Monday 22 October 2018

'Most claims related to injuries from social events' - Cost of insurance doubles for GAA clubs

Premiums have jumped by 20pc in cost in the last year alone Photo: Sportsfile
Premiums have jumped by 20pc in cost in the last year alone Photo: Sportsfile
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

THE cost of insurance has doubled for GAA clubs in the last five years.

Director general of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Tom Ryan told an Oireachtas Committee that the cost of insurance premiums are a major challenge for the organisation.

The sports body is one of a number of community groups that appeared before the Finance Committee which is looking at the impact of surging insurance premiums on community groups and businesses, such as livestock marts, men’s sheds associations.

Mr Ryan said told the TDs and senators: “The increased cost of claims and the increase volumes of claims we are seeing are a challenge for us.

“The legal process and how it operates is also a challenge,” the GAA boss added.

The GAA provides property and liability insurance to all the clubs in the State and also operates an injury fund.

Director general of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Tom Ryan Photo: Sportsfile
Director general of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Tom Ryan Photo: Sportsfile

A combination of self-funding, based on levies on gate receipts, and commercial insurance is used to cover clubs.

“The biggest single bill for any GAA club is the insurance bill. Insurance is arranged centrally and re-charged to the clubs.”

He said most of the claims faced by clubs do not relate to injuries to players and trainers. Instead, they were mostly due to injuries incurred at social events in clubs and at fund-raisers.

The cumulative cost of claims in the last five years has been €45m, Mr Ryan told the Oireachas Finance Committee.

Premiums have jumped by 20pc in cost in the last year alone.

And the politicians were told that livestock marts and men’s sheds were threatened with closure due to soaring insurance costs.

Manager of the Donegal Cooperative Livestock Mart Eimear McGuinness said there were up to 90 marts around the country, but many were threatened with closure due to high claims volumes and soaring premiums for public liability insurance.

Barry Sheridan of the Men’s Sheds Association, which covers 400 groups, said many of member groups were struggling to get insurance cover.

“The cost is putting pressure on many sheds, which have limited resources.”

He said men’s shed played an important social and community service.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform claimed the insurance industry and the legal profession were thwarting attempts to bring about changes to lessen the premium burden on businesses and charities.

Peter Boland of the Alliance said: “Our members feel that it is the insurance industry and the legal profession that have the strongest voices in the corridors of power. Policyholders feel that we have no voice.”

He said the Government’s cost of insurance working group “is being strangled”.

Ivan Cooper of The Wheel, an organisation that represents charities, told the committee that premiums had tripled for community groups and charities in the last year.

“The cost of insurance is strangling the life out of community events and organisations,” he said.

He accused insurers of “extortion” when he spoke to the politicians.

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