By Pádraig Hoare
Marts across the country could face closure because of rising insurance costs, while the GAA has seen its insurance bill double in five years, said business and community figures.
Appearing before TDs and senators at the Oireachtas Finance Committee, director general of the GAA, Tom Ryan, said insurance costs were now the biggest bill facing its clubs every year.
Most of the claims that clubs faced were not related to games being played, but by injuries sustained at social functions and fund-raisers, Mr Ryan said.
The association, which provides for public liability and property insurance to clubs across the country, has seen its premiums double in the past five years, with property insurance claims costing €8.5m from 340 claims between 2012 and 2017, he said.
Manager of Donegal Cooperative Livestock Mart, Eimear McGuinness said there would “most definitely” be marts around the country closing because “claims coming in were drastic”.
“Claims are being settled when they shouldn’t be. FBD is paying out on claims because it is cheaper than going to court.”
She said marts needed a grant scheme to help them survive in the future, because the rising costs of insurance premiums and health and safety measures was not sustainable.
Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform (AIR), which represents business and civic organisations across the country, said “thousands of jobs” were at stake because of rising premiums. A survey of 950 organisations within alliance found that since 2013, 47% have seen their premiums rise by over 30%, while more than a fifth have seen rises of over 70%, he said.
“There is certainly a lot of activity around the area right now, but our big worry is that a lot will be discussed and little will be done.
“It is not in the interests of the insurance companies or lawyers operating in this market that anything changes. If we were them, we’d huff and puff as a show of empathy with our customers but we’d fight tooth and nail to stop real change. Anything to stop real reform.” he said.
FBD executives said rising legal costs, delays, and high payouts was the reason for high premiums.