Macau's insurance business is booming, with the latest figures showing a fivefold growth rate over the past three months. Statistics from the enclave's Association of Insurers show growth surging from 3 per cent in the first six months of last year to over 16 per cent in the last quarter. Insurance company bosses in the enclave described the increase - in the non-life sector - as 'highly surprising' and attributed the recent spurt in new business to rising motor and fire insurance policies. Macau residents have rushed into the new car market in recent months after the government announced it would be raising the enclave's motor tax by 15 to 20 per cent later this year. A loosening of mortgage lending requirements in a bid to eat up some of Macau's almost 50,000 empty residential units has led to a mini-surge in buying. One result has been an increase in the number of fire insurance policies taken out. 'There has been a global sales push by car dealers, and that coupled with people rushing to beat the tax increases, has had a marked effect,' Si Chi-hok, chairman of the Macau Insurers' Association and general manager of the Luen Fung Hang Insurance Co, said yesterday. 'A similar trend has emerged in the residential fire insurance sector after the banks relaxed mortgage requirements,' Mr Si said. Mr Si said growth in the life insurance sector had remained stable about 20 per cent for the whole of last year.