Esure has launched a pet insurance offering with affinity provider Thornside to compete with the likes of Axa and Allianz Cornhill's Pet Plan for a major stake in the growing pet market.

Esure, which is part of the HBOS group, said it had put together a "high-end policy" with Thornside to capture market share from more established players.

David Seel, managing director of Thornside, said he expected Esure to write tens of thousands of policies over the coming months.

Seel said: "The product we have produced with Esure is genuinely state-of-the-art. The level of cover offered is like nothing else on the market so we are very optimistic about the prospect of generating significant volumes."

The Esure products include a veterinary helpline, cover for dog napping and the provision of alternative boarding should the policyholder's home become uninhabitable.

It is expected that Esure will employ a multi-million pound advertising campaign and an aggressive push to cross-sell to its 170,000 household policyholders.

Jacky Brown, head of partnerships and business development at Esure, said: "The potential for new business is huge."