Admiral, the direct motor insurer, plans to beat Direct Line on efficiency, its chief executive said, after the company reported a 154% jump in pre-tax profits for 2001.

The profits increased to £27.4m from £10.8m the year before.

Admiral's combined ratio, which measures claims and costs as a percentage of premiums, improved to 91.2% from 107.2% in 2000.

This compares with 87.4% for Direct Line, across its entire range, and 100.8% for Churchill, also across its range.

Direct Line's pre-tax profit figure was £261m and Churchill's was £56m.

Admiral group's chief executive Henry Engelhardt said Admiral's 15.3% expense ratio made the company "one of the most efficient companies in the industry, if not the industry leader".

Engelhardt, who has led Admiral since its 1993 launch, said the company could beat Direct Line on expenses.

Direct Line does not publish its expense ratio, but publicly available figures suggest the two companies are close.

Admiral's gross written premiums, including instalments, grew to £296m last year from £240m in 2000.