An insurance broker has launched the first policy offering cover against the Sars virus.

Goodfellows said it had launched the policy after being inundated with calls from people wanting to take out protection against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which has so far killed 154 people.

The policy, which is underwritten by the Lloyd's of London insurance market, can be taken out separately or as part of wider income protection cover.

Premiums start at 0.1 per cent of the sum assured for cover against just Sars, meaning that a policy which would pay out £100,000 if the policyholder died or was permanently unable to work as a result of the virus would cost £100 a year.

If the policy is taken out as part of a wider income protection policy, covering death or injury as a result of other factors as well as Sars, premiums are one per cent of the sum assured.

The group, based in Braintree in Essex, said the policy was available to all UK citizens travelling anywhere in the world, although people who have shown symptoms of the disease during the past two weeks cannot take one of the policies out.