Businesses may have no recourse to claim for interruptions to trade should power cuts and gas shortages occur this winter.

The Met Office has predicted the coldest UK winter in a decade. If accurate, this could cause widespread disruption. Some major insurers have said firms may not be covered under existing policies.

Insurable risks such as flood, windstorm and freezing conditions would be covered, but stoppages resulting from rationed energy supplies would not be insured.

AXA risk control strategy manager Douglas Barnett said the past few winters had resulted in fewer claims to insurers because of the reasonably mild weather.

He said firms needed to ensure that back-up energy procedures, updated contact lists and good risk management plans were in place, in light of indications that the coldest spell of weather will occur during the festive season.