There are renewed fears for over 1,000 créches as childcare providers were informed this evening that no alternative insurer has been secured for their business.
Hundreds of childcare operators are struggling to get cover at reasonable prices after the withdrawal of one of two insurance companies in that market.
The Irish Independent has reported how some créches have seen their premium quotes treble in recent weeks.
Childcare providers said they are being “held over a barrel” as they face a monopoly in the Irish insurance market.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the Government “finally realise the spin they have been swallowing from the insurance industry for years”.
He accused both Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin of pedalling “blatant lies” in the Dáil by focusing on a compensation culture rather than rip-offs.
Mr Doherty said the insurance crisis is now so bad that parents are worried créches won’t reopen after Christmas.
This evening, childcare providers were told by their brokers that “despite a busy last 48 hours of intensive follow up meetings”, an alternative insurer was unable to be found.
They were advised to contact Arachas Corporate Insurance Brokers “immediately” to establish if they would be in a position to take you on as a client of their brokerage, and place you in a risk programme which they have access to with Allianz Insurance Ireland.
The correspondence reads; “We wish to assure you that we have explored every possible avenue over the last six months. We have worked tirelessly to source an alternative provider for you, conducting meetings and discussions with over 35 different insurance providers, underwriters and intermediaries, disappointingly all to no avail.
“We impress upon you the need to act urgently, and ensure you make contact with Arachas upon receipt of this letter as you have a limited period of time within which to make alternative arrangements given your renewal date of 31st December next.
“We would like to sincerely thank you for your business, and whilst we are unable to offer you a renewal package this year, we hope that in the future we may be able to do so.”
Speaking earlier, Helen Mallon, owner-manager at Step By Step Crèche and Montessori in Paulstown, Co Kilkenny, fears she will have to shut up shop in January due to a huge hike in her premium.
Insurance for the crèche was €2,261 for this year. Last Friday, she got a quote for €7,530.25 for next year.
“What’s really killing me is we survived the recession and now we’re being crippled with insurance,” she told the Irish Independent.
“I had to cut staff hours during the crash and last year was the first year since that I was able to give staff a small bit of a Christmas bonus.
“And now we’re being quoted huge sums as we’re told there’s only going to be one insurance provider left.
“I’m supposed to reopen on January 2, but at this point in time I will probably have to make the decision by this Friday if I open next year.”
Ms Mallon has been campaigning for reduced premiums and said she had received more than 100 emails from worried childcare providers since they were informed about another major underwriter pulling out of Ireland.
“It will be a very sad day if there is only one insurance provider left as they can charge what they want.
“There are some crèches which have yet to settle small claims and they cannot even get a quote from an insurance provider and will be faced with closure next week,” she added.
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