Writes Ciaran Dineen
Lisa O’Callaghan and her husband Michael are owners of the well-known ‘Kool Kidz Korner’ on the Ringaskiddy road. This year, they have seen their insurance premium nearly double, rising from €9,900 in 2018 to an incredible €18,500 for the year ahead.
The huge increase is as a result of claims that have been made against other children’s play centres across the country. Despite the fact that in its 10 years Kool Kidz Korner has never had to deal with any claims, they are bearing the brunt of an industry that is now in an insurance “crisis”. Such a description of the issue was made recently by local TD, Michael McGrath (FF), who raised the problem faced by the local business in the Dáil.
Speaking to The Carrigdhoun, Lisa said, “We’re here now nearly 10 years and we’d love to be talking to you celebrating that, but unfortunately these insurance hikes are so high that it’s making things very difficult for us.”
The play centre currently employees eight local staff and provides the area with an important amenity. However, while the business will remain open for the next 12 months, if insurance was to rise again it would no longer become sustainable.
It would be incredibly sad if such a scenario was to play out according to Lisa, who says, “I really love this place and I love the people. We have literally seen kids grow up here over the years and now some of them are even coming to us looking for jobs. I’m local and my staff are local, I mean we walk down the street and have people waving at us who have been here before, it’s just really nice.”
The small business owners are also fearing the worst when it comes to the cost of rates, which they are expecting to receive any day now. “I’m not going to lie I mean with the increase of €10,000 on the insurance, on top of the rates, we’re going to struggle”, Lisa says. “It’s not just your insurance premium it’s everything else too. It’s your maintenance, it’s your first aid, they all add to the cost,” she continues.
A national committee representing children play centres has now been established in an attempt to reform the cost of insurance for their industry. Lisa and her colleagues around Ireland are continuing to lobby politicians before it is too late.
The O’Callaghan’s have set themselves a limit of €20,000 for their insurance and if in 12 months times this figure appears on their premium then they will be forced to shut the doors. For now though, thankfully, Kool Kidz Korner is open for business and looking forward to the busy period ahead.
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