Insurers who fail to risk manage their plant and equipment are playing into the hands of organised criminals and terrorists, the National Plant and Equipment Register (TER) has warned.

TER managing director Tim Purbrick, the Metropolitan Police, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the Association of British Insurers and the Home Office warned insurers of the danger at a gathering last week of top plant and equipment underwriters.

Purbrick said paramilitary organisations and mobsters used the money they generated by selling stolen plant and equipment to pay for their illegal activities.

He said risk management by plant and equipment owners and their insurers was non-existent.

"Often insurers are undercharging on premiums because they don't know what they're insuring," he said.

"There's no schedule, so there's a lot of fraudulent claims made, or claimants bump up the value of the losses.

"This is an industry - the buyers, the auction houses, the banks and the equipment owners - that knows no one is going to make any checks."

Purbrick said many insurers were insuring plant and equipment that they already owned, having paid out on it when it was stolen from a previous owner and resold.

He encouraged the underwriters to demand that their insureds registered their plant and equipment with TER, which he described as the "DVLA for diggers", so the equipment could be identified when it was stolen.

He said registration would also alert insurers to policyholders insuring stolen equipment they had purchased. Purbrick is due to meet with insurers individually to discuss how they can put the project into action.

"If they find someone has a lot of stolen equipment, they're also likely to disregard other legalities such as health and safety, which makes them a poor risk," Purbrick said.

Small businesses with less than five pieces of plant and equipment can register with TER for free. Between six and ten items cost £50 and 11 or more cost £100.