South-West businesses are cutting costs by dropping part of their cover in the face of rapid rates increases, an insolvency specialist has warned.

Begbies Traynor, the UK's biggest independent business rescue and recovery firm, is already noticing business failures due to the crisis.

Its Bristol-based senior partner Andy Beckingham said companies in the South-West had undergone an average 400% rise in premiums.

"A worrying development is that some businesses are choosing to cut corners by dropping part of their cover, with the favourite choice being business interruption," he said. "We're beginning to see the first signs of business failure."