Amlin chairman Roger Taylor described 2003 as "outstanding" for the company, with an excellent outlook for 2004, as it posted its results for 2003.

Profit went up 88% on 2002, reaching £83.3m, with operating profit increasing to £124.4m from £45.6m in 2002.

Gross written premiums jumped 31% to £937.4m, up from £717m for 2002, while the combined ratio improved sharply to 83%, compared with 95% a year earlier.

"Underwriting conditions over the past two years have been exceptional, as reflected in our results, and underpin our expectations for a further strong result for 2004," said Taylor.

"We continue to expect 2004 to be another very good underwriting year and, if past cycles are repeated, for 2005 also to be good.

"On this basis we can see prospects for good returns on capital as far ahead as 2006."

The company said it planned to pay out a minimum of 30% of distributable earnings as dividends in 2004, 2005 and 2006.