Feeling flat: Bouncy castle firms left deflated and facing closure
Bouncy castle business owners are facing a crisis after the main insurer for the sector pulled the plug.
Gerry Frawley, of the Irish Inflatable Hirers' Federation, says operators face closure, leading to a fear that some will carry on without insurance.
The 220 members of the association were covered by Oxford-based LeisureInsure, with AxaXL the underwriter.
But AxaXL has confirmed that it had reviewed its business in Ireland with LeisureInsure and was pulling out.
"We were using LeisureInsure. But now we can't get cover at all."
Firms that hire out bouncy castles are considered risky by insurers as the potential for slips and trips is high.
Mr Frawley said the fact LeisureInsure had pulled out was a disaster for his members.
"This effectively means that for the moment bouncy castles and other inflatables cannot get public liability insurance in the Republic of Ireland," he said in a note to members.
The operators hire out and install the bouncy inflatables and then leave them with the clients. But despite the fact the hire firms are not overseeing the children who use the bouncy castles, they still get sued if there is an accident, Mr Frawley said.
"It is not profitable for anyone to insure in this arena and take the risk as there is a tendency by the legal system to blame the insurance company if there is an accident."
Asked what he and his members would do with no company willing to insure them, Mr Frawley said: "We are exploring all avenues but we have drawn a blank so far. We are in serious trouble and there is a risk some will operate without insurance."
Mr Frawley, whose business Bounce Ireland is based in Navan, Co Meath, said people in British insurance companies regard recent reforms here, such as a move to get judges to review award levels, as too little, too late.
The Judicial Council bill passed in the Houses of the Oireachtas last week. It makes provision for judges to set up a committee to recalibrate award levels to bring them more into line with those paid in other countries. However, there is some doubt about how quickly this will happen.
"There is a lack of action by the Government and the politicians are to blame," Mr Frawley said.