Motor insurer targets European markets as profits hit record high

Admiral is preparing to export its direct distribution model to Europe after reporting record interim profits of £56.9m.

Group chief executive Henry Engelhardt said the motor insurer was looking at markets in France, Italy, Germany and Spain where the internet was far less widely used to sell insurance.

Engelhardt said: "The internet is fledgling in these markets, yet our expense ratio has proved it is the most cost-effective form of distribution. We will be testing the water in the coming months because we believe our business model offers real opportunities outside of the UK."

The company raised rates by 2.9% across the group compared to the first half of 2004.

Engelhardt said: "We remain in a poor part of the cycle which makes our results all the more pleasing."

Core profit increased by 17% from £48.6m for the same period last year.

Fraud claims appointment to develop strategy
Admiral is beefing up its fraud strategy with the appointment of Susan Evans as fraud claims manager. She was formerly responsible for managing fast track personal injury claims at its Diamond subsidiary. She joined the group in 2002.

Evans' new role will be to develop an integrated fraud strategy across the four subsidiaries - Admiral, Diamond, Bell and Elephant. This will include improved training and implementing a fraud scoring system - currently only used within Diamond - across the group. Evans said: "It pinpoints various elements that can be suspicious and frees up staff from more mundane tasks."