Semple Stadium, Thurles.
The January meeting of the Tipperary County Board featured a presentation made by two representatives of the national association at the Sarsfields Centre in Thurles on Tuesday, January 29th. County Board chairman John Devane described the content of the presentation as an “eye-opener” and development officer PJ Maher indicated that the whole issue was “extremely important” while Ciara Clarke (the association's injury fund manager) warned delegates that “people don't think twice about suing their local GAA club”.
Amy Cole (the GAA's injury fund administrator) revealed that from 2014-18 claims made with regard to the player injury fund amounted to €45 million with team subscriptions covering €30 million of the cost while Central Council contributed a further €15 million to the fund (there are an average of almost 6,300 claims per year).
Meanwhile Ciara Clarke (the association's injury fund manager) commended the Tipperary County Board for their proactive approach to educating their clubs with regard to property insurance and public liability insurance.
With regard to property insurance Ciara Clarke revealed that between 2013-18 330 claims had led to pay outs totalling €7.9 million. Ms Clarke indicated that a “lack of maintenance was impacting severely on our liability programme” and that many “ridiculous” cases could be avoided.
In total 65% of claims against the association's liability insurance were the result of avoidable slips, trips and falls. And, it was telling to note that between 2013-18 the reported claims amounted to €12.2 million with €7.2 million of that total relating to non Gaelic games activities (€5m on Gaelic games activities).
During the presentation to club delegates Ms Clarke went through a number of claims with mind-boggling sums of money involved. Further to that the association's injury fund manager outlined the steps to take when an incident occurs and asked clubs to do everything in their power to avoid claims and to also help the GAA to challenge frivolous claims where possible.
Ciara Clarke said that “Ireland has a very active claims culture” and that although this is outside of the association's control it is “within our control to take the steps necessary to prevent these incidents occurring” in the first instance - claim numbers and the associated costs involved have doubled during the past five years.
County Board development officer PJ Maher argued that it was a “very serious situation” and pleaded with delegates to ensure that their club carefully read through the insurance documentation issued to each individual club. Mr Maher revealed that a policy document had been sent to all clubs with four pages of conditions attached.
“I would bet that 99% of clubs did not read those conditions,” the Boherlahan-Dualla man said before explaining the consequences for a club which is in breach of policy conditions.
“If a club breaks those conditions the insurance company is within their rights to walk away from the claim,” PJ Maher said before advising clubs that if they have any questions about insurance issues to contact him or Croke Park directly.
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