Norwich Union (NU) is the latest insurer to muscle in on the growing high net worth (HNW) market.

It has unveiled its HNW policy Tapestry, the company's first new general insurance offering since last year's merger.

NU is the third insurer to launch a new HNW product in the past few weeks. Groupama and Zurich recently announced plans to enter the market, after major player Independent Insurance collapsed and Cox left the market.

Tapestry, to be sold through brokers, is aimed at customers with household contents in excess of £75,000.

As well as home and contents cover, customers can opt to include travel assistance, plus cover for fine art and antiques, caravans and second homes in one single monthly package.

Market development manager Chris Elliott said: "CGU and NU had a presence in the HNW market before the merger and we are looking to move on from that and become a serious player."

NU's product will differ from those of market leaders Hiscox and Chubb because it provides cover for much lower sums insured.

Elliott said: "There are different views about where this HNW market begins and often people focus on the top end - people living in large country mansions with contents worth in excess of £200,000.

"We have done significant research among our intermediaries and we believe there are other customer groups who would welcome the opportunity to have wider cover and access to a range of support services, which would not be found in standard home policies."

According to figures from market analyst Datamonitor, the number of affluent people and their personal wealth is growing.

Richard O'Donoghue, author of a new Datamonitor report, "UK Personal Niche Lines Insurer 2001", said: "Players in HNW now have more room to manoeuvre and rates are hardening. Now there is more realistic pricing; newcomers seem to be seizing the opportunities."

There were 2,235,000 HNW individuals in the UK last year. This is based on having liquid assets of £100,000 or more.

Datamonitor predicts this number will continue to grow for the next ten years.