Hong Kong's largest life insurer, American International Assurance (AIA), will allow policyholders made redundant to delay paying life-insurance premiums for six months interest-free. The benefit, to be launched on Friday, will apply to all AIA's 1.3 million policyholders. The offer comes after Hong Kong's unemployment hit a record 5.5 per cent last month. AIA assistant vice-president of marketing Derek Yung Kai-ming said he hoped the benefit would help customers in financial difficulties. He said the economic woes of the past year had led more policyholders to surrender life policies because they needed the cash. 'I think the surrender rate will continue to increase in the first quarter of next year as the economy is not likely to turn better until the middle of next year,' he said. Mr Yung said the value per new life policies had dropped about 10 per cent compared with a year earlier, as a result of the economic slowdown. He said new policies' premium value might fall another 1 to 2 per cent next year.