Spiralling insurance costs putting smaller marts' future viability at risk

Castlerea Mart Crush Bars. Photo Brian Farrell
Castlerea Mart Crush Bars. Photo Brian Farrell
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A delegation from ICOS National Marts has met with Minister of State Michael D’Arcy T.D. to seek Government intervention on the spiralling cost of insurance for marts

Chairman of ICOS National Marts Committee Michael Spellman said the cost of insurance for marts has more than doubled in the past 18 months but there hasn’t been any parallel increase in incidents or claims from the marts. 

Mr. D’Arcy is Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance.

"The marts have become an unwitting victim of ‘risk profiling’ by the insurance industry who are seeking to minimise their exposure and spread their costs across multiple sectors of the economy. 

"Reducing risk is of course in everyone’s interests, as one accident or injury is one too many, but we don’t see any legitimate basis for the scale of costs now being heaped onto the marts sector.”

The delegation shared with the Minister specific details of marts where insurance costs have increased inordinately, in spite of risk reduction measures also being implemented.

New mart rules

It was recently revealed that Mart Co-Op boards are considering a series of recommendations drawn up to help reduce accident risk levels and lower insurance premiums.

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Among the risk-reducing recommendations being considered after ICOS and marts met in December include ensuring that members of the public do not have access to the penning areas and central passageways. Also, that all mart staff wear jackets for clear identification.

In addition, mart drovers would supervise all loading and unloading of cattle.

One measure could include ensuring the back ramp is opened and closed by the farmer rather than mart staff as this would mark a transition from the farmer's insurance on to the mart.

Smaller marts

“This is now having a specifically damaging effect on smaller marts who simply cannot afford any increase in operating costs to the extent that is being levied,” said Spellman. 

“We need the Government to protect the marts sector and SMEs in general from the unsustainable costs that are being demanded.”

The ICOS delegation welcomed Minister D’Arcy’s assurance that over 30 recommendations in a recently published insurance working group report on Employment Liability Practices would be enacted.

Michael Spellman said, “It is very positive and reassuring that the Government is engaging proactively with ICOS on this matter and we are confident that there will cross party support for any legislative proposals and particularly where these safeguard jobs.

"We need to see priority legislation brought forward and implemented by the end of 2018 which will endeavour to bring fairness back into the equation around liability claims in Ireland, and not just for marts but for all SME’s in rural Ireland.”

Spellman also noted, “The imminent implementation of GDPR regulations by the end of May will ensure that the timescale for reporting an incident will be within 28 days. This is going to greatly change the speed at which claims will be notified as currently there can be a two year period of leeway in which claims can be made.”

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