Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to immediately set up and lead a task force with key Ministers to deal with the growing insurance crisis which is set to see businesses, community groups and childcare providers close throughout the State in the coming months.

The Sinn Féin TD spoke out after the news that Ironshore Europe, one of the biggest insurers in the childcare sector, is set to withdraw from the Irish market.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Just this week we heard that one of the biggest insurers in the childcare sector, Ironshore Europe, is set to pull out of the Irish market by January. This will mean the threat of closure for thousands of providers and inevitably higher childcare costs for parents.

“Ironshore Europe is one of the two leading insurance providers in the sector. They are now set to withdraw from several Irish markets after being bought over by Hamilton Insurance of Liberty Mutual.

“With the policies of thousands of childcare providers due to expire in January, this will mean one of two things.

“Either these childcare providers will be unable to get alternative cover and close, or as we have seen in other sectors, the lack of competition will increase their premiums still further, leading to higher childcare costs for parents.”

Crowe continued:

“Without exaggerating, this has become a full-blown crisis across several sectors. Not just childcare, but community and voluntary groups, the leisure sector and for small businesses.

“Killinarden Community Centre is facing closure after the cost of insurance for the centre, which is used by after-school clubs, youth groups, senior citizen groups and others, has risen from €8,000 in 2011 to €34,500. That’s a rise of more than 300 percent.

“The Government have not taken the failure of the insurance market, and its impact on businesses, seriously. The Minister supposedly responsible for the insurance sector doesn’t even sit at the Cabinet table.

“Sinn Féin have called for immediate reforms in the insurance sector; from the set-up of a dedicated Garda Insurance Fraud Unit to the banning of dual pricing by insurance companies. My party’s Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, which would strengthen the position of consumers in their contracts, is due to pass all stages in the Seanad this week.

“Despite a Programme for Government and four budgets, Fianna Fáil and the Government have failed to take this issue seriously or address it as a priority.

“It can’t be ignored any longer.  We urgently need action and a Ministerial Task Force to address the insurance crisis.”