GE Financial Insurance Europe, the insurance division of US giant General Electric, is set to expand its travel division across Europe.

The company will launch its personal and commercial travel insurance lines in Germany and Portugal over the next 12 months.

It is also researching markets in France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark.

GE Financial regional director for eastern Europe Ian Moffat said: "The expansion at the moment is embryonic, as some countries have a different level of development to others."

Travel head Graham Locke said: "We are at a certain level in the UK travel market and want Europe to have the same level of penetration."

Locke added that GE Financial intended to have all its travel insurance products available on the internet by 2004.

GE Financial's blue chip business partners for travel insurance include Lunn Poly, British Airways and Barclaycard.

The company also specialises in creditor, personal accident and pet insurance.

It has 10 million customers, in partnership with banks, finance houses and retailers.

Last week, General Electric chief executive Jeffrey Immelt addressed staff at a televised rally during a visit to London.

He assured staff of the company's financial strength.

He said: "Numbers don't lie. You open the trap door and the money is there; $17bn (£12bn) of cash is hard to fake."