The threat of no insurance for hunts and point-to-points has been hanging darkly in the air throughout the winter.
At one point, it looked like there would be no resolution as insurance companies left the market following several multimillion-euro claims arising from hunting accidents.
As a result of these claims, underwriters have become nervous and have sought to reassess the profitability of insuring hunt clubs and, therefore, also their associated point-to-point fixtures.
A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes
However, in a statement issued to Irish Horse World just before Christmas, the Irish Master of Foxhounds Association chair, David Lalor, relayed that there is new hope for insurance cover for mounted hunts by mid-January.
“It could be mid-January. We are very optimistic that we will have an insurance policy by then all going well. Things are looking up,” said Lalor.
“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes in respect of this development and has been complicated by the fact there is no common renewal date, Brexit, COVID-19, and other issues.”
Despite hunt insurance tripling in recent times, it would seem that any new cover would remain at the same cost to hunt clubs across Ireland with no hike in cover price.
Although hunts in Northern Ireland, Cork and Waterford regions hold policies until the end of the season and still have running insurance, most of Ireland’s best-known mounted packs across Munster, Leinster and Connacht are on foot rather than horseback as insurance runs out.
In recent weeks, work has been done to secure an insurance deal that would give sufficient cover to hunting participants while at the same time limiting exposure for insurance companies.
This hunt cover would, by extension, ensure the survival of point-to-points who are reliant on hunt club volunteers to run them.
“There is a solution on the table,” an industry expert told The Irish Field over the weekend.
“It involves the hunt clubs coming together to establish a €1m fund which the insurance company will hold.
“If 100 hunt clubs participated, it would mean each one has to stump up €10,000, but, in reality, no more than 50 or 60 hunt clubs are in a strong enough position to find that money so that the contribution could be closer to €20,000 each.
“That is a one-off payment but on top of that each hunt will have to pay a higher annual insurance premium – possibly between €5,000 and €10,000 – and there will be conditions around how much can be claimed for injuries.”