The owner of a play-centre that was forced to close down due to insurance costs has criticised Ireland’s personal injury system after a claim against the business was settled for €60,000 without his knowledge he has told www.

Finbarr Murray ran Puddenhill Activity Centre’ at Kilmoon, with his wife, Linda, for four years. In April 2018, the business was forced to cease trading.

The play-centre,along with many of others in the country, was finding it increasingly difficult to get insurance cover due to soaring premiums, and they made the difficult decision to close.

At the time, there were two personal injury claims pending against the business, one of which was settled this week in the High Court, six years after the incident.

He told the Irish Independents online site they had to close their business shortly after the claim.

“Our lease was up for renewal and we didn’t know if we would manage to get cover,” he said. “With a claim hanging over us, the insurance company was saying, ‘Look, you probably won’t get insurance’.

“We had this award-winning centre that had to close because of insurance, and at the time our rent was also being increased. It was a really stressful time, and this court case brought back all the emotions of what we went through.

“The stress levels for business owners are beyond belief. It’s getting to the stage where kids won’t have anywhere to go and they’ll be sitting inside on their PlayStations. It’s getting worse and worse.”

Mr Murray, who is involved with two other leisure companies, said it is frustrating for people to see insurance awards coming down in some cases, but premiums remaining high.

“Insurance companies are rubbing their hands. Generally, awards have been falling but premiums haven’t. Insurance costs are crazy,” he said.

Mrs Murray was instrumental in setting up an organisation called Play Activity and Leisure Ireland (Pali), which sought to get cover for businesses in the leisure sector through a group scheme. If not for Pali, many other businesses would have gone under.

Puddenhill was covered by UK company Leisure Insure at the time of the incident, but it subsequently quit the Irish market in 2019. At the time it was one of the last firms covering the leisure sector.

Leisure Insure has since ceased trading in the UK.

The company was backed by Axa-xl, an American subsidiary of insurer Axa. Axa-xl has taken over Leisure Insure’s outstanding cases.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform urged insurers to keep in contact with customers throughout the personal injury process.