Shares in Admiral Group were up on the FTSE 100 in afternoon trading after the insurance group reported a rise in pre-tax profit of 21 per cent in the first half year.

Group turnover was reported as rising 33 per cent to £720.5 million, while pre-tax profit increased 21 per cent to £126.9 million.

Admiral said it would be raising its interim dividend by 18 per cent to a record 32.6 pence per share.

UK ancillary income per vehicle increased by five per cent to £74.50 during the period, Admiral said.

Non-UK car insurance turnover increased 51 per cent to £37.1 million, with customer numbers up 53 per cent to 154,100. The group's Balumba Spanish car insurance operation reported a profit for the first time, making 25,000 euros.

Henry Engelhardt, Chief Executive of Admiral Group, said, "2010 is shaping up to be a year of great opportunity and I'm extremely proud of how everyone at Admiral has stepped up to the challenge. Their hard work has resulted in a decent set of numbers: turnover was up by a third, profits have grown by over 20% and we will soon be paying a record dividend.

"The UK car insurance business continues to be the driving force behind our success and in the first half of 2010 we shifted up yet another gear. We increased premium rates by around 14% in the first half and increased customer numbers by 23% year-on-year. The combined effect was an increase in total premiums written of 37%. These results demonstrate the strength of our UK model, which combines competitive prices with great service.

"Of course there are challenges; our operations outside the UK and the Confused price comparison business are not as strong. Yes, Balumba, our insurance operation in Spain, made its first half-yearly profit (€25,000), but it still has work to do as an underwriter to build a sustainable, profitable, growing business. In sum we now insure more than 150,000 vehicles outside the UK covering four countries. In the first part of next year we plan to launch an insurance operation in France as the final part of our five-year strategic plan. We also have three fledgling price comparison businesses outside the UK, two of which launched this year."

By 13:35 shares in Admiral Group were up 2.72 per cent on the FTSE 100 to 1,513.00 pence per share.