... We have got back to them to make sure that each and every one of them received the level of benefits consistent with the revision."