The lack of competition in the adventure tourism sector has caused huge problems – and huge bills – for operators in West Cork. Kieran O’Mahony writes that there is now some hope on the horizon
One WEST Cork activities company was unable to offer outdoor activities to customers for two summers, while another company saw insurance costs rise 300%, despite having no claims against them.
For those working in the popular adventure segment of West Cork, a lack of competition in insurance hampers the growth of what could be a highly lucrative and busy tourism offering.
Rising costs, along with Brexit issues and a culture of claims, have driven many UK-based insurers out of the Irish leisure market, leaving business owners scrambling to get general liability insurance as options dry up.
But now, a new group insurance scheme coordinated by the representative body, the Irish Association of Adventure Tourism (IATT) is being hailed as a potential savior for the industry.
IATT and Arachas, a nationwide insurance broker, last week announced details of a landmark community insurance plan for its members.
Arachas specializes in providing innovative and business-critical insurance plans to groups or businesses that find it difficult to obtain cover at an affordable price.
IATT has been actively working to find a long-term solution for its members since last fall, when the situation reached a crisis point, with only insurance providers out of the market.
IATT CEO Brendan Kenny said they are pleased to partner with Arachas in providing what they hope will be a sustainable solution to secure adventure activities in Ireland.
Brendan said: “Our members can now confidently move forward in delivering their exciting world-class experiences, particularly as the country strives to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.
Joy Wayne, chief commercial officer of Arachas, said that as a broker they will leverage their insurance and industry expertise to work with national and international insurance partners to deliver reliable insurance products to interest groups and businesses. “We’ve had similar schemes run in other industries recently in the Irish market – including childcare facilities, which is also a situation where other providers have left the market.”
The news couldn’t come fast enough for Matt Mills who runs Goleen Harbor, an eco-lodge and outdoor experience center just outside Goleen Village, and was unable to offer any outdoor activities for two summers because he couldn’t get insurance.
We had two seasons with Leisure Insur at first, with installments starting at 5,500 euros, then moving to 8,000 euros and then to 10,000 euros. Then they pulled out of the Irish market altogether in 2018.
“We had a year, then, when we got a broker who was able to get a policy for us, where we were covered as package operators, so everything we did had to be packed with something else,” Matt said. south star.
“Our policy ran out last June, so we weren’t able to offer these activities last summer or this summer. So we only offer half our services, which is frustrating, especially when people call us looking for outside activities.
as a member of Matt said IATT “is a very positive step, because everyone’s health and safety and risk assessments will be standardized, so that will help with insurance quotes.”