The British Olympic Association does not have cover for the UK Winter Olympics team, due to compete in Salt Lake City next year.

The association faces soaring costs by renegotiating its annual policy at a time when rates are rising at meteoric speed. It could be forced to go cap in hand to its sponsors or find new sources of money to fund the team.

Industry experts warn the UK's support for military action against targets in Afghanistan, together with the games' location in the US, means the team could be a potential target.

This would increase already steep insurance costs. Rates for terrorism cover in the US are up to 20 times more expensive than before the September 11 atrocities.

Mike Beckett of Willis said underwriters feared a repeat of the violence during the Munich Olympics in 1972 in which 11 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists.

"The event could be perceived to be a soft target, in the same way that Munich was. The fact Munich occurred could put it in an underwriter's mind and change the perception of the risk."

Marsh's European chief executive Daniel Jones said premiums for terrorism cover in the US could be ten or 20 times their pre-September levels.

The British Olympic Association's director of finance and administration Neil Aitken admitted the association could be a potential target. "It's something we take very seriously," he said.

"We're going to have a field of 90 people going over to Salt Lake City and brokers have been saying there's no way they can insure them.

"I wouldn't necessarily go back to our sponsors, but we would be fully aware that, among other issues, insurance has gone up."

As the association's costs rose, it would "have to consider income from other sources", he said.

The Sydney Olympics were the most expensive ever for the UK team, costing £1.3m, with an additional £800,000 spent on a pre-games camp for athletes' preparation.

Aitken expected the Salt Lake City team to have to be split between different flights to cut risks.

A leading sports broker, who did not want to be named, said the association's premiums would "certainly double" and it would face lower limits, increasing pressure on organisers to keep team members apart and raising the possibility of athletes having to stay at different hotels.

He estimated the team could be facing an insurance bill of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Aitken said the association usually bought annual cover which it then extended to cover any team competing during the year concerned.

The UK team for the Winter Olympics has not yet been picked, but top hopes include Sean Olsson in the men's bobsleigh, Alex Coomber in the women's skeleton bobsleigh, snowboarder Leslie McKenna and slalom skier Alain Baxter.