Adventure Co Wicklow said it had to make a “devastating” decision to close this weekend due to the high cost of insurance.
Squirrel’s Scramble is a treetop adventure park with high ropes and ziplines based in Bray and operating since 2014.
Saturday was the company’s last day in business, shortening the usual season from April to the end of November by more than two months.
Last year’s insurance on Squirrel’s Scramble was 26,000 euros, said Anthea Lang, the company’s director of marketing, but the only price they were able to get this year is 88,000 euros.
She said the last two insurers had left the Irish insurance market and that the new quote they had received was “completely unrealistic”.
“We are devastated. We have let down our wonderful employees. We are so sad that we can’t keep their jobs for them. We are so worried about our future that we probably lost our livelihoods,” she said.
Scramble’s Scramble is hoping there will be insurance market reforms and more competition so they are in a position to reopen next April.
The director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform described the situation as “very sad”, but said it was “far from unique”.
Peter Boland said his group has identified 37 different sectors, mainly in the entertainment, adventure and community sectors, that cannot obtain insurance coverage or deal with their last guarantor.
He said there was “no logic” in increasing insurance premiums, which is still happening despite fundamental reforms in the sector.
One of the major reforms is new judicial guidelines that eliminate compensation in personal injury cases.
It came into effect earlier this year and was expected to in turn reduce the cost of insurance.
“The significant reduction in compensation for personal injury as of April 24th has reduced the risks for insurers, but this is not reflected in the premiums awarded to companies when they go to renew their policies,” Poland said.
He also said competition in the insurance market is also a contributing factor, and called on the government to act urgently to attract more insurance companies to Ireland.
“This is an issue of lack of competition, there aren’t enough insurers offering cover for SMEs at the moment and for providers that are in place – and that’s reflected in the price they charge.”
“We don’t see additional capacity coming to market, this is a serious problem for the government. They have acknowledged that supply is a problem. I have set up an insurance competition desk but what we don’t see is that this office is bringing additional capacity to the market.”
He said the government should market Ireland to international insurance companies to bring it here.
Ms Lang also said she also believed a lack of competition was at the heart of the issue, adding that she hoped the public would alert the government’s ears to their situation.
She also appealed to local politicians for help.
“Jennifer Whitmore, Simon Harris, Stephen Donnelly, John Brady – they all live within five minutes of this place. We really love their support, and would love to hear from them, we’ve already contacted them, haven’t had a response yet, but we’re sure they’ll get in touch “.
Lang is also calling for changes to the civil liability law, which she says will strengthen waivers that customers sign and mean the duty to care for safety is shared and not just on businesses.
In a statement today, the Irish insurer said liability insurance “remains a challenging area due to the volatility and unpredictability of the personal injury claims environment”.
She says she is starting to see “some positive effects” of the personal injury claims guidelines with the latest PIAB data, however she says because only so few claimants have used the system, it will be important to see similar data from the court system.
“The new guidelines should ultimately lead to a more efficient and consistent handling of personal injury claims. This, in our view, will provide better value for businesses and consumers in the long term,” she said.
She says she supports the new personal injury guidelines and the action plan to reform the sector.
“A more stable sector, achieved through government reform, will reduce market volatility and bring more certainty to customers, businesses and insurers alike.”
“Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante.”