By Geoff Percival
Many pubs are at risk of going out of business due to “unacceptable” increases in insurance costs, warns the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland.
While a survey of its members has found the majority to be in fine health — with most expecting economic growth to lead to an improvement in their business over the next three years — the VFI said rising insurance costs are the “biggest burden” for nearly 60% of publicans.
Sourcing and retaining staff is also a challenge as the economy, and employment continues to improve, it found.
“Over the past couple of years, insurance costs for our members have increased to unacceptable levels,” said incoming VFI president Pádraic McGann.
“It’s no exaggeration to say it could put many publicans out of business. Change can’t come soon enough to the insurance sector.”
Mr McGann called on the Government to help protect against the emergence of a ‘two-tier’ pub economy.
“While pubs in cities, large urban areas, and tourist hotspots are performing well, for some publicans, the challenges of running a business in a rural location are overwhelming. We call on the Government to implement proposals that will help rejuvenate rural areas as outlined in its planning framework document Ireland 2040,” he said.
Meanwhile, cross-sector lobby group the Alliance for Insurance Reform has called for the Government to show more urgency after the latest update from its Cost of Insurance Working Group chronicled “a litany of missed opportunities and inaction”.
Peter Boland of the alliance said: “The Cost of Insurance Working Group is the Government’s flagship response to the insurance crisis affecting charities, voluntary groups, sports organisations, small businesses, and motorists nationally.
"Unfortunately, it has gone into reverse, with real reform being replaced by a never-ending series of consultations, reports, and reviews.”
“The real reforms in the report have stalled. There has been no progress for six months now on the proposed Garda Insurance Fraud Unit; the protocol requiring insurance companies to notify policyholders of the progress of claims made against them has stalled; and legislation compelling insurance companies to communicate the reason for large premium increases has been abandoned.”