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Cork Independent

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Can companies bounce back?

Thursday, 25th July, 2019 12:49pm

Bouncing castle companies, outdoor activity centres and children's play zones could be faced with thousands of job losses unless a new insurance broker is found for the industry.

That’s according to James Lordan, the owner of AAA Bouncing Castles in Cork city, who says the decision of the industry’s main Irish insurer to pull out could be “massive” for businesses including outdoor activity centres, paint ball centres and soft play areas.

It was revealed in the past week that the UK-based company Leisure Insurance, the main provider of insurance to bouncing castle companies in Ireland, will no longer insure in the country.

While existing premiums will be honoured, the company is not giving any new quotes or renewals, plunging many businesses into uncertainty.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Mr Lordan, who has been running his company for two years, said he renewed its annual insurance in May.

He added, though, that others were not as lucky and were facing an uncertain future.

“We’re lucky that we have time on our hands, but if there’s not a solution found by next May, we’ll find ourselves in trouble,” said Mr Lordan.

Mr Lordan said the current situation would not only affect bouncing castles but would also impact other areas of the children's activity industry.

“It’s massive, you’re talking thousands of jobs really given that it’ll affect so many businesses and activity centres too. For someone booking a birthday party, you might still get some rogue hirers that will give a bouncing castle without having insurance. But anything like school trips, public events etc, where every man and his dog will be attending, there’s no way a company will be hiring out for largescale events like that without insurance.

“You’d be setting yourself up for bankruptcy straight away (should there be an accident).”

Mr Lordan said that he was aware of one man in another part of the country who had taken out a €60,000 loan to buy a company in the industry, who could now not get any insurance.

He said the companies would consider forming a collective insurance group, but added that he hoped a new broker would be found first, with all affected companies currently being asked to register their details with the Irish Inflatable Hirers Federation (IIHF) in order to appeal to potential brokers.

Speaking at a meeting of Cork County Council, Independent Cllr Danny Collins said he became aware of the issue when he contacted a company trying to hire a bouncing castle for a festival in Bantry, but had been told he would have to provide his own insurance.

He said he then contacted several insurance companies, none of whom would insure the bouncing castle.

“It’s across the board, nightclubs and bars in West Cork are struggling to pay their insurance. I spoke to another guy who runs a sailing centre in West Cork who says his insurance is crippling him, he’s barely making
a living. The Government has to do something, the companies have too much of a say,” said Cllr Collins.

“They are making massive profits, and they are not returning it to their customers.”

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