SHOCKING hikes in insurance premiums are crippling businesses and putting the future of activity centres in Cork at risk.
One Cork play centre had its insurance bill almost double in 12 months while another can’t even get a quote because of an unsettled claim.
Another business in west Cork saw its premiums hiked by €18,000 a year.
Owner of Kool Kidz Korner in Ringaskiddy, Lisa O’Callaghan, said that she and her husband Michael had to take out a loan to fund the €18,500 insurance bill for the business.
The premium has risen from €9,900 last year. The business has had no claims made against it.
Helen McCarthy, who is the owner of Chuckies play centre in Togher, said: “Our insurance is due on April 21. Ours has gone up from €5,000 to nearly €15,000 last year.”
She said the centre was claim-free for five years. However, there is currently a claim against them which is still being assessed.
The centre cannot get a quote for insurance and the current policy is due for renewal in the next month.
Meanwhile, Finbarr O’Mahony of West Cork Secret activity centre in Kilbrittain said insurance costs are also spiralling for his business.
He said: “Insurance went up from €7,000 to €25,000 last year.”
Now, the company is waiting anxiously to get a quote for the coming 12 months, with the current policy due to expire at the end of May.
He said that two claims have been made against the centre and they are currently being assessed.
The three business owners are among many across the country who are concerned, with some play and activity centres having to close because they cannot afford insurance.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform is concerned that there has not been a garda fraud unit set up to tackle the area of bogus claims.
Director of the alliance, Linda Murray said that the garda unit has been government policy through the Cost of Insurance Working Group for over two years but has yet to materialise.
Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath raised the issue in the Dáil, saying: “The insurance situation facing play centres has genuinely reached crisis point and the reality is that many of them face closure if something is not done rapidly by the Government.”