The vast majority of firms have reported an increase in business insurance premiums.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) said its latest business trends survey shows that 84pc of firms report having been hit by a rise in insurance costs.
Changes in motor, home and health insurance costs are captured by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). But no official body collects and monitors changes in employer and public liability insurance costs. This has led to accusations that insurers have stopped pushing up premiums for motor and home insurance because of the political fall-out from this, and instead have been raising the cost of business insurance. The Isme survey found that 63pc of the firms surveyed have experienced a rise in premiums of between 16pc and 25pc.
"While we see continued decreases in the CSO figures regarding motor insurance costs, our data shows us that members are still facing significant increases," the business body said.
"Our latest data shows us that 84pc of respondents reported an increase to their premiums."
The survey found that there has been a decline in 10 out of 12 confidence indicators for small and medium-sized firms. Business confidence has dropped by 8pc. A third of firms will increase pay by between 2.5pc to 5pc. But 34pc of firms will not be in a position to increase pay.
Isme chief executive Neil McDonnell said: "The results are disappointing.
"A reversal in 10 out 12 confidence indicators reflects some of the uncertainties around business.
"While the economy is improving, many SMEs are struggling with excessive business costs, competitiveness, and inadequate infrastructure."