The Irish Travel Agents Association is adding its name to a long list of industries calling for insurance reform in Ireland.

Its members have seen big increases in insurance premiums.

Online travel agent Click and Go says its insurance premium was €49,500 in 2017; it rose to €200,000 in 2018, and increased again to €400,000 this year.

Last year, the EU introduced the Package Travel Directive which means that the organiser of a package holiday is liable if something goes wrong, no matter who provides the service. If, for example, somebody slips on a bus or at a hotel, that was booked as part of the package through the travel agent, a claim can be taken against the travel agent.

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said the introduction of the EU directive has led to insurance premiums going up in other countries by 7 or 8%, while in Ireland, insurance premiums for travel agents have increased five fold in some instances.

He blames the "compo culture" for the dramatic increase in insurance costs. "People feel there is soft money to be had," Mr Dawson said, "and the legal profession must take responsibility as well." 

He said compensation awards in the UK are four times less than the amount awarded to claimants in Ireland.

The Book of Quantum is a general guideline to the level of compensation which someone may be awarded in a personal compensation claim. The Irish Travel Agents Association is calling for the government to review the Book of Quantum, and to formulate a fraud squad to investigate fraudulent insurance claims.

Separately, Mr Dawson said it has been a slow year for travel agents in Ireland so far. He said he hoped the inclement weather this week will encourage people to book "a few weeks of sunshine".