Hotel bosses want reform of insurance speeded up
HOTELIERS are calling for urgent action on what they say are unsustainable rises in insurance costs.
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) wants the Government to address the spiralling cost of insurance, pointing out that 62pc of its members have seen premiums shoot up in the last 12 months.
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Of these, the average increase in premiums was 28pc year-on-year.
This is in addition to substantial increases in recent years, the federation said.
Around 90pc of hotels and guesthouses say they are concerned about the impact of insurance costs on their business.
IHF president Michael Lennon said: "These increases are unsustainable.
"Exorbitant insurance costs are curtailing the ability of hotels and guesthouses to reinvest in their businesses with knock-on effects for the tourism industry."
The federation argued that what it said was slow progress by the Government in reforming insurance was contributing to a claims culture which is getting out of control.
"This poses an enormous challenge for businesses and wider society. The time for foot-dragging has passed," Mr Lennon said.
"We need decisive action by the Government to tackle insurance costs, particularly in relation to the handling of personal injury cases and the excessive levels of awards being made, which are four to five times higher than in the UK."
He called on the Government to give greater urgency to setting up the judicial council to review levels of awards for personal injuries.
"Awards for soft tissue injuries must be brought down significantly in line with international norms," he said.
Mr Lennon said a zero-tolerance approach to fraud is required to create an effective deterrent against exaggerated or misleading claims. "It is vital that a dedicated Garda resource is created specifically tasked with investigating fraudulent cases for potential prosecution," he added.
Meanwhile, the minister responsible for reforming the insurance sector said legislation to allow a judicial council to set reasonable payout levels for minor injuries is set to be finally published this week.
Michael D'Arcy said insurance claims have become a huge issue for the Government. He said compensation is seen as "easy money" that tempts even the "best of people" into making unwarranted claims.
The minister said there are now "dozens and dozens of exaggerated claims" for every fraudulent one because people see an opportunity to cash in.
He warned that many respectable people would never dream of taking a case against a family member, but businesses are seen as a legitimate target.