Direct Line, the UK's biggest direct writer, has doubled its pre-tax profit to £201m in 2000, compared to the year before, after adding new customers to all its classes of business.

The insurer maintained its pre-eminent position as the largest UK private motor insurer, with 2.9m customers. Written premiums increased 33% to £788m.

The group's online quote-and-buy facility,, topped 135,000 sales.

The motor breakdown side of the company, Direct Line Rescue, has become the fastest-growing motor breakdown


Combined with Green Flag Motoring assistance, it has over 850,000 retail breakdown customers, making it the UK's third largest breakdown provider.

In the household insurance market, Direct Line increased its share with 982,000 policies, up from 918,000 in 1999.

Profits for the sale of both travel insurance and pet insurance also rose in 2000.