The pressing issue of insurance cover for hunting and point-to-point fixtures was raised by Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill in the Dáil last week. Fixtures have been cancelled and the general air of nervousness is palpable across the industry. Cahill said of the issue:
“We have 100 packs in this country. We had only one insurance provider in this area but it has now withdrawn. If insurance for hunting packs comes to an end, with different packs at different stages, those hunts will not be able to engage in any activity. Consequently, the organisers of point-to-point events, which operate under the same umbrella, will not be able to operate either.
“Aside from the recreational aspect of these sports, they are hugely important businesses. They are the cornerstone of our national hunt industry and extremely important financially and to rural Ireland. We have had the disruption of Covid-19, which put national hunt breeding under extreme pressure, and we had point-to-point racing cancelled for a number of months. Thankfully, we got the latter resumed, but a second winter of disruption to our activities would be extremely damaging economically.
“I am talking about the shop window where our young horses are shown and able to be sold, whether to buyers here at home or to the UK or further afield. A second winter of disruption would impact on the sales of younger horses all through the year.
“It is imperative therefore that the Government comes up with a solution to this crisis – and a crisis it is. As I said, we have often been in this chamber arguing about the cost of insurance, but this is a completely different aspect of various sectors of sporting activity being unable to activate insurance at any price.”
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar in response to Cahill’s concerns, admitted to difficulties and encouraged a collective response by those affected. The most feasible resolutions to the insurance issue are emerging as hunt clubs pull together across Ireland to find viable solutions. The front-runner appears to be the possibility of hunt clubs self-funding an insurance scheme - a model running successfully for over 30 years by the Irish shooting community.
For other leisure riders however, the tide appears to be turning: insurance for these other leisure disciplines, such as trekking, was also under threat recently as Brexit left many Irish riders with British Horse Society insurance high and dry without cover. However, in this week’s Irish Field, Isabel Hurley broke the story that the wait for appropriate insurance for leisure riders is almost over. HSI have secured a significant membership insurance deal which will allow public liability cover of up to €6.5 million. This insurance opportunity will be launched in the next couple of weeks and will go a long way to help Irish equestrians back in the saddle post-Brexit.
Speaking to The Irish Field, Joe Reynolds acting CEO of Horse Sport Ireland said: “When it comes to trekking and leisure riding on Coillte or State-owned land, riders have to be able to show evidence of having €6.5 million public liability cover and this scheme covers that.
We will have this level of cover and people can also opt for personal accident insurance for up to four or six horses and it gets cheaper the more you put on.”