The mutual said this was partly because 2012 sales were inflated above normal levels in the run up to the introduction of gender neutral pricing.
Phil Loney, group chief executive of Royal London, said: “Royal London’s protection sales were subdued compared with the strong 2012 performance. After a slow start to 2013 the protection market became extremely competitive as some providers looked to cut prices aggressively in an attempt to revitalise sales and increase market share.
“We have long held the view that we will not pursue volume business “at any price” because as a mutual this would ultimately destroy value for members.”
Royal London added that its direct to consumer offering remains on track to launch in 2014 and will focus initially on simple protection products for customers who do not use a financial adviser.
Loney added: “”We maintain that the market will return to focus on quality of cover and service rather than price as economic conditions improve.
“However, in the short-term, the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review in April will cause a number of opportunities and challenges for advisers as they reassess the role of protection products in the overall mix of business.”