Charlie Weston: 'Our basket-case compo system means that fun is now cancelled'
International insurers are turning away from "basket-case" Ireland due to our sky-high compensation awards.
Reforms being introduced at the moment are too little, too late, according to the insurers. The consequences of this are that leisure activities can't get insurance and are facing closure, meaning fun is set to be cancelled in this State.
Event companies, bouncy castle operators, leisure centres, yoga classes, soccer teachers, drama classes, some play centres and a large number of leisure companies are going to find it almost impossible to get insurance cover.
The reason for this is the withdrawal from the market of one of the main insurers for the leisure sector.
Irish insurers are generally not interested in providing liability insurance for businesses with high footfalls that they regard as high risk. They are too eager to protect their rising profits to be bothered covering a play centre which is vulnerable to claims.
Profits are again surging for our domestic insurers and much of that is due to the fact that they are extremely selective about what they will cover.
That's why up to now many leisure firms were using UK operator LeisureInsure. But it, according to its underwriter AxaXL, has decided it has had enough of this market with its high and frequent claims.
Litigious people too eager to make a claim, insurers, medics, judges and lawyers, are all playing a part in the deepening insurance crisis that grips us.
A headline on the satirical online publication 'Waterford Whispers' this week caught out some people who believed it was true. It said: "Waterford man awarded €179k after receiving bad pint from city nightclub."
Outrageous, but it could almost be real, such is the dysfunctional nature of our compensation system.
That is why British operator LeisureInsure is just the latest to pull out of this market.
British insurers regard our claims system as a "basket case" and say they could no longer make any money here. LeisureInsure is just one of around 10 British insurance companies that have turned their backs on the liability market here, leaving companies in the lurch, due to high levels of claims.
Firms in the leisure sector are now paying the price for our dysfunctional compensation system.
Just this week a child who fractured her ankle jumping off a trampoline settled her High Court action for €35,000. This was despite claims in court that the girl allegedly failed to follow the specific and repeated instructions given to her regarding the correct way to land on the mats.
It is all very well to be generous to a girl who fractured her foot coming off a trampoline.
But when the bill for this is the closure of leisure firms, the loss of jobs and the ending of fun activities, we as a society need to conclude that the compo culture has become corrosive and out of control.