The future of triathlons and other endurance sports in Ireland could be at risk as a result of rising insurance premiums, the sport’s governing body has said.
Triathlon Ireland said its insurance premium had almost doubled from €56,000 in 2018 to €103,000 this year.
Chris Kitchen, chief executive of the body, said its renewal in November was going to be “a challenge” due to the limited number of underwriters willing to cover sport in Ireland.
He attributed the rising cost of insurance to a lack of competition in the market and to insurance companies taking additional precautions “just in case claims are made”.
“If it carries on, we can either not develop the sport the way we want to, or we’ll have to put up membership fees to try to get a bit more revenue in to balance the bottom line, or we’ll have to cut some of our programmes,” he said.
“It’s not just triathlon, it’s also sport in general that is at risk. There is a definite risk to sport on the island of Ireland due to this issue,” Mr Kitchen added.
Triathlon Ireland is the national governing body for triathlons, duathlons and aquathlons in Ireland. A triathlon is a three-sport event, comprising a swim, cycle and run; duathlon comprising a run, cycle and run; and an aquathlon comprises a swim and run.
The body sanctions more than 200 sporting events annually, has about 20,000 members and 90 clubs.
Mr Kitchen admitted there had been “a number” of claims over the past few years and he said the biggest issue was high payouts.
“Our claims weren’t big but the quantum was. That’s what’s the biggest problem,” he added.
“For instance, back in 2015, we had a guy who had a laceration on his foot. The lawyer said we had taken every possible precaution... Eventually it was settled at €25,000.
“There were quite a few cases that we haven’t fought and settled out of court because the way that cases have gone, the legal teams have said that if it goes to court, then payouts are going to be higher,” he added.
Rising insurance premiums and denied coverage has resulted in businesses around the country closing or being at risk of closure.
Last month, Leisure Insure, a UK-based insurance company that provides coverage to many Irish leisure businesses, announced it was pulling out of the Irish market.
A report by the Department of Justice last year showed that a minor ankle injury in Ireland could lead to a payout of up to €54,700, more than four times the maximum in the UK.
The Judicial Council Bill, which was passed through the Houses of the Oireachtas before summer recess, will allow judges to recalculate damages and bring consistency to court awards.
Insurance Ireland, the representative group for the sector, said if the cost of payouts was reduced, the cost of premiums would also come down.