Soaring insurance costs forcing agri-tourism businesses to shut up shop

Puck Fair, Killorglin, Co Kerry
Puck Fair, Killorglin, Co Kerry
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Soaring insurance premiums are leading to the closure of agri-tourism businesses and forcing country shows and festivals to look for public support to finance their insurance cover.

Killinkere Visitor and Pet Farm in Lisnagirl, Co Longford, closed its doors in May as owner and farmer Paddy O'Reilly said its insurance premium had doubled and had become "unaffordable". "We were paying €5,200 of a premium and we got a quote of €11,000 this year. It didn't make sense for us to renew the policy as this is a hobby for us," said Mr O'Reilly.

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"In the last 10 years, all we had was one claim. There's a compensation culture out there and it's ruining things like this and the danger is now some open farms may operate without insurance, which is very risky."

In Meath, Trim Alpaca Farms has closed as the UK-based insurance companies that cover pet farms in Ireland said they couldn't insure it due to Brexit. "I couldn't get anybody to quote," said proprietor Glyn Evins.

"Last year, my premium was €370, but I couldn't get anybody to quote this year. UK-based insurance companies that cover what I do were saying with Brexit coming up, they can't insure as they don't know what is going to happen.

"This is going to affect a lot of farms," said Mr Evins. Meanwhile, the organiser of Ireland's longest running fair, Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co Kerry, says it was on the brink of cancelling the horse fair due to insurance issues.

Declan Falvey said they were struggling to get any insurance company to cover the 400-year-old event: "We found it very difficult to get insurance for the horse fair as companies who covered it said it was too risky to cover anything like that with Brexit down the line and were exiting the market."

The fair's insurance has doubled over recent years to €17,000 despite only one claim occurring in the last eight years.

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In an effort to deal with the rising costs of running the festival, the committee set up a crowd-funding initiative for the first time which has already raised €5,000.

"We were thinking of doing this for a few years as so many other festivals are doing it and there's lots of goodwill towards the festival which has put Killorglin on the map."

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