Wednesday 11 December 2019

Key arts group at risk because of insurance crisis - as yet another firm quits Irish market

Under threat: Muireann Deidda Strata and Nessa Nic an Bhaird, of Galway Community Circus performing in June
Under threat: Muireann Deidda Strata and Nessa Nic an Bhaird, of Galway Community Circus performing in June
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

A Galway arts group is threatened with closure due to the insurance crisis, in what would be a major blow as the city prepares to become European Capital of Culture next year.

It comes as another insurer has pulled out of the market here as the cover crisis deepens.

Galway Community Circus, which specialises in aerial acrobatics, has also been forced to cancel classes for 650 members due to difficulties getting adequate insurance cover.

The group is due to play a key role in Galway 2020 when the city becomes European Capital of Culture.

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It had been preparing for a spectacular event that would involve 400 people crossing the River Corrib on a high wire, but this is now in doubt.

Training and preparations for the event have been under way for almost two years.

The event, titled 'Wires Crossed', was to be one of the highlights of the year-long culture bonanza. It secured €800,000 of European funding for Galway 2020.

'Wires Crossed' has been developed as a partnership across 10 European countries.

Galway Community Circus is a not-for-profit youth and social circus.

It could get only one insurance quote, despite seeking cover from 133 Irish and international insurers.

It was forced to accept a doubling of its premium to €24,000, but, crucially, this excludes any aerial acrobatics or any activity above 1.5m.

Executive creative director of the group Ulla Hokkanen said: "Without national insurance reform, our organisation is in immediate danger of not being able to offer our services to the community, therefore leaving 650 Galway youths without the activity they have chosen as part of their personal, creative and physical development."

Galway 2020 said it was concerned at the challenge facing Galway Community Circus.

And the insurance cover crisis shows no signs of abating as another insurer pulled out of the market here.

SureStone Insurance is exiting the Irish market after more than 20 years, blaming losses caused by stiff competition and a high volume of claims.

It supplies insurance that was sold on by brokers and broker agents.

The move will leave tradesmen and small businesses in the lurch.

The insurer insisted all existing policies would be honoured and legitimate claims paid, but it is not taking on any new business.

A long list of British insurers and underwriters have already pulled out of the market.

Peter Boland, of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, said more voluntary groups, community organisations and charities were having to wind down operations due to the insurance crisis.

"Nothing the Government has done in the last three years has resulted in reducing premiums. Indeed, the flagship reform of Government, the Judicial Council, has still not even been established after all the fanfare around the legislation earlier this year," he said.

Irish Independent

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