Chinese life insurer Minsheng is to offer cover for death from bird flu. Regulators in China have given the product the go-ahead as anxiety over the impact of the disease grows.

The cover has a maximum pay-out of around $12,000, the Financial Times has reported, and it is likely to be rolled out shortly in the major Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzen. There, a $24.70 policy will yield the highest level of payouts. Inhabitants outside these urban centers will however be able to buy a cheaper version of the policy, costing $12.30 with a maximum payout of just over $6,000.

The product is aimed at government institutions and businesses, according to the state press, and covers infection in humans by the lethal H5N1 strain of the virus.

The launch of the line mirrors similar products that were launched during the Sars crisis of 2003.