Adrian Hassett: Personal injury claims becoming a crisis

The number and cost of personal injury claims taken against GAA units year-on-year are reaching unsustainable levels, Adrian Hassett of the GAA’s risk and insurance committee has warned.

Adrian Hassett: Personal injury claims becoming a crisis

The number and cost of personal injury claims taken against GAA units year-on-year are reaching unsustainable levels, Adrian Hassett of the GAA’s risk and insurance committee has warned.

Annual claims costs to GAA insurers are now exceeding €3m per annum and if claims continue to rise, Croke Park is going to find it extremely difficult to get brokers on board to provide central cover.

Annual renewal has become more and more challenging for the association and, indeed, when agreement on pricing and cover terms could not be agreed in 2017, central placement moved to a new insurer, Allianz Ireland, with a 30% premium increase.

Hassett, who is the Connacht GAA operations manager, said a large number of clubs are failing to adequately control the use of their property with regard to non-GAA activities, leading to several claims which could have been avoided or minimised. Over the past five years, the GAA has paid out in excess of €6m in liability claims directly arising from non-GAA associated use of GAA facilities.

“The situation is now critical and the continued provision of cover for such activities, via the central insurance cover, is under serious threat of discontinuation,” Hassett wrote in his report to last weekend’s Connacht convention.

The future viability of provision of our facilities for non-GAA use has been called into question as claims data indicates that units, in the absence of seeking proof of other insurance, are in default, assuming risks that are not ours and are unmanaged.

“Clubs who cannot demonstrate that they took all reasonable precautions to manage activities may be refused an indemnity or face a significantly increased claim excess.”

He added: “Also, resources are not being allocated to maintain and upkeep facilities which may result in them becoming hazardous for use by both members and/or non-members.”

Meanwhile, Tipperary football manager Liam Kearns has said Central Council’s decision to scrap the three handpass limit a week before the beginning of the football league is the latest example of the GAA “making things up as they go along”.

Kearns called for an overhaul of the fixtures program in late January/early February as it is totally unfair to ask players to lineout midweek for their college and to then step back inside the whitewash with their county at the weekend. Tipperary footballer Emmet Moloney, who is playing Fitzgibbon Cup hurling and Sigerson Cup football with Maynooth, is one of many inter-county players facing a hectic fortnight of action.

“Nobody can justify asking these students to play as many games as they are being asked to play. Look, there are an awful lot of things wrong that need to be addressed. You’d be disillusioned with the way things are at the moment,” Kearns remarked.

Last year, you had 20 counties ignoring April as a club-only month; you had Munster Council putting us out in the Munster championship twice in the one week. And now we have this - scrapping a rule that counties had spent their pre-season working on.

Tipperary, who narrowly missed out on promotion to Division 1 last spring, open their league campaign away to Meath this Sunday. Kearns is without a number of first-team regulars, including 2016 All-Star nominee Robie Kiely who will miss the entire league as he is travelling overseas.

“We are down an awful lot of players. Shane O’Connell (damaged quad muscle) is out for the first three league matches, Bill Maher has a bad Achilles tendon injury which he is rehabbing for the past five or six months. Gavin Whelan (ankle ligaments), Paul Maher (hamstring) and Paudie Feehan (femur) are ruled out for this weekend. Michael Quinlivan (knee) is likely to miss our first three league games.

“The type of players we are missing would affect any county team.”

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