Hotel insurance ‘costs €730 a room’

Escalating insurance costs of €730 a room threaten to puncture a record year for many hoteliers and guest house owners as they face the challenge of hosting fewer British visitors, the country’s largest hotels group has said.

Irish Hotels Federation president Joe Dolan said a majority of its members cited “runaway” insurance costs as their greatest worry and want reforms to the way courts assess injuries.

“We have no issue whatsoever with genuine accidents where guests are rightly compensated. However, the vast majority of claims in the hotel sector concern minor injuries and the higher compensation payouts recommended by the updated Book of Quantum are putting pressure on insurers to increase the reserves,” Mr Dolan said.

The IHF estimates insurance costs cost the industry €42m a year, equivalent to €730 a room.

Mr Dolan, who was speaking ahead of the start of IHF annual gathering, said that the industry had tapped a record year in tourism numbers.

However, hoteliers outside the big cities will likely face the challenge of having fewer British tourists because of the slump in the value of sterling since last summer.

The IHF estimates that the industry provided a significant contribution to the economic recovery, helping to spread prosperity beyond urban areas.

It said over 8.8m visits in 2016 helped generate a total of €8.25bn in revenues and created 13,000 new jobs.

Occupancy rates on average rose to 72%, marking the highest level for 11 years.

The IHF said, however, that Brexit will have effects in areas that can least afford it.

“The impact of sterling’s collapse in our largest market, which accounts for 40% of our overseas visitors, has and continues to be a significant concern,” chief executive Tim Fenn said.

“The real impact of a potential deterioration in this market will tell a new story, we believe, in 2017 as advance bookings made pre-Brexit sustained this market in 2016. Deterioration in our GB visitors will hit our rural tourism hardest as this is the one market that does travel outside our city and tourist hotspots.”

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