Hang Seng Life was the fastest growing insurer in the first half of this year in terms of income generated from new life-insurance premiums. Hang Seng Life - a 50:50 joint venture of Hang Seng Bank and HSBC Life - sold more than 20,000 new life policies in the period, bringing in HK$226 million, a 70 per cent increase on the same period last year. This put the insurer at the top of the market in terms of new business growth, up from ninth position last year. The results are contained in a survey by the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers. 'The strong growth was mainly due to the expansion of our insurance sales force, which rose to 1,440 in June against 950 a year ago,' said Chan Kin-por, assistant general manager and head of Hang Seng Bank's insurance group. He said the bank would further increase this team to 1,800 by the end of the year, recruiting most new agents from existing bank staff. They would sell policies through the banks' 140 branches. Mr Chan said the company had sold pension plans to more than 10,000 companies and self-employed persons, a total of 100,000 employees, through its Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) business. He estimated the insurer would receive up to HK$1 billion in contributions from its MPF clients during the first year following the MPF launch. Hang Seng Bank's general insurance business recorded a 5 per cent fall in premiums in the first half, collecting only HK$260 million. 'The price war in the employee compensation and motor insurance industry is fierce. This has affected our general insurance business income,' he said.