A Hong Kong company has launched the city's first insurance ensuring care of cats and dogs if their owner is struck down by illness. Sun Life Financial yesterday launched a new critical-illness plan that covers care of pets in the event the owner suffers any one of 48 serious illnesses such as cancer or a heart attack. A premium of about HK$10,000 a year will pay out about HK$400,000 if a policyholder falls ill with any of the diseases listed. Besides the payment, policyholders can choose extra care for either two dogs, or two cats, or a dog and a cat. 'Many Hong Kong individuals or couples do not have any children but they have pets,' said Roger Steel, chief executive of Sun Life's Hong Kong office. 'Many of them consider their dogs and cats to be their family, so we decided we needed to expand our insurance cover to their pets.' The insurance covers collection of cats or dogs and transport to a pet hotel for the duration of the owner's illness where costs must be shouldered by the policyholders from the HK$400,000 payout. Estate planning consultant Elsa Pau said there were other pet insurances on the market, but they generally covered pets' medical expenses. If a pet owner wanted to ensure his or her pets were cared for after the owner's death, they could spend about HK$10,000 to set up an insurance trust that linked up with normal life insurance. Monies would be paid to a trustee who would spend it on pet care according to the owner's instructions. 'Usually, these types of arrangements are for children, but there is an increasing demand from pet owners,' Ms Pau said. 'I have just arranged a standby insurance trust for a lady who wants multimillion dollars' worth of insurance payments to be spent on her nine cats.''