A Dublin woman with cerebral palsy has urged the Government to address the insurance sector about its refusal to provide cover to people with disabilities running their own companies.
Eileen Daly set up an independent living company in 2018 and says that the move transformed her life.
The 46-year-old has been a wheelchair user since birth and currently employs eight part-time personal assistants who help her at home and at work.
Ms Daly previously paid €600 for public liability and employers liability insurance – but this year she was quoted just over €3,600 after her previous UK insurer quit the market.
No Irish company would even provide a quote.
“I tried to explain the concept to insurance companies and how the company helps people like me to live independently, but they said there was no appetite for the risk,” she told the Irish Independent.
“The personal assistants help with all aspects of my personal care. They drive my adapted vehicle and they provide assistance with household chores and all related activities. All staff are trained in manual handling and it’s not a medical role, they are just there to help with day-to-day living, and there’s never been one claim or anything.
“If I need help with something specific to my disability, it’s provided by public health, not my personal assistants.”
Ms Daly works full-time as a student support officer and career guidance counsellor.
She said being able to manage her own care has been a huge help.
Other people with disabilities who run their own companies have also seen their premiums increase.
Graham Boyd, from Tinahely, Co Wicklow, was involved in a quad bike accident six years ago that left him paralysed from the shoulders down.
He employs six part-time assistants to help him at home and saw his insurance more than double.
“We are dependent on personal carers to live as normal a life as possible,” his wife Lillian Boyd said.
“The insurance went up to about €2,000. We’re worried we won’t be able to get insurance next year and what will happen then as Graham needs about 100 hours a week of personal assistants. Irish insurance companies wouldn’t even consider us. To have to go back to a normal service provider would be catastrophic.”
Ms Boyd said they were given the impression that insurers thought they were “too high risk”.
“What’s the point of insurance when they won’t cover risk, I thought that’s what they’re there to do. Insurance has been our biggest worry, forget about Covid.”
When the couple founded their own company, it allowed them to direct Mr Boyd’s care, rather than depend on disability service providers.
“When the accident happened, we had to transform our home and we found dealing directly with service providers quite frustrating, so this system works for us,” Ms Boyd said.