Urgent action needed for community services hit by rising insurance costs

Social Democrats Councillor Jennifer Whitmore has said much more urgency is needed from government to tackle soaring insurance premiums that are damaging small businesses and social enterprises around the country.

Social Democrats Councillor Jennifer Whitmore said:

“Today’s research by the Public Participation Networks shows that nearly half of community and voluntary groups have had to reduce their activities due rising insurance costs. Nearly half also say they are at risk of having to shut down completely if the price of insurance continues to rise.

“Small businesses and voluntary groups are the backbone of our communities, providing play spaces, activity centres, and community, recreation and sports facilities. The government is standing by while they are being driven into the ground by rising insurance premiums. If these soaring insurance costs continue unabated, it will have a devastating impact on the fabric of communities all around the country.

“I have even seen it in my own constituency of Wicklow whereby small groups are finding it increasingly hard to find the moment to pay for insurance costs. It is made even more difficult by the fact that many of the grants available from the Government to provide these essential community services cannot be used for administration costs, such as insurance. 

“The withdrawal, in August, of British Insurer “Leisure Insure” from the Irish market is also hitting Wicklow’s leisure sector hard and many are at risk of closure because of difficulties in sourcing reasonably costed insurance for their activities. One example given to an Oireachtas Committee earlier this year showed that that a child’s train operator for shopping centres faces an annual insurance bill of around €30,000 in Ireland, but only £1,500 for the same service in the UK. This discrepancy is not acceptable.

“It’s clear that everyone, except vested interests, loses under the current system. One of the issues is the book of quantum which has to be reformed to significantly lower awards for minor injuries. It is also clear that insurance companies are boosting profits based on industry figures for fraudulent claims that haven’t withstood scrutiny.  Whilst the Judicial Council Bill has been passed, the government really needs to get cracking in setting up the Council as a matter of urgency so that the Book of Quantum can be overhauled to bring Ireland into line with pay-outs in other countries, and, with better regulation, reduce premia.”

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