The insurance crisis affecting Bouncing castles and other inflatables in the Republic of Ireland

Recently the last insurance company covering public liability insurance for inflatables pulled out of the Republic of Ireland leaving the industry facing disaster.

As each companies renewal date arrives, the following day they have no insurance policy in place. In less than one year the ROI will have no insured inflatables operators in the country.

We live in a society where more and more of our younger people are suffering an obesity epidemic and physiological damage from excessive screen time.

We are now about to deprive them of the best healthiest fun on the market.

20 min on a bouncing castle is equal to a 20 min run. What parent doesn’t want that for their children?

The future health implications of restricting children’s activities are severe. The social and monetary cost to society in the future is immeasurable.

What is wrong with us? And why have all insurance companies withdrawn cover for not just inflatable businesses but a whole plethora of leisure-based activities?

The answer is that it is simply not profitable for them to continue business here.

It is not profitable for a whole range of reasons. These include high injury awards in our court system, the book of quantum being set too high, lack of a fraud squad to investigate bogus claims, laws that give a person a right to claim despite entering into an activity that naturally involves some degree of risk our duty of care to all and sundry who enter our property or lands – even as trespassers.

All this and more including our general attitude as a nation to look on insurance companies in a negative light and as a necessary evil.

All of the above problems are of course out of our hands and we can only trust that our Government are doing something positive about it.

When it comes to bouncing castles and other inflatables there is another factor that effects the likelihood of an insurer taking on the risk. That is the compliance to the European Safety Standard EN14960-2019. Companies seeking to be insured should ensure that all their equipment complies with the standard. Also that their method of work complies with the operational side of the standard.

In the UK & Northern Ireland there is a direct link between health and safety in work and how inflatable operators are subject to the law. This is because their equipment (inflatables) are classified as work equipment. This is the basic difference between the Republic of Ireland and UK & Northern Ireland and it does play some part in the reason that in less than one year the ROI will have no insured inflatables operators in the country.

More and more inflatable hire companies are going to extraordinary lengths and substantial costs to reduce their risks. This was done by submitting their equipment for initial and annual safety tests by registered testing bodies. They are also subjecting themselves to training courses that give them an international accreditation. They are then qualified to carry out their business to the highest standard.

The IIHF (Irish Inflatable Hirers Federation) have taken steps to try and avoid the pending disaster for our industry. We are currently in discussions with an insurance broker who specialises in risk assessment. We have formed a group of operators who are entirely compliant to the European safety standard for inflatables EN14960-2019.

This involves detailed annual inspections carried out by an inspection body and adherence to the operational side of the standard.

This and many more risk reducing measures will be included in a proposal to be submitted to an underwriter in the coming weeks.

We are hopeful of a positive outcome. We hope that we will be in a position to carry on providing inflatable entertainment, especially for children.

The person, company, or council who hires the inflatable also has a responsibility. That is to agree and understand that all play carries a risk. When you introduce an inflatable to enhance the play you do increase the risk.

When you hire an IIHF member you know their equipment and work complies to the latest safety standards.

Once the inflatable is in place it is up to the parents or supervisors to supervise in a responsible way.

If you think that your child or any other users of inflatables should not be subjected to any risk normally associated with robust play the you should not rent an inflatable.

Kind regards,

Gerry Frawley
Managing Director