Terrorism and Sars have made people more aware of protecting themselves against disaster, boosting Hong Kong's insurance industry. Insurance Commissioner Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun said people had developed different views on life since these crises, with more buying insurance. 'People have become more conscious about getting protection for their life and their health,' he said. 'As tragic as these incidents were, they have contributed significantly to the growth of the local insurance industry.' Underwriting profit for general insurance in the first nine months of the year rose 103.6 per cent to $1.23 billion, compared with $604 million for the same period last year, according to provisional statistics released yesterday by the Office of the Commission of Insurance. General insurance covers medical, accident, property and other non-life fields. Gross premiums in general insurance increased by 4.1 per cent to $18.6 billion. Another major category - long-term insurance, which covers life insurance and retirement schemes - also recorded growth, with total premiums rising 11.7 per cent from $49.4 billion to $55.2 billion. Premiums for new life insurance business rose 19.1 per cent from $14.1 billion to $16.8 billion. Mr Tang also cited better risk management and an improving investment environment as reasons for the higher profit. 'Overall, the insurance industry has become much more sophisticated in pricing its policies, which helps set premiums at more appropriate levels,' he said. 'It [better risk management] also means that their expenditure on compensation is also reduced relative to the premium. 'And as the economy picks up, many insurance companies have been able to earn higher returns with their investments.' His views were echoed by Peter Schelling, managing director of Eagle Star insurance. '[The higher premiums and profitability] not only indicates a prudent underwriting approach across all companies, but also the improved sense of risk management of people. 'It has taken years for people to instil this concept. I think Sars and terrorism are the triggers that have led people to think about protection and asset management.'