Achmea started the year well, with the positive contribution from previously-implemented improvement measures becoming visible. The operational result over the first six months of this year increased to €223 million partly as a result of this, while last year a negative result was earned in particular due to the severe hailstorms. Even when adjusted for the claims arising from last year’s severe weather conditions, the result was substantially higher over this half year. We have achieved structural cost reductions of 8% while earning higher gross written premiums for our core activities of health and non-life insurance. The continued high level of appreciation from our customers and the increase in our result are a big compliment to all our colleagues.
Centraal Beheer, Interpolis and FBTO all experienced further growth in customers with non-life insurance at lower expenses. The sound performance is in spite of a higher cost of personal injury and other claims. The use of smartphones and other devices while in traffic is leading to a substantial increase in the risk of serious accidents. The trend in the increasing frequency of new personal injury claims is therefore continuing. Our close commercial and strategic partnership with Rabobank are performing well. We have completely revised the range of services sold via our partner Rabobank. We have welcomed nearly 20,000 new customers to our health insurance business. Over the past few years, health insurers have kept premium increases low by allocating funds from reserves. This is of course not a sustainable situation. Achmea aims to set premiums at or above cost price in order to prevent large premium growth shocks for our policyholders.
Our Retirement Services strategy is developing well. The inflow of new customers into the Centraal Beheer APF contributed €1 billion to the increase to €117 billion of assets under management at Achmea Investment Management. At our Pension and Life service organisation, a further sharp decrease in administrative costs was achieved while retaining the high level of service provided to our customers. Achmea’s digital competencies are also being used internationally: we are leading the way with non-life and health insurance products distributed online and via banking distribution. Our international activities are displaying continued growth in our market share, with premium growth of 8% in local currency. We expect to put our knowledge of online insurance products to use together with a partner in Canada shortly.
Our financial position remains strong, with an increase in our solvency ratio to 185%. Moreover, we have reduced the interest rate sensitivity of our solvency ratio by applying a different hedging policy.
The results over the first six months of this year give us confidence that we are on the right track for achieving our objectives in the long term. It is, however, too soon to assume that these financial results will continue throughout year. As a leader in mobile and online services, many of our insurance companies are trendsetters in the insurance sector. Being relevant is the basic principle here. We therefore continue to invest a great deal in innovation. We consequently expect to further improve our result, increase customer satisfaction further and retain our strong financial position.