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Insurance crisis set to force closures of Australian attractions and adventure tourism businesses

Insurance crisis set to force closures of Australian attractions and adventure tourism businesses
December 10, 2020

Hidden by the challenges presented by closures and ongoing issues relating to the COVID-19, the looming matter of operators in many sectors of the industry securing and renewing their public liability insurance is coming to a head, with Australasian Leisure Management aware that a number of high profile industry locations are facing closure in the coming weeks.

Unable to secure insurance cover beyond 31st December 2020, operators who have faced COVID-19 related closures this year now face having to cease operations as of 1st January.

Phil Durkin, Director of Australia's Ultimate Attractions and a Past President and current board member of the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA), explains “most insurers and underwriters are not writing or renewing public liability insurance policies for rides and attractions. This appears to be from issues and influence from around the world and we are assured that it is not an Australian situation only.

“Our research on claims history validates this and indicates our claims rate here in Australia is very low by world standards. Australia has a very good and regimented safety regime we believe is of the highest standard.”

Australasian Leisure Management has previously reported that adventure tourism operators are also impacted by this issue.

Commenting on how the crisis has developed, Durkin (pictured below) advises “for most of this year there has been a serious situation developing with public liability here in Australia only it has been masked by the COVID-19 restrictions all year. As restrictions are lifted and normal life begins to return it will be noticeable that many rides and venues are either unable to open or remain open through the busy summer period.

“The irony is inescapable that what has been the toughest and difficult year in memory and when finally, we are able to operate we are unable to because of the insurance issue.

“To see millions of dollars of machinery parked up is possibly one of the most heartbreaking things as summer rolls on by.”

Durkin goes on to note “while we are aware of the growing list of operators whose insurance has not been renewed or will expire shortly, we do not want to publicly name them or cause any more angst or grief.

“While Governments want life to get back to normal, the growing list of business’s affected will be forced to shut down and lay off all staff. The added strain to the business that have invested heavily in new machinery and attractions for this summer may well prove to be unsurvivable.”

Representing AALARA, Durkin has teamed up with Michael Alexander, Managing Director at HIB Insurance Brokers Pty Ltd, to work over recent months on a solution to this crisis.

As a result, Durkin notes “we are getting very close to finalising a Discretionary Mutual Fund for the industry.”

In doing so, AALARA, Durkin and Alexander are battling through the various hurdles, with Durkin adding “we are thinking of a small form of Government Assistance to help get over the initial hump for the start, but we are confident that the scheme will be self-supporting and standalone thereafter.”

Phil Durkin can be contacted via Australasian Leisure Management Publisher, Nigel Benton on

Readers who wish to share their experiences with insurance, which will be handled in confidence, can also contact Nigel Benton.

Main image used for illustrative purposes only.

Related Articles

18th November 2020 - AALARA takes action as attractions operators face public liability issues

16th November 2020 - Industry operators impacted by rising insurance premiums

22nd October 2020 - Festival promoters call for Federal Government insurance scheme

12th June 2020 - Insurance refusals impacting adventure tourism operators

27th May 2020 - AALARA releases guide for the reopening of Australia’s attractions industry

29th April 2020 - AALARA updates members on attractions sector challenges

28th June 2019 - Ardent Leisure facing potential $80 million liability in wake of Dreamworld inquest

15th September 2018 - Commercial trampoline centre operators struggle to secure insurance

26th June 2015 - Leisureinsure Australia not accepting new business or renewals

19th May 2015 - Perisher Blue escapes liability for skier’s injury but needs a new disclaimer

30th December 2014 - Queensland entrepreneur launches new adventure tourism insurance company

13th November 2014 - Rolling Stones battle insurance underwriters over for $12.7 million tour cancellation claim

28th May 2014 - AudienceView clients to offer ticket insurance to customers

4th May 2011 - Amusement Ride Static and Transit Insurance

10th March 2010 - Sportscover launches sport and leisure travel insurance

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