Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Family days out in the West of Ireland are under threat after one of the country’s leading insurers pulled out of the Irish market.

LeisureInsure, which operates from the UK, recently said it is leaving the Irish market, a move that has brought panic to the Irish leisure industry.

Eric O’Sullivan runs Carousel Enterprises/Toons & Balloons with his son Barry. The company supplies equipment for family fun days, as well as marquees for weddings and other special occasions.

The company recently provided the equipment for the Teddy Bears Picnic at Ballina Street Festival and a marquee for the Western People Women’s Mini-Marathon in Castlebar in May.

However, Mr O’Sullivan says his company and others offering similar equipment may not be available to facilitate these events if no solution is not found to the issues surrounding insurance.

“The implications of this are far wider than most people realise. We do a lot of corporate family fun days out and those will cease to exist unless some form of cover is found,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“This is a very serious issue. We may have to lay off staff or even close altogether.”

The company currently has cover until December, and Mr O’Sullivan said they won’t be affected until after that.

“We are a well-established business. We have too much to lose if we don’t have insurance,” he added.

It is understood that marquee hire will also be affected and this is expected to have a huge knock-on effect.

There are no alternative solutions in the market for leisure-based insurance at the moment.

The existing market is already a costly one, and Mr O’Sullivan’s company, like many others, faced an unprecedented spike of 40% in its insurance premium for 2019.

“You really feel the pain when our premium comes in in December with such an increase and I think ‘how do I recover that?’” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“We haven’t changed our hire rates in 12 years and we can’t return these costs to the customers.”

Carousel Enterprises/Toons & Balloons currently has five staff working on a full-time basis with five others part-time.

Ballina firm Toons and Balloons provides a wide range of equipment for children’s events.

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By Paul O'Malley
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