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Insurance revamp calls intensify as play centres saved by UK deal

THE Government has been urged not to ease up on insurance reform after 1,000 jobs were saved when play centres secured insurance cover.

Some 61 play centres were threatened with closure over difficulties getting insurance.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform said there was still a need for major changes in the insurance and legal sectors.

Meath businesswoman Linda Murray has managed to keep her play centre in Navan open by securing insurance for her firm, and 60 similar facilities across the country.

Soaring premiums and the reluctance of some insurers to quote businesses for cover because of false and exaggerated claims meant the play centres could not get cover.

Ms Murray broke down when she told TDs and senators on the Oireachtas Finance Committee about the situation.

She begged committee members: “Save our livelihoods, save the livelihoods of our staff, and give our children somewhere to play.”

Ms Murray feared her play centre would have ended up shutting with the loss of 12 jobs. Insurers were quoting a premium for the next year of €16,500, a 1,000pc rise in the past five years.

She started up a group of 61 play centres, called the Play Activity and Leisure Ireland (PALI). That group has now persuaded an insurance broker to get a UK provider to write policies for all of them.

“We presented ourselves as a group and approached five in Ireland and 15 in the UK and two of the insurance companies in the UK agreed to underwrite us,” she said.

However, she is angry at the lack of help from the Government and the Irish insurance industry regarding her plight over the last number of months.

“We need to remember that insurance reform still has to happen. We need to tackle the compensation culture,” she said.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform, where Ms Murray is a director, welcomed the fact that PALI has secured cover for its play centre members for the next two years.

Director of the alliance Peter Boland said: “Let the Government and the vested interests be on notice that this issue and our campaign will not be pausing for breath until policyholders have received real reform and do not have to scramble for short-term fixes just to keep their doors open.”

He said there was an urgent need to reduce high awards for very minor injuries.

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