The life, motor and home insurer, which employs 2,000 people at its life and general insurance business in York and 1,500 at its life and health insurance operation in Sheffield, said its general insurance sales were the highest in a decade.
Amanda Blanc, Aviva s group chief executive, said: “We made very good progress in the first quarter.
"We concluded the refocus of our portfolio, selling eight non-core businesses which will generate total cash proceeds of £7.5bn once completed. We have made excellent headway in reducing leverage with debt reduction of £1.9bn in the first half of 2021 and we expect the leverage ratio to be around 26 per cent at the half year."
She said the insurance firm is now focused on improving the growth and profitability of its businesses in the UK, Ireland, Canada and Aviva Investors.
"We are pleased with the growing momentum in key areas as we capitalise on our leading market positions," she said.
"Net flows in Savings & Retirement increased by 31 per cent and Aviva Investors is seeing improving flows and investment performance."
However, she said demand for bulk purchase annuities was subdued in the first quarter, but the division has seen a good start to the second quarter.
"Sales in commercial insurance continue to grow strongly, up 13 per cent in the UK and 6 per cent in Canada, while in UK personal lines we maintained premiums while growing market share," she added.
"We have continued to support our customers dealing with Covid, including extending cover and deferring monthly payments for those experiencing financial difficulty.
"Our positive trading performance in the first quarter of 2021 reinforces our confidence in the targets we announced earlier in the year. Nevertheless, we remain sharply focused on further improving performance, recognising we still have much more to do, to deliver stronger returns for our shareholders."