Compensation culture is hammering Kerry's tourism sector

Hotels warn of the crippling impact of rising insurance premiums

Sinead Kelleher

Skyrocketing insurance costs are putting the future of the entire tourism industry in Kerry in jeopardy, it has been warned this week.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said its members have experienced 'enormous' increases in insurance premiums in recent years as costs soar as a result of the high levels of awards for personal injury claims.

Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, Bernadette Randles, said this week that personal injury claims culture needs to be addressed immediately.

"The time for inaction is over. Awards for soft tissue injuries must be brought down significantly in line with international norms."

"Current increases are unsustainable. Exorbitant insurance costs are curtailing the ability of hotels to re-invest in their businesses with knock-on effects for the tourism industry."

Insurance costs are also jeopardising the future of many Kerry events, in particular smaller shows, which are key tourist attractions. 

Hoteliers in Kerry are now calling on the Government to take urgent action to address the spiralling costs ahead of the judicial review bill, which aims to tackle such pay-outs by creating a judicial  council to cap pay-out levels. 

According to research by the IHF, 62 per cent of hotels have seen hikes in insurance costs over the last 12 months. 

Of these, the average increase in premiums was 28 per cent year-on-year. Some 90 per cent of hotels say they are concerned about the impact.

"Decisive action is now required to tackle insurance costs, particularly in relation to the handling of personal injury cases and the excessive levels of awards being made. Slow progress by the Government to date is contributing to a 'claims culture' which is getting out of control. This is creating a huge challenge not only for businesses, but for civic organisations, sports groups and charities," Ms Randles said.

Hoteliers here also call for a dedicated garda unit to tackle fraudulent personal injury claims further excaberating compo culture.