Hoteliers in Killarney are calling on the Government to take urgent action to address the spiralling cost of insurance, which is posing a serious challenge for the local hospitality industry.
Bernadette Randles, Chair of the Kerry Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation stated that hotels have experienced enormous increases in insurance premiums in recent years and that costs are continuing to soar as a result of excessive levels of awards for personal injury claims.
She is also calling for dedicated Garda resource specifically created and tasked with investigating fraudulent insurance cases for potential prosecution.
A bill to allow judges recalibrate compensation awards has been passed by the Seanad.
The aim of the Judicial Council Bill is to provide for the establishment of a Judicial Council and provides sentencing guidelines for judges for the first time.
According to research by the IHF, 62% of hotels have seen hikes in insurance costs over the last 12 months. Of these, the average increase in premiums was 28% year on year. This is in addition to substantial increases in recent years. Some 90% of hotels say they are concerned about the impact of insurance costs on their business.
“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,” said Ms Randles. “While we welcome this legislation, it is imperative that it results in a meaningful review of levels of damages without delay.”
Further research by the IHF show that personal injury cases and the excessive levels of awards being made are four to five times higher than in the UK.
“Another key area that must be addressed is the levels of fraudulent and exaggerated claims. A zero-tolerance approach needs to be adopted in order to create an effective deterrent. This requires the funding of a dedicated central Garda resource specifically created and tasked with investigating fraudulent cases for potential prosecution,” she added.